23 Best Sights in Curaçao

Art Cave Francis Sling

Fodor's choice

Local artist Francis Sling is a man of many talents---painter, outdoor muralist, sculptor, musician, and poet. He documents his creative journeys in videos and online multimedia presentations to help you follow his process; his most famous installation in Scharloo was the building-wide mural he created on his own home. His passion to bring more creativity to his neighborhood also spawned local group Street Art Skalo who is now turning the bario into a little Wynwood (Miami) with their own outdoor art---the group was invited to the Miami art festival to create their own mural tribute to their island home. You'll recognize Sling's inimitable style popping up all over Curacao, but now he has a permanent gallery where you can purchase his art, and if you're lucky, watch the artist at work. 

Cathedral of Thorns

Fodor's choice

This surreal, building-sized art installation was painstakingly (and literally) created out of some 30 million thorns over a five-year period by award-winning artist Herman van Bergen. Each section is dedicated to a world religion; the nooks and crannies contain a rotating series of art objects by guest artists. It’s on the grounds of Landhuis Bloemhof (a museum, art gallery, and historic plantation), but it can be visited on its own, and special cultural and musical events are often held there. It’s an incredible sight when illuminated at night but just as impressive to see up close during the day.    Wear sturdy shoes, errant thorns can pierce your flip-flops!

Christoffel National Park

Fodor's choice

The 1,239-foot Mt. Christoffel, Curaçao's highest peak, is at the center of this 4,450-acre garden and wildlife preserve under the protection of Caribbean Research and Management of Biodiversity (CARMABI). They offer many forms of touring the natural preserve, including guided hikes, jeep safaris, mountain biking, deer-watching (the island's elusive white-tailed deer are very shy), animal presentations, cave explorations, and special activities like full-moon nature walks. Visitors can also hike the mountain on their own. The exhilarating climb takes about two hours for a reasonably fit person. On a clear day, the panoramic view from the peak stretches to the mountain ranges of Venezuela. Throughout the park are six hiking trails and a 20-mile (32-km) network of driving trails (use heavy-treaded tires if you wish to explore the unpaved stretches). The old Savonet plantation house there (one of the island's first plantations) now serves as a modern museum with exhibits retracing the region's history as far back as the original Indian inhabitants.

There's a separate entrance fee to the museum but you can also get a combination pass that includes the park and museum for less.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Curaçao Sea Aquarium

Fodor's choice

Located in Sea Aquarium Park—along with the independently operated Animal Encounters and Dolphin Academy, —the island's original and largest marine attraction is entertaining and educational for all ages. Admission allows access to more than 40 saltwater tanks full of sea life; dolphin and sea lion shows; shark-feeding sessions; and opportunities to interact with stingrays, sea turtles, and flamingoes. For extra fees, you can also swim and snorkel with dolphins or get up close to sea lions under the supervision of a trainer as part of the Sea Lion Encounter program. Don't miss the cool Ocean Lens underwater observatory. A snack bar and souvenir shop are also on-site.

Dolphin Academy

Fodor's choice

The Dolphin Academy—in the same location as but run independently from the Curaçao Sea Aquarium and Animal Encounters—specializes in up close interactions with its friendly, ever-smiling, namesake mammals. The trainers are extremely professional and knowledgeable, and the well-cared-for dolphins thrive in a spacious, natural, saltwater lagoon. Options include shallow-water encounters or swims, free-dive or snorkeling sessions, and lagoon or open-water scuba dives (with Ocean Encounter dive operators). There are also special packages for stays at the nearby Dolphin Suites hotel complex, which is well-equipped for people with disabilities.

Kurá Hulanda Village

Otrobanda Fodor's choice

Kurá Hulanda (Dutch for"Holland courtyard") is the heartbeat of the historic quarter of Otrobanda, and it was completely rejuvenated in 2023 to create a vibrant new village of boutique shops, alfresco cafés, bars, dining spots, public squares, a boutique hotel, and eye-popping outdoor art. It’s an enchanting maze of pedestrian-friendly cobblestone alleys bedecked by a rainbow of brightly colored and beautifully resorted 18th-century colonial buildings. The Kurá Hulanda Museum is still a cornerstone of the square, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the region’s slave history as well as comprehensive exhibits on African art and culture. Live music on weekends nights are popular here now, too.

Landhuis Chobolobo

Saliña Fodor's choice

The famed blue Curaçao liqueur, which is made from the peels of bitter laraha oranges, originated at this distillery. The family-run operation, located on a heritage estate that dates from the 1800s, offers a choice of guided tours that include tastings, cocktails, and even mixology lessons. Free self-guided tours also include samples.

Maritime Museum

Fodor's choice

Designed to resemble the interior of a ship, this museum contains more than 500 years of maritime and island history with model ships, historic maps, nautical charts, navigational equipment, and more. Exhibit topics include the development of Willemstad as a trading city, Curaçao's role as a contraband hub, De Alphen (a Dutch freighter that exploded and sank in St. Anna Bay in 1778 and was excavated in 1984), the slave trade, the development of steam navigation, and the role of the Dutch navy on the island. The museum also offers a popular ferry excursion through Curaçao's harbor every Wednesday from 2–3 pm (advance reservations required).

Pietermaai District

Fodor's choice
An incredible transformation has taken place in this historic district over the past few years; it has morphed from a decrepit neighborhood to a colorful seat of culture and happenings. New boutique hotels, fine dining, and trendy cafés have taken hold in restored mansions and new enclaves. It has its own security force and designated community organization, which hosts many special events and artistic projects. Hosted photo walks are also offered with a side of history.

Playa PortoMari

Fodor's choice

Set beneath an historic plantation site, you'll find calm, clear water and a long stretch of white sand and full facilities on this beach. A decent bar and restaurant, well-kept showers, changing facilities, and restrooms are all on-site; a nature trail is nearby. The double coral reef (explore one, swim past it, explore another) is a special feature that makes this spot popular with snorkelers, equipment rental is available on site. It's also known as home for visiting wild pigs. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking; showers; toilets. Best for: snorkeling; swimming; walking.

Queen Emma Bridge

Fodor's choice

Affectionately called “the Swinging Old Lady,” this bridge, which is beautifully lit at night, crosses Santa Anna Bay, connecting the two sides of Willemstad (Punda and Otrobanda). The bridge swings open to allow passage of ships to and from the sea, when it does, there are free ferries for crossing available to the public. The original bridge, built in 1888, was the brainchild of the American consul Leonard Burlington Smith, who made a mint off the tolls he charged for using it: $0.02 per person for those wearing shoes, free to those crossing barefoot. (Although he meant to help the poor, the rich often saved money by crossing barefoot, and the poor would often borrow shoes to cross because they were too proud to admit they could not afford the toll!) Today it's free to everyone.

Cas Abao

This white-sand gem has the brightest blue water in Curaçao, a treat for swimmers, snorkelers, and sunbathers alike. Full services include a beach bar and restaurant, lockers, changing rooms on-site, and even full massages surfside are available. It can become crowded on weekends, especially Sunday, when local families descend in droves. You can rent beach chairs, paddle boats, kayaks, and snorkeling and diving gear. The beach is open from 8 am to 6 pm. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; snorkeling; swimming.

Children's Museum Curacao

This museum's hands-on, interactive, and multisensory exhibits—indoors and out—cover several educational themes, including nature, language, culture, and arts. Special seasonal events are held throughout the year.  School groups often visit in the mornings, so plan your visit post-lunch for better access to the experiences.

CurAloe Plantation & Factory

The island's successful CurAloe line of products is sold in shops throughout Curaçao. On a visit to the company's plantation (admission is free), you can see more than 100,000 plant specimens, learn about aloe's myriad cosmetic and medicinal applications, and sample and purchase products. Informative videos tell the story; a helpful staff answers questions.

Den Paradera

Dazzle your senses at this organic herb garden, where traditional folk medicines used to treat everything from stomach ulcers to diabetes are grown. Owner Dinah Veeris is a renowned expert and author in the field of herbs and plants. The kitchen is a factory of sorts used to turn homegrown plants like cactus, aloe vera, and calabash into homemade body- and skin-care products like shampoos, ointments, and oils—all for sale at the gift shop. Reservations are essential for guided tours in English, Monday through Friday at 9:30 and 10:30 am, but you can take a self-guided tour with a brochure any time of day.

Seru Grandi 105A, Morgenster, n/a Curaçao, Curaçao
sights Details
Rate Includes: $8 self-guided tour; $9 guided

Floating Market

Originally called the floating market because it was made up of dozens of Venezuelan schooners, the market has morphed into a more stationary local farmer’s market with the majority of stalls crammed tightly together on terra firma. Though there are still some South American fishing boats selling the catch for the day, most of the wares are fresh fruit and produce and the vibe is lively and fun. Get there early morning for the best and freshest finds.

Hato Caves

Stalactites and stalagmites form striking shapes in these 300,000-year-old caves. Hidden lighting adds to the dramatic effect. Indians who used the caves for shelter left petroglyphs about 1,500 years ago. More recently, slaves who escaped from nearby plantations used the caves as a hideaway. Hour-long guided tours, which are offered from 9 to 3 daily (arrive 15 minutes early), wind down to the pools in various chambers. An Indian Trail walking path and cactus garden enlighten visitors about local vegetation. The space is also available for special events. Located just four minutes from Hato International Airport.

Rooseveltweg z/n, Hato, n/a Curaçao, Curaçao
sights Details
Rate Includes: $10

Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue

The Western Hemisphere's oldest temple in continuous use is one of Curaçao's most important sights and draws thousands of visitors per year. The synagogue was dedicated in 1732 by a Jewish community that had grown from the original 12 families who came from Amsterdam in 1651 and included Jews who fled persecution by the Inquisition in Portugal and Spain. White sand covers the synagogue floor for two symbolic reasons: a remembrance of the 40 years Jews spent wandering the desert, and a re-creation of the sand used by secret Jews, or conversos, to muffle sounds from their houses of worship during the Inquisition. The Jewish Cultural Museum, in the back of the temple, displays antiques and artifacts from around the world. Many of the objects are used in the synagogue, making it a "living" museum.

Hanchi Snoa 29, Willemstad, n/a Curaçao, Curaçao
sights Details
Rate Includes: $10; donations also accepted, Closed weekends

Ostrich Farm

Though ostriches are not native to Curaçao, the island is home to one of the largest ostrich farms outside of Africa. Guided safari tours depart every hour. You'll learn about the bird's development from egg to maturity. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the chance to hold an egg, stroke a day-old chick, and sit atop an ostrich for a memorable photo. At the Restaurant Zambezi you can sample ostrich meat specialties and other African dishes. A combo safari and tour of the farm, which includes lunch or dinner, is also available, as are quad tours that cover more of the countryside. The Special African Nights package includes a visit to the aloe farm, ostrich facility tour, and three-course dinner with pickup and drop-off at your hotel. The souvenir shop sells crafts made by local artisans.

Plasa Bieuw (Old Market)


The Old Market is a popular lunch stop for locals working downtown. Visitors also appreciate the hearty, simple authentic fare and good prices. Enjoy such Curaçaoan specialties as funchi (polenta), goat stew, fried fish, stewed okra, fried plantains, and rice and peas—all prepared right in front of your eyes in open kitchens by local cooks.

Playa Knip

Two protected coves offer crystal-clear turquoise waters. Big (Groot) Knip, also known as Playa Kenepa, is an expanse of alluring white sand, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. You can rent beach chairs and hang out under the palapas (thatch-roof shelters) or cool off with ice cream at the snack bar. This spot is also famous for cliff jumping by locals and adventurous visitors. There are restrooms here but no showers. It's particularly crowded on Sunday and school holidays. Just up the road, also in a protected cove, sister beach Little (Klein) Knip is a charmer, too, with picnic tables and palapas. There's no fee for these beaches. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking; toilets; water sports. Best for: snorkeling; sunrise; sunset; swimming.



The Wilhelmina Drawbridge connects Punda with the once-flourishing district of Scharloo where the early Jewish merchants built stately homes. It was a tight-knit community and the architecture along Scharlooweg (much of it from the 17th century) is magnificent. Some of the neighborhood has been restored as part of the UNESCO heritage site and the Curaçao Monuments Foundation will be restoring more old mansions in the future. This neighborhood is also home to the island's most photographed building, a light-green mansion dubbed the "Wedding Cake House" since it looks like it's been frosted with white icing. Kleine Werf—the little wharf cresting Scharloo—has now become a venue for large-scale outdoor concerts. New nightlife corners such as District 1850 are popping up there as well .

The Curaçao Museum (Het Curacaosch Museum)


Housed in a restored 1853 plantation house that later served as a military hospital, this small museum is filled with artifacts, paintings, and antiques that trace island history. This is also a venue for domestic and international art exhibitions, and there's a sculpture garden that features work by local artists.