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A Tourist Guide To Santo Domingo Attractions

This is a compilation of Santo Domingo Attractions (restaurants, things to do, things to see, etc.), that I as a foreigner (from the United States) have learned about and enjoyed over the last 6 years. It is also a collection of the Santo Domingo attractions our past clients have enjoyed as well.

Location Of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo Map

Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is located on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic along the Caribbean Ocean. The city of Santo Domingo is conveniently located close to the Las Americas Airport (Santo Domingo Airport), the largest airport in the country. From the Santo Domingo Airport to Santo Domingo takes about 35 minutes by car.

History Of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the New World and was founded by Christopher Columbus and his younger brother, Bartholomew Columbus, in 1502, a few years after Christopher Columbus had discovered Hispaniola in 1496, the island that now is home to both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Santo Domingo boasts of many firsts for the New World. The first paved street, university, cathedral, castle, monastery, hospital and fortress – to name just a few. Most of these firsts, along with beautiful architecture, can be seen in the Colonial Zone (Zona Colonial) which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Colonial Zone is the # 1 tourist destination in Santo Domingo so we have written an article dedicated to what to see and do in the Colonial Zone and you may also read more about taking an English speaking guided tour of the Colonial Zone and the city of Santo Domingo.

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Where To Stay In Santo Domingo

I have broken up Santo Domingo into 3 unofficial sections: the Malecon (seaside), the Colonial Zone, and business district (the rest of the city). Once you have researched these areas, you can then use or another website to reserve your room.

Hotels in Santo Domingo Colonial Zone

The Colonial Zone

My preferred location is the Colonial Zone unless you are here for work and want to stay close to your meetings. In the Colonial Zone there are numerous hotels with most of the buildings dating back hundreds or years. Staying in historical areas typically means the rooms are a little smaller and you will have to deal with a few issues that all older buildings have. However, because this is a tourist area, most, if not all, hotels have English speakers at the front desk, the people working at the hotels are friendly, and rooms are clean. The reason why I like to stay in the Colonial Zone is because as soon as you walk out the door of your hotel, you are in area rich in history with plenty of sites to see, restaurants to enjoy, and bars/clubs to enjoy at night – all without having to get into a taxi. When visiting the #1 Santo Domingo attraction, it only makes sense to stay in the #1 Santo Domingo attraction also.

Avenida George Washington Hotels Santo Domingo

The Malecon

On Avenue George Washington (the Malecon) there are several international chain hotels. You know what you will be getting with these chains, and many of the rooms, restaurants, and bars have great views of the Caribbean Ocean. Even though you are on the Malecon, you will end up taking a taxi to most locations you want to enjoy.

Hotels in Santo Domingo

The Rest Of The City

There are many fine hotels throughout the rest of the city with fantastic views of the Caribbean and the city. With a city that has just fewer than 3 million people, there is a lot of traffic in the capital. You will want to make sure you pick a hotel close to where you will be spending most of your time. There are also some streets, such as Avenue Maximo Gomez, that have a lot of car traffic leaving you stuck in the back of the cab for a while. Areas many business travelers like to stay in are Piantini and Narco – two high-end locations with many businesses, hotels and restaurants located close by.

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Santo Domingo Attractions

“Things To See and Do”

The number one Santo Domingo Attraction is the Colonial Zone (Zona Colonial) that has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This area is rich in history and architecture and has many fine restaurants, shops, museums, and places of interest. I suggest you start here and when you have seen everything you want to see in the #1 Santo Domingo Attraction, you can then visit some of the other sites in Santo Domingo. To learn more about the #1 Santo Domingo Attraction, read our article on what the Colonial Zone has to offer.

While we have a zoo, botanical garden, and an aquarium in the city they are not of the caliber of zoos in San Diego, CA USA, and Singapore, or aquariums in Atlanta, Georgia and Okinawa, Japan.

Santo Domingo Tour-Zona Colonial -Faro Colon

Faro Colon

Faro Colon (Columbus Lighthouse) is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon) who was moved here from the Cathedral de Santa Maria in the Colonial Zone in 1992 in time for the 500 year celebration of the christianization of the new world. Pope John Paul II gave a speech here to both honor the 500 year anniversary and to apologize to the Dominican people for the atrocities  committed against the Dominican people in the name of the Catholic church .

Santo Domingo Tour Park of the 3 eyes

The Park of the Three Eyes

The Park of the Three Eyes (Parque Los Tres Ojos) was formed by an underground cave system that collapsed during an earthquake and created 3 natural lakes. The caves are now open-air and are made of limestone walls. You can take a boat ride on the second lake to see the cave system and all the surrounding foliage. While we have included a picture of this park, no picture can do these awe inspiring views justice. This is a truly must see on your vacation.

Santo Domingo Tour -City Tour

A Drive Around The Capital City

When too hot or you have been walking too much, let us drive you around to locations that are hard to see on foot such as The Presidential Palace, Avenue George Washington (Malecon), and Avenue Maximo Gomez with its governmental buildings.

Mercado Modelo Santo Domingo

The Market

The Mercado Modelo is a great place to buy local souvenirs and local art for great prices.

There are much more attractions in Santo Domingo, but many of our clients want to spend most of their time in the Colonial Zone and then visit the sites listed above. Many of our clients who have only a day to spend exploring the first city of the New World often enjoy starting the day off by going to see the Faro Colon, the park of the three eyes, followed by a drive to see the important places of the city, have a quick lunch at a local Dominican restaurant, and then off to the Colonial Zone to walk around the first streets and buildings of the New World. When done exploring the #1 Santo Domingo Attraction, many like to have a nice dinner in one of the wonderful restaurants in the Colonial Zone and then head back to their hotel. We have designed what we think is the perfect one day tour of Santo Domingo and if you don’t speak Spanish we can send you with an English speaking tour guide/driver.

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Restaurants, Bars, & Lounges in Santo Domingo

With thousands to chose from in the city, we obviously can’t give you a complete list, but between the one ones we like, the ones our clients have liked, and the ones that are famous, we will pull a few out to highlight.

The Colonial Zone

There are many restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs in just this one area. I am sure there are more than 75, but we have touched on some of the more famous ones in this Colonial Zone article. The first restaurant in the New World is in the Colonial Zone and is still at the same location is what back in the 16th century. Make sure you read about the Colonial Zone and many restaurants and bars that we have highlighted.

The Melacon (Avendida George Washington)

Cameroon-Cigar Lounge Santo Domingo


This is a cigar lounge well known by the people in the city of Santo Domingo. If you are a cigar aficionado, you should go here and enjoy a cigar and glass of our local rum -either Barcelo or Brugal. Located just outside the Colonial Zone on the Malecon (Ave. George Washington). Casual dress.

Restaurant Adrian Tropical Santo Domingo

Adrian Tropical

This is another restaurant that serves local Dominican food and is very popular with both tourists and locals alike. Sometimes it can be hard to find seating at night. A good time to visit is just before sunset. Casual to upscale casual dress.

D'Luis Parrillada Santo Domingo Restaurant

D’ Luis Parrillada

Here you can try many of the local Dominican foods while looking over the Caribbean Ocean. This outside restaurant has a roof to protect you from the Caribbean sun and a great breeze coming off the water. Definitely a great place to sit back and have a beer. Casual dress.

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Throughout The City

Delicio Restaurant Santo Domingo


This is located on Avenue Venezuela and its name says it all, in English it means delicious. This is a local’s restaurant with Dominican cuisine. The prices are very reasonable and the food is prepared quickly. It is located among some of the country’s most famous nightclubs, and, if you are planning on going out one night, this restaurant would be a good place to start off a casual night. Casual dress.

Sophia's Restaurant Santo Domingo


This is a very elegant high-end restaurant/bar with an international menu. The chef really knows how to put a menu together, but this is not for the budget-minded. If you visit this restaurant on Paseo de los Locutores # 9, you will be dining with the who’s who of Santo Domingo. Upscale dress.

Barra Payan Santo Domingo Restaurant

Barra Payan

This is located on 30 de Marzo (just outside the Colonial Zone) and is a fast food restaurant serving sandwiches and juices. The juices are either natural or a betida (smoothie). This is a famous late-night hangout for those who are hungry after enjoying a night out on the town. Casual dress and inexpensive.

Il Cappucciono Restaurnat Santo Domingo

Il Cappuccino

This is located on Avenue Maximo Gomez and is a great place to start your day with a fantastic cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich or to go to for lunch or dinner. They have great Italian food with good prices, gelato, and a small bakery. Sometimes I go here in the afternoon for a cappuccino and a bowl of gelato. Bakery/ Café side – Casual dress; Restaurant side -casual to upscale casual dress.

Santo Domingo Villar Hermanos Restaurant

Villa Hermanos

This restaurant was started by 3 brothers and has a great reputation among the locals. This restaurant has 3 parts: a more formal part with a casual restaurant where you sit down and order your food; another part that is similar to cafeteria-style food that is very fresh (less expensive); and a bakery in the back with incredible sweets. This is where I go when I need a little sugar. This restaurant is located behind the Shearton hotel on Avenida Independencia. Casual dress.

Vertygo-Bar Santo Domingo

Vertygo 101

Inside the  J.W. Marriot. This is a trendy lounge/bar located 101 feet above Winston Churchill Street that allows a spectacular city view as you enjoy a cocktail or something off their limited food menu.
winston-grill-and-patio Santo Domingo

Winston Grill & Patio

Inside the  J.W. Marriot. This is the Marriott’s full international restaurant and is a great place to start off a night out on town. Reservations required. Upscale casual.
el-meson-de-la-cava-Restaurant Santo Domingo

El Meson De La Cava

This restaurant is located on Avenue Mirado Sur and is famous for being inside a cave. The walls, floors, and ceiling are made up of the cave’s walls, floors, and ceiling to create a unique experience. They have an international menu with medium to high prices. You walk down a circular staircase to enter the cave/restaurant and is a little damp due to it being a cave. Casual to upscale casual dress.
Punta Italia Restaurant Santo Domigno

Punto Italia

This is located on Avenue Lincoln and is an excellent Italian restaurant that is not too expensive. Casual dress.
Santo Domingo Arturo Fuente Cigar Bar

Cigar Club Arturo Fuente

This is one of the oldest cigar names in the Dominican Republic and arguably one of the best cigars in the world; winning multiple international awards. They have created a small cigar bar/restaurant to showcase their cigars and the bar is also very well stocked on wines and spirits to accompany your cigar. They also have a simple but good food menu. Casual to upscale casual dress.

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Stadium Quisqueya is located on Avenue Maximo Gomez and the games are held from October to January. Tickets can be bought from $10 to $30 USD – a little more during the championship games at the end of the season. If you are here during the baseball season, then this is a Santo Domingo attraction that won’t disapoint.

This is a compilation of Santo Domingo Attractions (restaurants, things to do, things to see, etc.), that I as a foreigner (from the United States) have learned about and enjoyed over the last 6 years. It is also a collection of the Santo Domingo attractions our past clients have enjoyed as well.

Nightlife & Clubs In Santo Domingo

Music and dancing are woven into the culture of Dominican people. Bachata and merengue are two types of dance and music that originated in the Dominican Republic. There is also Salsa, a type of dance and music that originated in Puerto Rico / Cuba.  All of this music can be heard from almost every corner on weekends and on many corners during the week. Of course with the music and dance, you will see people enjoying the country’s beer (cerveza) Presidente or one of our local rums, either Brugal or Barceló.

While there are bars and nightclubs located throughout the city, on Avenue Venezuela there are a large group of nightclubs and bars. If you like the nightlife, music, and dance, then this street is a must to visit. Currently one of the trendiest nightclubs on Avenue Venezuela is Energy. People come from around the world to visit these Santo Domingo attractions.


While Santo Domingo is on the Caribbean coast, it is on a bluff with very limited access to the water.  The bluffs allow for great views if you are walking or if you are having dinner at sunset, but there is only one very small beach-access in the city and it is not well maintained. The two closest beaches to the city of Santo Domingo are Boca Chica and Juan Dolio. My personal preference, as an American living in the Dominican Republic, is Juan Dolio, but many of the locals enjoy Boca Chica. Read more about Juan Dolio, Boca Chica, the beaches, the restaurants at the beaches, etc

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