Welcome to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Vital, vibrant and laid-back all at once, Santo Domingo is an exciting blend of old and new. The city’s Zona Colonial brims with Spanish colonial history that echoes down every cobblestone street, while modern urban life centered on the oceanfront Malecon sways to merengue late into the night.
Called “La Capital” by locals, Santo Domingo needs no further introduction—the city has it all. Lounge by the sea on sandy beaches, eat at world-class restaurants and tour the New World’s oldest attractions, including the Western Hemisphere’s first cathedral and first fortress, all without leaving the city.
Reasons to Visit Santo Domingo
- Zona Colonial: As you walk the streets of Santo Domingo’s colonial quarter, it’s easy to imagine your own footsteps joining those of 16th-century explorers such as Columbus, Cortés and Ponce de León. Santo Domingo Radisson Hotel guests can meander through narrow cobblestone streets to the Parque Independencia or stop in La Atarazana to see fascinating Spanish Colonial architecture.
- Malecon: Refreshing sea breezes keep you cool year-round at this palm-studded path along the Caribbean. The Malecon is also home to a huge variety of dining options, from street vendors selling fresh pineapple and papaya to chic gourmet restaurants.
- Alcázar de Colón: Originally built in 1517 for Christopher Columbus’s eldest son, Diego, this Zona Colonial palace is a gem polished by three authentic restoration efforts. Take a tour to see household items purported to have belonged to the Columbus family.
- Béisbol: Some of the U.S. Major League’s biggest names got their start in the DR, including Sammy Sosa and Albert Pujols, and baseball is as much a way of life as it is a spectator sport in Santo Domingo. Nicknamed “El Glorioso,” the Tigres del Licey team attracts devoted fans for games October through January.
- Bachata and Merengue: Stop by a colmado (convenience store) for a cold Presidente beer, and then spend the evening swaying to the bachata and merengue music that rules Santo Domingo’s legendary nightlife. Clubs often feature live bands, and incredible venues range from the ruins of a 16th-century monastery to underground caves.
- Souvenirs: Hand-wrapped cigars, amber and Dominican turquoise make Santo Domingo an especially great spot for Santo Domingo Radisson Hotel guests to find souvenirs. Bargain your way to a great price in Zona Colonial’s La Atarazana neighborhood, filled with gift shops, jewelry stores and art galleries.
When to Visit Santo Domingo
Highs in the upper 80s °F and humidity that hovers around 80 percent make Santo Domingo feel like summer all year long.
Luckily for Carnaval partygoers, February and March see the least rainfall, allowing the entire city to come alive with the biggest revelries of the year as parades pass through the streets.
With the massive Festival del Merengue every July and a three-day blowout for Latin American music every October, music dominates the social calendar for much of the rest of the year. Though rain can be heavy May through December, storms are usually brief, and sunshine is the default mode for Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo Travel Tips
- Peddlers offering services of all kinds can make arriving at Las Américas International Airport (SDQ) a confusing and sometimes chaotic ordeal. Well worth the expense, pre-booking a car service or a car rental can save you time and stress.
- The Malecon is at its finest on Sunday evenings, when most visitors have left town and the promenade on Avenida George Washington turns into a pedestrian-only street party.