Santo Domingo, a city with a Caribbean beat
Santo Domingo is the capital city of the Dominican Republic. Its fascinating history can be traced back to 1496, when it was founded by Bartolome Columbus.
With a population of well over five million, Santo Domingo is the largest city in the Dominican Republic and the most populated in the Caribbean. Sitting on the mouth of the Ozama River, on the Caribbean Sea, it was the first seat of the Spanish government in the New World and although there are a great variety of tourist attractions and things to do, it remains relatively untouched by tourism.
Things to do in Santo Domingo
Whether you want to explore the sights of this fascinating city or discover the beautiful beaches around Santo Domingo, you can get the most out of your long haul holiday here. Dig into tasty Dominican dishes, dance the night away to fast-paced merengue or suave bachata and get the most out the hot Caribbean sun with days spent on the beach. From getting to know the local culture to wind surfing and snorkelling, there are plenty of things to do in Santo Domingo.
Wine and Dine
As this is the capital of the Dominican Republic, you are bound to find tasty dishes from all areas of the globe, though the local food is one of the top Santo Domingo attractions. Dig into chicken mofongo in the diner-style Hermanos Villar, take a bite of falafel and shwarma in Middle Eastern eateries, and enjoy the mouth-watering Italian and Mediterranean dishes in the heart of the Caribbean.
Action and Adventure
Santo Domingo may be a city, but it is full of exciting things to do that will work up a sweat. Head to the beach to try your hand at some exciting water sports such as windsurfing or water-skiing, or take some diving lessons and explore the world beneath the waves. Join in the fun at Juan Dolio Beach, where you can try your hand at some water sports and soak up the lively atmosphere. Back on land, you can enjoy a stroll or a bike ride in one of the city's many beautiful parks.
Take a boat tour around the coast and explore some of the Dominican Republic's finest scenery from the water; make sure to pack the sunscreen! Catch a bus or a taxi to the gorgeous Boca Chica beach, one of the closest to the city and also one of the most family-friendly, with safe, shallow waters and plenty of facilities. For something a little quieter, explore the coves and bays around the traditional fishing villages to the east of the city. Hire a bike and explore the expansive Parque Mirador Del Sur, a beautiful park overlooking the coast that's a favourite with local families or visit the Plaza de la Cultura located near the city centre for a gorgeous park lined with a national theatre and museums. Experience different eco-systems from around the world in the Dominican Republic's own 'Eden Project' in the stunning Jardin Botanico Nacional. One of the top kid-friendly things to do in Santo Domingo is to take the whole family to watch a home game at the Estadio Quisqueya, home to two of the country’s six professional teams.
While the nearby beaches provide the perfect location to relax and unwind, Santo Domingo itself is an amazing city to discover. One of the top cultural Santo Domingo attractions is the grand Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest colonial military building in the Western Hemisphere. Explore the Colonial Zone with its historic landmarks, see the final resting place of Christopher Columbus and visit the museum dedicated to his life at Faro a Colon Lighthouse. You can also learn about the city's rich past in its many fascinating museums or discover the works of local artists in the many galleries. The Colonial Zone offers plenty of opportunities to shop for souvenirs including local arts and crafts, textiles, jewellery and more. You can pick up some great deals on locally sourced gemstones like amber from the many shops and market stalls – just don't forget to haggle!
Enjoy a romantic dinner in a pavement cafe overlooking the bay or sample some of the city's amazing street food that will have your mouth watering. For a lively night out on the town, explore the bars, discos and nightclubs in the Colonial Zone or the neighbourhood of Piantini for a night to remember.
Try the Malecon for the best bars for people watching and some ice cream shops for treating the little ones or even yourself! You can also kick back and relax with a live show featuring merengue and bachata music or kick up your heels to the rhythms until the sun comes up. The grand Hispaniola Hotel on the Malecon has a casino with a similar atmosphere to Las Vegas, though with stunning scenery just outside its doors.
Santo Domingo beaches
If you're seeking a bit of excitement on your Santo Domingo holiday then it is definitely worthwhile coming along to the annual Merengue Festival, held each summer. You will enjoy dancing to the excellent music and may even join the parade which spreads out across the beaches and patios of the city.
Take a trip to the Estadio Quisqueya, where baseball, the Dominican Republic's adopted national sport, swings into action. Alternatively, you can come along to one of the bars along George Washington Avenue if you want to kick back with an ice-cold beer and watch as the local people go about their everyday business.
Cheap holidays to Santo Domingo
- If you are planning a swift visit to Santo Domingo, make sure to swing by the Colonial Zone, where you will find picturesque Victorian homes along tree-lined roads. Another option is to take a guided tour around the home of the Dominican government, National Theatre and Palace of Fine Arts, all of which are found within this enchanting area.
- Enjoy a stroll around the local areas of Piantini and Naco, where there are a variety of fashionable boutiques and lavish shopping centres. Although relatively expensive, the local cuisine which can be experienced at some of the restaurants in this area is truly delicious.
If you are looking for a fantastic holiday experience on a relatively tight budget then it is worth looking at some of the deals on Santo Domingo flights and accommodation available from loveholidays.com.