Things to Do in Willemstad, Curaçao

Things-to-Do-in-Willemstad-Curaçao

It’s been about a month since returning from Curaçao and I already want to go back. The capital Willemstad is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and divided into two parts: Punda & Otrabanda (the other side). My hotel provided free shuttle service to Punda and I took advantage when I did my solo explorations. If you’re not into snorkeling, scuba diving, or water activities, here’s a list of things to do in Willemstad, Curaçao as a solo traveler or on a quick cruise stop.

Do Some Shopping

Searching for the bus to go back to my hotel, I discovered the floating market. Here you can purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish. In addition to purchasing food, you can also visit the local shops for souvenirs and gifts for friends and family. On my first trip to downtown Willemstad, I surveyed the area after my visit to the museums. The cruise ships stopped in the Otrobanda on the second day, so I did most of my shopping in the morning before the “big rush” came in.

Things to do in Willemstad - Visit the floating market
The floating market in Willemstad, Curaçao

Enjoy Curaçaoan Cuisine

Things to do in Willemstad - Visit Plasa Bieu
Plasa Bieu in Willemstad, Curaçao

My first night in, I had no choice, but to eat at the resort, but once I went to town, I found my way to Plasa Bieu (The Old Market). I was pretty early for lunch, but John from Grasia di Dios hooked me up with stewed iguana with rice, veggies, plantains and cucumber souse (Souse is a pickling method of preparing meats and vegetables). Since my family is from the Caribbean, I told him to bring the pepper sauce so I know it’s real.

Things to Do in Willemstad - Eat stewed iquana
Iguana dish from Grasia di Dios
pepper sauce in Willemstad, Curaçao
Pepper Sauce at Gasia di Dios
Things to do In Curacao - Visit the old market
Inside the old market (Plasa Bieu) in Willemstad, Curaçao

On my visit to the Kura Hulanda Museum, I made a stop at the cafe to have Keshi Yena which is an Aruban and Curaçaoan main course dish, consisting of a large round ball of cheese stuffed with spiced meat, served steamed or baked. It reminded me of chili with cheese on top. Because it was at their resort, the price was high, but the food was very good. I needed to find this in the old market.

Things to do in Curacao - Eat Keshi yena
Keshi yena lunch platter

Visit the Museums

Randomly walking around Willemstad, I stumbled upon the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. I then learned this is the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere dating back to the 1600s. It was $10 admission and architecture were beautiful. Admission included entry to the Jewish Cultural Historical Museum containing artifacts of over 350 years of Jewish settlement in Curaçao. Pretty cool.

Things to do in Willemstad - Visit Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
Kippot for male visitors at Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
Things to do in Curacao - Visit Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue
Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue

The Kura Hulanda Museum is an absolute MUST see when visiting Willemstad. It is located a few blocks from the Ferry stop to the Otrobanda (or walk across Queen Emma floating pontoon bridge) and there is so much knowledge stored in this place. It covers topics from the days of Abraham down to present-day covering African kingdoms and culture, the slave trade in the West Indies and North America as well as post-reconstruction. I literally spent two hours here and still don’t think I saw everything. I loved every bit of it and encourage anyone who is interested in world history, Caribbean, or African culture to visit.

Things to do in Willemstad - Visit Kura Hulanda
Kura Hulanda in Willemstad, Curaçao
Things to do un Curacao - Kura Hulanda Museum
Slave ship in the Kura Hulanda Museum

 Have you visited Curaçao before?

Things to do in Willemstad | Things to do in Curacao - Joanna E

20 thoughts on “Things to Do in Willemstad, Curaçao

  1. Pingback: Everything You Need to Know about Traveling to Aruba after Reopening

  2. MJ says:

    My uncle by marriage is from Curaçao. I’ve always wanted to go. The food and the history would be my biggest draw and of course the beach.

  3. The Review Chic says:

    I loved this post! The food looked delicious. I love to hit the local spots while on vacation. You can find some real jems!

  4. Brian says:

    Our family has come to Curacao for dive vacations for many years. From a simple standpoint, we come downtown at least once on every trip. Usually for dinner at The Gouverneurs. Before that, we cross the Queen Emma for some photos and then have a beverage and a snack at the Green Iguana. Just people watch and observe the boats, big and small come and go at sunset. A simple but wonderful thing we do ever trip

    • Joanna E says:

      That sounds great! I wanted to cross the floating bridge, but it was under construction. 🙁 I’ll definitely keep these places in mind. Simple, but nice is my motto. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Cece says:

    The food looked amazing!! When I visit a new place, I like to check out the local museums and as well but also sample from the “best” eateries. I think you can learn a lot about different cultures (and sub-cultures) by how they eat.

  6. Olivia says:

    Wow, that Synagogue is really lovely inside and the museum you went to sounds really interesting. I love to do things like that when I travel, see the sighs and I also museums. I love learning about the history of where I am visiting, that’s always a treat! Great post!

  7. Angel Aponte says:

    Hi thanks for your nice to read article about Curacao, the next time you visit the island dont forget the Maritime Museum nearby Customs Office and the floating market. You will love this museum too!

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