The capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, otherwise known as the Colonial City or La Zona Colonial (the Colonial Zone), was the landing place of Christopher Columbus and where colonization of what was known as the Indies began. Preserved and cultivated by the Dominican people for hundreds of years, its historic churches, landmarks, colonial homes, cobblestone streets, and gorgeous beaches witnessed Spanish colonization. As a result, this part of the Caribbean is rich in culture, history, art, local cuisine, and natural wonders with so many things to do and places to visit in Santo Domingo. In combination with all the things to do and places to visit in Puerto Plata, the Dominican Republic is a tropical wonderland that you have to visit!
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Travel Back in Time in Santo Domingo
1. Ciudad Colonial – Ciudad Colonial translated to Colonial City, is located in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Once an old European settlement, this enchanting city has since transformed into a lively place filled with restaurants, museums, parks, and beautiful architecture to admire and peruse on the cobblestone streets.
2. Calle Las Damas – Streetlamps light Calle Las Damas, bathing the buildings, trees and fronds that line the lane with a warm glow. Walk along the oldest paved cobblestone road in the Americas. Calle Las Damas earned its name, the street of ladies, for being the street used by noble women, like Maria de Toledo, every afternoon. Located within the Colonial Zone, Calle Las Damas is a must for tourists to walk in the footsteps of the past.
3. Gazcue – Bordering Zona Colonial (the Colonial Zone), Gazcue stands, dotted with historic buildings, hotels, and restaurants that fringe the streets, marking Gazcue as one of the oldest neighborhoods in Santo Domingo. Its enriched architecture makes Gazcue a picture-worthy place to meander through.
4. Iglesia de los Dominicos – The Iglesia de los Dominicos, otherwise known as the Dominican Convent, is one of many churches located in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone. Visitors can participate in a half an hour-long audio tour around this historic building. With its gothic style and ornate interior filled with statues, alcoves, and stunning vaulted ceilings, it is one of the Colonial City’s many historic wonders that should be a must on your list of things to do in the Dominican Republic.
5. Catedral Primada de las Américas – Located near the heart of the colonial city, Catedral Primada de las Américas stands. It’s most notably known for being the place where the remains of Christopher Columbus were discovered in the nineteenth century. A tour of the cathedral reveals a collection of artworks, arched ceilings, and various hidden rooms within the cathedral.
6. Capilla Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios – Capilla Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, or “The Chapel of Our Lady of Remedies,” is marked by its notable Gothic style as it sits at the end of the famous street Calle Las Damas. A notable private chapel where important Spanish families would gather, today’s visitors can experience and explore Capilla Nuestra Señora de los Remedios during group tours.
7. Convento Regina Angelorum – The Convento Regina Angelorum was constructed in the 16th century and was the first convent in the Dominican Republic for nuns to gather. The Convento Regina Angelorum also spent a brief time as an educational institution for women before it was converted back into a convent. You’ll see art indicative of the beginnings of the Baroque period intertwined with the common Gothic-style of these historic churches in the Dominican Republic. Now, it is a place where visitors can roam, tour, and admire the art that is reminiscent of its long, rich history.
8. Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes – Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes is one of many significant churches located in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone. The church was initially built to spread Catholicism throughout the Dominican Republic, but in present day, it is a historic tourist site.
9. Cathedral of Santa María la Menor – The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor is located in the Colonial Zone and is considered the oldest church established in the New World. The remains of Christopher Columbus were housed here for a brief time, and it is currently home to several historic, wood carved relics. Visitors can tour the grounds and appreciate its gorgeous limestone walls, which give it its bright color, and its altar made of silver.
10. Monasterio de San Francisco – Explore the ruins of Monasterio de San Francisco; its crumbled walls once a monastery, now turned to a place of exploration as well as a concert venue.
11. Palacio Nacional – Remember to add the Palacio Nacional to your list of places to visit in the Dominican Republic. Home of the Dominican Republic’s executive branch and marked as one of the most elaborate buildings in Santo Domingo for its classical architecture style and dusty peach color, Palacio Nacional was built by Italian architect, Guido D’Alessandro, in the nineteenth century.
12. Parque Independencia – Walls stand high above Parque Independencia, a sacred landmark that houses a mausoleum of the Dominican Republic’s founding fathers, marking it as a place to visit.
13. Puerta del Conde – Puerta del Conde is an arched entryway to La Ciudad Colonial. It was where one of the Dominican Republic’s founding fathers raised a flag marking the nation’s independence.
14. Hospital San Nicolas de Bari – Despite its crumbled appearance, the Hospital San Nicolas de Bari, it is still an incredibly interesting historic site to visit in the Dominican Republic. It is known to be one of the oldest hospitals in Santo Domingo.
Go Shopping in Santo Domingo
15. The Kahkow Experience – The Kahkow Experience welcomes visitors to explore and learn a part of the history of the Dominican Republic’s profitable cocoa industry. Savor the rich flavors of this sweet experience through an immersive museum and factory tour all-in-one.
16. Chinatown – On the outskirts, located north of the Colonial Zone, Chinatown is home to vibrant colors, Chinese culture, and Chinese cuisine. You can even see it along the streets and on building exteriors!
17. Mercado Modelo – Meander the stalls of Mercado Modelo, a sweeping market near Colonial City filled with vendors selling a variety of commodities like delicious fruits, jewelry, handmade crafts, and more.
18. Calle El Conde – Spread over a couple blocks, located in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo, Calle El Conde is a lively street filled with restaurants and shopping areas, wonderful for a stroll in this historic city.
See a Show in Santo Domingo
19. Teatro Guloya – Don’t forget to stop by Teatro Guloya, a small independent theater dedicated to putting on plays, plus hosting workshops for all to enjoy.
20. Casa de Teatro – One of the most prominent cultural centers in Santo Domingo, Casa de Teatro is a wonderful place to check out and explore art exhibitions, live music performances and more.
21. Teatro Nacional Eduardo Brito – Recline in classic red velvet seating at the Teatro Nacional Eduardo Brito, a theater inside Plaza de la Cultura. Teatro Nacional Eduardo Brito hosts plays, live orchestra events, and performances.
22. Centro Dominico-Aleman – The Centro Dominico-Aleman is a cultural center, filled with German-Dominican culture. Located in the Colonial Zone and where cultures mingle, this center exudes a welcoming atmosphere, hosting festivals, concerts, art exhibitions, and much more.
23. Palacio de Bellas Artes – Experience the splendor of Palacio de Bellas Artes, home to many artistic functions, plays, ballet performances, and concerts. Its gardens encase the classical architecture in a beautiful array of elegance and grandeur.
Breathe in the Caribbean Air in Santo Domingo
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24. Parque Mirador Sur – A large stretch of greenery cuts through the cityscape of Santo Domingo, forming Parque Mirador Sur. Winding paths snake up and down the expansive area, making it a wonderful place to slow down and take in some fresh air. The park is complete with outdoor activities like an outdoor gym, a place to bike ride, and even boat rides along the man-made lake.
25. The Dominican Republic National Aquarium – Located in Santo Domingo, along the Caribbean Sea, the Dominican Republic National Aquarium is a great place for families with young ones to explore. This small-scale aquarium offers its guests a nice place to relax and peruse the aquarium exhibits. In addition, this charming aquarium offers its guests an outdoor space for kids with a playground and picnic area that overlook the serene ocean.
26. Parque Nacional Submarino La Caleta – You can’t leave the Caribbean without seeing its underwater marvels! Located about 12 miles from Santo Domingo, Parque Nacional Submarino La Caleta is an underwater park where visitors can scuba dive and explore the depths of the sea and find hidden underwater caves, caverns, reefs filled with vibrant aquatic life, and even explore shipwrecks that litter the sea floor.
27. Chu Chu Colonial – Located in the Colonial Zone, Chu Chu Colonial awaits to take patrons to and from the winding streets of the Colonial City. Its little white cart/train exterior provides tourists with an interesting mode of transportation, and a break from walking.
28. Malecón de Santo Domingo – View the seashore along Malecón de Santo Domingo, an avenue pier bustling with people walking back and forth from hotels, restaurants and shop-filled walkways. This city seafront awakens deep after sunset, as people mill about, biking, walking, and exploring the recreational parks within the avenue.
29. Parque Colon – In the center of the hustle, Parque Colon, a lively outdoor square resides. Crowds meander throughout the small square, savoring the occasional music and the colonial architecture surrounding the square.
30. Parque Duarte – Parque Duarte is but another square filled with life. Trees dot the space, creating shade for onlookers to relax on the benches, and listen in on the music that begins to play later in the evenings. Located in the Colonial Zone, Parque Duarte makes for a good spot to rest and enjoy the surrounding air.
31. Parque Iberoamérica – Parque Iberoamérica is a vast park shrouded with shade in the center of the city. Parque Iberoamérica makes for a great place to hike, walk, exercise in its outdoor gym, and it has a playground for kids to enjoy.
32. Plaza de Espana – Don’t forget to visit Plaza de Espana, a well-known and stunning plaza where events, concerts and shows take place, permeating the air with culture and music. This cultural hub definitely deserves a spot on your list of places to visit in Santo Domingo.
33. Plaza de la Cultura – Plaza de la Cultura is a spread of museums, including Museo del Hombre Dominicano, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Natural History. Plus, various theaters that make up the plaza itself.
34. Plaza Maria de Toledo – The Plaza Maria de Toledo, named after Diego Columbus’s wife, is a small, paved courtyard fixed with a fountain and palms, making for a great place to sit and re-energize.
35. Teleferico de Santo Domingo – Get a bird’s eye view of the Isabela and Ozama Rivers as you take the Teleferico de Santo Domingo cable car. Avoid traffic and enjoy the sites of the city below.
Party Dominican-Style in Santo Domingo
36. Santo Domingo Pride Parade – Come join the annual Santo Domingo Pride Parade, where music, dancing and singing converge on the cobblestone. Crowds gather throughout the city of Santo Domingo to show support for the LGBTQ+ community and have fun!
37. Carnaval Dominicano – In an explosion of colors, dance, and music, the Carnaval Dominicano is a staple Dominican festival and an essential part of Dominican culture. Parades line up and down the streets all over the cities of the Dominican Republic every Sunday during the month of February. All of the festivities conclude at the capital, Santo Domingo, where everyone can join in, dance, and experience the splendor of culture in the air.
Visit Museums in Santo Domingo
38. Alcázar de Colón – This museum was once the home of Diego Columbus, Christopher Columbus’ eldest son, and his wife Maria de Toledo. Full of gothic architecture, the history of Alcázar de Colón marks it as one of the many places to visit in Santo Domingo.
39. Museo del Larimar – A museum located along Calle Isabel la Católica, Museo del Larimar showcases an arrangement of artisan crafts, including jewelry and various objects on Larimar stone, a special variety of stone found in Barahona.
40. Casa de Tostado – Once a colonial home, Casa de Tostado is now a place where visitors can step back in time and view the middle-class life of Dominican families of the 19th century. Guests tour the space, viewing displays like a tea lounge and a sewing room.
41. Centro Cultural de las Telecomunicaciones – One of the newest museums brought into this deeply enriched historic city, the Centro Cultural de las Telecomunicaciones displays the history of media in the Dominican Republic, starting from the radio all the way to the present day.
42. Faro a Colon – Translated to “Columbus’ Lighthouse”, it houses the remains of Christopher Columbus, doubling as a museum and mausoleum.
43. Fortaleza Ozama – Grassy lawns flank Fortaleza Ozama, a 16th century military structure built by the Spanish. Book a tour that takes you around the grounds and learn the history of this military fortress that marked the start of Spanish colonization in the Dominican Republic.
44. Museo Bellapart – The Museo Bellapart is one of many museums in the Colonial Zone, where notable paintings, sculptures, and artwork are arranged on the white walls. The art pieces were created by artists of the Dominican Republic throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
45. Museo de Arte Moderno – Located in the Plaza de la Cultura, the Museo de Arte Moderno dedicates its space to contemporary art of the Dominican Republic. Its close proximity to many other museums in the Plaza de la Cultura makes it hard to miss out on your list of things to do in Santo Domingo.
46. Museo de Cera Juan Pablo Duarte – An intriguing wax museum, the Museo de Cera Juan Pablo Duarte showcases the life of one of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic, Juan Pabla Duarte.
47. Museo de las Atarazanas Reales (MAR) – Near the Alcázar de Colón stands a beautiful white building. Inside is the Museo de las Atarazanas Reales. The Museum of the Royal Shipyards displays an extensive collection of underwater archaeology, including historic shipwrecks found along the Dominican coast.
48. Museo de las Casas Reales – The Museo de las Casas Reales, translated to “The Museum of Royal Houses,” is a large part of Dominican history. Once hosting the Spanish court in the 16th century, it’s now a museum showcasing Dominican culture and history.
49. Museo del Hombre Dominicano – The Museo del Hombre Dominicano is a great place to further engross yourself in the history and roots of the Dominican Republic. Here, the museum goes further, divulging the history of early settlers and Spanish conquistadors.
50. Museo Mundo del Ambar – The Museo Mundo del Ambar displays its collection of stone artifacts and treasures. This educational museum also offers a free tour, illuminating the history behind many of the relics and exhibits within the museum.
51. Museo Infantil Trampolin – The Museo Infantil Trampolin is a great place for families to learn in a fun, interactive way. The museum showcases subjects like ecology, Earth systems, and Dominican culture.
52. Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana – The Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana preserves the artifacts of revolutionaries who died during the struggle for democracy in the Dominican Republic between 1916 and 1978. Initiated by the mother of Freedom Fighter Tony Mota Ricart, it’s an important piece of history to many and continues to educate the younger generation from all backgrounds.
53. Panteón de las Patria – Panteón de las Patria was once a Jesuit church now converted to a mausoleum for the remains of Dominican heroes like Maria Trinidad Sanches. She was a heroine of the Dominican War for Independence.
Take a Day Trip to the Beach from Santo Domingo
54. Boca Chica – Just east of Santo Domingo resides Boca Chica, a sandy beach town filled with hotels and restaurants. Relax, splash around, and enjoy the view of the expansive ocean.
55. Juan Dolio Beaches – Further east of Santo Domingo is another beach town. Juan Dolio Beaches has bars and restaurants along the shore, the perfect background for your pictures of all the tasty food and refreshing beverages.
56. Macao Beach – Located in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic, two hours from Santo Domingo, is Macao Beach. One of the largest beaches that stretches along the Dominican city of Punta Cana, it’s a great place to soak up the sun, relax on the white sandy shore, and take a swim in the shallow, tranquil waters.
Places to Eat & Drink in Santo Domingo
57. Lulu Tasting Bar – An elegant bar located in Ciudad Colonial, Lulu Tasting Bar is a wonderful indoor and outdoor space with hanging plants, warm lighting in the evenings, and a menu of various tapas and drinks for a luxurious experience. Don’t miss out on their live music events, like Monday night jazz performances.
58. Desiree Cepeda Restaurant & Art Studio – Part restaurant, part art studio, Desiree Cepeda is a popular place to grab a bite and enjoy the unique art pieces and lush greenery that extend throughout. Add this destination to your list of places to visit in Santo Domingo for a spin on the traditional dining experience in the Dominican Republic.
59. Paletas Bajo Cero – After hours of walking through the streets of Ciudad Colonial, a sweet treat is naturally a must. Located along Calle Isabel la Católica sits a unique ice cream and popsicle shop. Paletas Bajo Cero offers a variety of tasty flavors like chocolate, coconut, coffee, and fruity flavors, like strawberry. Try something a little different and order their avocado popsicle filled with dulce de leche.
60. La Fábrica de Arte Contemporáneo – With its delicious Dominican food, fun creative workshops, and artistic events, La Fábrica de Arte Contemporáneo welcomes guests to unwind and enjoy the contemporary art throughout this fascinating space.
61. Papaupa – Specializing in vegetarian, Asian-style cuisine, customers can order mouthwatering veggie burgers, veggie dumplings, and veggie wraps. It’s chic decor, lush with hanging vegetation and wooden seating, creates a cozy atmosphere.
62. Loretta Cafe Bistro – A French-style cafe that serves an array of international foods, such as steaks, paninis, and more. Loretta Cafe Bistro’s relaxed ambiance, and its breakfast spread, make it a must on your list of things to do in Santo Domingo.
63. Adrian Tropical – Enjoy the beachside view from Adrian Tropical, a restaurant located along the Caribbean seaside serving a variety of local foods like Caribbean, Latin, and Dominican cuisine for everyone to savor.
64. Sabina Bar Zona Colonial – Sabina Bar Zona Colonial is a social bar, bedecked with mementos of Spanish folk singer, Joaquin Sabina. Locals and tourists alike gather and enjoy the positive energy, good music, and colorful drinks.
65. Zambra – The mood lighting and music fills Zambra, creating an ambiance pf fun for customers to indulge and enjoy a selection of beers, wines, cocktails and spirits.
66. 75 Grados Bar – A bar located in the Colonial Zone, 75 Grados Bar is alive with a mix of music, ranging from American music to hip Latino music and paired with frozen drinks.
67. Buche Perico – Enjoy the immersive atmosphere of Buche Perico, a lavish restaurant exploding with greenery. Along the “Calle El Conde,” the first commercial street in the Colonial Zone, this opulent space offers an enigmatic, jungle-like atmosphere for guests to enjoy the Caribbean cuisine.
68. VIP ROOM – VIP ROOM is a nightclub alive with electric lighting, great drinks, and lively music.
69. Onno’s Zona Colonial Bar & Restaurant – Don’t miss out on Onno’s Zona Colonial Bar & Restaurant! Order a burger and a drink, peruse the outdoor patio or maybe the exclusive VIP area, and dance to the live DJ.
70. Arturo Fuente Cigar Club – Join Arturo Fuente Cigar Club for an elegant, upscale evening. Its interior and modern decor create an atmosphere of luxury and foster conversation among drinks and appetizers.
71. Mamey Librería and Cafe – Stop in for a cup of coffee and a good book at Mamey Librería and Cafe, a bookstore and cafe enriched with artwork from local artists housed inside one of the historic buildings of the Colonial Zone along Calle Mercedes.
Places to Stay in Santo Domingo
72. The Billini Hotel – The Billini Hotel’s five-star amenities, bedecked with an outdoor pool, fitness center, three restaurants and cafe, brings guests a sense of wondrous comfort in the Ciudad Colonial.
73. Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando – Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando is another opulent hotel, the former home of a Dominican governor located on Calle Las Damas. The hotel amenities include an on-site restaurant, bar, gym, and swimming pools for guests to use at their leisure, as well as views of the Ozama River, beautiful open-air courtyards, and minimalistic bedrooms with tall ceilings, stone walls, and Spanish-colonial touches.
Things to Do Near Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
74. Ron Barcelo Rum Distillery – Only an hour from Santo Domingo, Ron Barcelo Rum Distillery offers tours of their rum museum and allows you to experience Dominican rum firsthand.
75. VegaFina Cigar Factory – VegaFina Cigar Factory, a well-known cigar brand, invites guests to explore their property, which includes both a museum and a factory, while discovering how tobacco leaves are cultivated and hand-chosen to make its iconic cigars.
76. Zipline Park – Plunge to adventure when you visit Zipline Park, an outdoor adventure park where visitors can experience the energetic sensation of ziplining. Zipline Park also includes other attractions like paintball, a climbing wall, and the Zip Fuan where guests experience a free fall.
77. Jardin Botánico Nacional – Take a walk along the paths of Jardin Botánico Nacional, a botanical garden stretching over 400 acres. Every inch is alive with plants, native trees, palms, flowers, and birds of various species.
78. Round Mountain – Take a trip to Round Mountain two-and-a-half-hours away from Santo Domingo. Join a tour that’ll take you to the top so you can savor the view of the bay below. Some tours include lunch, games, and other excursions, so don’t hesitate to add this to your list of places to visit in Santo Domingo.
79. Parque Zoológico Nacional – You can walk or ride a train through the Parque Zoológico Nacional, a wonderful place for families to see and learn about the 82 species of animals housed there, from local to exotic and endangered. It’s also home to two rare mammals, one that was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1960s. There’s even a zipline!
Things to Do and Places to Visit in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Final Thoughts
When you take your next Caribbean vacation to the Dominican Republic, you’ll be amazed at all the things to do and places to visit in the capital city of Santo Domingo. The role it played in the beginnings of Spanish colonization in the New World can be seen across its entirety, many of its modern attractions and businesses housed inside historic buildings left mostly untouched to preserve the country’s history. Its landscape and beaches are unparalleled, perfect for selfies and group photos with the best of backdrops. Keep our list of things to do and places to visit in Santo Domingo (and our list of things to do in Puerto Plata) handy to make your trip to the Dominican Republic as enriching as possible.