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Santo Domingo

Photo © CBAdv2010

Travel Guide Caribbean Hispaniola Dominican Republic Santo Domingo

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Introduction

Santa Domingo

Santa Domingo

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Santo Domingo is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. It has a total population of roughly 2.3 million inhabitants in the total metropolitan area and is one of the biggest cities in the Caribbean as well. It is located in the southern part of the country, along the coast of the Caribbean Sea at the mouth of the Ozama river. It is in fact the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the New World, from the end of the 15th century onwards. It is the economic, cultural and political heart of the country and has some fine colonial architecture, museums, cathedrals and other landmarks which deserve a few days' visit.

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Sights and Activities

  • The colonial district of Santo Domingo - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Presidential Palace
  • Teatro Nacional
  • Museo de Arto Moderno (Museum of Modern Art)
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)
  • Catedral Santa María La Menor - the first Catholic cathedral in the Americas.

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Events and Festivals

Carnival

The final day of Carnival falls on February 27, the same day that Dominican Republic became independent from over two decades of Haitian rule. Although each community celebrates in their own way, no festival is bigger than the one in La Vega, where revelers wear devil horns and whack each other with balloons. Santo Domingo’s Carnival culminates with a giant Independence Day parade along the Malecón.

Merengue Festival

The Malecón comes alive with the sound of merengue during this annual Santo Domingo festival, which starts in late July and coincides with the August 4 anniversary of the city’s founding. Several of the world’s finest dancers and musicians perform live while enjoying separate food and craft fairs.

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Weather

Santo Domingo enjoys a tropical climate, with the usual hot and humid weather year round. Daytime temperatures average 29 °C while nights rarely drop below 21 °C. May to October is just slightly warmer than the November to April period, the latter also being the dry season, making this time the best for a visit. From May onwards rains intensify and hurricanes are possible from August onwards. That said, anytime of year there are some refreshing rain showers possible.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max29.2 °C29.2 °C29.6 °C30.2 °C30.4 °C30.8 °C31.3 °C31.5 °C31.4 °C31.1 °C30.6 °C29.6 °C
Avg Min19.6 °C19.7 °C20.2 °C21.1 °C22.2 °C22.9 °C22.8 °C22.7 °C22.7 °C22.3 °C21.4 °C20.3 °C
Rainfall63 mm56.8 mm53.8 mm71.9 mm187.7 mm140.1 mm144.6 mm177.4 mm180.9 mm186.8 mm99.8 mm84.3 mm
Rain Days7.66.36.3711.310.311.41211.8139.49

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Getting There

By Plane

Las Américas International Airport (SDQ) near Santo Domingo receives a number of international flights to most neighbouring countries and islands, South America, Central America, North America and several direct flights from Europe as well. Destinations include Frankfurt, Toronto, New York, Madrid and Paris.

Departing from the US Jetblue is the clear winner, one of the few airlines left with direct non stop service from the major US cities and very frequent and reliable service.

By Bus

Buses connect Santo Domingo with all major cities throughout the country and also with some cities in Haiti.

By Boat

Ferries del Caribe offers three weekly ferries between Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic and Mayagüez in Puerto Rico. From Santo Domingo they leave on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00pm arriving in Mayagüez at 8:00am the following morning. From Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, they leave on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8:00pm, and arrive in Santo Domingo at 8:00am the next morning. The journey takes about 12 hours in both directions.

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Getting Around

By Car

Unlike most major metropolitan areas, there are very few roaming taxis in Santo Domingo. Even if you see one, it is best not to take a chance, it can be dangerous. In most cases you have to call a dispatcher to have a taxi sent to your location. This isn't a problem and most businesses will gladly call a cab for you. Relatively expensive, usually US$ 4-15 per average trip and possibly more if you use one of the friendly cabs waiting in front of your nice hotel lobby. Again, depending on circumstances, you may find that hiring a cab driver for the day is a good bargain.

Alternatively, go up to the second floor at the Arrivals (at the very end), where a minivan will accommodate up to 8 passengers for a ride (70 pesos or ~ 2 USD, 1/2 hour) to the Zona Colonial (only). For further distances to the center (i.e. to the Caribe Tours Terminal), you will need to negotiate just like you would have with the usual un-metered taxis. To return, the cheapest option is to go to the corner of Av. Sabena Larga with Av. Las Americas (walkable in 15 minutes from Zona Colonial), where this same van may be there, or if not take the bus going to Boca Chica (40 pesos, about 1h); ask the driver to stop before the express route to the Airport, from where you can walk (about 20 minutes, some 2 km). I would not recommend this return during night time, nor do I know if lack of Spanish will hinder this option (hardly anyone speaks English in the bus, around the terminals etc.). However getting to the city center seems more viable, that van was recommended at the Tourist Desk in the airport, and some sort of authority (with a badge) was entertaining the driver while waiting for the car to be filled.

Bottom line: taxis are convenient but expensive.

By Public Transport

The Caribe Tours Bus Company is reliable, clean, safe and affordable to most cities and towns in the Dominican Republic. Most of the major lines depart several times during the morning and early afternoon. Beware they do not run at night or close to dusk so plan and check the schedules accordingly. The staff generally are Spanish speaking only but are very hospitable and help as much as they are able. The buses themselves are comfortable with a small restroom. There is another bus company Metro but less popular and less traveled by locals. Uber is now available in Santo Domingo.

Santo Domingo has two operating metro lines: one a North-South axis under the Maximo Gomez avenue, going from Villa Mella to the Centro de los Heroes and the Malecon, passing by the National Theater and the Santo Domingo Autonomous University (UASD), the second along Avenida John F. Kennedy. It costs just 20 pesos per ride (less than US$ 0.6). There's around five more lines in plans of construction for the upcoming future.

By Foot

Walking along major thoroughfares in Santo Domingo can prove quite challenging. First, drivers aren't very respectful of pedestrians, so you have to take extra care when trying to cross a street. Second, some sidewalks can be damaged or under construction, forcing you onto the street.

The Malecon and Colonial Zone are the most walkable parts of the city. They offer multiple pedestrian attractions and are relatively safe areas for tourists to explore. Although it is always wise to use common sense as everywhere.

While exploring the Colonial Zone try hiring a "properly-licensed" tour guide. These talented yet underpaid, multi-lingual individuals will keep you entertained for hours with unprecedented historical insight and humor. You can usually find them at the Plaza Colon in front of the Cathedral. Most are worth every penny. On the other hand, some of them are known to take their customers to businesses that throw them a kickback, so it's up to you to decide whether you really like to act upon their advice on businesses or not.

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Eat

The Dominican Republic is definately a place where you can eat well. If you are in the capital Santo Domingo, do not miss the opportunity for eating affordable "gourmet" and delicious italian food, go to: "Positano"Ristorante. Ave.

  • Roberto Pastoriza Esquina Manuel de Jesus Troncoso - Plaza Dorada, Local 9-A, Santo Domingo. This is a culinary experience, Highly recommended!! Best choice!
  • Grand Cafe - Calle El Conde #516, Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (Formerly Paco Cafeteria). A great place to grab a cold beer and a bite, but the best highlight here is the people watching of all types! Open 24 hours a day and frequented by locals, expats and tourists alike. Located directly across the street from Parque Independencia at the entrance to The Conde.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Casa Dona Elvira207 Padre Billini Zona ColonialGuesthouse-
Condominium ParqueCalle palo Hincado 165 Santo DomingoHostel77
Freeman Aparta HotelAv. 4ta. No. 4, respaldo los tres ojosHotel-
Hostal Dominico MundialDuarte 6 esq. Padre Billini, zona colonialGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Duque De WellingtonAvenida Independencia 304 GazcueHotel84
Hotel FreemanCalle Isabel La Catolica 155 Zona ColonialHostel-
Maison GautreauxFelix Mariano Lluberes #8 GazcueHotel-
Plaza Toledo Bettyes Guest House163 Isabela Catolica, Zona ColonialGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Residence CityJose Contreras No. 28B Zona UniversitariaHotel-
Hotel Plaza Del SolJosé Contreras no. 25ª, Zona Universitaria, Distrito N. Santo DomingoApartment-
Hostal NómadasCalle Hostos 299 Zona ColonialGuesthouse-
Foreigners Club Hotel#102 Calle Canela Esquina EstrelletaHOTEL-
APART-Hotel Plaza ColonialC/luisa O. Pellerano esq Julio VerneHotel-
Hotel Marina RealAvenida Miguel BarceloHOTEL-
Hotel NaemieCalle Isabel la Catolica 11HOTEL77
Tierraplana Cool HostalHostos 357 frente a las ruinas de san franciscoGUESTHOUSE-
Tropical Island Apart-HotelCalle Caracoles No.67, Corales del Sur.APARTMENT-
Aparta-Hotel TiempoCalle Duarte #319 Esq. Juan Isidro PerezHOTEL-
Rivergate Condo Rentals19 de Marzo n.103 Zona ColonialAPARTMENT-
Room Service Hotel54 Calle Mercedes Zona Colonial Santo DomingoHOTEL-
Hostal Marina RealCalle Miguel Barceló, nº 3 ciudad de Santo DomingoHostel-
El BeaterioCalle Duarte Numero 8 Zona ColonialGUESTHOUSE-
Casa de Huespedes Las MercedesCalle General Luperón 208 Zona ColonialGUESTHOUSE-
Paris' Plaza Colon107, Calle Padre BilliniGUESTHOUSE-
Hostel Casagrande Santo DomingoCalle Sanchez 254HOSTEL-
Paseo Colonial GuesthouseCalle Vicente Celestino Duarte, corner Isabel la CGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel MonumentalCalle El Conde No. 355 2nd FloorHostel-
Hotel Residence CityAvenida Jose Contreras No. 28Hotel-
Hostal YuAv. Pasteur #208 GazcueGUESTHOUSE-

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The area code for most of the country is 809.

If you have an unlocked cell phone, it is very easy to purchase a Dominican SIM Card that comes with a local number. You can use CLARO or Orange. CLARO minutes can be refreshed and reloaded at machines mounted in most hotels, cafés and bars. There are also Orange and CLARO Offices in the downtown and tourist areas. SIM Cards are about $6.00 USD.

Post

INPOSDOM is the national postal service of the Dominican Republic and unfortunately, although things are getting better, is not known for its fast and efficient services. It takes at least a few weeks for your letter or postcard to arrive in the USA and even longer for Europe or other continents. It costs from RD$3 to North America and from RD$4 elsewhere for standard letters and postcards. Post offices generally are open from around 8:00am to 3:00pm, though in big cities and tourist resort areas there are sometimes longer hours and you can usually give your postcards are major hotels and resorts as well at all times. Stamps are available at post offices, but at many shops and kiosks and some hotels as well. Sending packages is not recommended through the official postal service, and it's much better to use good international courier companies like UPS, TNT or DHL.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 18.479014
  • Longitude: -69.890784

Accommodation in Santo Domingo

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This is version 28. Last edited at 9:43 on Dec 9, 16 by Utrecht. 24 articles link to this page.

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