Don't Miss Places In Suriname
The inhabitants of this land, the Arawak, Carib, and the Warrau tribes were forced into slavery when the Dutch arrived here in the early 1600’s. The Dutch established sugar cane and cotton plantations. They brought more slaves from Africa. For three centuries, until its independence in 1975, Suriname was ruled by the Netherlands and the country was first called the Dutch Guiana. When the Netherlands abolished slavery in 1863, thousands of workers from India and the former Dutch colony of Indonesia were encouraged to settle here to work on plantations. As a result, modern Suriname has a great mix of people. Most are Asians or Creoles of mixed African and Native American descent. Others are European.
These are the top ten not to be missed places in Suriname.
Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral
It is a large and beautiful church that is built entirely out of wood. The front exterior of the church was recently restored and you could marvel at the impressive European style front view that is also built in tropical hard wood. The church which was established since 1824 has an interesting architecture and historical value for the city of Paramaribo and Suriname. The Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral is one of the oldest and largest wooden church in the world. Beautiful inside and out, it is considered as the most remarkable jewel of the city.
Almost everything is carved from wood. Even the smell of the wooden material is a real treat and adds a unique character to the cathedral. Admission is free but you have to make a voluntary donation for the repair and maintenance in a small wooden box which can be found at the entrance. On Sunday evenings, concerts are held for free where tourists and locals are treated with its stunning interiors and beautiful music. This impressive cathedral is truly a work of art and a visit is totally worth it. A visit to the capital city is not complete if this wooden cathedral is missed.
Fort Zeelandia is a historic site where you can learn more about how Suriname started. During the day prefer to enjoy the ruins, landscape, and ice cream or drink a Parbo at the bar and wait for the setting of the sun. This attraction that is filled with interesting and documented stories is always crowded and buzzing with the presence of many couples and families. The tour covers all ages and should be done without haste so you can watch and enjoy every corner of memory that exists there. The scenery is gorgeous and happens to be a great gift for the tourist to take and absorb. This site is very relaxing starting from; the fort, photogenic old houses and trees that form a harmonious whole. It is good to walk with a guide who knows every corner and its importance in Suriname’s history. It gives a clear view of the past and wonderful views of the Suriname River.
At the end of the visit, it is obligatory to stop and enjoy a sip of juice or ice water to perk up the sun on the balcony of the delightful cafe called the Photo Baka, which is inside the Fort that overlooks the river. Check out this well renovated building that is filled with stories about the colonization, slavery, and life in the countryside in the old times. Fort Zeelandia is also known as the site of the December murders. You actually expect the fort to pay no attention to this sad and gruesome part of its history, but there is a monument in the fort that focus on this incident. It has also highlighted the dreadful treatment of prisoners by the Dutch colonial rulers during their era. On Sunday mornings at 10:30 and 12:00 there are free guided tours of the fort. This engaging and narrative style of guided tour is done by local volunteers.
Packaged boat tours with a visit to the plantations, New Amsterdam, and the chance to swim and spot the dolphins is what to expect on a visit to the Commewijne River. The starting point of every guided boat tour begins at the Leonberg. Here, you can learn a lot about the nature, history, and spot the dolphins from the wild. Next, the boat docks at the Rest and Work Plantation. It was formerly a sugar cane plantation, now owned by a Dutchman who loves animals and fruit trees. It is a village in itself. The next adventure features the caiman adventure in the next plantation.
You must have a good rub of deet all over the visible parts of your body (ears, face, neck, as well as your pants and shirt) as per advised by the guides. You get transferred to a wobbly boat to sail into the dark and observe the caimans lurking in the swamp. On the shore you can have the opportunity to capture and take photos with the caimans and letting them go back into the waters. After the adventure you can enjoy the beautiful night sky and proceed to go back in Leonberg. This wild adventure is an absolute must when in Paramaribo.
Suriname’s interior and rainforest rivers provide the principal means of transportation beyond the plains that line the coast. Spend a fantastic and adventurous day by taking a guided package tour of the Jodenvansanne (The Jews Savannah). The tour starts from Paramaribo by a car that will take you to the Overbridge. From there, you cross by boat the beautiful Suriname River. The first stop is at the Mahanaim plantation, owned by the prominent family of da Costa, where guests are welcomed with a cup of coffee. The next stop is at the Cassipora, one of the oldest cemeteries in the jungle. It is highly recommended to wear long pants and closed and be prepared for a very muddy construction and exit, and a walk through a dense vegetation where a Marina with a machete is paramount.
The last stop is at the Jodensavanne where you can still see old houses and a thriving Jewish settlement area that survive the 17th and 18th centuries. You can freely walk around and take pictures of how the Portuguese Jews in this part of Suriname exist and survives up to this day and age. Take a trip to the Marina Da Costa the opportunity to learn about the arrival of this population in Suriname and their life on the plantation. The surviving matriarch of the family will guide you and show her paintings about the lives of her ancestors on the plantation, show their graves, and get acquainted with the way they lived their lives at that time with her share of anecdotes and short stories.
Neveh Shalom Jewish Synagogue
Try to schedule a guided tour to learn about Judaism and the arrival of the Jews in Suriname as well as explanations of various aspects of the synagogue. Surinamese are multilingual, so if you do not speak Dutch there will always be someone to give you explanations in English. But the most interesting of this synagogue is that there is a mosque nearby with which they share the same parking area. This reflects very well the spirit of tolerance and respect that the Surinamese have with the culture of the different peoples who make up its population and coexist in peace.
This beautiful synagogue is built in all wood and with customary local constructions. The nearby mosque gathers the Arabs and Jewish members of the Islamic faith in this country. There is no issue, no war here and they both live harmoniously even if they have roots coming from the Middle East. It is interesting to see the diversity of churches, temples, synagogues, and other so close and agree in their own cultural diversity. This reflects very well the spirit of tolerance and respect that the Surinamese have with the culture of the different peoples who make up its population and still co - exist in peace.
The Palmentuin or the Palm Garden is an ideal hiking park that is fairly quiet during the day but very relaxing, neat and well -maintained. It is perfect for spending quiet times or to make time for photo shoots. There is a playground where younger children can let off steam and a promenade area where nice couples can enjoy long walks or spend the rest of the day people watching or take time to enjoy the delicious food at the stalls and listen to the music. It is where most of the national events are held like; the Caribbean Culture Festival and the equally popular Day of the Natives which occurs every August 9 and observed annually.
During the Day of the Natives festivities, descendants of the Javanese people who came to live in Suriname keep their heritage alive by performing a traditional horse dance. During this ritual, the dancers wear ceremonial headdresses and imagine they are possessed by the spirits of the horses. The garden is a bit small but offers a nice piece to absorb the beauty of nature in the city. The trees around here are very special and provide the cool breeze and fresh air all over this well planned out park.
The small Paramaribo Zoo is particularly beautiful and has a good view of the Commewijne River. Aside from seeing a diverse collection of animals there are many fruit trees, ornamental plants and the most number of birds you can hear whistling all around the huge trees of the park. You can best spend the whole day there in deep solitude and connect with nature.
It is always refurbished yearly to showcase its progress and improvement despite its sheer size. It is a wonderful attraction to quietly hang out, observe animals and trees as you enjoy a small snack and drink while you explore its little vicinity. Overall, you get an idea of what animals are endemic to the rainforests of Suriname.
This zoo had a hard time in the past and some animals did not make it for some unknown reason. Nevertheless, this park deserves to be visited to see the tireless effort of the animal conservationists who are building better shelters for the animals inside the zoo. This project can only be pursued by way of donations and saving a portion of the admission fee to this noble purpose.
Although it can only be admired and viewed from the outside, the Presidential Palace deserves a worthy visit to learn more about the interesting history behind it. The all white palace looks nice and very well maintained but the President works in another building within its premises but must not be disclosed in public. It is newly renovated but the back remains to be done. This palace is said to be empty and a tour of its interiors is not allowed for security reasons. It is totally inspired and built from Dutch Architecture concept and stands close to the other important tourist attractions in Paramaribo.
Waterkant (Riverside Boulevard)
It's a nice boulevard that is dotted with whitewashed walls and buildings from the Dutch colonial era and borders the Suriname River, the country’s main estuary. The Waterkant is full of busy main streets that are lined with stores, Dutch style establishments and buildings, as well as mosques, churches, and temples.
This picturesque place is constantly busy but you can eat there at very reasonable prices some of Suriname’s famous Javanese snacks, shrimp skewers and cattle. You can quench your thirst with a good Parbo purchased at the shop nearby.
Pepperpot Nature Park
You can spend a pleasant day with the family at the Pepperpot Nature Park that is located right in the center of the Paramaribo. The route to be covered is 3.5 km one way and the completion nestles in the jungle.
The admission fee comes with a free guide at the entrance. This place is ideal for nature lovers and must not be left out when in Suriname.