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Zona Colonial picture in Santo Domingo
caribe-dr / Flickr

Details

  • Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Neighborhood/Area Type
  • Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.6
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Food Scene
    3.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.5

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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 also shelters many hotels, bars and restaurants. Best of all, you can explore the area entirely on foot: For all that's crammed inside, there's really only 11 blocks worth of sights.

So where should you start? Perhaps the Catedral Primada de America, which is located near the heart of the zone (look for the statue of Christopher Columbus). From there you can trek a little farther west to Fortaleza Ozama, located along the mouth of the Río Ozama in the southeast quadrant. Next, walk along the Calle Las Damas (the oldest street, a pedestrian-only zone) to the Alcázar de Colón palace and museum.

Even though Zona Colonial is free to explore, keep in mind that several of the area's museums and historic properties charge an entry fee. Typical admission fees range from RD$60 ($1.33 USD) to RD$100 ($2.21 USD).

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Hotels Nearby

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Billini Hotel

Billini Hotel ...

  • 0.1 Miles Away
  • 4.5-star Hotel Class
Novus Plaza Hodelpa

Novus Plaza Hodelpa ...

  • 0.1 Miles Away
  • 3.5-star Hotel Class
Hotel Mercure Comercial Santo Domingo

Hotel Mercure Comercial Santo Domingo ...

  • 0.1 Miles Away
  • 3.0-star Hotel Class
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More Best Things to Do in Santo Domingo

Zona Colonial picture in Santo Domingo
Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Catedral Primada de America picture in Santo Domingo
Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Alcázar de Colón picture in Santo Domingo
Castles/Palaces, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Malecon picture in Santo Domingo
Casinos, Entertainment and Nightlife, Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Fortaleza Ozama picture in Santo Domingo
Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Los Tres Ojos picture in Santo Domingo
Parks and Gardens Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Columbus Lighthouse picture in Santo Domingo
Monuments and Memorials Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Monasterio de San Francisco picture in Santo Domingo
Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
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#1 Zona Colonial 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 ... Read more » caribe-dr / Flickr

#2 Catedral Primada de America 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 ... Read more » Ana Stefanovic / Getty Images

#3 Alcazar de Colon 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 ... Read more » Lubomir Jendrol / Getty Images

#4 Malecon This picturesque part of Santo Domingo is where the new overshadows the old: Nowhere in sight is the crumbling cobblestone of the Zona Colonial; in its place are shiny waterfront ... Read more » Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

#5 Fortaleza Ozama 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 ... Read more » czekma13 / Getty Images

#6 Los Tres Ojos 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 ... Read more » Eaulive / Flickr

#7 Columbus Lighthouse 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 ... Read more » Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

#8 Monasterio de San Francisco During the day, this Zona Colonial ruin isn't much to look at. After all, the Monasterio de San Francisco has been steadily crumbling since a 16th-century demolition squad and ... Read more » YOUNGtheHyphenate / Getty Images

Zona Colonial picture in Santo Domingo
Catedral Primada de America picture in Santo Domingo
Alcázar de Colón picture in Santo Domingo
Malecon picture in Santo Domingo
Fortaleza Ozama picture in Santo Domingo
Los Tres Ojos picture in Santo Domingo
Columbus Lighthouse picture in Santo Domingo
Monasterio de San Francisco picture in Santo Domingo
Zona Colonial picture in Santo Domingo
Catedral Primada de America picture in Santo Domingo
Alcázar de Colón picture in Santo Domingo
Malecon picture in Santo Domingo
Fortaleza Ozama picture in Santo Domingo
Los Tres Ojos picture in Santo Domingo
Columbus Lighthouse picture in Santo Domingo
Monasterio de San Francisco picture in Santo Domingo

A visit to Santo Domingo wouldn't be complete without a stop at the Zona Colonial. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was founded in 1498 and boasts more than 300 historical sites within its parameters. caribe-dr / Flickr

Also known as the Catedral Santa María La Menor, this 16th century church used to house the purported remains of Christopher Columbus. They were later moved across town to the Columbus Lighthouse. Ana Stefanovic / Getty Images

The beautiful Alcázar de Colón was once the home of Diego Colón, Christopher Columbus' son and former viceroy of what is now the Dominican Republic. Lubomir Jendrol / Getty Images

For a stark contrast from Santo Domingo's Zona Colonial, take in the sites and entertainment of the newer Malecon. Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

Serving as a military garrison until 1970, this historic compound offers stunning 360-degree views from its rooftop lookout. czekma13 / Getty Images

For those looking to relax and unwind during their time in Santo Domingo, consider visiting Los Tres Ojos, which features three limestone caverns with lagoons. Eaulive / Flickr

Although some call this attraction the Dominican Republic's "white elephant," other Santo Domingo visitors insist a trip to Columbus Lighthouse is a must. Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

This Zona Colonial ruin isn't much to look at during the day; swing by in the evening instead when it's perfectly illuminated for photo ops. YOUNGtheHyphenate / Getty Images

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