Santo Domingo is one of the Caribbean’s best locations to visit. It has all the amenities that one would expect in a major metropolitan area even though it’s situated in a lush, tropical setting in the heart of the Caribbean Sea. Santo Domingo is an expansive environment with endless opportunities for enjoyment while offering an intriguing view into history.
What is Santo Domingo?
Santo Domingo has its roots in the late 14th century. Christopher Columbus’s brother Bartholomew founded the city in 1496 on the southern coast of east Hispaniola, which we now called the Dominican Republic. It was The de facto epicenter of Spanish colonization of the New World until the Spanish settlers established substantial inland fortifications in Mexico and Peru.
Santo Domingo is the heart of most large-scale operations in the Dominican Republic. The country’s banking sector is located there, as well as the city’s major commercial and industrial operations. Low-cost electricity, derived from hydroelectric dams, have contributed to a thriving economic scene throughout the city, since it allows for the busy daytime restaurants and shops and vibrant nightlife scene that tourists expect from modern capital cities.
What to bring to Santo Domingo
It is important to prepare for any excursion. Traveling to Santo Domingo is no exception. It is imperative to bring not only the most appropriate attire but also helpful tools and essentials.
Sunglasses are a must; Santo Domingo receives high amounts of sunlight since it is close to the equator. Thus, also bring one or more hats to shield your face from the intense rays of the tropical sun. While it makes sense to bring short sleeves and shorts, lightweight pants and skirts may be a better option in some circumstances to shield you from the sun. Make sure you pack at least two bathing suits!
You will need luggage bags to get down there suitably. However, consider bringing smaller and more task-oriented bags. We highly recommend as a beach bag is a hip sitting messenger bag. Backpacks may leave you vulnerable to thievery in crowded areas.
With higher amounts of radiation from natural sunshine at the Dominican Republic’s proximity to the equator, intensive protective measures ought to be taken. You should use no less than SPF 30 sunscreen while visiting this tropical location, as the sun will be very intense. Be prepared to bring after sunburn lotion too. Aloe Vera is a good choice.
You may get held up in traffic or at the airport. Bring books or magazines to read for relaxation, or tablets come in handy as well to help you pass the time. Tablets can also display mapping software and help document the experience via video recording and photography!
Ten Things to Do in Santo Domingo
Whether you fly in or catch a boat in, once you arrive, you will be excited to get started on your Caribbean adventure! Obviously, you can’t do everything at once as much as you would love to. However, figuring out a schedule while allowing for relaxing downtime will be the most rewarding route. Here is a list of ten things to do in Santo Domingo that will make your travel worthwhile!
Paco Cabana offers fresh baked goods and premium coffee. Grand’s Café is a 24-hour restaurant with astounding views and fresh juices. Café La Dama Imperial offers Spanish cuisine at multiple locations. Segafredo is a popular restaurant in a quaintly colonial setting. Café at Hotel Conde Penalba is a pleasant place to have a meal while people watching.
Alcazar de Colon
Alcazar de Colon was built in 1510, and it was originally the home of Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego. It was the epicenter of court on the island for 60 years. It is now fully restored to its former beauty and splendor and serves as a museum of Spanish colonial conquest.
This military watchtower fortress was built in 1502 to maintain control over the Ozama River and Santo Domingo’s coast. It is famous for its outstanding panoramic view of Santo Domingo.
Museo del Hombre Dominicano
The Museum of Dominican Man covers the complete cultural spectrum of the Dominican Republic. Breathtaking artifacts of the indigenous Taino Indian culture are meticulously displayed alongside the integration of Dominican culture. Many one-of-a-kind pieces can be found in this museum.
Museo del Arte Moderno
The Museum of Modern Art features many permanent art galleries besides an ever-revolving new exhibitions from around the world. The focus is on the 20th-century artwork.
Museo de las Casas Reales
The Museum of The Royal Houses was built in the early 1500s and blends the finest historical architecture Santo Domingo offers with a compelling view into its historical timeline. There is a remarkable collection of artifacts spanning the centuries available to view.
Catedral Primada de America
The First Cathedral of the Americas is the oldest church in the western hemisphere. This building is full of history and stories. Diego Columbus had the honor of setting the first stone in 1514. Through tumultuous years of financial hardship, many architects were brought in to finish the construction. You can see the evidence of the various construction styles and phases readily!
Iglesia Santa Barbara
Saint Barbara’s Church is another example of old world architecture in the majesty of church buildings. Tours are available.
Santuario Nacional Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes
The national sanctuary of our Lady of The Mercedes offers astounding vistas from a hilltop church setting. Tours are available.
Plaza de Espana
Spanish Plaza is an expansive public square at the north part of Calle Las Damas. It boasts many city views. Take advantage of the many outdoor and indoor restaurant opportunities there.
Calle Las Damas
Ladies Street has many sightseeing opportunities from the colonial past. It’s known as the oldest street in the western hemisphere. Many colonial buildings stand on its edges. It is a big attraction in the colonial zone.
Calle El Conde
“Street of The Count” features shopping and restaurant options to please all tastes and appetites. If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, Calle El Conde is the place.
Columbus Park is known for its shaded areas. Tour guides have been known to frequent the area in case you want a personal tour of Santo Domingo. It is next to many other historical sites in Santo Domingo. You can easily stay there for hours watching the locals interact with the steady flow of tourists.
Duarte Park is named after one of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic, Juan Pablo Duarte. A sculpture of him stands prominently at the center. It offers bench seating and shady trees to take you to calming relaxation.
Jardin Botanico Nacional
The National Botanical Garden is one of Santo Domingo’s gems. It boasts over 2 square kilometers of the finest native plant life. Part of the site includes an ecology museum that showcases The island’s ecosystems.
Doubles offers a historical scenic backdrop for a relaxing evening of drinks and company. They cover popular music of the day in addition to playing traditional Latin music.
Café del Teatro
This jazz bar offers live music against a historic scenic backdrop. Traditional jazz and Latin-infused jazz bands play every night.
A famous merengue and salsa club set in an underground cave setting. It has two dance floors.
Jet Set is a couple-only club. It is posh and inviting, and you can expect to hear extraordinary Latin music on Monday nights. It’s very popular on Friday and Saturday nights.
In case you want to stay at a Hotel and Casino, look no further. Check into The Hispaniola Hotel and walk right into The Hispaniola Casino.
Renaissance Jaragua Casino
This is The largest casino in Santo Domingo. It has many games to offer.
It is a modern mega-mall complete with hundreds of shops. There are many restaurants to choose from here. There is even a movie theater inside with 10 screens.
In case you want to peruse the more exceptional things in life, the Blue Mall has it covered. High-end designer shops line the alleys. Sumptuous restaurants are easily accessible, and it also has a movie theater.
Arturo Fuente Cigar Club
This shop is famous for being one of a few retailers in the Dominican Republic of the illustrious Arturo Fuente brand cigar. The adjacent bar and restaurant are formal.
La Leyenda Del Cigarro
Stop in to La Leyenda Del Cigarro for some friendly conversation over a new cigar; the highly trained staff roll them fresh for customers every day.
Join us in Santo Domingo
Our list of things to do in Santo Domingo is just a glimpse of what you could do when you visit the capital of the D.R., as this historic city offers so much more to experience.