Thousands of tourists visit the Dominican Republic each year. Often these visits are for weddings, honeymoons or surfing holidays and understandably so, it’s a paradise island. Dominican Republic is the perfect place for a romantic break, you can unwind and sip rum cocktails on secluded beaches or, you can enjoy the perfect conditions for all kinds of water sports. But sadly, the capital city Santo Domingo, is often completely overlooked as a possible tourist destination. After living there for a year I have put together 16 reasons why I think you should visit Santo Domingo!
Reason 1. Zona Colonial. This is the old part of the city that is bursting with a truly Spanish influence. You can enjoy a delicious dinner in one of the many restaurants around the main square in Zona Colonial. The square is always full of families and street performers and has a wonderful atmosphere.
Reason 2. The Weather. The temperature is around 30 degrees almost any time of year! There are some rainy days mainly from August to October but the weather is always warm.
Reason 3. The Malecon. Enjoy the views from one of the hotel rooftops on the Malecon, the ocean front avenue. Many of the hotels have rooftop swimming pools that you can pay to use per day.
Reason 4. It’s authentic. There’s very few all inclusive hotels in Santo Domingo. You will enjoy the Dominican food and culture so much more when you explore Santo Domingo. It’s also not dangerous, so long as you are sensible you can have a perfect holiday there.
Reason 5. The souvenirs. The small shops tucked away in the side streets of Zona Colonial sell so many beautiful souvenirs. Be sure to buy some Larimar jewellery. Larimar is a bright blue stone that can only be found in the Dominican Republic and the jewellery is a lovely and inexpensive souvenir or gift.
Reason 6. Museums. The museum of the Royal Houses is probably the best one. This museum will teach you all about the history of the Dominican Republic. Most interestingly you will learn about the Taíno people who were the occupants of the island prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.
Reason 7. You’ll learn some Spanish. Many people only speak Spanish in Santo Domingo. They are very friendly and helpful and they will always do their best to help you, but even more so if you try throwing in a few Spanish words!
Reason 8. The Botanical Garden. This is a beautiful place full of interesting plants and water features. It’s great to take a picnic and spend an afternoon enjoying the peace and quiet.
Reason 9. Baseball. If you ever find yourself in Santo Domingo following a victory of an important baseball game then expect to see the biggest street party of your life!
Reason 10. La Bandera – Arroz, habichuelas y pollo frito. La Bandera translates to The Flag, but this is also the name of a very typical local dish of rice and beans which is usually served with fried chicken. It’s delicious and is eaten for lunch almost every day in the Dominican Republic.
Reason 11. The Nightlife. When in Santo Domingo I love going to Segafredo for cocktails followed by one of the many Latino dance clubs in the centre to dance Bachata all night long! If you want to see a real party you can head to La Guacara Taina, an incredible club which is in a cave under Park Mirador del Sur in the city!
Reason 12. Los Tres Ojos, The Three Eyes. This is another beautiful park just outside the city with incredible caves beneath it (no club here though!).
Reason 13. The Street Sellers. You can find street sellers on almost every corner in Santo Domingo selling everything from coconuts to wooden handmade crafts.
Reason 14. Park Mirador del Sur. This is a lovely park full of families where you go for an ice cream and a relaxing stroll.
Reason 15. The National Aquarium and nearby water park which are about 15 minutes out of the city.
Reason 16. It’s Paradise. When you do need a break from city life you are only ever a few hours drive away from some of the world’s most beautiful paradise beaches. From Santo Domingo you can easily explore the whole island.