Known for the pastel-colored colonial Dutch buildings, historical Willemstad makes you feel as if you are transported to The Netherlands while experiencing the blue waters and temperate climate of the Caribbean.
The capital of the island nation of Curacao was named an UNESCO world heritage site in 1997, and it is easy to see why.
I had the chance to explore this beautiful city and want to highlight the spots that took my breath away! If you are headed to Curacao, make sure you visit these 5 most Insta-worthy places around Willemstad!
Renaissance Curaçao Resort
The Renaissance Curaçao Resort is not only the perfect place to stay during your vacation, but the beautiful facade makes it the perfect photo backdrop.
Built around the historic Rif Fort – a 19th-century fort constructed to protect the island from pirates and other enemies – the exterior of the Renaissance Curaçao Resort emulates Dutch architecture while highlighting the Caribbean’s notorious color scheme of red, yellow, and green. Go experience the tropical vibes with the lush landscape and tall palm trees.
Best Time To Visit: Because it is close to the major cruise ship dock, the area around Renaissance Curaçao will get very busy by noon. So if you want to grab some photos without crowds, be sure to go early in the morning.
If you want to learn more about Renaissance Curaçao, check out ‘Staying At Renaissance Curaçao Resort And Casino’.
Queen Emma Bridge
Queen Emma Bridge is a pontoon bridge across St. Anna Bay that connects the Punda and Otrobanda sides of Willemstad.
Built in 1888, the Queen Emma Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that opens regularly to let ships pass. The locals have given the bridge the nickname, “Our Swinging Old Lady”.
While the bridge itself is not that beautiful, the view of Handelskade from the bridge makes it worth visiting.
Handelskade is the most breathtaking part of the historical neighborhood of Punda. The row of houses and 18th-century buildings along the waters of St. Anna Bay is reminiscent of the Amsterdam canals, if you threw a bunch of brightly colored paint around!
Best Time To Visit: I highly suggest taking photos at sunrise. If you’re taking photos in the direction of Punda/Handelskade, your photo will have the most beautiful sun flare! Really just makes it pop!
The Floating Market
Located along the water in the trendy Punda district is Curacao’s Floating Market.
Every morning starting at 6:30 AM, boats from Venezuela dock along Sha Caprileskade road with fresh fruits (plantains, citrus, papayas, avocados), vegetables, and fish to sell. Even if you aren’t in the mood to buy anything, you should definitely have a look. It’s the perfect place to get some fun, colorful pictures and chat with locals!
If you’re worried about posing in the middle of a busy market, have no fear. All the merchants are very kind and don’t mind if you take pictures by their stands. In fact, you may even find yourself drawing in neighboring vendors and tourists.
Best Time To Visit: Definitely go in the morning for the finest selection of produce, cooler temperatures, and fewer crowds.
If you love colors and beautiful street art, you cannot miss the Scharloo neighborhood in Willemstad.
In 2016, a group of three local artists joined forces with Fundashon Rebiba Skálo Abou (FRESA) to form Street Art Skálo. This initiative started due to the neglect and disrepair of the neighborhood. The organization is changing the perspective of the area and bringing businesses to this side of town.
My absolutely favorite piece of street art is the mural ‘Three O’Clock Romance’ by Francis Sling. It is located on the corner of Bitterstraat and Van Raderstraat, only a 5-minute walk from the Floating Market. The vivid yellow, blue, and white colors perfectly reflect the liveliness of Curaçao. It’s impossible to look at this mural and not to feel pure joy and the warmth of summer.
Best Time To Visit: The specific mural on Bitterstraat faces northeast, so best lighting will be around 11am when the sun is shining directly on the wall. The light will be harsh but you don’t want any shadows on the mural.
Originally a residential neighborhood during the 18th century, the Pietermaai District is now home to many lounge areas, specialty shops, and art studios. However, this is a new phenomenon.
In the late 20th century, Pietermaai was slowly being taken over by drug peddlers, which drove business away and citizens indoors. This period led to the neglect of many buildings. To this day some remnants of that time are still visible in a few buildings, but most of the neighborhood has now been restored.
The Pietermaai District is definitely one of the most photogenic spots in all of Curacao. You could walk down the street all day and continue to be amazed.
My personal favorite group of buildings (pictured) is at the east end of Pietermaai at the Scuba Lodge. The row of blue, pink, and yellow restored houses really captures the beauty of the neighborhood.
Best Time To Visit: Anytime is a good time to explore Pietermaai!
Which of these five place would you visit first in Willemstad?? Let me know in the comment below.