Renaissance Mall & Rif Fort
The lively Rif Fort Courtyard complex is a major shopping and entertainment hub in Willemstad, located at the entrance of St. Anna Bay. It’s also home to some of the island’s finest restaurants. Originally built to protect the bay and the outer part of Willemstad’s Otrobanda neighborhood, the fort eventually lost its military use and has since been transformed into a popular tourist area.
Scenically set by Curaçao’s canals, with views of Willemstad’s pretty pastel-hued gabled buildings, the fort was built in 1829. The building has slowly been taken over by the sea since being decommissioned in 1928, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourist shopping area. Here, you can browse local art galleries or splurge on locally designed jewelry and clothing. Order cocktails at a European bar then choose from cosmopolitan cuisines at a range of restaurants.
Things to know before you go
*Rif Fort is sometimes spelled as Riffort and translates to Reef Fort. *Public restrooms are available here. *All shops at Rif Fort are wheelchair-friendly. *An on-site museum features interactive exhibits about the island's history and the fortress.
How to get there
Rif Fort overlooks St. Anna Bay on the southern Otrobanda side of the island in Willemstad. The cruise ship pier is adjacent to the fort, making it easily accessible for cruise ship passengers. For those staying on the island, taxis are readily available, but be sure to ask about the rate first since they aren’t metered.
When to get there
Rif Fort offers a bustling nightlife scene with live entertainment plus outdoor bars and terraces, making it a good option for evenings in Curaçao. Overall, expect to encounter the biggest crowds when cruise ships are docked and during the winter months, which is peak tourist season. Keep in mind that shops and restaurants usually close on Sundays.