The capital of Curaçao, Willemstad, is almost as old as a more famous Dutch settlement—it was founded in 1634, just 10 years after New Amsterdam, later called New York. But while the Dutch control of New Amsterdam was relatively brief, Curaçao remains a part of the Netherlands to this day. Its historic center is a unique mixture of Dutch architecture and Caribbean pastels, its gabled row houses overlooking Sint Anna Bay, a waterway dividing the city in two and connecting the Caribbean to the protected Schottegat Bay. The entire historic center of Willemstad has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While Willemstad's legendary days of yore can be explored at institutions like the Kura Hulanda and Curaçao Maritime Museum, this is a vibrant, living city too. Highlights of this multicultural melting pot might include a stop at its floating market and a visit to a curaçao distillery to taste the famous local liqueur. Natural wonders await as well: Some of the Caribbean’s most stunning diving and snorkeling spots are here. Finally, a meal in Willemstad will let you experience the diversity of the island through the surprising flavors of its cuisine, which reflects European, Caribbean and Latin American influences.