5 Things to Do in Santo Domingo
Discover Santo Domingo Attractions & ExcursionsLovingly referred to as La Capital, Santo Domingo is sometimes skipped for more popular Dominican beach destinations. Located at nature’s doorstep, overlooking the Caribbean Sea and split by a winding river, this city is the cultural hub of the DR and one of the Caribbean’s hidden gems. Here’s what to see and do in Santo Domingo!
1. Learn the historyAs one of Europe’s oldest settlements and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dominican capital is teeming with historical sites that not only teach you about the history of the country, but of our whole continent.
Start in the Colonial City, where you’ll find the Americas’ first cathedral, hospital, and university. While the neighbourhood is easily discovered by foot, we also recommend renting a bike or hopping on the so-called Chu Chu Colonial train for a quick tour. One of the most popular stops is the Alcazár de Colón, a former palace built in the Gothic and Renaissance styles that was once home to Christopher Columbus’ son.
While the curiously massive Columbus Lighthouse, a Soviet-style mausoleum and museum dedicated to the controversial explorer, might also be worth a look, we’d suggest the Museum of Dominican Man and the Memorial Museum of Dominican Resistance to learn about all sides of this country’s complex history.
2. Take a nature breakIt wouldn’t be a Dominican vacation without some exciting and unique landscapes. Right in the city, within Mirador del Este park, you’ll find Parque Nacional Los Tres Ojos (the Three Eyes National Park). Visit a fascinating series of caves once used by the Indigenous Taíno people for rituals, as well as 3 deep, blue lagoons (the park’s “eyes”).
From underground to underwater—dive into more Dominican treasures at La Caleta Underwater Park. This popular dive site off the coast of Santo Domingo hides famous shipwrecks, underwater tunnels, and tons of marine life, from balloon fish to turtles.
For another breath of fresh air, wander around Santo Domingo’s Dr. Rafael María Moscoso Botanic Garden, named after a local botanist who collected flora. Walk through an eclectic array of vegetation from across Hispaniola island and keep your eyes peeled for native bird species flying about.
3. Get a move onJust because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you need to take a fitness break. Did you know Dominican Republic is a top destination for golf in the Caribbean? Get in the swing of things at golf courses around Santo Domingo, like the exclusive Santo Domingo Country Club, or the more accessible Isabel Villas Golf & Country Club and Cayacoa Golf Club.
If you’re not an expert on the green, you can always count on the… blue? Santo Domingo’s prime coastal location makes it a hotspot for all kinds of water sports, from snorkelling and kayaking to surfing off nearby Playa Caribe. Sailing enthusiasts won’t want to miss venturing to the Santo Domingo Yacht Club over in Boca Chica, the Dominican Republic’s best spot for it. Beyond sailing lessons, the club also organizes fishing trips and tournaments.
4. Just chill outIs your idea of sports trying to reach for a cocktail while lying on a beach towel? We feel you. The capital of a beach paradise like Dominican Republic doesn’t lack in perfect places to stretch out under the sun. The mile-long, white-sand Playa Boca Chica is a fave with families or grown-ups who love the lively atmosphere.
For more stunning views, above and below the waves, pencil in day trips to Isla Catalina, a dreamy island ringed by heavenly beaches and surrounded by coral reef. Further east, serene Isla Saona is a protected piece of paradise that’s part of Cotubanamá National Park and easy to reach from Santo Domingo.
5. Meet modern DRWhile Santo Domingo prides itself on its rich history, it’s also the cultural heart of modern Dominican Republic. Do as the locals do and catch a game of the country’s favourite sport: baseball, or pelota as they call it here. Home to two popular local teams, Estadio Quisqueya is the place to do it!
For Dominican art, music, photo, dance or movie events, stop at Casa de Teatro, the Museum of Modern Art, or the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Don’t miss one of the Caribbean’s only Chinatowns, right here in Santo Domingo, where statues and authentic restaurants line the streets. Want a true blend of the city’s past and present? Save your Sunday for Monastery Sundays, an outdoor concert of merengue and bachata that takes over the 16th-century ruins of the San Francisco Monastery.