All photos by A Cruising Couple
Most travelers who head to the Dominican Republic go straight to the white sand beaches of Punta Cana or the gorgeous coastline around Puerto Plata. However, the charming (and chaotic) capital of Santo Domingo certainly warrants a visit. The oldest city in the New World, travelers will find Santo Domingo offers the perfect balance of old world charm and fun, hip culture. Yes, the traffic can be out of control, and you’ll want to stay aware of your surroundings (especially when outside of the colonial zone.) However, with just a few days, the Dominican Republic’s capital city is bound to win you over. It certainly did for us.
Where To Stay
For budget-minded travelers who don’t want to sacrifice location or quality accommodation, try Casa Naemie. The lovely bed and breakfast is located in the middle of the Colonial Zone, steps from The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor. The rooms are simple but well equipped, including private balconies and a filling breakfast.
If you’re looking for something that is slightly more glamorous, try the Billini Hotel. With a rooftop pool, private balconies and marble flooring, this is the epitome of Spanish Colonial design with all the modern finishings.
Where To Eat
We were impressed with the outstanding culinary scene in Santo Domingo. To experience the best of the local flavors while also learning about the history of the city, then try a food tour with Tequia Experiences. This will take you to some of the best spots in the Colonial Zone. Additionally, don’t miss:
Meson D’Bari: A favorite of Dominican intellectuals, artists and celebrities, this “hole-in-the-wall” is a great location for sampling traditional Dominican cuisine while also enjoying live merengue music. Be sure to take the time to check out the local artwork that decorates the walls.
Pat’e Palo: Our personal favorite, this restaurant was founded by a Dutch pirate, and is considered the first tavern in the Americas. Today, you’ll find European cuisine, which is best enjoyed on the outdoor patio while taking in the excellent Alcazar views.
Where To Enjoy Nightlife
We’re not huge club-goers, but we did thoroughly enjoy the live music scene in Santo Domingo. Dominican merengue and bachata are world-renowned. However, we were particularly taken by the jazz scene. During the summer, take advantage of the free summer jazz concerts. Alternatively, stop by Lulú’s a rum and coke along with live music in a romantic Spanish plaza setting.
Where To Shop
The Dominican Republic is known for the precious stones amber and larimar. In fact, the aquamarine larimar is only found in the Dominican. Try the Amber and Larimar Museums for high-quality products at fair prices. If you’re looking for new shoes, try La Alpargateria. This hip boutique sells custom-made espadrilles from local textiles, and even has an on-site coffee shop where you can rejuvenate after a long day of exploring.
Explore The Colonial Zone
Of course, no visit to Santo Domingo is complete without visiting the Colonial Zone. For more on how to spend 48 hours in the charming old quarters, check out our in-depth TravelPulse guide here.
Have you visited Santo Domingo? What did you think