A Weekend Guide to Santo Domingo
Are you looking for a city that offers up historic charm with a modern twist? Consider taking a weekend visit to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where you'll be immersed in a unique world of Latin culture infused with international flair.
Santo Domingo is a city that is often overlooked by visitors for the likes of other D.R. beach destinations; but things are starting to heat up in this Caribbean city! International visitors from all around the world are starting to come to Santo Domingo to enjoy the "culture of old and new", the Latin music, the upscale dining and international food, and the colorful 16th-century architecture that lines the cobblestone streets. Use this weekend guide as an inspiration to explore the lively city of Santo Domingo!
The food scene in Santo Domingo has recently been on the rise, which is great news for both locals and travelers alike. Popular chefs from all around the world are coming to this city to share their culinary expertise and knowledge, which makes for a delicious infusion of exotic and traditional flavors in the "new" Dominican cuisine. Make sure to check out some these restaurants when visiting Santo Domingo!
- Barra Payan, $, Av. 30 de Marzo 140 -- This Dominican eatery, which has been around since the 1950s, is a popular spot for locals and travelers alike. It's a simple diner that serves warm sandwiches and delicious shakes 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Definitely stop by this DR institution on your trip!
- El Meson de la Cava, $$, Av. Mirador Sur 1 -- A beautiful restaurant hidden away in a cave. Food is amazing, and there is even live music on some nights on the patio outside!
- Pat'e Palo, $$$, Calle La Atarazana 25 -- This European Brasserie is the perfect example of those international flavors coming to Dominican Republic. The food still has Dominican influence, but lots of European flair. Very good place to enjoy people watching.
- Lulu Tasting Bar, $$$, Calle Padre Billini #151 -- A very happening and trendy place right now in the heart of the Colonial City. It is a prime showcase of how the city is marrying old and new. Come here for the lively atmosphere, awesome tapas, and a great drink menu.
- Pura Tasca, $$, Calle Emiliano Tejera 101 -- Great tapas bar in along a lively strip of restaurants in the Colonial City. Try a few small plates with a side of Sangria!
- Meson De Bari, $$, Calle Hostos 302 -- Another Dominican institution located in the heart of Zona Colonial. Come to check out the ambience, see the art that fills the walls, and stay for the incredible food. Make sure to try some of their empanadas!
- Laurel, $$$, Andres Julio Aybar #16 -- Another trendy spot where you'll feel the international influence on the Dominican food. Probably one of the best meals I had in DR. The ambience and decor inside is beautiful as well!
- La Residence, $$, Calle Las Damas -- Located in the historic Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, this elegant restaurant offers international dishes with a French twist. You can dine inside or outside on their Spanish style courtyard. You can come here for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- Hotel Conde de Peñalba, $$, El Conde Street #111 corner with Arzobispo Meriño -- The ultimate restaurant if you're looking to people watch along Calle El Conde. Located right in front of the Columbus Park, this bustling restaurant makes you feel like you've been transported to the busy brasseries of Europe. The food (and especially the dessert) is great and there is always action going on in and around the restaurant.
- Billini Hotel, Calle Padre Billini 256-258
Conveniently located right in the heart of the Colonial City is the new and trendy Billini Hotel. The interior is modern and elegant with a stylish bar, Spanish courtyard, and even rooftop deck + pool that boasts amazing city views. Suites are spacious and comfortable with private balconies and even your own tablet to control room functions and order room service!
- Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, Calle Las Damas
You'll be living in historic luxury when you stay at Hostal Nicolas de Ovando. This 16th-century building, which is located on the very first paved street of the New World, was once the home of Governor Nicolas de Ovando. It has been restored into a luxurious (and affordable) hotel that comes with modern Colonial-style decor, upscale dining options, a Spanish-style courtyard, a large pool and more.
- Casas del XVI, Calle Padre Billini No. 252
If you want to seriously live in the lap of luxury--i.e. 24hr butler/maid service, iPhones + iPads on loan, private swimming pools, exclusive in-room entertainment services, etc.--then look no further than the premier accommodations at Casas del XVI. This property is comprised of several houses that were bought, renovated, and redesigned to create the luxurious atmosphere that visitors can enjoy. The renovation process managed to keep the old charm of the infrastructure and marry it to the new, modern conveniences that guests are able to experience today.
Things to Do in Santo Domingo:
- Explore the streets of Zona Colonial
- Shop at trendy boutiques like Jenny Polanco or La Alpargateria
- Walk down Calle El Conde and Calle Las Damas
- People watch in Parque Colon
- Escape to beach towns (like Najayo or Boca Chica) for the day
- Eat + drink the local stuff (like Mamajuana, Mangú, or Yaniqueques)
- Dance merengue at the ruins of Monasterio de San Francisco on Sunday nights
- Take a day trip to the Ron Barcelo distillery
- See the ruins of the first hospital of the New World
- Visit the Mercado Modelo
- BONUS: For coffee aficionados, purchase coffee from La Casa Del Cafe
Have you been to Santo Domingo? What are your favorite things to eat, places to stay, or things to do? Comment below with more recommendations!
Thank you to the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism for hosting my visit to Santo Domingo. All opinions are my own.