South America's smallest country, Suriname is a warm, dense convergence of rivers that thumps with the lively rhythm of ethnic diversity. From Paramaribo, the country's effervescent Dutch-colonial capital, to the fathomless jungles of the interior, you'll get a genuine welcome to the country – whether from the descendants of escaped African slaves, Dutch and British colonialists, Indian, Indonesian and Chinese indentured laborers or indigenous Amerindians.
Charismatic Paramaribo is loaded with gorgeous architecture, party-hard night spots and some excellent restaurants, while the untamed jungle, just a few hours away by road or boat, could not be more of a contrast to Paramaribo's chaotic traffic. It's relatively easy to get around this river-heavy, forest-dense country, even if the mix of languages can make communications interesting. Best of all, sumptuous and spicy cuisines from all over the world can be found here, making mealtimes a joy.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SURINAME
The best time to visit Suriname is from February until mid-April and from mid-August to mid-November. This is the period with the lowest amount of rainfall. Be aware that in Suriname it will be warm and humid throughout the whole year.
March through May
Humidity and temperatures combine to make this season feel warm. Highs range from 88.1°F (31.2°C) and 85.8°F (29.9°C) with similar temperatures in the later months. Rain is very common with 10 to 16 days of significant precipitation per month. Spring is the slowest for tourism, which makes it a good time for those looking for deals.
June through August
The middle-year months have very comfortable weather with high temperatures that are quite warm. These months see the most precipitation with 9 to 17 days of precipitation per month. June – August is the busiest season for tourism in Paramaribo, so lodging and other accommodations may cost more than usual.
September through November
Fall daily highs range from 93°F (33.9°C) and 89.2°F (31.8°C), which will feel very nice given the humidity and wind. It rains or snows a significant amount: 5 to 9 days per month. Tourism is the second busiest during these months due to the weather, so hotels may be slightly higher priced.
December through February
Weather is perfect this time of year in Paramaribo to be enjoyable for warm weather travelers. The average high during this season is between 89.5°F (31.9°C) and 84.9°F (29.4°C). On average, it rains or snows a great amount: 10 to 12 times per month. These times of year are fairly slow with tourists.
GETTING TO SURINAME
There are three flights per week from Guyana to Paramaribo via Surinam Airways. You can also travel from Guyana to Suriname and even to French Guiana by land. From Guyana, you need to ride a ferry and bus to get to Paramaribo.
Suriname Airport: Paramaribo Zanderij (PBM)
GETTING AROUND SURINAME
There are few roads in Suriname, so don’t expect to be able to travel by car or public transport far from the coastal cities. To add complication, there are no scheduled internal flights, so chartering light aircraft is your best bet. Although this can be expensive it is, at least, a spectacular way to see the country. It is possible to travel by land from Paramaribo to the borders of Guyana and French Guiana by state-run buses, but routes, costs and departure times are liable to change at short notice.
WHERE TO STAY IN SURINAME
Featuring free WiFi and a year-round outdoor pool, Jacana Amazon Wellness Resort offers accommodation in Paramaribo, 2.9 km from Paramaribo Central Market. The resort has a children's playground and spa center, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free private parking is available on site. All rooms at Jacana Amazon Wellnes resort come with a flat-screen TV. Certain rooms feature a seating area, a terrace or balcony to relax in after a busy day. Rooms also include private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bath robes, free toiletries and a hair dryer. Superior rooms include a spa bath or a hot tub. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property. Suriname Museum is 100 m from Jacana Amazon Wellness Resort. The nearest airport is Zanderij Airport, 40 km from the property.
Overbridge River Resort has a private beach area and free WiFi. Providing a restaurant, the property also has an outdoor swimming pool and a garden. The property features a terrace and a 24-hour front desk. At the hotel, rooms include a balcony. The rooms are fitted with a private bathroom with free toiletries. The units at Overbridge River Resort feature air conditioning and a wardrobe. An American breakfast is served daily at the property. Paramaribo Central Market is 49 km from the accommodation, while Surinaams Museum is 49 km away.
Offering a garden and outdoor pool, Joah Inn Appartementen is located in Paramaribo. Paramaribo Central Market is 400 m away. The accommodation has a seating and dining area. A TV with cable channels and DVD player are available in some units. Some units also have a kitchen, equipped with a microwave. Each unit is fitted with a private bathroom with a shower. Bed linen is featured. Joah Inn Appartementen also includes a sun terrace. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar and restaurant. Waterkant is 400 m from Joah Inn Appartementen. Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport is 42 km from the property.
Situated in Paramaribo, 6 km from Paramaribo Central Market, Hotel Babylon has a restaurant, a bar and a shared lounge. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests. The rooms in the hotel are fitted with a kettle. At Hotel Babylon rooms come with a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. The accommodation offers a continental or à la carte breakfast. Surinaams Museum is 3.2 km from Hotel Babylon, while Waterkant is 7 km from the property.
Set within 5 km of Paramaribo Central Market and 1.6 km of Surinaams Museum, Waterland Suites provides rooms in Paramaribo. With a garden, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. There is free private parking and the property offers paid airport shuttle service. At the hotel, all rooms have a desk and a flat-screen TV. All guest rooms will provide guests with a wardrobe and a kettle. Waterkant is 6 km from Waterland Suites, while St. Petrus en Paulus kathedraal is 6 km from the property.
Offering an outdoor pool, a terrace and a garden, Guesthouse AlbergoAlberga is located 10 minutes’ walk from Paramaribo Central Market. Free WiFi access is available in public areas. Each room here will provide you with a seating area and ironing facilities. The private bathroom also comes with a bath or shower and free toiletries. At Guesthouse AlbergoAlberga you will find a 24-hour front desk and free parking. Other facilities offered at the property include luggage storage, shops (on site) and an ironing service. The property is 200 m from Waterkant and 600 m from Surinam Museum. St. Petrus en Paulus kathedraal is 200 m away and Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport is 47 km away.
Riverside Bungalow Comm. Is situated in Meerzorg and offers a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool and a garden. The air-conditioned accommodation is 9 km from Paramaribo, and guests benefit from complimentary WiFi and private parking available on site. The apartment has 2 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, an equipped kitchen with a microwave and a fridge, a washing machine, and 1 bathroom with a shower. The apartment offers a barbecue. If you would like to discover the area, fishing is possible in the surroundings and Riverside Bungalow Comm. Can arrange a car rental service.
Liberdada Suites has an outdoor swimming pool, bar, a shared lounge and garden in Wanica. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a barbecue. Free private parking is available and the guest house also features bike hire for guests who want to explore the surrounding area. All rooms in the guest house are fitted with air conditioning, a seating area, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a kitchen, a dining area and a private bathroom with a hairdryer, a hot tub and a shower. The units will provide guests with a wardrobe and a kettle. A continental breakfast is available each morning at Liberdada Suites. At the accommodation guests are welcome to take advantage of a hot tub. The area is popular for cycling, and car hire is available at Liberdada Suites. The guest house provides an ironing service, as well as business facilities like fax and photocopying. Paramaribo is 17 km from Liberdada Suites.
Featuring an outdoor pool, pavema apartments in Paramaribo provides accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking for guests who drive. All of the air-conditioned units feature a private bathroom, living room, flat-screen TV, fully-equipped kitchen and balcony. The apartment offers a barbecue. A car rental service is available at pavema apartments. Paramaribo Central Market is 6 km from the accommodation, while Surinaams Museum is 4.3 km away.
De Plantage features a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a bar and garden in Tamanredjo. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a sun terrace. Free private parking is available and the resort also offers bike hire for guests who want to explore the surrounding area. The units at the resort come with a seating area. At De Plantage all rooms are equipped with a wardrobe and a private bathroom. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a continental breakfast. Guests at De Plantage will be able to enjoy activities in and around Tamanredjo, like fishing. Speaking English and Dutch at the reception, staff will be happy to provide guests with practical information on the area. Paramaribo is 27 km from the resort.
Located in Paramaribo and with Paramaribo Central Market reachable within 1.2 km, Elegance Hotel & Casino features express check-in and check-out, allergy-free rooms, a restaurant, free WiFi throughout the property and a bar. With a shared lounge, the property also features water sports facilities, as well as a casino. The hotel provides an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre, evening entertainment and a 24-hour front desk. Guest rooms are equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a shower, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel each room is fitted with a wardrobe and a private bathroom. Elegance Hotel & Casino offers a continental or buffet breakfast. The accommodation offers a terrace. Guests can sing karaoke, plan their trips at the tour desk, or make use of the business centre. Waterkant is 2.2 km from Elegance Hotel & Casino, while St. Petrus en Paulus kathedraal is 2.2 km away.
PLACES TO VISIT & THINGS TO DO IN SURINAME
Suriname is a small country in north east South America. It’s a combination of tropical rainforest, roaring rivers, Dutch colonial history, and great ethnic diversity. You can divide your time between the dense and untamed interior jungles and the lively modern cities with shopping, fantastic restaurants, and surprising night-spots. Locals include descendants of British and Dutch colonialists, African slaves, Indonesians, Indians, and Chinese indentured servants, and indigenous Amerindians. Communicating is fun with so many languages floating around, and so is the eating. Be prepared for spicy and fantastic everywhere you go. Here’s the list of Turisti-Info to the best places to visit & things to do in Suriname!
Of all the jungles of Suriname, the thick canopy of Brownsberg Nature Park is the most likely to show you the faces of its inhabitants. Trek among the 1,500 types of plants to seek out the plethora of primates that call Brownsberg home. The noisiest of these are the howler monkeys. Follow the sound of their bark-like call to the treetops where you can see both red and black howler monkeys swinging from the branches. Another vocal animal to listen out for is the grey-winged trumpeters – a long-legged bird often found strutting across the jungle floor, singing its song. It’s one of more than 400 species of birds that can be found here. If the park's creatures are feeling shy, the surrounding scenery will ensure your day isn’t wasted. Choose a trail and walk to one of the four waterfalls, cooling off in their spray. Or hike to the viewpoint at Marazoni Top for panoramic views over the jungle and clear blue lakes.
Named after the vast, mud-coloured river it sits upon, Commewijne’s colonial houses keep its history alive. Visit the now abandoned wooden buildings, which were once powerful plantations, to understand the sad history of the sugar plantations. You'll also learn how cocoa and coffee factories once operated. Pay a visit to the museum of Marienburg, a repurposed sugar plantation, to help deepen your understanding of the history. Next, head to the exact spot where the Commewijne and Suriname rivers converge, where you’ll find Fort Nieuw Amsterdam. This polygon-shaped fortress played a significant role in the past as it was built to protect the crop fields from attack. Just a bit of time spent wandering its grounds will transport you back to the tumultuous 19th century.
From the neat rows of wooden houses, to the equally tidy patches of grass that decorate the outside of them, you can see the Dutch influence on this capital in almost every detail and every direction you look. For extra colonial charm, head to Paramaribo’s downtown, Foto. But it’s not just about the colonial architecture. Spend a little time walking the streets of the city and you’ll soon see it for the exciting, eclectic capital that it is. Synagogues stand alongside mosques, near Hindu temples and Christian churches - all of which are worth admiring. For more cultural diversity, head to the market where the smell of spices from all over the world waft above the hectic and crowded stalls. If it’s food you’re after, stay on the bottom floor. Go up a level for shopping, and to search for bright clothing.
This white-washed wooden house with its neat surrounding gardens looks like a lot of the others in Paramaribo, though it hides some spicy secrets inside. Open the door of the Surinamese Rum House to discover the award-winning rums mixed inside. See the authentic copper pot they’re made in, the oak barrels being crafted, and meet the man behind secret recipes for these popular concoctions. Be sure to book into a tasting session, where you can become a rum connoisseur and participate in one of the mixology classes. Shake, mix and pour to your heart's content, and reward yourself with a sip of your own creation.
The Suriname River is the heart of the country named after it – so why wouldn’t you want to travel along it? Take a boat down the jungle-clad Upper Suriname and enjoy the peace and quiet, only broken by the sound of monkeys chattering across the banks and the squawk of the birds. The real lure, however, are the culturally-rich villages on either side of the river. Every so often, the jungle will break to reveal a community of rustic houses, where the Saramaka people live, offering a real eye-opener into their way of life. Listen to the stories of their ancestry, how they came to be here, and of their customs and traditions. It would be a real shame to rush a river trip, so don’t. There are many eco-lodges to suit all budgets spread out along the banks. Plan in some pit stops to turn the tour into a multi-day meander.
Jutting out of the green-drenched Voltzberg Nature Reserve, like a dusty rock from outer space is the park’s namesake – the Voltzberg Mountain. This 240m-high peak is best climbed at sunrise. On the way up, expect to see birdlife, along with myriad species of monkey. After around four hours, you’ll be at the top of the giant, granite monolith. Here, you can enjoy views of the rising and dipping dark green treetops, extending far into the horizon, where they seemingly touch the glowing pink sky. Once back at the bottom, make sure you explore the many falls nearby, where you can watch the water rushing over rocks, cool down and have fun in the rapids.
Watching these slow, gentle giants nesting down to lay their eggs, in the warm sands that fringe the Atlantic Ocean, is a sight that will stay with you forever. Increase your chances of witnessing the phenomenon by heading to the huge stretch of copper-coloured sand that makes up Matapica Beach, arguably the best place in Suriname for turtle spotting. Between February and May, you’ll likely see green turtles nesting. Go between April and July to see leatherbacks. If you’re really lucky, you may even catch the rare sight of a hawksbill turtle laying their eggs. Another hot spot to try is the turtle sanctuary in Galibi Nature Reserve, where green, leatherback, hawksbill, and the rare olive ridley turtles come to find refuge on the beach.
Walking is more than just a way of getting exercise. It’s a means of slowing down, admiring the scenery, getting close to wildlife and meeting the locals. You can connect with the world in a way you can't in a car, reaching hidden spots that mdern transportation could never take you to. Whether you want a short stroll around a city or a heart-pumping trek through the wildest landscapes of Suriname Nature Reserve Parks.
Just south of Paramaribo, on the Suriname River, is Joden Savanne, or Jews’ savannah. Established in the 17th century, it was originally an agricultural community that was developed by Spanish Jews fleeing persecution. Sugarcane plantations were the main crop and slaves were used here for a long time. From the beginning, the community faced difficulties from nearby sugar beet plantations They also dealt with disease, revolts by indigenous people, and heavy taxation. Eventually the community relocated to Para. You can visit the ruins of the first synagogue in the Western Hemisphere as well as the old gravesites there.
This Hindu temple is the largest in Suriname and is located in Paramaribo. It’s arguably the most important in the country to the 30,000+ Hindu’s who live there. Designed by a Dutch architect, the building is a two-story octagonal building with meeting rooms, a library, and ceremony room. Everything in the temple is designed to reflect aspects of the sun and though there are no images of deities, you’ll find plenty of Sanskrit and Hindi symbolism. The architect works to combine the Dutch style with the ancient Moghul style from India, as well as a bit of Moorish design. The result it truly unique.
Located in the capital across from Independence Square, the presidential palace is one of the best examples of Dutch colonial architecture in Suriname. Part of the inner city’s UNESCO World Heritage designation, it was built in the 18th century, and is still the presidents home. Most commonly used for diplomatic events thanks to the Garden of Palms attached to the property. This palm tree landscape has a wide variety of trees as well the capuchin monkeys and many tropical birds.
The largest Mosque in the Caribbean is Mosque Keizerstraat, located in Paramaribo. It is a beautiful building with stunning gardens around it. No machinery was used during construction and thus it took 20 years to complete. Not only is it an impressive place of worship it’s unique because of its next door neighbour, the Nevah Shalom Synagogue. Built in the 19th century it has a sandy floor as a symbol of the Hebrews 40 years in the desert. Locals take great pride in the location of these two places of worship and feel it’s a reflection of their multi-ethnicity community.
Another part of Para’s UNESCO World Heritage site is the Roman Catholic St Peter and St Paul Cathedral. It’s the largest wooden building in the Western Hemisphere and was built in the 19th century. The exterior of the cathedral has long intrigued visitors. Painted grey and yellow, no one seems to know the exact reasons behind the colour scheme. In 2015 Pope Francis designated it as a minor basilica.
Also known as Independence Square, Onafhankelijkheidsplein, is home to some of the most important buildings in Suriname: the colonial government buildings as well at the stately presidential palace. In many ways, it’s an average square which is perfect for an afternoon nap or a picnic lunch, you also might be lucky enough to stumble upon a signing bird competition. The birds, known as twatwa, are popular in Suriname and enthusiasts like to bring them together to compete. Don’t look to understand how the winner is chosen; the mystery is part of the fun.
Just outside of the city you’ll find a phenomenal savannah white-sand forest, a jungle full of wildlife, and cold streams where the clean water runs black thanks to the fallen leaves. If you’re interested in a sloth sighting, this is the place. You can also see saki monkeys, giant anteaters, tamarins, and a large number of exotic birds. If you really want to leave the city behind for a bit, you can camp near Colakreek for a few days while you explore the forest and savannah.
Founded in the 18th century as a sugar cane plantation, Mariënburg now has a production factory on site and is primarily a tourist attraction. The first railroad in Suriname was built to bring the sugarcane from the village into the city and you can still travel by train to get there. It’s a good way to see the country and a fun day excursion from Para.
WHERE TO EAT IN SURINAME
There are some fantastic dining opportunities in Parbo. Avoid, if possible, the touristy strip across from Hotel Torarica, and head instead for some of the more in-the-know places listed here. The cheapest city-center options are at the frenetic Central Market and the Indonesian stalls along Waterkant. Eating in Suriname (www.eteninsuriname.com) is a useful website with information on restaurants in Paramaribo.
Family-run Javanese restaurants (open for dinner only) line Blauwgrond, a laid-back residential area about 10 minutes by taxi from downtown Paramaribo. Rena, Mirioso, Pawiro and Saoto are some of the better known spots, but any of them will serve cheap and delicious noodle, rice and soup dishes. It's worth making this trip for the ambience alone.
This gorgeously realised addition to Parbo's eating choices has seen the transformation of an old waterfront building into a smart and stylish indoor-outdoor eating space and bar, with a great menu focused on (but not limited to) steaks, all of which come US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified and are the best in the city. Also available are good salads, tapas, soups and breakfasts.
From delicious daily soups to mains like duck leg confit in masala and an amazing pesto pasta topped with home-smoked bang bang (freshwater fish) and sundried tomatoes, the food here would stand out anywhere, but in Parbo it's exceptional. Brunch includes omelets, fresh juices and salads. The heritage-home garden setting makes the experience even more lovely.
Tasty home-cooked Indian delights from a voluminous menu await you at Martin's, located in the Rainville neighborhood and well worth the SR$10 cab ride from the old town. It's true, you don't come here for the decor or ambience particularly, but the excellent spicy cooking and warm welcome from Martin and his family makes all that irrelevant.
Excellent coffee is served in this giant wood-, glass- and concrete-heavy space that looks quite unlike anywhere else in Parbo, yet much like any coffee specialist elsewhere in the modern world. It's a good spot for a late breakfast, with a big selection of freshly baked goods, as well a full menu of Chinese-leaning dishes. Take a taxi.
This restaurant and bar serves up some of the best food and cocktails in town in a charming sand-floored garden with fairy lights. Dishes range from Surinamese soups to noodles, burgers and salads. Live music is played here on occasion and the welcome is warm and friendly.
This quiet outdoor restaurant overlooking the river has Parbo's best Creole food along with exceptionally friendly service. Try the delicious soup of the day – peanut, cassava or banana accompanied by roast chicken and pom, a kind of casserole.
This great sushi bar offers seating at tables or at its sociable counter. Service is terrific and friendly, and the Japanese chefs prepare excellent sushi and sashimi, which makes for a much-needed change of pace in Parbo's dining scene.
Small roti shop that beats the chains in town for both taste and price.
WHERE TO SHOP IN SURINAME
Step off the chaotic streets and enter these five glorious floors of colorful local sculpture and paintings, all of which are for sale. Get all your Suriname souvenirs, handicrafts and more at this big shop.
The frenzied and fascinating central market is divided into distinct areas: the meat, fish, fruit and vegetable sections on the lower floor and a less photogenic clothing area on the upper. The 'Witch's Market' (aka the Maroon Market; no photography allowed) has a separate entrance just to the west on Waterkant, and sells herbs, bones, shells and mysterious concoctions. It's best to get to these markets before noon.
High-quality Suriname handicrafts and jewelry, head to the gift shop at Zus & Zo.