Oranjestad is a unique blend of old and new that lends a distinctive charm to Aruba’s capital. A bustling harbor city, Oranjestad’s streets and malls are dotted with international luxury retailers, diverse boutiques, and dazzling jewelry stores. Fascinating restored landmark buildings are found along the way, such as the green “stadhuis” housing the City Hall where legal marriages are performed.
A scenic linear park lines the coast from Oranjestad to the airport. A new state-of-the-art tram begins at the cruise terminal, meandering through town, all along the sparkling new landscaped Main Street. Oranjestad is also a jumping nightlife mecca, filled with restaurants, cafes, clubs, lounges, bars and casinos.
Fort Zoutman, Aruba’s oldest building dating back to 1798, was built to protect the city from pirates. The Willem III Tower was built in 1868, once a lighthouse and public clock tower. The Historical Museum, positioned between the two buildings, houses a permanent exhibition outlining the main events in Aruban history and changing themed exhibitions. Stay in town for the Bon Bini Festival on Tuesdays at 6:30 pm in the outdoor courtyard. Enjoy the island’s history, traditionally-costumed folkloric dancers, local music, culinary specialties and local art.
The historic Ecury family home in downtown Oranjestad has been transformed to house the Archeological Museum, an impressive modern museum that strikingly presents Aruba’s Amerindian cultural heritage and archeological finds.
Inspiring monuments honoring political leaders (Jan Hendrik Albert (Henny) Eman, Cornelis Albert (Shon) Eman, and Betico Croes) are found near the Parliament building. The statue of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands resides in a park carrying her name. World War II heroes Boy Ecury, and the National Guard and volunteers, are also honored.
The Cas di Cultura is Aruba’s national theatre, where local and international artists perform throughout the year.
Aruba’s economy was once dependent upon aloe. The Aloe Museum and Factory, located at the Hato Plantation outside of town that dates back to 1890, tells the fascinating story.
Getting around downtown Oranjestad has never been easier or more fun with the addition of a state-of-the-art tram, inaugurated in 2012. Connecting the cruise ship terminal with the center of town, the tram passes through the Main Street, now totally remodeled and an attractive pedestrian mall. The tram makes six stops, at monuments and museums along the way, as well as at key shopping areas. In 2015 Oranjestad has welcomed the new cultural/historical project Paardenbaai Aruba, which features 8 blue horses showcased around the downtown area.