Insider tips: Planning a trip to Santo Domingo
The capital of the Dominican Republic is often overlooked when organizing a dreamy trip to this paradise island, but according to travel blogger Check Out Sam there is plenty to experience here too! After living here for several months, he knows the in- and outs of the city and shares his best tips with you all.
What should I do on my first trip to Santo Domingo?
Head out to the Zona Colonial and explore the beautiful squares, colorful streets and rich history of Santo Domingo. Parque Colón is -in my opinion- one of the cosiest places in the old town. Plaza España is bigger and much more touristy, but oozes holiday vibes. From the latter you also get some superb views over the rest of Santo Domingo.
What are some hidden gems to see in Santo Domingo?
Want to explore Santo Domingo from above? Hop on El Teleferico! This cable car takes you along a very cheap sightseeing tour above some of the many neighborhoods of the capital city. If you want to see nature, but don't want to venture out too far away from the city, I suggest you head to Los Tres Ojos National Park. Climb down the limestone caves and see the three underground lakes of Santo Domingo.
How much time should I spend in Santo Domingo?
You can see the highlights of Santo Domingo in two days and in that time you also have enough time to relax and unwind at some of the cozy restaurants or bars. Most sights and activities take place in the Zona Colonial. If you want to organize day trips to Punta Cana, Samana or elsewhere, keep in mind that you will at least lose one full day.
What food is Santo Domingo known for?
I'm a sucker for mangú (plantain mash) and tostones (fried plantains), but there are many more Dominican specialties where you can feast on. Make sure to try some of the spicy chicken recipes. I have no idea how they do it, but they always are tasty!
What is the best way to get around Santo Domingo?
If you only stay in the historical center, you can easily walk everywhere. If you also want to discover other parts of the city, make use of Uber. It's cheap, reliable and safe.
What are the best months to visit Santo Domingo?
Try to come outside the summer, because that also means hurricane season. Around April and May there are also less tourists, so if you want to avoid the crowds this is the time to come. During winter, there will be more visitors escaping the cold in their home countries.
What are the best neighborhoods for food?
In the Zona Colonial you will find restaurants that cater to every taste. They are often a bit more high end (but still dirt cheap!) and thus offer clean and original seating areas, but also delicious food. Also worth mentioning: the cocktails in the historical city center are great pretty much everywhere you go!!
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
The best shopping possibilities are outside the Zona Colonial (unless you want to buy souvenirs). Around the Piattini neighborhood there are a lot of malls where you can find boutique stores, famous brands, but also crafts, electronic shops, etc. Make sure to visit Agora Mall: the biggest shopping mall in the Caribbean.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Santo Domingo?
Zona Colonial. You'll be closest to most sights, wake up in a true Caribbean setting every morning and be in a very safe area.
What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Santo Domingo?
Go to Parque Colón and jump into the Chu Chu Colonial. This little train takes you along the most famous sights in the historical city center and gives you fun facts along the way.
What is the best thing to do in Santo Domingo for solo travelers?
Plan a few day trips (or longer!) to other regions of the Dominican Republic. It's the best way to meet other solo travelers and also a great way to explore the beauty of the Dominican Republic. I recommend going to Samana (Los Haitises, whale watching, El Limon Waterfall, ...) or beautiful Puerto Plata.
What is the best thing to do in Santo Domingo for couples?
Enjoy one of the many rooftop bars in the Zona Colonial while waiting for a famous Caribbean sunset. It really can't get more romantic!
What are the best areas for outdoor activities around Santo Domingo?
Near Santo Domingo, Los Tres Ojos National Park is the only area where you'll find some unspoiled nature. If you don't mind doing a day trip (but preferably longer), head to the Samana Peninsula for stunning hikes and spectacular wildlife. To the west (bordering Haïti), you can find the most unspoiled nature of the island.
What are the best beaches around Santo Domingo?
You are in the Dominican Republic, baby. Most beaches here are stunning! But, admittedly, the prettiest ones are not so close to Santo Domingo. If you don't mind taking the Uber or bus a little further: head to Boca Chica or Juan Dolio. Both beaches have pearly white sand and see-through water. Just what you want to see during a holiday in the Caribbean!