Santo Domingo is the largest, most animated, cosmopolitan and people-friendly city in the Caribbean and Central America.
The Colonial City is a very walkable grid of 16 short streets with jewels of 16th to early 20th century architecture. Cobblestone lanes and iron street lamps lead to the many small museums, shops, hotels, restaurants and bars that are tucked away on every street. The Chu Chu Colonial offers a 45-minute trip around the city to help newcomers get their bearings.
In the city, marvel at the lushness of the Botanical Gardens. Walk over to the Malecón and watch the people and the sea views.
Shopping is big at the malls in Santo Domingo. Look for Dominican shops to buy a linen guayabera, leather handbag or original designed clothing. Eyeball gorgeous men and women at one of the better gyms. Then relax and smoke a good cigar at one of the open terrace-restaurants at Plaza de España or Av. Gustavo Mejia Ricart. The city is yours.
Las Americas International Airport (SDQ) is the main port of entry, half an hour east of the city. Cruise ship passengers arriving to Santo Domingo by sea are 10 minutes from the leading attraction of the Colonial City.
CONVENTO DE LOS DOMINICOS: 16th century building that housed the first university in the Americas. In that church Fray Antón de Montesinos became the first advocate of human rights in the Americas by speaking out against the abuses suffered by the Taíno Indians. Colonial City.
PARQUE COLÓN: Located beside the Cathedral, this shaded square is surrounded by colonial, republican and modern architecture and is a magnet for Dominicans and tourists alike. In the center is the statue of Christopher Columbus with the Taíno Indian heroine Anacaona. Colonial City.
PARQUE INDEPENDENCIA: White-marble mausoleum where the remains of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic are buried: Juan Pablo Duarte, Matías Ramon Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez. The park is also the city’s largest open art gallery. Colonial City.
MIRADOR DEL SUR: Popular with marathon runners, this 8km park stretches from Luperón to Winston Churchill avenue and is exclusively for walking, jogging, skating and biking in the evening and early morning. Exercise and enjoy the Caribbean Sea views.
PARQUE IBEROAMÉRICA: Renovated city park, the Parque Iberoamérica is centrally located in a lush shaded area of the city. Learn about iguanas at their habitat towards the entrance to the park. The park surrounds the National Music Conservatory.
MALECÓN: A protected area and national park, the nine-mile (14.5kms) boulevard runs along the Caribbean Sea front of Santo Domingo. City hotels and restaurants, and the Guibia and Juan Barón plazas on the east side, the new Maritime Walk to the west. The Malecón leads into the Avenida del Puerto cruiseship port and Colonial City area.