Being the oldest European city in the Western Hemisphere with continuous habitation, the City of Santo Domingo has a rich history and culture whose tourist industry has not matured at pace with its attraction to travelers. That is to say, visitors are on their own to discover the Port of Santo Domingo’s treasures. However, there are a few sights that you will not want to miss.
The Colonial Zone is home to the same streets where Christopher Columbus walked in the late 15th Century! The Colonial Zone in the Port of Santo Domingo boasts many examples of 15th and 16th Century colonial architecture. The Ozama Fort, the Alcazar (fortress) de Colon, and the cathedral were built during Columbus’ lifetime.
The Plaza de la Cultura (Spanish) houses the National Theater and five museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, exhibiting the work of artists from across the Caribbean. The Plaza de la Cultura also has some wonderful gardens.
The Malecon, a waterfront boulevard, hosts several grand hotel/casino complexes and many restaurants, cafes, and clubs. While enjoying its entertainments, you can take a carriage ride. Visitors enjoy many concerts and festivals at the Malecon throughout the year. The tree-lined Avenida Independencia is home to many shops, restaurants, and bed and breakfast lodgings. On this street, you’ll find a more balanced mix of tourists and residents.
La Atarrazana street is home to many romantic restaurants and some great views of the fort and the Bay. The brasserie called Pat E Palo has been operating there since 1505. And the house where Ponce DeLeon lived is in the Colonial Zone.
The Port of Santo Domingo is also a cosmopolitan center where you can find fancy boutiques, chic shops, and expensive international dining experiences. The Parque Mirador Sur overlooks the coastline, and the Jardin Botanico is a rich green treat in the middle of one of the city’s finest neighborhoods.
While Santo Domingo Oriental (East Santo Domingo) is not oriented to tourism, it does contain some great attractions near the Colonia Zone. The Tres Ojos is a group of caverns and underground lakes where families can explore and have adventures. The Faro a Colon (Spanish) (Columbus Lighthouse) both houses the explorer’s remains and a museum. The the Port of Santo Domingo Aquarium features beautiful local aquatic life.
Being a favorite destination for cruise passengers, you can find a comprehensive list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.