Santo Domingo Vacation Packages

About Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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Santo Domingo
Capital of Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic and one of the Caribbean's oldest cities. Its walled, cobblestoned old core, the Zona Colonial, features buildings dating to the 1500s, including the cathedral, which was the first built in the New World. Yet Santo Domingo is vibrant and cosmopolitan, known for its nightlife, merengue and bachata music and fervent baseball culture.

Welcome to the first city of the New World. Recognized by UNESCO, this first city has the first stone cathedral, monastery, hospital, university, street and palace of the Americas. This colonial jewel is perfectly incorporated into the sophistication of its new modern developments.

Nearby beaches, an excellent gastronomy, an exciting nightlife, and several attractive shopping areas are all the perfect complement to make Santo Domingo a delightful destination for travellers.


Beaches

Santo Domingo is not a destination of choice for absolutely beautiful beaches but there are some enjoyable ones to be found:

Playa Boca Chica is about 30km from the city center. Clear, shallow blue water await you and you will also find a natural coral reef.

Playa Juan Dolio, a narrow white-sand beach who is a bit farther east, and where there are many new resorts.

Playa Guayacanes is nestled between Juan Dolio and Boca Chic, and is a local favorite for boogie-boarding.

Climate

The hot tropical climate is always softened by the trade winds giving of a gentle breeze. The annual temperature averages around 27° C.

Temperature in CelsiusJFMAMJJASOND
Maximum272728282830303030302927
Minimum212121222324242423232221
Rainfall (mm)5040407017015015016017016011060

Geography

Santo Domingo is situated in on the southern shores of the country and bathes in the waters of the Caribbean Sea. The terrain is mostly flat land and the city is split in two by the Ozama River.

History

When Columbus first arrived in 1492 he was greeted by the native tribes called the Tainos. Santo Domingo de Guzman, founded by Bartolomeo Columbus in 1496, is the oldest city of the new world. This is where the first Peace Treaty of America between the Indians and the Spanish was signed. The majority of the economy was based in the center of the valley of Cibao, heart of the tobacco and rum industry.

In 1990 its colonial area was declared by Unesco to be a "World Heritage Site". It is a modern and cosmopolitan city that has conscientiously preserved, in its oldest part, over three hundred colonial monuments.

Nature

The National Aquarium is unique because of its overarching glass tunnel that lets visitors take a stroll along the sea bottom. You will be surrounded by countless species of multihued fish.

A visit to the Botanical Garden will welcome you with an explosion of fragrances from over 300 varieties of orchids where you can stroll among paths.

The Los Tres Ojos Park has impressive cave 15 m deep with three great lagoons surrounded by stalagmites and exuberant vegetation.

Unique to Here

Rocking chairs are well known as a Dominican cultural item. A big fan of these rocking chairs was John F. Kennedy. Von at Plaza Palmeras has wonderful rocking chairs in multiple colors. They are pre-packed for easy traveling or shipping.

  • Airport :
    Las Americas International Airport
  • Airport Tax :
    The departure tax of 20$ USD is not included with Sunwing/Signature Vacations. This tax must be paid, in cash, per person and in the currency indicated.
  • Distance from Airport :
    20 minutes
  • Tourist Office :
    Av. Mexico, corner of Av. 30 de Marzo, Santo Domingo. Telephone (809) 221-4660
  • Tourist Season :
    November through April
  • Festivals & Events

    February 27 - Carnival

    July/August - Merengue Festival

    Transportation

    Although taxis are available 24 hours a day you can also travel in carros publicos (public taxis) and buses which are inexpensive.

    Major car rental companies have airport and city locations. The country has an excellent bus system and Air Santo Domingo operates flights between Santo Domingo and the principal touristic regions.


    Activities & Sports

    Resorts and beaches provide every water sports like deep-sea fishing, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing and powerboats.

    Golf enthusiasts will love Santo Domingo's four golf courses: the 3 first clubs all being 18-hole courses: the Las Lagunas Country Club, the Guavaberry Golf & Country Club, the Los Marlins Golf Course, and the 9-hole terrain at the San Andres Caribe Golf Club.

    Other activities offered at various locations include horseback riding, tennis, and polo, bicycling, bowling, and parasailing. Adventurers will enjoy treks, hikes, white water rafting and exploring caves.

    Several spectator sports are offered. Horse Racing is enjoyed at the Hipodromo V Centenario. From October to January you can catch a baseball game, the national sport, at the Liga de Beisbol stadium. Motocross and car races take place at the Las Americas Autodrome.

    Archaeology

    View the ruins of the Monasterio de San Francisco which was built around 1556 and is considered the oldest monastery in the Americas.

    The Museum of the Dominican Man gives a vivid description of pre-Columbian civilisations and local folk culture. You also can see a curiosity like the Popemobiles, the vehicles used by Pope John Paul II on his official visits.

    Attractions & Sights

    Here is just a sampling of the many forts, museums, palaces and other attractions.

    Built in 1502, the Colonial City was declared by UNESCO a world heritage site. The Fuerte del Homenaje is the oldest fort of the new world. Casa de Ovando, famous for its Gothic style entrance door, is unique in the world. The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor is the oldest cathedral in the Americas and the Convent and Church de Las Mercedes were the inspiration for the novel Don Jua by Spaniard Tirso de Molina.

    Plaza de Espana is dominated by the Palacio Alcazar de Colon, an elegant building of Gothic and Renaissance style, constructed by the son of Columbus for housing his court. The Columbus Lighthouse, the famous cross-shaped structure housing the mausoleum with the mortal remains of Christopher Columbus.

    Newer sights are the Church Regina Angelorum, built over 200 years ago, and the Church of Los Dominicos, site of America's first university.

    Visit the many wonderful museums of this city: the National Museum of History and Geography, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Larimar. The interesting Museum of the Royal Houses shows the customs and habits of the Governors, underwater discoveries and the secrets of sugar making.

    Nightlife

    Santo Domingo offers plays, concerts or other shows in the National Theater or in the smaller theaters of the city.

    About 20 casinos, a host of discotheques playing the islands trademark Merengue rhythms and quaint bars with live music are here for you pleasure. The most popular place it the Guacara Taina, a discotheque dug out of a Tainos cave.

    An authentic experience to help you capture the Dominican spirit would be visiting a Gallera, the typical cylindrical pit where cockfights are held.

    Side Trips

    Take a holiday from your holiday by visiting the gorgeous Island of Saona. Tour companies will take you there by catamaran in a couple of hours. Spend the day on its beautiful white-sand beaches or go snorkelling.

    Altos de Chavon, is a Mediterranean village with cobblestone paths, coral stone fountains and terra cotta buildings. It is right on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Chavon River. Reconstructed in the seventies, the town is home to artists of all types; other features of interest are a charming amphitheatre in Greek style, an archaeological museum dedicated to the island's aboriginal population. Take an excursion to the deep gorges interwoven with palm groves and a virgin, unspoiled atmosphere.

    On the Samana Peninsula, as one tiny beach after another spring up before your eyes, your ears are charmed by the sweet beguiling sounds of unspoiled nature. This peninsula, 245km north of Santo Domingo, is rich in spotlessly white beaches, lakes, marble caves, vast palm groves and small islets studding the turquoise bay. Enjoy the fried fish and the specialties of the local cuisine made with coconut sauce.

    The town of Bani has a town made of multi-coloured, single-storied wooden houses, buildings of a modernist colonial style and the Plaza de la Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Regla, the village square thronged by restaurants and delightful shops of local handicrafts. Visit the Dominican Coffee Museum or lounge on the Playa Baní and other secluded beaches. Nearby salt flats and a scenic sand dune system, unique in the Caribbean are to be discovered. The dunes are also home to the Monarch butterfly, a species protected around the world.

    Accommodations

    Thousands of rooms are available in the many hotels, resorts, villas, condos and guest houses. They are located either right in the city, by the beach or in the mountainous areas. You will find deluxe All Inclusive resorts with all the services to simple and comfortable places for the more budget-oriented traveller.

    National Parks are also available for camping with the permission of the National Parks Office.

    Eating Out

    The enticing restaurants offer rich gastronomies of varied ethnic influences, including Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, English and countless more. Thousands of emigrants have come here and have contributed the best of their cuisine.

    If you want to discover an authentic Dominican meal, several restaurants offer the best of Creole homemade foods, sometimes accompanied by lively bands. The Restaurante El Conuco may serve a dish called La Bandera consisting of beef simmered with rice, kidney beans, and fried bananas. The Reina de Espana might prepare seafood-stuffed artichokes or other specialties like paella and cochinillo.

    Cafes are sprouting everywhere. The locals gather in them to have a late night bite, coffee or drinks. A favourite is Cafe Atlantico.

    Shopping

    The capital's shops offer the best of the local arts, crafts, richly-flavored Dominican cigars, rum, and coffee. Those in search of paintings or sculptures should make their way to the art galleries in the district of Atarazana.

    The handicrafts shops and boutiques are concentrated around the Plaza de la Catedral and in Calle del Conde. The Mercado Modelo sells amber and larimar, black coral and mother of pearl jewellery as well as carpets and clothes.

    Hotels: 3-star averaging $70, 5-star averaging $150. View hotels

    Getting there: 6 h 28 min flight, around $550. View flights

    Population: 965,040 (2010)

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