–In this city travel guide we feature Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic. From malls of all sizes, to a diverse of culinary options, neighborhoods that still tell stories from another era and then the more modern cosmopolitan barrios. The way the metropolitan area and the old city blend, presents a contrast that in many ways reflects the passing of the years on this city and its millions of habitants.
The people of Santo Domingo, or Capitaleños, represent the best of what the city has to offer. An outgoing spirit and open minded culture, enriched by values of simplicity, humility and welcoming arms. Don’t be surprised if a local provides you with recommendations or offers you a bite of their food, as we love to have others enjoy all they can.
A walk recommended when in Santo Domingo…
Definitely a walk in the Colonial City, the oldest city of the New World!
You will marvel at the first cathedral, first university and first hospital built after the arrival of the Spaniards. You can take a walk in the pedestrian street El Conde and visit the local stores and gift shops. A stroll around the streets nearby will take you to Plaza España which hosts the Alcazar de Colon (Columbus
Alcazar); the Museo de las Casas Reales, an old palace-like compound used by the Spaniard administration, today a known museum; the Parque Colón (Columbus Park), adorned by a Christopher Columbus monument and just a few meters away the
Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, first of the new world.
Other remarkable and camera-friendly landmarks include The National Pantheon, allocated in an old Jesuist church, the Ozama Fortress, the ruins of the San Francisco Monastery and the Bari
Hospital, the Borgellá Palace, the Consistorial Palace and Las Mercedes Church, among many other.
Insiders Tip: If you are planning on visiting the local gift shops bring local cash and get ready to haggle in order to get the best bargain.
There are some interesting museums in the area which are worth visiting: Amber Museum, Casa de la Moneda (House of Coin) and Chocolate Museum. Many snacks, restaurants, and cafeterias are open during most days of the week.
Do you fancy a refreshing drink? Depending on the day of the week, you can go to the Colonial City, sit at one of the many bars and cafes in the vicinity of Parque Colon and order a fresh beverage while enjoying the beautiful sights of the old city. Watch tourists, their trends and cultural differences, as they walk by the small pedestrian street towards Plaza España.
A recommended dinner place… Any of the restaurants found in Plaza España provides their guests with an exclusive and distinct ambiance of romanticism that plays well to either couples or small groups.
Don’t skip the wines or appetizers as they complement the experience. Most of all, don’t be surprised to find local dishes turned into Spanish tapas, the size most certainly won’t affect the flavor.
Insiders Tip: All restaurants have terrace tables, which allows parents to watch over their children, as they play around Plaza España. As of late, the Ministry of Culture holds many activities free of cost to promote the local culture from concerts to exhibitions and extended schedule of the nearby museums.
A local lunch spot? Just a few blocks outside the Colonial City, I recommend visiting the restaurant El Conuco, known for its displays of local folklore activities and its yummy local cuisine.
Stop by this piece of the country’s gastronomy encapsulated in a few walls, whether it is for a main course or a quick bite.
What are family-friendly activities in Santo Domingo?
Families can decide between touring the Colonial City and then visiting Plaza de la Cultura (Cultural Plaza) where the Natural Science Museum and the Museum of the Dominican Man can be found, offering tours on the evolution of the local culture and native species. Up north is also the Botanical Garden. The interesting part about staying a couple of days in Santo Domingo is not necessarily what is inside the city, but the places you can travel to, parting from Santo Domingo. Beaches are less than an hour away and local buses depart to popular destinations such as Jarabacoa and Constanza in the valley, La Romana to the East, Palmar de Ocoa to the southwest and Puerto Plata or Samana on the north shores of the island. There is quite a multitude daytrips that can be planned parting from Santo Domingo.
For the shopping adventurer…
All the malls of the main avenues of the metropolitan area offer a wide range of international stores and local fabrics. Acropolis, Agora Mall or Blue Mall, all with ample parking spaces will present you upscale inventories such as the ones from Louis
Vuitton, Armani Exchange or Rolex, and at the same time provide you with everyday wear such as Sport Line, Converse, Victoria Secret, Gymboree or Pull & Bear.
Insiders Tip: Agora Mall integrates a supermarket with department stores. Supermarkets are you ideal spot to find local sweets at the best price to take back home. All banks with extended schedules can also be found in this mall.
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