Paramaribo is the capital of Suriname. The country no one has heard about in South America. Suriname was formally owned by Holland and eventually gained independence in 1975. It’s the smallest of all the countries in South America. The official language is Dutch but English is widely spoken. Paramaribo is full of stunning colonial buildings, but some are sadly crumbling and need some serious love.
Many travellers skip this part of the continent, I understand why though, it’s because there’s no big wow destination. But every country has highlights whether it’s the people, it’s history or amazing landscapes. Most of Suriname is actually made up of wild jungle with many indigenous communities living there. These are protected by both Conservation International and WWF Guianas. The rest of the country being coastline, similar to its neighbouring Guyana and French Guiana. A lot of tourists come for the nature, visiting the Upper Suriname River and other parts of the jungle on tours.
I only had the chance to visit Paramaribo in Suriname on my travels around South America. Here’s some of the best things you can do in Paramaribo!
Things to do in Paramaribo
Paramaribo’s central square is covered in palm trees so it feels like a mini jungle in the middle of the city. Beautiful place for a picnic if the sun is shining. I think this is the vibes Cayenne in French Guiana wanted but it didn’t work out aswell as it did here.
Visit the Commewijne River + See dolphins
Take a dolphin sunset tour and you will not be disappointed. The amount of river dolphin here compared to the amazon is immense. They can come quite close to the boat depending on how they are feeling and if you’re lucky or not. it was amazing! Tours run with various companies but usually they are booking for another companies tour. I booked with Orange Suriname and ending up with the company Waterproof Suriname, who I originally wanted to book with anyway.
Every city has to have one of these right? Visit early in the morning to catch everyone with all their produce freshly stocked. You can buy some of the exotic fruits and vegetables to try, such as the vegetable called bitter melon (I’m not a fan of it). I tried local food for lunch at Eetcafé de Gadri (next to Fort Zeelandia).
Beautifully preserved fort whose darkest days we’re in the 1980’s when the army took control of the fort. The December assassinations took place in the fort. It’s mad to see such stunning buildings which have witnessed murders. The fort is now back to its re-purposed use of being the Suriname museum. It costs 25 Suriname dollar (£2.5) to enter for an adult ticket. Though all the exhibitions are in Dutch but it’s nice for a wonder inside and the colonial houses outside the fort are gorgeous, most have residents or are being used for other purposes.
Saint Peter & Paul Cathedral Basilica
The largest wooden building in South America. Painted beautifully, see it in its full glory as the sun is setting. To enter you need to be covering your legs and arms. I didn’t get to see inside because of this… it’s too hot to wear trousers here.
Explore the Colonial buildings
Being a colonial city, there are loads of beautiful buildings over the town. I even stayed in one while visiting Paramaribo. Some are in beautiful condition, while others are derelict and run down. It’s pretty cool to see the contrast.
Waterfront of Hotel Torarica
The best piece of the Paramaribo waterfront has been taken by Hotel Torarica. Though it’s fine to enter the hotel through the lobby, go past the pool and simply walk through to the back. There’s a nice pier, which I can imagine is a stunning place to watch the sunset. You can also buy a day pass for the pool, gym, sauna which I think is about 90 Suriname dollar (about £9) if you want some luxury or a place for a dip to cool off.
Peperpot Nature Park & Plantation
Close by to the city you can get a taste of wild nature and also visit the old abandoned coffee and coca plantations from colonial times. Tours run here, but they are easy to book if you are in a couple or with a group. Otherwise you can read my self-guide blog post here about how to get there yourself.
I didn’t have enough time to visit but I think if I spent an extra day it would have been a good idea to rent a bike again and explore this area. Nieuw Amsterdam is the capital of the Commewijne District (where the dolphins are). You will need to cross the river and then cycle there. If you read my self-guide post to Peperpot it will explain the crossing. There’s another fort here to explore which looks cooler and bigger than Fort Zeelandia.
I enjoyed my time in Paramaribo, riding around on bikes exploring the city and surrounding nature. If you ever to decide to visit the Guyana’s make sure you stop at this city for a big mix of cultures!
Check out some of my related posts: