What to Do in Downtown Willemstad

It’s been about a month since returning from Curaçao and I’m already thinking to go back with my sisters. It’s a beautiful island with so much to do and I’ll definitely be exploring more when I return. Since my hotel provided free shuttle service to Punda, 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 you can do in Willemstad.

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 Punda, 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.

floating market

Eat the Food

Plasa Bieu

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 West Indian, I told him to bring the pepper sauce so I know it’s real.

iguana dish

pepper sauce

old market

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 on their resort, the price was high, but the food was very good. I needed to find this in the old market.

keshi yena

Visit the Museums

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



The Kura Hulanda Museum is an absolute MUST see in Curaçao. It is located a few blocks from the Ferry stop to the Otrobanda (or walk across the floating 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, slavery in the West Indies and a North America and 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.

kura hulanda


What are some of the local things you do on vacation?

What to do in downtown Willemstad

19 thoughts on “What to Do in Downtown Willemstad

  1. Angel Aponte

    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!


    1. Joanna E

      I was looking for the museum when I was there. Definitely will cross over and check it out next time. Thanks


  2. Olivia

    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!


  3. Cece

    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.


  4. Brian

    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


    1. Joanna E

      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. Jonna

    I always love to check out the local food spots when on vacation. Coffee shops, dessert shops, etc – just so I know it’s real.


  6. The Review Chic

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


  7. Valerie Robinson

    Beautiful pictures and lovely post! The food looks absolutely amazing. I love getting a peek into different cultures.


  8. MJ

    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.


  9. Antoinette

    Thanks for sharing details of your trip. Beautiful pictures and the food looks great.


  10. Janelle

    WOW. Super lovely. I totally enjoy your journey you’re always sharing. I’m here like “Take me with you!!” LOL.


  11. Mimi "MimiCuteLips" Green

    Eating is always a major part of my vacationing. I love to try local foods, foods I can’t get at home. That always makes for the best experience.


  12. Tyra

    I have been wanting to make it to Curacao! This looks gorgeous! Great views.


    1. Joanna E

      I definitely recommend it. A lot of people opt to go to Aruba, but I’m very happy I chose their sister island.


  13. Siobhan (BeFree Project)

    I can see why you’re ready to go back to Curacao, your trip sounds amazing. The pictures were beautiful and the food looks delicious. Thanks for allowing us to peek into your trip, great post.



  14. LaVonndra Johnson

    The chandelier in the museum is amazing.


  15. Camesha | Mama Motivator

    Such a beautiful place! I’d be ready to go back too!


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