Santiago de Los Treinta Caballeros – this is how Christopher Columbus himself named the second largest and most important city in the Dominican Republic. This name, according to the plan of the great navigator, immortalized the memory of thirty aristocrats from Spain, who founded the first settlement here at the end of the fifteenth century. It is necessary to mention this, but for convenience we will call the city simply Santiago… Today it is a large metropolis with a rich cultural life, developed infrastructure, beautiful streets and squares. At one time, Santiago was known as the agricultural center of the country, thanks to the richest soils that nature has endowed these places with. Today the city, as before, preserves the traditions of cigar production. It is here that guests of the country strive for the best Dominican cigars and excellent rum.
The Dominicans fondly call Santiago “the heart of the island” not only because it is located in the central region of the country, in the beautiful fertile Cibao Valley, but also for its undeniable beauty. The city has enough beautiful corners for pleasant walks and you can find interesting sights that have both aesthetic purpose and cultural and historical content.
Monument the Heroes of the Restoration
The Monument to the Heroes of the Renaissance of the Republic is a tribute to the resistance participants who gave their lives in the battles for the country’s independence from Spain in the middle of the nineteenth century. The monument is a majestic building of white marble, which has not only patriotic significance, but also a very spectacular, aesthetic appearance. Inside the building you can see a fresco on a historical theme. The monument is the main attraction of Santiago and a pleasant place to walk. It is conveniently located in the city center and surrounded by a park full of greenery, in the shade of which there are cozy benches. It offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and city streets. It gets especially lively near the monument in the evenings, when almost the whole city gathers here to feel the pleasant atmosphere and taste local delicacies.
The address: Avenida Francia and Las Carreras, Santiago.
Fortress San Luis
Fortress San Luis is sure to interest history buffs. This is a real fort that has survived more than one battle and is a source of pride for the Dominicans. True, for some time it served as a city prison. But in 2004 the fortress was restored and rightfully received the status of a city historical museum.
The address: Calle Duverge, Santiago.
Centro Leon is a cultural complex that brings together an art gallery of local artists, a museum of anthropology and historical exhibitions under its arches. In addition to permanent expositions, the center regularly hosts one-time thematic exhibitions, various specialized conferences and other cultural events. Visitors may also be interested in a souvenir shop and a cozy cafe located on the territory of the center.
Entrance fee: RD $ 100 ($ 2.20);
Admission is free on Tuesdays.
Opening hours: from 10:00 to 19:00;
Day off: Monday.
The address: Avenida 27 de Febrero, Santiago.
Lovers of noble cigars know that Santiago is called the world cigar capital for a reason, because it is in this city that high-quality tobacco products are produced in the largest quantities. It is here that the factories of the largest manufacturers of premium cigars are located. And here, in Santiago, every year in February a unique Cigar Festival is held, during which you can get on an excursion to the holy of holies of the production of cigars of the most famous brands, as well as purchase their products at starting prices. However, throughout the year there is an opportunity to get acquainted with the traditional process of making a cigar. “Cigar excursions” is the most popular type of educational tourism among the guests of Santiago.
La Aurora Cigar Factory
At the La Aurora cigar factory, you can watch the full cycle of traditional hand-made cigars. In addition, during this excursion, which is very popular among tourists (both smokers and leading a healthy lifestyle), its participants will learn many interesting facts from the history of cigars and tobacco. If you wish, of course, you can taste the finished product, as well as purchase several samples of cigars as souvenirs.
Mon – Fri from 8:15 to 15:30.
Address: Tamboril Free Zone, Santigo.
Zemis Tobacco and Cigars Factory
The second most popular cigar excursion leads to the Zemis natural tobacco and cigar factory. It is a small factory with an average production volume. Here you can also see how the process of manual production of cigars takes place right in the open air. The peculiarity of this excursion lies in the fact that the factory is surrounded by a fabulous botanical garden filled with the bloom and scent of a sea of exotic flowers. So, by choosing this excursion, you can “kill two birds with one stone”, having received interesting information and aesthetic pleasure from walking along the paths of the magic garden.
The address: Hacienda Cibao Viejo, Santigo.
Things to do in Santiago
It is generally accepted that in Santiago it can be interesting only to representatives of the male half of humanity, and all the entertainment that can be found in the city is intended specifically for this category of vacationers. But this is not entirely true: there are enough places for family leisure, and some of the activities are discussed below.
Kaskada Park is the largest water park in the Caribbean. It is located a few kilometers from the Cibao International Airport. On the territory of the park with an area of 40,000 square meters, there are several pools of various modifications and a lot of all kinds of slides, trampolines and other attractions. This whole world of fun is surrounded by stunningly beautiful gardens. The water park often becomes a venue for special events: art exhibitions, celebrations and even weddings. Given the favorable nature of the Dominican weather, it is definitely worth visiting and having a lot of fun, especially if your children came with you to relax.
Opening hours: from 10:00 to 17:00;
Day off: Tuesday.
The address: Ave. Hispanoamericana, 90, Santiago.
Gurabo Zoo is another very positive place to visit with children. A charge of positive emotions is provided by the contemplation of capuchins, thymarins and other funny monkeys, variegated parrots, zebras, tiger cubs, recently born in the zoo, an albino boa constrictor of rare colors and other local inhabitants.
from 10:00 to 19:00.
The address: Avenida Caonabo, Santiago.
Palacio Del Cine is the best cinema in the city that meets all modern technologies: large screen, latest generation sound, comfortable seating. Tourists who are not afraid of the language barrier can have a good time here watching the next world film premiere.
The address: Av Juan Pablo Duarte, Santiago.
Las Aromas Golf Club
The Las Aromas City Golf Club, which has been operating since 1978, does not have a huge course, but numerous intricate traps make it one of the most difficult courses in the Dominican Republic. In addition to being a pleasant place to spend time playing golf, it also offers great panoramic views of Santiago, the Yaque del Norte River and the Cibao Valley.
The address: Bella Vista, Santiago.
Dream Casino is a small casino located in a hotel near the Monument to the Heroes of the Renaissance of the Republic. People who are filled with excitement and have a little free money will find something to their taste here and will be able to take their souls away by betting on roulette or playing poker. Free drinks and snacks, as well as the presence of a bar, will make an evening in the casino unforgettable, regardless of the amount won or lost.
The address: Hotel Matum, Ave. LasCarreras, 1, Santiago.
Shopping in Santiago
Shopping in Santiago can be quite rich, varied and exciting, due to the fact that the city has hundreds of stores and all major Dominican retail chains are represented: Bravo, La Sirena, Plaza Lama, Nacional and Jumbo. Most of the popular shops are located in the city center, on Calle del Sol and the surrounding streets. A little further from the center, you can find the equally popular shopping centers International Mall, Bella Terra and Las Colinas Mall.
Las Colinas Mall
Las Colinas Mall is one of the largest shopping and entertainment centers in Santiago with all the traditional attributes. Here you can buy whatever your heart desires at quite reasonable prices. Therefore, Las Colinas Mall is popular as a shopping destination for both city dwellers and visitors.
The address: Avenida 27 de Febrero, Santiago.
Las 3 Reinas Cigar Shop
Las 3 Reinas Cigar Shop is a store that will undoubtedly appeal to cigar lovers. In this store you can select products from all local tobacco factories. Moreover, if you wish, you can test the cigar for taste – you can smoke in a tobacco shop. This shop can also be seen as a source of souvenirs and gifts for men of good taste.
The address: Calle Santome, Santiago.
How to get to Santiago
Santiago has two airports: Cibao International and Constanta, which serves domestic flights. Accordingly, you can get to the city by air. The presence of Constanta airport implies the possibility of getting to Santiago from other cities in the Dominican Republic by air. However, tourists are more likely to choose intercity bus routes connecting the city with all other parts of the country, especially since it is much cheaper.
Restaurants of the city
The restaurants in Santiago simply cannot be counted. If you ask the locals, everyone will name their favorite place, but still, there are also the most popular places. They can be classified by their location on the city map and cuisine. So, in the Los Jardines Metropolitanos area, gourmets will find a constellation of restaurants with exquisite international cuisine. For a taste of the local cuisine, it is best to head to the La Comai area. Fans of excellent grilled dishes should look into one of the establishments on Juan Pablo Duarte Street, for example, La Parrillita or El Corte Selecto. The restaurants on Calle del Sol mainly serve Latin American cuisine. You should definitely try the juicy pork cooked on a spit at least once, which is served in numerous local eateries – lechoneras.
Pedro Restaurant invites visitors to experience Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine. The menu includes both traditional and modern dishes. Visitors note the pleasant atmosphere of the restaurant, original interior decor, high quality service, but most importantly – delicious cuisine and a varied selection of wines.
from 12:00 to 00:00.
The address: The Metropolitan Gardens, Santiago.
Brixx is a great spot for mouthwatering Caribbean, Cuban, American cuisine and some of the most delicious pizza in town. A warm welcome, excellent service and a cozy atmosphere filled with incredible flavors await guests.
Sun from 12:00 to 23:00;
Mon from 17:00 to 23:00;
Wed – Sat from 17:00 to 23:00.
The address: Benito Juarez, 60, Santiago.
El Romin Bar Museum
A specific landmark of the city of Santiago, to which, as they say, the folk trail does not overgrow. The bar and museum of the national rum at the same time attracts tourists with the opportunity to taste different varieties of this strong drink.
The address: Av. Estrella Sadhala, 72, Santiago.
Many Santiago hotels are located right in the city center. This appears to be very convenient for tourists wishing to walk between major attractions, popular shops and restaurants. But for those who choose a quieter environment and silence, the option of a mini-hotel on the outskirts of the city may be more suitable, which, by the way, will cost much less. In any case, there is a choice, quite varied.
Hodelpa Centro Plaza Hotel
Hodelpa Centro Plaza Hotel *** is a hotel conveniently located in the very center of the city, offering accommodation in comfortable rooms with air conditioning, refrigerators, coffee makers. The friendly service of the multilingual staff, the breakfast included in the room rate, the availability of family rooms and non-smoking rooms ensure a relaxing stay. The hotel has a restaurant, cocktail bar, casino, fitness center, business center. Clients are provided with free Internet, parking, dry cleaning, laundry.
Average room rate: RD $ 5,200 ($ 114) per night.
The address: Calle Mella, 54, Santiago.
Aloha Sol Hotel
Aloha Sol Hotel *** is a cozy hotel with 26 rooms located in the city center. The rooms have everything you need for a good rest. The hotel has a swimming pool, restaurant, bar, casino, banquet hall. The rooms are served by hospitable multilingual staff. Guests can use free Wi-Fi, Internet, parking.
Average room rate: RD $ 5,200 ($ 114) per night.
The address: Calle del Sol 150, Santiago.
Via Emilia Bed & Breakfast Restaurante
Via Emilia Bed & Breakfast Restaurante is a very cozy bed and breakfast mini-hotel with nice, comfortable rooms. The rooms have air conditioning. There are special rooms for non-smokers. The hotel has a restaurant with delicious home cooking, a bar, and a laundry. Customers note excellent service, friendly atmosphere and good value for money.
Average room rate: RD $ 2,000 ($ 44) per night.
The address: Calle Estado de Israel 16, Santiago.