Santo Domingo is one of the most interesting cities in the entire Caribbean. It offers just about everything a traveler could possibly want in a tropical locale, from fine dining to cultural landmarks to some of the best beaches in the Dominican Republic. To tourists who have been there once this is the city that sells itself.
This is the capital of the Dominican Republic as well as its largest city by far. Its population is about two and a half million people. The city is densely packed in parts but also has many secluded areas. It is surprisingly crime free given its population. The south coast of Santo Domingo is to me its most beautiful spot and perfectly illustrates the eclectic state of the city. There are beaches in pristine condition adjacent to some gorgeous, huge hotels that jut far into the skyline.
The first place ninety percent of the tourists go is the Zona Colnial and for good reason. Bordering the Ozama River, this colonial district is the oldest populated city in the new world. The buildings date back to the 16th century and are kept in universally perfect condition. From the cobblestone streets to the the palaces-turned-museum, this part of the city is like a living, breathing time capsule.
Some of the oldest buildings in this area have been transformed into great cafes and museums. There is much to keep tourists occupied and these activities are tasteful enough that it does not intrude upon the sanctity of the setting.
Los Tres Ojos is an area that will appeal to the more venturesome traveler. These caves have been well known as tourist attractions for the past thirty years and the city has responded accordingly. The floors of these caves are filled with gorgeous lakes that are only twenty feet at their deepest point, removing any intimidation factor. Some lakes have ducks which are fun to feed and watch as they scatter around after the pieces of bread thrown there way.
Santo Domingo Columbus Park
If you want a mix of old architecture and new party scenes then you cannot pass up Calle El Conde. This is the oldest street in Santo Domingo and it doubles as its greatest concentration of commercial businesses. It is lined to either side with an interesting mix of shops, restaurants, cafes and gift shops. If you are looking to spend money or party this is the place for you.
My favorite attraction in Santo Domingo is El Alcazar de Colon. This is a magnificent palace was constructed in the 16th century and is a massive piece of art. It is done in the Italian Renaissance style. Part of it was destroyed by landslides but has been restored. There are tours but you can also go your own route. The view of the sunset from some of the open areas on the top floor is simply to die for.
I think overall that Santo Domingo is underrated as a tourist attraction.Many think that because of its well developed city that this is a place bereft of history. Nothing could be further from the truth. This city is in fact the greatest mix of well maintained ancient culture and modern day consumerism I have ever seen and thus is highly recommended.