Santo Domingo
© Edan / 123RF
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Santo Domingo

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Our Editorial team's advice

Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic and considering the average size of the cities in the country, it sprawls across the Ozama River stretching for 40 sqm. A frenetic city where poverty rubs with incredible fortunes, like in most big cities, Santo Domingo isn't anything to write home about. However, one area that all the guide books will recommend seeing - and needless to say we agree with this one - is the Zona Colonial. Originally founded by Bartholemew Columbus, Christopher Columbus's younger brother, in 1496, a few years after the Spanish invasion, the Zona Colonial is significant in that it was the first European city - often referred to as the 'New World' - in the Americas. In fact, Calle Las Damas was the first street of this developing world to come. The street remains as it originally was when it was built about five centuries ago. This is the beating heart of the neighbourhood; it is also here that you will find the city's best hotel, Nicolas de Ovando (MGallery by Accor; see the hotel review). The area has been part of the UNESCO heritage list since 1990.

The city is built in the shape of a grid, like Manhattan or greater Barcelona, meaning that it's quite easy to find your way around. The streets are lined by, for the most-part, dilapidated 16th-century houses and buildings, which makes up the area's irresistible charm. There are otherwise a few boutiques, bars and restaurants, although nothing much to hold you back for more than a couple of days. A restaurant we recommend highly for a taste of local cuisine is the Meson d'Bari. In terms of things to see and do, the Natural History Museum is a great place to understand the country's history up to its contemporary culture.

To see

The colonial zone gathers the oldest and most remarkable structures in the country, some as much as five centuries old and therefore the first of America. Three main roads gather the main attractions of this district, including the famous Calle de las Damas, the first street in the New World.

To do

The hotels all offer high quality well-being services, with a wide range of spas in beautiful settings, as well as wide range of sports activities such as tennis, cycling and horse riding. The water sports (diving, water skiing, sailing, etc) are not to be missed! Fans of golf will also find beautiful golf courses.

pros

  • +  The history behind the city.
  • +  The energy of the city.

cons

  • -   Lack of dreamy beaches despite being built right on the coast.
  • -  The traffic can be a real nightmare.

To think about

A suitcase for the summer: light clothing cotton, open shoes, shorts, shirts, T-shirts, without forgetting the bathing suit, as well as warm clothes and walking shoes for getaways in the mountains. A lightweight raincoat is useful during the rainy season (from May to July).

To avoid

Definitely avoid travelling at night in Santo Domingo, travel during rush hours and in busy places. Likewise, avoid travelling alone, especially if you are a woman. The 'Mirador Sur' park in Santo Domingo is a popular place for sports but many delinquents hang around here. Attacks are unfortunately quite common and you should preferably go there in a group. Finally, it is strongly discouraged to use the 'car publico', several attacks on foreign nationals have been reported, go for major taxi companies, and book your taxi by phone.

To try

Rich and spicy, Dominican cuisine is the result of Creole, European and African influences. Starch foods (rice, sweet potatoes and plantain), fish and shell fish as well as tropical fruits are the key foods. The stews (mondogo, sancocho) are common, with goat meat or fish cooked in coconut milk being prime examples.

To bring back

Jewellery made from amber (brown solidified resin), larimar (blue stone), leather items, baskets, naive paintings, a legacy of Indian Taïnos, CDs of merengue and bachata, cigars, liquid vanilla, jam, rum and coffee are the main souvenirs that you can bring home. They can be found everywhere on beaches and especially in local markets.

Weather Santo Domingo

These indicators are used as a set of criteria to predict overall weather conditions in Santo Domingo . The different indicators are there to help you prepare for your trip to Santo Domingo so you can make plans based on the weather forecast, whether it be a trip to the beach, walking, visiting attractions and museums or winter sports... Here you'll find a precise, overall weather score for each week in Santo Domingo , which takes into account temperature indicators, bad weather predictions, sunshine levels and wind speeds.

Weather March
Overall rating 83/100
  • Temperature indicators 96% Hot / Optimal

    The maximum temperature is <24°, temperature felt between 30°C and 33°C.

  • Bad weather indicators 58% Showers

    Showers - averaging between 2.5mm and 3.5mm per day.

  • Sunbathing indicators 72% Good weather

    Mostly sunny (60% to 80% sunshine).

  • Swimming indicators 94% Very pleasant / Optimal

    High air temperature (>24°C), high sea temperature (>24°C), light to moderate winds (between 7 mph and 12 mph).

  • Wind indicators 88% Light breeze / Optimal

    Optimal comfort: optimal wind speed (between 7 mph and 12 mph) in a warm environment (>24°C).

  • Humidity indicators 66% Normal

    Slight feeling of discomfort due air humidity registering higher than 65%.

What to see

Flora, Tropical plant species, The fauna and flora, Dominican Republic
Tropical plant species
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Wildlife on land
Clownfish, Marine life, The fauna and flora, Dominican Republic
Marine life
Painting , Dominican Republic
Painting
A seaside kitchen, Literature and film, Arts and culture, Dominican Republic
Literature and film
music , Music , Dominican Republic
Music
Mercado Modelo market hall , Dominican Republic
Mercado Modelo market hall
The "Zona Colonial", or historic centre , Ciudad Colonial, a historical centre , Dominican Republic
The "Zona Colonial", or historic centre
The Columbus Lighthouse , Columbus Lighthouse , Dominican Republic
The Columbus Lighthouse
Golf , Dominican Republic
Golf
The Alcazar de Colon , Dominican Republic
The Alcazar de Colon
La Casa del Cordon , The Casa del Cordon , Dominican Republic
La Casa del Cordon
Calle las Damas street , Dominican Republic
Calle las Damas street
The Mercado Modelo , Dominican Republic
The Mercado Modelo
San Francisco's monastery , The Monastery of San Francisco , Dominican Republic
San Francisco's monastery
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