Fort Nassau has hosted a popular restaurant since 1959, serving Caribbean-style haute cuisine and fine wines amid authentic 18th-century decor. It’s well worth adding lunch or dinner at this semi open-air restaurant to your itinerary. Then, take a post-dinner stroll around the battlements for 360-degree views overlooking the island and the city of Willemstad.
In addition to housing the restaurant, Fort Nassau is where the harbor master signals to incoming and outgoing vessels and regulates the opening and closing of the pontoon bridge. In 1959, the fort was declared a national monument; today, it can be visited for free.
Things to know before you go
- This is a popular spot to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand.
- You can book lunch and dinner reservations through the restaurant’s website.
- Six forts still exist on Curacao and have been converted into hotels, shops, and restaurants, as well as museums and offices; travelers interested in military history will appreciate a stop at Fort Nassau.
How to get there
Fort Nassau is a few minutes east of Willemstad on Sablica Hill, above Schottegat. It’s located at the top of a very steep hill, overlooking the harbor, and isn’t accessible by foot; some cyclists do bike up the hill though. Grab a taxi, which are readily available in Willemstad, to reach the restaurant and the lookout.
When to get there
Some restaurants in Willemstad are closed on Sundays, but Fort Nassau is open for dinner then, starting at 6pm. Overall, the best time to visit the island is from May through November. That’s because Curacao isn’t typically affected by hurricanes the way other Caribbean islands might be during that time. Expect the biggest crowds during the winter months.
Willemstad’s Queen Emma Bridge
A popular attraction in Curacao, the pedestrian Queen Emma pontoon bridge connects the two sides of downtown Willemstad: Punda, on the canal’s right bank, and Otrobanda, on the other side. With the signal station that controls it located at Fort Nassau, the bridge opens to allow vessels to sail in and out of the harbor.