If you have ever been to the Dominican Republic, you know what a great place it is to relax and explore. The weather is stunning, the people are warm and welcoming, and there is so much to do aside from enjoying the beach. Rich in history, this island has lots of historical attractions that you must visit to understand the culture and its people in depth. Pack your bags and get ready to explore the top things to do in the Dominican Republic!
Roam Around the Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo
The colonial zone in Santo Domingo is truly astonishing. You will see the influence of Spanish colonization reflected in the architecture, and will learn so much about the history of the island just based on some key locations. For example, the Basilica Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor is located in the colonial zone and it is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, as it was built in 1512. Another distinct attraction in the colonial zone is the Alcázar de Colón: the oldest viceregal residence in the Americas. Aside from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Alcazar de Colón was the palace where Christopher Columbus’s son, Diego, lived and ruled from. It is now the Dominican Republic’s most visited museum as it holds the Caribbean’s most important ensemble of European late medieval and Renaissance works of art.
As you can see, Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo is rich in history and culture. Nowhere else in the Caribbean will you find such incredible landmarks that display so much about the origins of the region. Only 15 minutes away from the Zona Colonial is the Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo, where you can get outstanding accommodations close by to this and other important landmarks.
Wander Around Los Tres Ojos
When the adventure-seeking bug bites, you can’t help but want to explore the most incredible places on Earth. Luckily, only a few minutes away from the center of Santo Domingo, Los Tres Ojos (which translates to the three eyes) awaits. We are talking about a 50-yard, open-air limestone cave that has three beautiful, turquoise water lakes. This natural beauty was formed as a result of tectonic fractures, causing the caves to collapse and give shape to the small depressions that were later naturally filled with water. There is an underground river that feeds water to the caves, and as you walk around, you’ll see the are stalagmites and stalactites. You can also spot animals, such as fish, turtles and bats. Of course, you will want to jump in the Tres Ojos lakes, as the water looks so beautiful.
Fun fact: many movies have filmed scenes at Los Tres Ojos, including Tarzan, Jurassic Park III and Combat Shock to name a few.
Altos de Chavon
For those architecture fans, Altos de Chavon is a must. This architectural wonder is a replica of a Mediterranean village and is located in La Romana, atop the Chavon River. You can rent a car from Santo Domingo, as it is only a 35 minute drive. The village is absolutely stunning: streets are covered in stone pathways, and the architecture you see here transports you to a whole other location. Everything around here was handcrafted, so there’s lots of details to look out for when you visit. Of course, the pictures you will be able to get here will be like no other, so be ready to snap a few when you visit!
Constanza & Jarabacoa, aka “The Dominican Alps”
Clearly the Dominican Republic is full of surprises, because this next place is not what you would expect to see in a Caribbean island. Over at Constanza and Jarabacoa, you get to see the interior of the island at higher altitudes. The climate here is colder, as both of these places are located on a mountain range. Forget about the beach here, you will get to enjoy the central region’s beauty. There are protected national parks, streams and valleys and the scenery involves green meadows and pine forests. Furthermore, here is where you’ll find the highest mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, so coming here is definitely not your stereotypical Caribbean adventure. Anyways, Constanza & Jarabacoa are incredible places for you to experience the Dominican Republic from a different perspective.