Santo Domingo is a fast-growing city known for its colonial architecture, modern art and an oceanfront boardwalk lined with restaurants and cafés. The Caribbean’s first city has had a turbulent history. Since it was founded by the brother of Christopher Columbus in 1498, Santo Domingo has been raided by pirates and slaves and ruled by a dictator. Today, the city reflects this past with colonial architecture and looks to the future with a growing cultural scene.
Spend your mornings around Santo Domingo’s ElMalecon. Restaurants, cafés and parks line this popular oceanfront boardwalk. Sip espressos and people-watch at outdoor tables.
Towards the Santo Domingo Port, find the city’s UNESCO protected colonial zone. Here you can visit the city’s most significant historical landmarks, including the Alcázar de Colón, the former home of explorer Diego Colón. Catch your breath in the shady Colón Park before continuing to the National Pantheon, with its neoclassical façade. Visit the Ozama Fortress, which once protected the city from pirates. Climb to its balcony for a panoramic view of the city.
West of the colonial zone, explore charming residential suburbs and museums around the Plaza de la Cultura. Delve into historical books at the adjacent National Library or reserve a seat for a dance, opera or drama performance at the National Theater.
Nearby, the Museum of Modern Art displays the best of new Dominican artists in temporary exhibits. Learn about the pre-Columbian life of Hispaniola’s native Taino Indians at the Museum of the Dominican Man. Visit the Palace of Fine Arts to appreciate its vast columned façade with a bright Caribbean color scheme.
In the evenings, return to El Malecon and pick a terrace restaurant along the lively George Washington Avenue. Listen to karaoke, salsa and Merengue drum beats of street performers, particularly around carnival when parties reach their peak.
Santo Domingo is located on the south coast of the Dominican Republic. Fly into the city’s international airport then get around using public buses, taxis and públicos (private minivans).