Oranjestad (pronounced as “o·ra·nyuh·staat” in English), is the capital city of Aruba, located on the southern coast of the island. It is a vibrant and colorful city with a rich history and a unique blend of Dutch and Caribbean cultures. The city is known for its pastel-colored buildings, many of which feature intricate architectural details and traditional Dutch gables. The main street, L.G. Smith Boulevard, is a popular destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment, with various local and international stores and restaurants. Oranjestad also features several museums and cultural attractions, including the Aruba Historical Museum, the National Archaeological Museum of Aruba, and the Aruba Numismatic Museum. The city’s waterfront is a popular tourist spot, with a picturesque marina and several beautiful beaches nearby, including Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. Visitors can also take a boat tour of the island, go snorkeling or scuba diving, or participate in various other water sports and activities. Oranjestad is also home to several festivals and events throughout the year, including Carnival, the Aruba International Film Festival, and the Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival. In Oranjestad, the Aruban Guilder (AWG) is the official local currency, with a fixed exchange rate of approximately 1.80 AWG to 1 US dollar. However, US dollars are widely accepted across the island.
Oranjestad is divided into six districts: Oranjestad-West, Oranjestad-Oost, Dakota, Ponton, Tanki Leendert, and Wayaca (near the airport). Each district has its own character and unique features, such as residential areas, shopping districts, and cultural attractions. Oranjestad-West is known for its historical buildings and landmarks, such as Fort Zoutman and the Aruba Historical Museum. Oranjestad-Oost has several shopping districts and high-rise buildings, while Dakota is primarily residential. Ponton is home to several hotels and resorts, and Tanki Leendert is known for its shopping areas and local businesses. Wayaca is a newer district that is mostly residential, with a few small shopping centers and restaurants.
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Where to Stay in Oranjestad - Our Top Picks
Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort
The Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort is a luxurious beachfront resort located in the heart of Oranjestad. The resort features a modern design with a sleek and sophisticated ambiance. It offers 556 rooms and suites with stylish decor, comfortable bedding, and modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, minibars, and free Wi-Fi. The resort boasts an impressive array of dining options, including fine dining at L.G. Smith’s Steak & Chop House, Italian cuisine at Papillon, and seafood specialties at the oceanfront restaurant Aquarius. Guests can also enjoy drinks and light bites at the Blue Bar or the beachside Solé Bar & Grill. The resort’s private island, Renaissance Island, is a highlight of the property, featuring pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and flamingos. The island is accessible via a complimentary water taxi and offers an exclusive retreat for guests. Other amenities at the resort include a fitness center, a casino, and a full-service spa.
Wonders Boutique Hotel
You’ll find just a handful of boutique hotels in Aruba, and the Wonders Boutique Hotel is an intimate option located near the heart of Oranjestad. The hotel offers 10 stylish and spacious guest rooms with modern decor, comfortable bedding, and free Wi-Fi. Each room is uniquely decorated with vibrant colors and features a private balcony or terrace. The hotel features a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city and the ocean, perfect for relaxing and enjoying a sunset cocktail. The terrace also offers a plunge pool and lounge chairs for guests to unwind. The hotel’s location in downtown Oranjestad offers easy access to the island’s restaurants, shops, and nightlife. The hotel’s friendly staff is always available to offer recommendations and assistance in planning activities or excursions.
Talk of the Town Beach Hotel & Beach Club
The Talk of the Town Beach Hotel & Beach Club is a family-friendly hotel located in Oranjestad, Aruba, just steps away from the beautiful Eagle Beach. The hotel offers 61 spacious guest rooms and suites with modern decor, comfortable bedding, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel features a large outdoor swimming pool, a hot tub, and a beach club with sun loungers and umbrellas for guests to enjoy. The beach club also offers a variety of water sports and activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Mango’s Restaurant & Bar, offers a delicious menu of Caribbean and international cuisine, along with refreshing cocktails and live music in the evenings. The hotel’s location offers easy access to the island’s attractions, including casinos, shops, and restaurants. The friendly staff is always available to offer recommendations and assistance in planning activities or excursions.
Things To Do in Oranjestad
Oranjestad Tour (Full Day)
If you’re wondering what to do in Oranjestad from your cruise ship, this one is for you! Your first stop on this excursion will be the Museo Cas Tan Tin, where you’ll explore an authentic Cunucu house from the 1920s to the late 80s. You’ll discover how the locals used to live during that era. Next, you’ll visit the Aruba Aloe Factory, Museum, and Store. Established in 1890, it’s the world’s oldest Aloe company. Enjoy a guided tour of the factory museum and learn about the history of the Aloe plant. At the Donkey Sanctuary Aruba, your third stop, you’ll have the opportunity to feed and capture pictures with these adorable creatures. Your guide will then take you to the Archivo Nacional Aruba, housing pieces of Aruba’s fascinating history. Explore the National Archive, immersing yourself in the timeless beauty of the island’s heritage. This stop includes a one-hour and five-minute visit, and admission is free. The beautiful Baby Beach in San Nicolas awaits you as your fourth stop, providing 1.5 hours of swim time at one of the best beaches of the island. You can bask in the sun and enjoy the pristine shallow waters. This stop includes a two-hour visit, including travel time, and admission is free. For the grand finale, your fifth and final stop is The Arubian Taste, where you’ll get the chance to savor a wide variety of delightful rum flavors. Indulge your taste buds and experience the authentic Arubian taste!
Explore Downtown Oranjestad on Foot
You’ll find most of Aruba’s rich history in downtown Oranjestad, and an excellent way to explore the capital is on foot. It’s a great thing to do once you’re off your cruise ship! The Aruba Downtown Walking Tour launched at the beginning of November 2016 and offers tourists a chance to mindfully explore downtown Oranjestad by walking. During the tour, an expert guide will guide you through Oranjestad’s local history, with more than 30 sites to explore. The tours are primarily in English, although the knowledgeable guides speak Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento. Highlights of the tour include Fort Zoutman, the Wilhelmina Statue, the “I Love Aruba” Sign, the Archeological Museum, and Huisje Hart. There are many stories to tell at each stop! Entrance to two museums is complimentary, as is a bottle of cool water to keep you hydrated. You’ll also taste some of Aruba’s delicious local cuisine along the way. The Aruba Downtown Walking Tour is available Monday through Saturday and begins at 9.15 AM. The tour starts at Wilhelmina Straat 2 by the Cosecha Arts & Crafts Building behind the Renaissance Hotel Marina Tower. Tourists arriving by cruise ship will start outside the Cruise Terminal, next to Diamond’s International. The walking tour has an average duration of two and a half hours, and you will visit Main Street too. Once the tour finishes, participants are free to explore Oranjestad independently. Personal, private, and custom tours are available for couples, families, or corporate groups!
National Archaeological Museum of Aruba
The National Archaeological Museum Aruba showcases the island’s rich archaeological heritage. The museum features a collection of artifacts and exhibits that explore the island’s indigenous cultures and way of life. The museum’s permanent collection includes a variety of ancient artifacts, including pottery, tools, and jewelry, that date back to pre-Columbian times. Visitors can also see interactive displays showcasing the history of the Arawak and Caquetio peoples, the island’s earliest inhabitants. One of the most notable exhibits in the museum is the reconstructed burial site of an Arawak Indian, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the burial rituals and customs of the ancient people of Aruba. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and events throughout the year, including lectures, workshops, and cultural festivals.
Fort Zoutman Historical Museum
The Fort Zoutman Historical Museum is dedicated to the island’s military and cultural history. The museum is housed in Fort Zoutman, one of the island’s oldest buildings and was built in 1798 to protect the city from pirates and other invaders. The museum features a variety of exhibits and artifacts that showcase the island’s history, including military uniforms, weapons, and documents from Aruba’s colonial period. Visitors can also see a collection of traditional Aruban crafts and learn about the island’s cultural heritage. One of the most notable features of the museum is the tower of Fort Zoutman, which offers panoramic views of Oranjestad and the surrounding area. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower and enjoy the beautiful views of the city and the Caribbean Sea. The museum also hosts a weekly Bon Bini Festival, which features traditional music, dancing, and food and offers visitors a chance to experience Aruban culture firsthand. It is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of Aruba, and offers a unique glimpse into the island’s military and cultural heritage.
Aruba’s Aloe Factory
The Aloe Factory is a popular attraction in Hato, a neighborhood in the northern part of the island just outside Oranjestad. The factory produces aloe vera products using the island’s locally grown aloe plants. Aloe vera has long been used for its potential health benefits when applied topically to the skin and when consumed orally. It contains various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can support the immune system. Aruba is home to a particular aloe vera plant known as Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller, considered one of aloe vera’s most potent and beneficial strains. Visitors to the factory can take a tour of the production facility and learn about the history and benefits of aloe vera. The tour includes visiting the aloe fields to see the growing plants and learn about harvesting and cultivation. Inside the factory, visitors can see the aloe vera being processed and transformed into various products, including lotions, soaps, and shampoos. You can also shop for a wide range of aloe vera products in the on-site gift shop, including sunscreen, after-sun care, and other skin and hair care items.
Chill at Surfside Beach
If you’ve just arrived after a long flight and you’re wondering what to do in Oranjestad, it’s nice to know that Surfside Beach is the nearest beach to the city. It is located just a few minutes walk from the center of town. It is a small, crescent-shaped beach with calm waters, soft sand, and plenty of shade from palm trees. The beach is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling, and there are several beach bars and restaurants in the area where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat. Another nearby beach is Renaissance Island, a private island owned by the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino. The island is accessible by a short water taxi ride from the Renaissance Marina and features two beautiful beaches, Flamingo Beach and Iguana Beach. Flamingo Beach is especially famous for its resident flamingos that roam freely on the beach. Note that access to Renaissance Island is limited to guests of the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino or those who purchase a day pass.
Visit the San Francisco di Asis Pro-Cathedral
The San Francisco di Asis Pro-Cathedral is a beautiful and historic church located in the heart of Oranjestad. Originally built in 1815, the church underwent a major renovation in 1953, transforming it into the stunning landmark it is today. The church’s architecture blends traditional Spanish and Dutch colonial styles with an ornate facade adorned with intricate details and beautiful stained glass windows. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi and is a place of worship and spiritual nourishment for the Catholic community in Oranjestad and the surrounding areas. The church holds regular Masses and other services throughout the week and also hosts special events and celebrations throughout the year, including the Feast of Saint Francis in October. In addition to its religious significance, the San Francisco di Asis Pro-Cathedral is also a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors from around the world.
Restaurant Wilhelmina is one of the popular restaurants in Oranjestad. The widely respected Chef Dennis van Daatselaar owns it. Chef Dennis, trained in Michelin-starred European restaurants, is also known for his other restaurant, “Carte Blanche,” which is well-known for its creative, multi-course tasting menus. Restaurant Wilhelmina, located in a charming 100-year-old building across the B.J. Arends City Park, offers a more casual dining experience than Carte Blanche. The artistic-style restaurant has a beautiful speakeasy city garden and an inviting atmosphere, with a mix of indoor and outdoor seating. The menu at Wilhelmina features a fusion of international and Caribbean-inspired dishes prepared using fresh, local ingredients. The restaurant’s signature dish is the “Seafood Volcano,” a towering seafood platter featuring a variety of fresh seafood, including lobster, shrimp, and clams, served in a spicy tomato sauce. Other popular dishes include the “Local Stew” made with goat meat and the “Rack of Lamb” served with a mint sauce. The service at Wilhelmina is top-notch, with friendly and attentive staff who provide great recommendations and ensure guests have a memorable dining experience. The restaurant also offers a carefully curated selection of wine and cocktails to complement the dishes. The restaurant is within walking distance from the Renaissance Hotel and a couple of minutes by car from the high-rise area.
Olivia Restaurant is located next to the renowned Wilhelmina Restaurant in downtown Oranjestad. This trendy and cozy Mediterranean restaurant serves authentic Mediterranean flavors with a creative and healthy twist. The new movement of healthy living inspires the menu and offers unique and innovative dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. Under Chef Dennis’s and his team’s guidance, Olivia Restaurant creates an unforgettable dining experience in a romantic outdoor setting. The ambiance is warm and welcoming, perfect for a memorable night out! The menu features a range of fresh and healthy Mediterranean-inspired dishes, including seafood, vegetarian and gluten-free options. You can indulge in flavorful salads, appetizers, pasta dishes, seafood specialties, and delicious desserts, all prepared with high-quality ingredients and infused with the unique flavors of the Mediterranean.
The West Deck
The West Deck Restaurant is a popular waterfront restaurant in Oranjestad, best known for its delicious seafood dishes and stunning views of the marina. The restaurant is located on a pier, providing a unique dining experience with a laid-back island vibe. The menu at the West Deck features a variety of fresh seafood dishes, including the catch of the day, which is prepared in various ways, such as grilled or blackened. Other popular menu items include the lobster tail, the shrimp scampi, and the seafood pasta. In addition to seafood, the restaurant also serves a range of other dishes, including salads, sandwiches, and burgers. There is also a bar menu with a variety of tropical cocktails, beers, and wines. The atmosphere at the West Deck is relaxed and casual, with a mix of indoor and outdoor seating. Guests can dine inside the restaurant or outside on the pier, enjoying the sea breeze and beautiful views!
Yemanja Woodfired Grill
Downtown, the Yemanja Woodfired Grill is a highly regarded restaurant located in a charming historic building on a cozy pedestrian street called Caya G.F. Betico Croes, lined with various restaurants, bars, and shops. The restaurant is known for its delicious grilled meats and seafood cooked using a traditional wood-fired grill. The menu features a variety of dishes, including grilled steaks, lamb chops, and fresh seafood such as shrimp and lobster. All dishes are prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and the restaurant offers a range of vegetarian options. In addition to the food, Yemanja is known for its warm and inviting atmosphere. The restaurant’s interior is decorated with rustic wooden tables and chairs, exposed brick walls, and charming string lights, creating a cozy and intimate ambiance. The restaurant also offers a range of handcrafted cocktails and a carefully curated wine list, which perfectly accompanies the delicious food.
An Argentinian restaurant in the Dutch Caribbean? You got it! Located on Wilhelminastraat 80 in a charming colonial townhouse, El Gaucho is the oldest Argentine restaurant in Aruba. It first opened its doors on February 17, 1977. At El Gaucho, you can indulge in a variety of mouth-watering dishes, with a focus on high-quality Argentine steaks that are grilled to perfection over charcoal. The restaurant’s signature dishes include the famous Gaucho steak, 16 oz sirloin, Pincho Torro Caliente, T-bone steak, veal chop, and more. El Gaucho prides itself on serving the original and best version of Churrasco steak. The restaurant’s professional and friendly staff will ensure that you have a memorable dining experience. On weekdays, the strolling guitarist duo Carlos & Jonathan Sanchez play romantic tangos and boleros, while Placido Garcia enchants guests with his guitar on Sundays. El Gaucho also offers delicious fresh seafood platters infused with Aruban flavors. El Gaucho offers a selection of exclusive Argentine wines from their well-stocked cellar to complement your meal.
Lima Bistro is a cozy Peruvian restaurant located near the Cruise Terminal. The restaurant is decorated with a rustic and charming atmosphere and features indoor and outdoor seating. The menu offers a variety of Peruvian dishes, including ceviche, lomo saltado, and arroz con mariscos, all prepared with fresh ingredients and traditional Peruvian flavors. One of the standout dishes is the Pollo a la Brasa, a flavorful roasted chicken served with crispy french fries and a tangy green sauce. The restaurant also serves a selection of signature cocktails and Peruvian beers to complement the meal. The staff at Lima Bistro is friendly and attentive, providing excellent service to guests. The restaurant is popular among locals and tourists, and reservations are recommended, especially on weekends. Whether you’re looking for a casual lunch or a romantic dinner, Lima Bistro is an excellent choice for a taste of Peruvian cuisine!
How to Get to Oranjestad
From the Cruise Port
The Cruise Port in Oranjestad is located in the heart of the city, so it is very easy to get to the center of town. On foot, it is a short walk to the center of Oranjestad, which takes approximately 10-15 minutes. Simply exit the terminal and follow the signs towards the city center. Taxis are readily available at the Cruise Port and can take you to the center of Oranjestad in just a few minutes. The taxi stand is located outside of the terminal building, and fares are regulated by the government. You can also rent a car and drive to the center of Oranjestad, which is only a few minutes away.