Welcome to Oranjestad
Aruba's capital, Oranjestad, is the first stop for most
visitors. Its small harbour, once reserved for schooners and
fishing boats, now attracts cruise ships from all over the world,
and the island's Queen Beatrix airport is located just south of the
city. Despite the thousands of tourists that pour into the town it
has managed to retain its traditional charm.
Oranjestad's downtown streets are lined with pastel-coloured
Dutch colonial houses adorned with ornate gable roofs, and the
average tourist will be unaware that many are recent imitations.
The presence of many an orange coloured façade, too, not only
points to the capital's name, but to the island's connection to the
Netherlands and William of Orange, a Dutch monarch instrumental in
the gaining of Dutch independence
A highlight in Oranjestad is the Archaeological Museum, with
exhibits on Aruba's original Arawak inhabitants and, in the
restored 18th-century Fort Zoutman, the Museo Arubano displays
Aruba's pre-European and colonial eras. The Numismatic Museum has a
large collection of coins from over 400 countries, many salvaged
from shipwrecks in the surrounding area. The fort itself is one of
Oranjestad's most popular attractions, and built in 1796, it played
a pivotal role in battles between Curaçao and British troops in
1803. In the late 1800s, the Willem III tower (named after the
Dutch king at the time) was added to act as a lighthouse.
Although shoppers will find central Oranjestad packed with
boutiques, shopping complexes and glitzy 24-hour casinos, it is
possible to escape this tourist zone and discover the more
authentic town with its lively, if slightly run-down bars where one
can enjoy a quiet beer and meet the locals.
Information & Facts
Oranjestad has a temperate climate with average daily highs
reaching 82°F (28°C). The temperature never gets too high due to
the cooling trade winds, but the best time to visit Oranjestad is
in peak tourist season between mid-December and mid-April. Rainfall
is infrequent, but likely to occur between October and January, if
The official language in Aruba is Dutch but English and
Spanish are taught in school and are also widely spoken. Some
French is also understood. Most islanders also speak the native
The official currency is the Aruban Florin (AWG), which is
divided into 100 cents. The Florin is tied to the US Dollar. US
currency is accepted everywhere and other major currencies can be
exchanged at banks. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted and
there are ATMs in Oranjestad. Travellers cheques are also widely
accepted and it is best to have cheques in US dollars or Euros to
avoid additional charges.
Local time in Aruba is GMT -4.