Two Days in Santo Domingo

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Advisor - Kristel Finns
Curated By

Kristel Finns

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Dominican Republic

  • Family Travel

  • Local Food

A family outside of an intricately carved church
Curator’s statement

Our visit to Santo Domingo was a senior trip for our son, who enjoys both history and culture, and who wanted an adventure a bit off the beaten path. Santo Domingo is not only the capital city of the Dominican Republic, but it was also founded in 1496 as the capital of the first Spanish colony of the New World. The Zona Colonial is the historic district and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can walk along the cobblestone streets admiring the colorful buildings and historical sites. Musicians abound, filling the air with the sounds of the Caribbean! In the Zona Colonial you will also find numerous workers from the Ministry of Tourism happy to assist you as you find your way around the city. It is a perfect day trip on a cruise or a visit from Punta Cana or another nearby city.

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Where to stay in Santo Domingo

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Things to do in Santo Domingo

Inside tres Ojos - a luminescent pool of water inside of a cave

Faro a Colon (Columbus Lighthouse): This large monument is in honor of Christopher Columbus, whom the residents regard highly. For only a few dollars, you can go inside to tour the exhibits. It is a short taxi ride from the Zona Colonial.

Chu Chu Colonial: This is a lovely little train that gives a tour in English or Spanish through the city for approximately 45 minutes. We found it a very valuable tool for an overview of the history of the city. Prices are approximately $12 USD a person and can be bought in the office near the large cathedral in Parque Colón.

Los Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes): This is a national park in the middle of the city. It is a short taxi ride from the Zona Colonial. The three "eyes" are actually lakes. You will descend down quite a few stairs before the breathtaking sights awaiting you! The waters are a stunning blue and the boat ride is a must. The entire endeavor is only a few dollars and will take about an hour and a half to visit. It is a site not to be missed while spending a day or two in Santo Domingo!

Parque Colón (Columbus Park): This is where you will find a wide array of restaurants, live musicians, street performers and people-watching! It is lively throughout the week but was especially engaging on Sunday evening when we were there. There were a multitude of dancers, performers and musicians. Children were playing and it was a lovely sight taken in along with the breeze from the sea while we ate in an open-air restaurant.

Chocolate Tasting: We really enjoyed tasting local chocolate products at Choco Pick. Not only can you sample the delightful local chocolates, but also the hot chocolate and chocolate tea, which was our personal favorite. The flavor is rich and has a depth many chocolates do not have in the US. The Dominican Republic is one the largest producers of organic cocoa in the world.

Personal Tour: The "men in blue" are there to help tourists and are from the Ministry of Tourism. Our guide was a delightful man who offered to show us shops to find what we were looking for or a tour of the city for only $10 USD a person. It was a wonderful time and we learned so much about the history of the city, their natural resources and the people. Be sure to utilize them – they are a wonderful resource!

Places to eat & drink in Santo Domingo

A traditional dish inside of a bowl saying "La Marchanta"

La Marchanta: This is an excellent place to sample the local cuisine. You can sit outside on the patio as you take in the sights and sounds of the Parque Colón in the evening. Not to be missed is mofongo. It is a plantain dish made with garlic and chicharrons (crispy fried pork skins). Look at the "typical food" section of the English menu. The onion steak with white rice and beans is delicious. The server told me to get the beans (habichuela guisadas) and he was not wrong. I wanted more! Tostones (fried plantains) with chicharrons were also tasty. Our daughter enjoyed the pasta carbonara, a little Italian for those not into trying out the local cuisine, and it was amazing as well!

Gran Hotel Europa Rooftop Restaurant: The rooftop setting with the Caribbean breeze is amazing! The food and service were equally top-notch. We enjoyed tapas while our kids dug into their scrumptious burgers. The presentation and food were quite enjoyable! If you stay at this hotel you can also enjoy breakfast on the rooftop with freshly made muffins and local cuisine and that fabulous Dominican Coffee!

Alterno Café: This is a small but very sophisticated coffee bar. The must-try is the iced honey lime coffee. Different, but definitely piques the taste buds and cools you off. Dominicans make really great coffee!

Casa Barista: Coffee aficionados will enjoy checking out the coffee culture here. It is an upscale shop in a unique building with top-notch coffee and food.

Corner Cafe: Try the local freshly squeezed juices! The fresh juices in the DR are incredible and you will find them here along with a variety of croissant sandwiches. Our favorite was the passionfruit juice. It's a wonderful place to cool off after walking around the Zona Colonial and enjoy the scenery. This splendid little café is right in the Zona Colonial.

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Oluwaseyi Aladeselu's guide, A Guide to a Relaxing Holiday in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic . This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Dominican Republic.

Advisor - Kristel Finns

Travel Advisor

Kristel Finns

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