The capital of the Dominican Republic is the largest and most dynamic city in the country, and among the most modern in the Caribbean region.
Santo Domingo–officially, Santo Domingo de Guzman–is a visual melting pot of cultures. Dominicans of all backgrounds and from all areas of the country move here to make a living, including neighboring Haitians. The DR counts 10.41 million inhabitants as of 2014, and approximately three million of them live in La Capital (as locals call the city).
La Capital is often a pitstop for shopping and administrative errands for out-of-towners, who will tell you they don't like staying there for the city's heavy traffic, erratic drivers, a high crime rate (not any worse or even close to a major American city), and its hustle and bustle. But Santo Domingo is special, and no visit to the DR would be complete without seeing and feeling it. It’s the heart of the country’s history, culture, art and politics. It's also the first city in the Americas and its Colonial City has a UNESCO World Heritage status.
From the recently renovated Colonial Zone with its museums and plazas, to the waterfront boulevard, the bustling markets, the vendors selling fruits or shaved ice from carts, the parks filled with passersby, the sidewalk cafes, the colmados blasting music, or the nighttime live bands turning out merengue tunes, to the fancy shopping malls and hotel bars–there's no dull moment here. And nearby, just 30 minutes away, are some fine white beaches at Boca Chica and Juan Dolio.
Santo Domingo is a mesmerizing celebration of all that is Dominican, past and present.
Surrounding the Capital are numerous day trip options whether you head east or west to beaches, or north to cacao plantations and mountains. Check out the options in the current edition of Moon Dominican Republic (Moon Travel Guides, 2016 edition).
The Experience, Where to Stay, and Blog sections will have more excerpts on this region.