How to Spend a Day Exploring Willemstad, Curaçao
During our week in Curaçao, we spent one full day exploring the island’s capital city, Willemstad. We drove about 30 minutes that morning from our resort in Sint Willibrordus.
Museum Kura Hulanda
We started our day at Museum Kura Hulanda, which dives into the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. The museum is located on the site of a former slave yard and merchant’s home. It was very interesting to see the exhibits that explained the cultural influences on the island. We did a self-guided tour, but they also had the option to get an audio guide. We spent about an hour here.
From the museum, we walked over to Rif Fort, which is a former 19th-century fort turned into an open-air shopping mall. There are lots of shops and restaurants here.
Curaçao Liqueur Distillery tour
Next, we drove to the Curaçao Liqueur Distillery, which is a 10-minute drive from the Willemstad downtown area. We bought tour tickets ahead of time online for their 11am tour. We checked in and joined the rest of the group for a quick tour through the home of the original blue Curaçao liqueur. At the end of the tour, they gave us a few small samples of different flavors of their liqueur and let us choose a full-size mixed drink. I got a blue frozen margarita, and it was the best drink I had all week!
Lunch at Mundo Bizzarro
From the distillery, we drove back to the downtown area of Willemstad, this time parking on the east side of the bay, along a small street called Nieuwstraat. We walked a couple blocks to our lunch spot for the day, Mundo Bizzarro. The atmosphere of this restaurant had a very Cajun feel and it reminded me a lot of New Orleans. I tried the pasta with shrimp and truffle cream sauce and it was delicious.
Visit Curaçao letters in Queen Wilhelmina Park
After lunch, we walked through the downtown area and came upon the large Curaçao letters in Queen Wilhelmina Park. This is a fun, quick photo stop.
Next, we made our way up to Handelskade, a row of Colonial Dutch buildings painted in bright colors along the Willemstad waterfront. There are several shops and restaurants along this row and in the several blocks behind it. We made sure to check out the photographic Penha building. We learned that these buildings were all originally white, but on sunny days, they were so bright and blinding to look at that they painted the buildings to save the residents’ eyesight.
At this point in the afternoon, we were extremely hot and getting dehydrated. There isn’t much shade coverage while walking around downtown. We found Cafe Iguana along the water and ordered a frozen coffee while watching the Queen Emma bridge opening and closing for boats making their way through the bay.
Cross the Queen Emma Pedestrian Bridge
Once we’d cooled off enough to go back into the sun, we walked across the floating Queen Emma pedestrian bridge to get to the other side, where we had started our day. 16 pontoon boats support the bridge and it swings open to allow boats through.
Sunset dinner at Bijblauw
We ended our evening with a sunset dinner on the water at a restaurant called Bijblauw. I got the truffle risotto and Mike got the hanger steak. They were both really good. We got to sit down by the water and watch the waves crash on the rocks. Such a cool spot!