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Your guide to Santo Domingo
All About Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo sits on the southern shore of the Dominican Republic and is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean. The cobblestone streets and 16th-century buildings illustrate this capital city’s long history. As you wander the narrow lanes, you’ll take in vibrant town squares and old palaces now home to fascinating museums — such as Alcázar de Colón, part of the Ciudad Colonial UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas, the 16th-century Catedral Primada de América, stands in a lively, leafy plaza amid people seated on shaded benches or enjoying coffee in the nearby cafe.
The Malecón de Santo Domingo promenade provides a fantastic spot to take in the sweeping views of the Caribbean Sea while enjoying a cold beer or a bite at one of the restaurants and bars on the waterfront. For a small taste of the country’s natural scenery, you can head out to Three Eyes National Park, with its three turquoise lakes, or the National Botanical Gardens, brimming with indigenous plants and peaceful green spaces.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Santo Domingo
As a tropical destination, Santo Domingo has warm weather all year round. It also experiences a dry season from around November to March, which is a lovely time to explore some of the Dominican Republic’s spectacular beaches. The dry season is also the busiest time of the year, especially during Carnival, which sees colorful parades and nationwide celebrations for the month of February, culminating on Independence Day on February 27. The historic center of town can get crowded during this time, which is good to keep in mind when you’re booking your Santo Domingo apartment rental. Visitor numbers start to thin out in April and May as the rainy season approaches, which is a pleasant time for exploring the city’s narrow streets. The rainy season lasts from May to November, with short bursts of rainfall followed by hours of sunshine.
Top things to do in Santo Domingo
National Botanic Garden
One of the largest botanical gardens in the Caribbean, this sprawling complex showcases the diversity of the Dominican Republic’s various ecosystems. As you walk through the central square, you can admire ponds full of aquatic plants and colorful fish and check out the massive floral clock. At the Herbarium, you’ll learn about the native plants used in traditional medicine.
The Three Eyes National Park
Just a 10-minute drive from Santo Domingo, this spectacular nature reserve is home to a complex open-air limestone cave system. Its three crystal-clear turquoise lakes — the Three Eyes — are fed by an underground river and surrounded by dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. Lush forests envelop the caves, and if you are lucky, you may spot fish, turtles, or bats while you are there.
Calle Las Damas
Built in 1502, this cobblestone street was one of the first paved streets in the Americas and is lined with some of Santo Domingo’s oldest buildings, including the Fortaleza Ozama, one of the oldest forts in the Americas and a World Heritage Site. “The Ladies Street” is named after the gracious women who strolled along the street during the evenings.