Willemstad is the capital of Curaçao, an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The old center almost completely consists of colonial, Dutch houses painted in lively colors. The city center appears on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The city has 140,000 inhabitants which makes it by far the largest city of the Antilles.
Willemstad is located southeast of Curaçao, on a natural harbor, called the Schottegat. That harbor in connected to the Caribbean Sea via the Saint Anna bay. East of this bay lies the Punda quarter, on the west side Otrabanda.
Willemstad mainly gets its earnings from trade via the harbor, oil refinery, financial services and especially tourism. Most tourists come from The Netherlands, the United States and Venezuela. Willemstad's harbor is called at by many cruise ships.
Curaçao's airport, Hato International Airport, is situated eleven kilometers northwest of Willemstad, right on the northern coast of the island. The airport is easily reachable by rental car. From Willemstad you first follow the Weg naar Westpunt and next the Weg naar Hato. The way is clearly signposted.
There are two forms of public bus transportation on Curaçao. There are large yellow or blue busses called 'konvooi' that only stop at official stops. There are also minivans simply called 'bus' (also stated on the license plate). You can stop these anywhere and you can also ask the driver to drop you off anywhere. The city busses run their route once per hour; busses to places outside Willemstad run less frequent. On Sundays bus service is extremely limited.
Traffic and Parking
It can be problematic finding a parking space for your rental car in Willemstad. There's always space on the large free parking lot Waaigat but this place is less safe in the evenings and at night. In the old quarter Punda and near the Wilhelmina square there are two guarded parking lots. In the streets around these parking lots you need to pay. Everywhere else on Curaçao parking is free.
Willemstad has a good supply of accommodation. There are also hotels and holiday resorts near Cabana Beach (east of Willemstad) and the Piscadera bay (west of town). The island draws vacationers all year round. It's therefore recommended to book your hotel room well in advance.
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