Santo Domingo is divided by the Osama River flowing here into two parts. The western one is considered the business and cultural center of the capital, and the eastern one (Santo Domingo Oriental) is considered the historical one. The most interesting tourist areas are the Colonial Zone, located on the western bank of the river facing the Caribbean Sea. Here, a little to the west, is the old neighbor of Santo Domingo, the Gazcue area with many Victorian-style houses and green streets. In the vicinity of this area are the National Theatre, the Museum in the Plaza de la Cultura, the National Palace (Palacio Nacional) – the modern seat of government, and the Palace of Fine Arts. George Washington Avenue (better known as El Malecon) is home to most of the hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.
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The central part of western Santo Domingo is the “commercial” heart of the city. This place is known as Poligono Central and is limited by 27 de Febrero, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Maximo Gomez streets. There is little that can be of interest to vacationers, except for the best restaurants and shops in the city.
The less developed eastern part of the city, Oriental Santo Domingo, is home to the capital’s other important tourist attractions: the Columbus Lighthouse, the caves of Los Tres Ojos National Park, and the Aquarium. In addition, there are two large parks in the vicinity of the city – the botanical garden (Jardin Botanico) in the north and the Mirador Sur park in the south (Parque Mirador Sur).
Santo Domingo Hotels
There are plenty of hotels in Santo Domingo and they are mostly concentrated in the center. There are expensive hotels of proven quality – belonging to the Sheraton, InterContinental, Marriott and Hilton chains speaks for itself. You can become their guest for 7500 DOP per day. A room in a regular “three-ruble note” in the Colonial Zone will cost 5000 DOP.
Proximity to the sea affects the depreciation of the number of rooms. When choosing a hotel, you should pay attention to the date of its renovation.
The most expensive accommodation option is boutique hotels located in restored 16th century buildings. An overnight stay under tiled Roman roofs, surrounded by a recreated historical setting, will cost 17,000 DOP for a double room. Hostels offer budget accommodation: 700 DOP per person per night.
For lovers of the beach lifestyle, the Boca Chica resort is a 20-minute drive from the capital. This is an area with a developed tourist infrastructure and many hotels on the first line, operating on an all-inclusive basis. A 3* hotel will cost 2500 DOP per night for a double room.
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Almost all the sights of Santo Domingo are within walking distance, but you can also ride on public transport. The Dominican capital has a subway. True, there is only one branch so far, but the launch of the second is expected. There are two types of taxis here. Minibuses “gua-gua” travel according to the principle of our minibuses, adhering to a given direction, and “carro publico” is a pooled taxi. For fans of riding with the breeze, there is another option – “moto con chauffeur” or a moped with a driver. Cheap, fast, but not always safe.
There are no meters in local taxis, you need to agree on the price with the driver in advance. You should not pay more than 700 DOP for a trip around the city.
Zona Bici is a bicycle rental for tourists in Santo Domingo, offering walking bikes, tandems and bikes for riding with children (off. site in English). In addition to the bike, the bike rental kit includes a helmet, a lock and a bottle of water.
Rent a Car
There are many car rental companies in Santo Domingo – among them are the well-known Budget, Avis, Europcar, Sixt, AutoEurope, Hertz, etc. Their offices can be found right at the airport – in the main exit corridor near the North Terminal.
The roads of Santo Diego are not very friendly to motorists, especially not locals – the local drivers drive fast and without regard to the rules, there are often no markings, and the police can be biased. A safer and more profitable option is to arrange trips with a taxi driver. They willingly make contact, take on the role of a guide and help in solving many issues.
The traffic police does not have the right to demand payment of a fine on the spot – a penalty receipt must be issued, which must be carried to the bank.
Fines for traffic violations are low. Only significant speeding is strictly punished. For parking in the wrong place, a fine is also due, and it’s not so easy to figure out where you can still park. It is better to leave the car in a paid parking lot – the price per hour is 100 DOP.