Santo Domingo is a city rich with colonial history and New World charm. The capital of Dominican Republic is not only the oldest and largest European city in the Americas, it’s also the most-populated city in the Caribbean. Settled by the Spanish in 1946, this tropical urban center has enough history, culture and cuisine to satisfy almost any traveler.
Spend a day getting lost in the history (and the streets) of Zona Colonial. Home to Calle de Las Dammas—the oldest paved road in the Americas, as well as a handful of historic churches, Spanish-style homes and quiet town squares—this old school neighborhood takes travelers on a trip through time. Travelers find the idyllic architecture and quieter vibe to be a welcome respite from the rest of this bustling city and agree that a day spent wandering Zona Colonial is a must for visitors to the capital city.
Step outside the city’s manmade wonders and explore Los Tres Ojos, one of Santo Domingo’s most unique—and popular—attractions. This open-air limestone cave houses three beautiful lakes that are accessible by foot or by boat. The blue, green and yellow waters are rich with local wildlife and an impressive natural formation of stalactites and stalagmites are the perfect setting for a relaxing day spent in nature’s beauty.
Round out a stay in Santo Domingo with a visit to some of the city’s most iconic buildings. Start the day with a visit to Faro a Colon, a bold and imposing cross-shaped structure that serves as a tribute to one of the world’s most famous explorers. Though not a traditional coastal lighthouse, this well-known building projects a cross-shaped beam of light that can be seen from the shores of nearby Puerto Rico. Next explore the historic Museum of the Royal Houses, which was once home to Dominican Republic’s Spanish administrative offices. Finally, head to Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor—one of the oldest churches in the Americas—for an up close look at classic Gothic and Baroque architecture that nods to the country’s European roots.