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Best Things To Do in Santo Domingo

Despite its location on the Caribbean Sea, Santo Domingo is far from a beach town. Instead, you should expect to spend some time at historically significant sites like the Catedral Primada de América or the Fortaleza Ozama. Make sure to allot an hour or two for the architecturally significant Columbus Lighthouse. Meanwhile, night owls should check out the city's vibrant nightlife — some say the Malecón's nightclubs and late night entertainment are the best in the Caribbean.

How we rank Things to Do
  • #1
    Zona Colonial
    View all Photos
    #1 in Santo Domingo
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Partially barricaded by stone walls, accented with baroque architecture and lying on cobblestone streets, Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial marks the area where Columbus settled in the New World. Visitors say it's definitely a must-see, considering the city's best known historic sites are located here. But this UNESCO World Heritage Site

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    Catedral Primada de America
    View all Photos
    #2 in Santo Domingo
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Some people refer to this church by its official name, Catedral Santa María La Menor, but it's probably best known as the first cathedral of the Americas. Whatever you call it, visitors agree: This coral-limestone building is magnificent inside and out.

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  • #3
    Alcázar de Colón
    View all Photos
    #3 in Santo Domingo
    Castles/Palaces, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Castles/Palaces, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Once the home of Diego Colón, Christopher Columbus' son, this 16th-century viceregal palace (or residence of the governor/viceroy) was the nucleus of the Spanish court for more than 60 years. Inside, you'll find a museum housing an impressive collection of late medieval and Renaissance art. The house itself is also

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Malecon
    View all Photos
    #4 in Santo Domingo
    Casinos, Entertainment and Nightlife, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Casinos, Entertainment and Nightlife, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    This picturesque part of Santo Domingo is where the new overshadows the old: Nowhere in sight is the crumbling cobblestone of theZona Colonial; in its place are shiny waterfront casinos and hotels that sit beside a handful of cafes and nightclubs. Even if your hotel isn't located in this part

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    Fortaleza Ozama
    View all Photos
    #5 in Santo Domingo
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Fortaleza Ozama is the oldest formal standing fort in the Americas — reason alone to swing by for a visit — but travelers also describe it as a great place to learn a bit of local history while snapping photos of Santo Domingo. Built in 1502, the fort served

    ...Read More »
  • #6
    Los Tres Ojos
    View all Photos
    #6 in Santo Domingo
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    For those looking to take a break from the city's rich history, consider exploring Santo Domingo's tranquil Los Tres Ojos (which translates to "The Three Eyes" in English). This national park — which sits about 5 miles east of theZona Colonialand is best reached by taxi — houses three limestone caverns,

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Columbus Lighthouse
    View all Photos
    #7 in Santo Domingo
    Monuments and Memorials
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    There's a chance that you won't be blown away by the beauty of the Columbus Lighthouse. El Faro a Colón, as the locals call it, is built in the shape of a cross, and some former visitors described it as downright ugly.

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    Monasterio de San Francisco
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    #8 in Santo Domingo
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    During the day, thisZona Colonialruin isn't much to look at. After all, the Monasterio de San Francisco has been steadily crumbling since a 16th-century demolition squad and a 17th-century earthquake practically decimated it. But your opinion might change when you see how nighttime floodlights illuminate its cracks and crevices. Definitely

    ...Read More »

Explore More of Santo Domingo

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