10 Day Dominican Republic Itinerary
10 Day Dominican Republic Itinerary was originally published in January 2021
All-inclusive resorts, tourist-traps, and package tour groups were what came to mind when I had imagined visiting Dominican Republic. And not that there’s anything inherently wrong with those things, they’re just not things that I’m looking for in a destination. Well, guys, I was dead wrong.
A couple of years back I was invited to visit the island nation by the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Tourism and was shown that the country has so much more to offer. Dominican Republic is blessed with vibrant culture, delectable cuisine, diverse landscapes, and captivating history.
I departed Santo Domingo with a completely changed perspective. I was already thinking of where I’d like to visit on a return trip before I even had left.
You see, Hispañola, the island that Dominican Republic comprises with Haiti is massive. At first glance at a map, I figured you could see the whole of Dominican Republic in no time flat. Not the case at all.
You can easily spend a few weeks exploring the island, getting to know the land a bit better, but I know that many are on limited time-constraints thanks to jobs and other responsibilities back home. So before I get too carried away, here is a 10 day Dominican Republic itinerary to help you start planning your island adventure.
How To Get To Dominican Republic
The majority of tourists arrive in Dominican Republic by flight. With eight international airports it’s easy to see why. With that said, Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, and Puerto Plata are the most common entry points.
For this 10 day Dominican Republic itinerary, it would be easiest to fly in and out of either Punta Cana or Santo Domingo or book a ticket into one and out of the other. Shop flights on Expedia and Skyscanner.
There is a ferry that connects Santo Domingo with San Juan, Puerto Rico, making the journey three times per week in each direction. Find out more about the Dominican Republic-Puerto Rico ferry.
Getting Around In Dominican Republic
Bus & Guagua
Most major towns and cities are connected by a network of either private bus companies or guaguas. Guaguas are minibusses (if you frequently read my blog posts you’ll know these operate like marshrutka in Eastern Europe and Central Asia… and as my friend Fidel said, if they’d have named the country Doministan, it’d have gotten me there a lot sooner 😂) that depart when full, so they do not have a set schedule.
Dominicans are known to be crazy drivers, but honestly, I felt no more or less crazy than Italians, Moroccans, Puerto Ricans, or Central Asians (and I’ve driven in all these places!). So if you feel up to the challenge rent a car and cruise on your own.
10 Day Dominican Republic Itinerary
Day 1 & 2: Punta Cana & Bavaro
Kick-off your 10 day Dominican Republic itinerary in sunny Punta Cana! Punta Cana and Bavaro are essentially one long beach that runs together. This area is home to the bulk of the all-inclusive resorts, making it a good place to start, especially if you’re nursing a case of jetlag.
Both Punta Cana and Bavaro are home to a long stretch of beautiful palm-fringed white sand beaches with crystal clear water, making it feel like a perfect oasis in which to relax. Not to worry for thrill-seekers and explorer types- there are plenty of activities on offer by most of the accommodations that line the beaches of Punta Cana.
Looking for ideas of things to do? Check out these awesome tours in and around Punta Cana
Restaurants to try in Punta Cana:
- La Palapa at Eden Rock: Seafood meets Caribbean-Mediterranean fusion
- Jellyfish: Fresh fish and seafood
Where To Stay In Punta Cana & Bavaro
- Budget: Art Hostal is the perfect backpacker option, located in Bavaro, only a short two kilometer walk from the beach. Reserve your room on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Midrange: TrueCost Resort Villas Paradise comes highly recommended in the midrange budget. Their rooms are a steal for prime beachfront real estate. Shop rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
- Splurge: Eden Roc at Cap Cana is a stunning property located in Cap Cana boasting beaches, cliffs, tropical forests, a marina, and a renowned golf course all on its lands. Check rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
Getting To Punta Cana & Bavaro
Most hotels in Punta Cana offer airport pickups, though if you’re staying in a hostel this may not be an option. You can plan to pay roughly $20 USD for a taxi into town from the airport.
There are also guaguas (the equivalent of a marshrutka/minibus) that leave when full outside the arrivals terminal at Punta Cana Airport for 50 pesos per person.
If you’re arriving in Santo Domingo, you can book the Expreso Bavaro bus for 400 pesos per person.
Day 3 & 4: Los Haitises National Park & Samana Bay
On the morning of day 3 of your 10 day Dominican Republic itinerary, check out of Punta Cana and make way for Samana, where you’ll be basing yourself for the next couple of nights. Spend one of your days exploring what Samana Bay has to offer and the other as an adventure into Los Haitises National Park.
Samana Bay is known for its top-notch diving and whale watching if you’re looking for more active things to do here, otherwise enjoy the beautiful beaches around this bay.
In Los Haitises National Park you’ll have the opportunity to explore its lush hills and fascinating caves.
Restaurants to try in Las Terrenas:
- Empanadas y más: Delicious empanadas
- El Dieciocho: Caribbean and International fare
- The Beach Restaurant: Seafood
Where To Stay In Las Terrenas, Samana
- Budget: Residencia El Balatà is a gorgeous property located a short 15 minute walk from Punta Poppy Beach. Reserve your room on booking.com or hotels.com.
- Midrange: Afreeka Beach Hotel comes highly recommended, just a few dozen meters off of Punta Poppy Beach. Compare rates on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Splurge: Hotel Alisei is a great option, located right on Punta Terrenas Beach. Book your room on booking.com or hotels.com.
Getting To Las Terrenas
Getting to the Samana area by public transport is decently long, but totally doable from Punta Cana and Bavaro. You’ll need to take the Expreso Bavaro Bus from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo (400 pesos) and then take the Asotrapusa Bus from Santo Domingo to Samana for 500 pesos.
Day 5 & 6: Puerto Plata & Cabarete
Over the next two days of your 10 day Dominican Republic itinerary, you’ll get to know the northern Dominican Republic better. Puerto Plata is where tourism in Dominican Republic started. The area offers lush mountains & valleys and beautiful beaches. Nearby Cabarete is the adventure capital of Dominican Republic, with kitesurfing, yoga, mountain biking, and diving all on offer.
Things to do in Puerto Plata & Cabarete:
- Take the Telefrico up Isabel de Torres
- Explore the north DR countryside by bike or ATV
- Go rum tasting at Macorix House of Rum
- Laze on the beach at Playa Dorada or Playa Cabarete
- 27 Falls of Damajagua
- Visit Fort San Filipe
- Amber Museum
- Casa Museo Gregorio Luperón
- Go surfing or kiteboarding
- Go snorkeling or diving
Check out my post, 16 best things to do in Puerto Plata for more ideas
Restaurants to try in Puerto Plata & Cabarete:
- Casita Azul Victoria Bar & Grill: Traditional Caribbean
- The Beach Club At Sea Horse Ranch: Modern gourmet
- Lucia Restaurant: French-Caribbean fusion
Where To Stay In Puerto Plata & Cabarete
- Budget: Hotel Castillo offers beds in a dorm room for backpackers, and is located within walking distance to Cabarete Beach. Reserve your bed on booking.com or agoda.com.
- Midrange: Surf Blue Cabarete came highly recommended, located just 200 meters off the beach. Check out rooms on booking.com and agoda.com.
- Splurge: Casa Colonial Beach & Spa was where I had stayed in Puerto Plata and I recommend it for anyone wanting to stay on a gorgeous property in this area. Book your stay on booking.com or hotels.com.
Getting To Puerto Plata
Guaguas run between Samana and Puerto Plata for about 350 pesos. Confirm with your accommodation where to grab it.
Day 7: La Vega
To break up the long journey between Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo, I recommend a few hours here in La Vega, home to Dominican Republic’s largest and most impressive Carnival.
Things to do in La Vega:
- Carnival Museum (or attend Carnival if you’re here in February)
- La Vega Vieja ruins
- Santo Cerro Cathedral
Getting To La Vega
Caribe Tours has a bus route between Puerto Plata and La Vega that costs about 200 pesos.
Day 8-10: Santo Domingo & Boca Chica
On to your final leg of the 10 day Dominican Republic itinerary, you’ll arrive in Santo Domingo on the evening of day 7. Once you’re settled in for the evening go out and grab dinner at one of Santo Domingo’s top restaurants.
Over the next two days, take your time getting to know Santo Domingo and nearby Boca Chica a bit better.
Things to do in Santo Domingo include:
- Hospital of Saint Nicolas of Bari
- Ciudad Colonial
- Calle Las Damas
- Primada de America Cathedral
- Alcazar de Colón Palace & Museum
- Iglesia Regina Angelorum
- Convento de los Dominicos
- Panteon Nacional
- Fort Ozama
- Ruinas de San Francisco
- Calle La Atarazana
Want an in-depth itinerary? Check out my two day Santo Domingo & Boca Chica itinerary
Things to do in Boca Chica:
- Laze on the beach in Boca Chica
Restaurants to try in Santo Domingo:
- Meson d’Bari: Traditional Dominican with new-age twists
- Buché Perico: Modern Dominican-fusion
- Time Vegetarian Kitchen: Vegetarian and vegan cuisine
Restaurants to try in Boca Chica:
- Boca Marina Restaurant: Seafood, Caribbean, and Mediterranean
Santo Domingo Nightlife:
- Jalao: Live music and dancing
- Colmados: Tienda that transforms into a bar in the evenings
- Duarte Square: Best LGBTQ+ nightlife
- Onno’s Bar: A local bar and restaurant with vibrant dance parties
- Grupo Bonyé: A Sunday night concert in Santo Domingo
Where To Stay In Santo Domingo
- Budget: Hotel Primaveral Mansion is highly recommended among the backpacker crowd. Reserve a room on booking.com and hotels.com.
- Midrange: Mauad Hotel Boutique is a beautiful and sleek property conveniently located 2 kilometers from Punta Torrecillas Beach. Compare rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
- Splurge: Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando was where I stayed on the trip I was invited on by Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism and recommend it. The rooms are beautiful, the pool area is perfect, and breakfast is top-notch. Check rates on booking.com and hotels.com.
Getting To Santo Domingo
Frequent buses run from La Vega to Santo Domingo with Caribe Tours for about 300 pesos. It’s possible to grab a direct bus from Puerto Plata to Santo Domingo if you plan to slip La Vega.
Getting to Boca Chica
Frequent buses make the trip between Santo Domingo and Boca Chica for about 100 pesos. If you opt to grab a taxi, plan to pay about 1,750 pesos.
Have Any Questions About This 10 Day Dominican Republic Itinerary?
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