See the Dominican Republic’s most interesting and biggest city, Santo Domingo, on private guided tours and be brought into a world of amazing sights, partying carnivals and merengue performances everywhere.
Santo Domingo is one of the countries major historical and cultural cities. In the heart of the city is Zona Colonial, a walled area of old town, although the original city walls are more ruins these days. There is much monumental architecture, but also it is where you will find along the cobblestone streets the trendiest cafes and local bars which are busy all day and all night.
From the Zona Colonial to the oceanfront promenade is called Malecon or the Avenida George Washington. This is the popular place to go at night with crowds of people especially at weekends gathering here for the live music, restaurants, bars and hot nightclubs.
The restaurants in Santo Domingo are known for their quality and mouth-watering cuisine served with great elegance and style. Read More...
Take a Fascinating and Magical Historical City Tour of Santo Domingo
There is so much history, culture and historical sights, the best way to see and learn it all, is on a historical city tour.
See such places as the Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria, a 16th-century monumental cathedral, Fortaleza Ozama, a fortress from the 16th century, Monastery de San Francisco, the ruins of one of the first monasteries of the New World or any of the many museums belonging to the city.
For some outdoor entertainment, visit the National Botanical Garden, Independence Park, the Zoological National Park or on the outskirts of the city Los Tres Ojos where you find caves and lagoons.
Top 10 Things to Do in Santo Domingo
It is recommended that you visit Zona Colonial, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Santo Domingo on a guided tour. This is an area in the city that is surrounded by stone walls with baroque architecture and is the place where Christopher Columbus established himself in the New World. There are many historical sites but also hotels, bars and restaurants perfectly integrated into their historical surroundings.
Catedral Santa Maria La Menor
Visit the Catedral Santa Maria La Menor or as it is also known Catedral Primada de America on a sightseeing tour. It was the first cathedral of the Americas and has a stunning exterior as well as interior. The architecture is a mix of plateresque, Baroque and Gothic styles and there are many fascinating features to admire. Mass is still held here on Sunday afternoons and you are asked to dress appropriately when entering.
Alcazar de Colon
Another excellent place in Santo Domingo is Alcazar de Colon. Learn on a guided tour the history of the city here. This 16th-century building was Diego Colon’s home, the son of Christopher Columbus which is now a museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are exhibits of artwork and historical collections from the late medieval and Renaissance eras. Explore the Spanish colonial palace and courtyards.
National Botanical Gardens
For an outdoor sightseeing tour, visit the magnificent National Botanical Gardens located in Santo Domingo. These gardens were originally started to preserve and explore the plants that were only native to this city but is now for all of the Dominican Republic. There are exotic plants, orchids, aquatic plants and tropical palms as well as a delightful and beautiful Japanese Garden to be explored.
The Fortaleza Ozama
Take a sightseeing tour of the oldest fort found in the Americas that is formally standing, Fortaleza Ozama. It was built during 1502 and was used by the military from Dominican Republic, Spain, France, England, Gran Colombia, Haiti and the US throughout the eras. Now it is open to the public to learn its history and take advantage of the spectacular views especially when you climb the Tower of Homage at its centre.
Monasterio de San Francisco
Visit the Monasterio de San Francisco while on a city tour of Santo Domingo. This was the New World’s first monastery and belonged to the first order of the Franciscan friars. The monastery dates back to the early 1500’s had originally had three chapels connected. It has had a past of fire and earthquakes but rebuilt each time in the 17th and 18th centuries. Nowadays there are weekly wild dances held here.
Museum of the Royal Houses
The Museum of Royal Houses is an example of beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture and a place of historical importance in the city of Santo Domingo. There are two buildings, one was the Royal Court and had government offices, the other was the home for important government officials. See in the museum, on a guided tour, historical documents, Taino artifacts, antique weapons and much more.
The construction of the National Pantheon began in 1714 and finished in 1746. It is a Neoclassical building that began as a Jesuit church. It was deconsecrated and used for many things such as a warehouse and theater. In 1956 it was renovated by a Spanish architect, Javier Barroso, and became the burial place for famous and important Dominican Republic people. The national guards protect these tombs.
Estrada Parque Zoologico Nacional
The Estrada Parque Zoologico Nacional is the Dominican Republic’s national zoo and offers visitors up-close views of animals you would normally only see on safaris. This is a great sightseeing tour to go on with all the family with special exhibits and petting areas for children to interact with the smaller animals. Some of the main animals to see include the lions, rhinos, tigers and a vast range of monkeys and reptiles.
Los Tres Ojos
Take a guided tour to Los Tres Ojos, the three eyes, which is located near Santo Domingo. These are limestone caves which are 50 foot tall with a series of freshwater lagoons in among them. These caves were once a holy place for native Taino Indian but now home to plants, animals and fishes and famous for being the set for Tarzan movies. It is possible to reach the caves and lagoons through walkway and steps and a pulley ferry.
Travel Tips for Santo Domingo
Best Time To Visit
November through to March is a great time in Santo Domingo to visit, the temperatures are perfect for sightseeing tours and yet still suitable for relaxing on the beach. April through to July is a little hotter but during these months is the fantastic Merengue Festival which runs into August too. August to October is when you can expect rain and the possibility of occasional hurricanes.
The costs for tourists in Santo Domingo will vary with districts with the most popular places for tourists being the most expensive. An evening meal for two people with three course will range from US$34 - US$60. Accommodation starts from US$75 for a double room per night and can go as high as you want to pay! Sightseeing tours and activity tours will differ from season to season.
Know Before Visiting
Book well in advance of traveling to Santo Domingo is the fist tip especially if going in peak season and during festivals. There are harmful mosquitos here so pack and apply lots of repellant. It is rare to find violent crime in this city, however, there can be petty crime such as pickpockets and bag snatching, so be aware of this. All shops expect you to haggle. Never stray from guided tour groups.
The temperatures in Santo Domingo are always high. The only changes in the climate is the amount of rainfall that falls each month. The rainy season is May, June, July, August, September, October and November with May being the wettest and March the driest. The hottest month is August with temperatures of above 30 degrees Celsius. The coolest month is December with temperatures of around 29 degrees Celsius.