The capital of the Dominican Republic definitely deserves the attention of every guest of the country. It doesn’t matter if he came to these exotic lands just to sunbathe or indulge in extreme entertainment, study the cultural traditions and historical heritage of the aborigines, or try all the local cuisine, hold an unusual wedding ceremony, or just go for unrestrained shopping – in Santo Domingo you can find whatever the tourist’s heart desires.
Santo Domingo landmarks
Santo Domingo is exactly the place where attractions are not only and not so much nature, parks, beaches and local flavor, but the most real historical architectural monuments, museums, ancient squares and streets, along which once upon a time Spanish sailors and Caribbean pirates, arrogant caballeros and honorable ladies moved around quite routinely. This is an interesting world in which you want to immerse yourself for a while, so that later you can remember it for a long time.
Parque Colon – Columbus Square in the center of the Old City. It is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Santo Domingo, proudly bearing the status of its heart. The central object of the square is the monument to Christopher Columbus, near which it is customary to take pictures. The monument is surrounded by a park of green trees with benches in the shade. Not only tourists, but also townspeople like to rest here. Old colonial buildings overlook the square. The Cathedral is also located here. An interesting place for walking and getting to know the local flavor. Here you can feel the anticipation of immersion in the historical past of the city and the island as a whole. Here you can stock up on cigars and souvenirs, sit in a cozy cafe, listen to colorful Caribbean musicians, and feed numerous pigeons (food bags are offered by street vendors).
The address: Calle El Conde, Santo Domingo.
Primate Cathedral of America
The Cathedral, located on the south side of Columbus Square, is an object that would be an unforgivable mistake and bad form to miss for a tourist at the same time. If the square is called the heart of the city, then the cathedral is assigned the role of its soul. This Catholic church is the oldest in all of America. It was erected in the first half of the sixteenth century and, I must say, has been perfectly preserved since that time. The cathedral has not only historical but also architectural value. Its rich treasury, which contains objects of medieval art, is also of interest. And the cardinal of the Dominican Republic himself conducts services and the sacraments of confession here.
The address: Calle Arzobispo Merino, Santo Domingo.
Fort Ozama is located next to the Cathedral, on the east side. Walking through the colonial zone, it is hard not to notice him. Against the background of this fortification, spectacular photos are obtained. But if you have half an hour of free time, it’s worth taking a look inside, especially since the entrance fee is meager. The fortress has preserved the fortress walls, ancient cannons and a watchtower, from which a good view of the city landscape opens up.
The address: Calle de las Damas near Calle El Conde, Santo Domingo.
Pantheon Nacional is a majestic ancient building that was once a monastery, eventually turned into ruins. After restoration, the building with beautiful stained-glass windows and frescoes serves as a pantheon in memory of the national heroes of the Dominican Republic. The remains of great rulers, heroes of various wars and, for example, a venerable lady, who once embroidered the very first flag of the state with her own hands, are buried here.
The address: Las Damas Street, Santo Domingo.
Alcazar de Colon
Alcazar de Colon – the palace of the Viceroy of La Hispaniola Diego Columbus, the son of the great navigator, restored from the ruins. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, its architecture included 52 rooms, the walls of which were built from a unique material – coral reef. It was here that plans were once made to explore and seize new lands, the descendants of Columbus were born here. In the middle of the last century, it was possible to restore only half of the residence and turn it into a museum, the exposition of which is medieval interior decoration and works of art by ancient masters, in particular, a collection of Flemish tapestries.
The address: Plaza de Espana, Santo Domingo.
Entertainment, excursions, beautiful places in Santo Domingo
In addition to historical monuments and museums, the capital of the Dominican Republic and its environs has a lot of interesting places to visit: beautiful gardens and parks, mysterious caves, zoos and aquariums, nightclubs and casinos, chic shops, flea markets and much more.
The Three Eyes Park
The Three Eyes National Park is an incredibly interesting place located not far from the capital. The park is a jungle, reminiscent of shots from adventure movies, with an unusual cave hidden among them. The uniqueness of the cave is that lakes with completely different colors and chemical composition of water were formed in its depths. Three of them have been known for a long time, it was in honor of them that the cave was named three-eyed, but about half a century ago, a fourth lake was also discovered. It is reached by a ferry crossing, organized right inside the cave. It is recommended that you bring some bread or biscuits with you to feed the jumping fish in the fourth lake. And for those who have long and unsuccessfully dreamed of children, there is a recommendation to rinse your feet in this wonderful lake. They say it helps to fulfill the dream.
Entrance fee: RD $ 50 ($ 1).
The address: Av. Las Americas, Santo Domingo.
Acuario Nacional – National Aquarium, located in a beautiful garden on the seaside, not far from the city center. The aquarium is designed in the form of a transparent tunnel, moving along which visitors can observe colorful fish, sea stars, hedgehogs and other inhabitants of the mysterious depths of the sea. A family of large sea turtles welcomes guests right at the entrance. Of course, it is recommended to come here with children – it will be very interesting for them, besides, there is also a playground for kids.
Opening hours: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Adult ticket prices: RD $ 135 ($ 3);
for children under 12: RD $ 90 ($ 2).
Edres: Avenida Espana, 75, Santo Domingo.
National Zoological Park
The National Zoological Park is another must-see if you are visiting Santo Domingo with your children. However, adults can also benefit from relaxing by looking closely at the life of wild animals in their natural habitat. There are no cages in this zoo. This is possible due to the huge scale of the park. Each species of animals, be it tigers, jaguars, cougars or crocodiles, has its own rather vast territory, limited either by a deep ditch or by a stone wall, if it is a lowland and the animals can be viewed from above. Zoo visitors move around the territory on a fun little train, which delights the children. But, nevertheless, it is advisable to put on comfortable shoes, in case you want to walk on foot along the beautiful hills on which the zoo is located.
The address: Avenida Arroyo Salado, Santo Domingo.
National Botanical Garden
The National Botanical Garden is a great place for secluded walks and photo sessions with stunning trees and flowers in the background. Here are collected rare species of flora, characteristic of the Dominican Republic. It is pleasant to hide in the shade of spreading crowns from the midday heat and city bustle. And it is surprisingly easy to breathe here, thanks to the rich content of phytoncides in the air.
Edres: Mt. Isabel de Torres, Santo Domingo.
Golden Arrow Technical Diving Center
Diving Center “Golden Arrow” provides everyone with impressive dives to the seabed throughout the coastal waters of the Dominican Republic. Novice diving enthusiasts can get an excellent training course here, and for experienced divers looking for new adventures, the best cave sites, reef sites and dives to shipwrecks are prepared.
The address: Calle Mustafa Kemal Ataturk No 10, Local No 1, Santo Domingo.
Trikke is a kind of electric vehicle with three wheels, a cross between a scooter and a scooter. On it you can move around the city as fast as on a bicycle, while you do not need to twist the pedals or kick off the ground with your foot. A good way to be active and fun with family or friends. Trike city tours are organized in Santo Domingo. This is a very original and fun way to quickly and easily explore the colonial part of the capital with a guide.
The address: Calle Padre Billini, 54, Swite Z1, Santo Domingo.
How to get to Santo Domingo?
The easiest way to comfortably get to Santo Domingo is to land at the capital’s Las Americas Airport, which is just thirty kilometers from the city center. To do this, you will have to choose a connecting flight with a transfer in New York. Upon arrival, you need to take a taxi to the city. The cost of the trip will be RD $ 1,580 ($ 35). A quite worthy alternative is a regular bus or guaguas.
If you have chosen a direct flight, your plane will land at Punta Cana airport. From there to the capital, take a Bavaro Express bus (others do not go here) for about 3 hours. A ticket costs about RD $ 300 ($ 7). It should be noted that boarding the bus is carried out from the bus station in Bavaro, plus the last bus trip to Santo Domingo leaves at 16:00.
If you wish, you can get from any Dominican city to Santo Domingo by intercity bus at a completely inexpensive price. The average cost of a trip, depending on distance, ranges from RD $ 70 ($ 1.5) to RD $ 300 ($ 7). If you can afford it, you can take a private flight, which will cost RD $ 7,200 ($ 160) on average.
Santo Domingo Restaurants
In local restaurants, cafes and numerous eateries, gourmets can discover a new page of gastronomic impressions, having tasted and felt the whole kaleidoscope of tastes of the Caribbean cuisine with its specially prepared meat and fish, colorful sauces and original side dishes, not only from the usual potatoes, rice and vegetables but also fried “plane tree” bananas. Of the everyday hearty dishes, you should definitely try the appetizing bandera – something like a vegetable stew with seafood or meat, as well as casabé cakes, which are served instead of bread and are often stuffed with a variety of yummy. If you wish, you can always find a Chinese restaurant or establishments whose menu is dominated by Italian, Spanish, French cuisine.
Pat’e Palo European Brasserie
Pat’e Palo is a restaurant located right in the colonial zone of Santo Domingo and is, in fact, its own age. The fact is that back in 1500, the building of today’s restaurant was built on the initiative of Pat’e Palo, a pirate from Holland. This dashing sailor was very fond of delicious food, so he decided to open a tavern here – the very first tavern in the New World. Twenty years ago, the history of the tavern was continued by a compatriot of a medieval pirate, who opened here a restaurant of French, Mediterranean and European cuisine. Facility’s menu also includes a variety of exotic dishes. Well, from the traditional steaks and pork ribs are very appetizing here. If you have a fairly rich imagination, then, having come to this restaurant, you can not only get enough, but also spend time with the full feeling that you are in a real pirate lair.
The address: Calle Atarazana, 25, Colonial City, Santo Domingo.
Sophias is considered one of the best restaurants in the city. Perhaps this is because you can find literally whatever you want on his menu: Italian pasta, Japanese sushi or Spanish ham. After all, the menu in the restaurant is truly international, as is the wine list. Visitors note that the food here is not just tasty, but very tasty and the service is excellent.
The address: Paseo de Los Locutores, 9, Piantini, Santo Domingo.
Sully is a restaurant worth paying attention to for lovers of fish dishes and seafood specialties. Here they cook amazing grilled fish, as well as dishes from crabs, shrimps and other inhabitants of the underwater world. The local chef is especially good at the lobster dishes, presented on the menu in a wide variety. Sully is considered by many in Santo Domingo to be the city’s finest fish restaurant.
The address: Charles Summer 19, Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo Accommodation
It is up to you to stay at a hotel located in the very center of the capital, where everything is at hand: attractions, shops, and restaurants, or to give preference to a hotel on the coast with a romantic landscape outside the window. But you can be sure that you have a choice, not only by location, but also by price.
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando *****
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando is an elite hotel located in the center of Santo Domingo, one might say in its very heart, just ten steps from the Colonial Zone and the main attractions of the city. The hotel itself is part of the history of the old town, it was opened in a restored medieval building. The colonial style is preserved not only in the architecture of the hotel, but also in the interior decoration and in the interiors of the rooms. Here, after walking along the old streets, you can fall asleep on a bed made in a medieval design, and in the morning you can go for a drive around the city on a white carriage, fully feeling the transfer in time. The carriage ride service is the highlight of the hotel. The hotel grounds are filled with tropical greenery, as well as a swimming pool, golf course, tennis court, spa and fitness center.
Room rates range from RD $ 5,250 ($ 116) to RD $ 9,900 ($ 219) per night.
The address: Las Damas Street, Colonial City, Santo Domingo.
Hilton Santo Domingo ****
The Hilton, located in the city center, is a modern high-rise building with 228 rooms, which, especially from the upper floors, offer a unique panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea, from which it is difficult to take your eyes off. If you are staying at the hotel in the evening, be sure to watch the setting sun sinking across the sea. The hotel has a nice pool with a bar, a good restaurant serving traditional cuisine, a fitness center, a conference room. Wi-Fi is free.
Rooms’ fares range from RD $ 5,850 ($ 130) to RD $ 11,550 ($ 256) per night.
The address: Ave George Washington, 500, Santo Domingo.
Official site: www.hilton.com
Hodelpa Caribe Colonial**
Hodelpa Caribe Colonial is a budget hotel in a historic building that is part of the historic city center. Not only are the monuments of the Middle Ages located nearby, but also many restaurants and eateries, which is very convenient. The hotel also has its own restaurant and bar. Breakfast, parking and Wi-Fi are free. The rooms provide everything you need for a comfortable stay.
Room rates range from RD $ 3,300 ($ 73) to RD $ 4,430 ($ 98) per night.
Calle Isabel La Catolica, 159, Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.