Oranjestad, Aruba - Stein Travel
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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

Climate

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 at all.

Language

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 language Papiamento.

Money

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.

Time

Local time in Aruba is GMT -4.

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