Santiago de los Caballeros

Travel Guide
Photo provided by Ministry of Tourism of the Dominican Republic
Partake in lively festivals, view impressive monuments and witness authentic Dominican life in one of the oldest colonial cities in the New World.

Appreciate the down-to-earth vibe of the Dominican Republic’s second-largest city, Santiago de los Caballeros, which translates to mean “Saint James of the Knights.” Often overlooked by visitors who rush to the beaches of the coast, this captivating city offers plenty of ornate monuments and interesting museums and architecture, as well as the chance to experience a slice of everyday life in the Dominican Republic.

Santiago’s most iconic feature is the Monumento a los Heroes de la Restauración de la República, which towers over the city. Stand under the 230-foot (70-meter) high bronze Angel de la Paz, which honors the Dominican soldiers who fought in the country’s war of independence.

For over 500 years, Santiago has produced cigars and rum from the sugarcane and tobacco plantations that blanket the surrounding valley floor. Join a factory tour to see how the famous rum and tobacco products are made.

Get to know the residents through their love of music, nightlife and festivals. The classic Dominican music known asmerengue périco ripiao, which uses an accordion, tambora drum and güira (metal scraper), evolved in Santiago. Listen to this and other indigenous music being played in bars all over the city. Time your visit just right to enjoy one of the city’s legendary festivals. Santiago puts on a good show for Carnival with costumes, parades, papier-mâché masks and a whole lot of frivolity.

Appreciate the cultural side of Santiago. Visit the impressive Centro Leon, a world-class museum with a large collection of 20th-century Dominican art built with funding from the León Jimenes family of tobacco merchants. The Catedral de Santiago Apóstol is also worth a stop. Venture inside to inspect the stained-glass windows. Learn more about Dominican history at the castle-like Fortaleza San Luis, a 17th-century military stronghold that today contains a small museum.

Puerto Plata International Airport is 56 miles (91 kilometers) from Santiago and is served by taxis and public buses. Inter-city buses connect to other parts of the country. Rent a car to get to nearby beaches. While city public transportation is cheap and efficient, wander through the center on foot to truly get a feel for this vibrant yet hard-working city.

Where to stay in Santiago de los Caballeros