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My visit to Dominican Republic was supported & arranged by Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism & Go Dominican Republic

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Colonial Zone

Two Days in Santo Domingo & Boca Chica Itinerary

Updated March 2020, Two Days in Santo Domingo & Boca Chica Itinerary was originally written in December 2018

“Welcome to Santo Domingo, the city of firsts!”, yelled Carlos, our guide from the front seat of the van. We had started our trip from the northern city of Puerto Plata and were descending onto the capital for the last couple of days of our whirlwind trip of Dominican Republic. Before my visit, the only place I’d ever heard of in the country was the tourist hotspot of Punta Cana. For those looking for more soul and culture, but still with a beautiful beach break Santo Domingo and Boca Chica are a great alternative. Read on for the two days Santo Domingo and Boca Chica Itinerary.

Plan your Dominican Republic getaway: The 16 best things to do in Puerto Plata

A Quick History Of The Santo Domingo & Dominican Republic

Hispaniola, the island in which Dominican Republic sits is one of only two divided islands in the Caribbean, sharing the other side with Haiti. The other divided island being Saint Maarten, split between France and the Netherlands. Long before Europeans made way to the island Taino and Arawak peoples inhabited the island of Hispaniola. In December 1492 Christopher Columbus landed on the northwestern coast and by 1596 Spanish settlers founded Santo Domingo. The Spanish mainly settled in the east of the island and throughout the 1500s slaves were brought from Africa to work the plantations that had been established in Hispaniola. The 1600s saw the French settle the western 1/3 of the island which would become Haiti by 1697 under the Treaty of Ryswick. By 1844 Dominican Republic would claim its independence from Spain and over the next nearly 100 years would see several invasions by Haiti, a short period of time yet again another Spanish rule, civil war, a US occupation, and rule under dictators. This, of course, is an insanely condensed version of Dominican Republic’s history, for those wanting more detailed timeline of events head over here.

Dominican Republic Quick Info

  • Currency: the Dominican Peso, abbreviated to RD$. Current exchange rate as of March 2020 is RD$54.16 to $1 USD.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Drives on: Right

Two Days Santo Domingo & Boca Chica Itinerary

Day One: Explore The Sights, Smells & Sounds Of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is a city of firsts. In fact– did you know that Santo Domingo is the oldest continually inhabited European city in the Americas? I didn’t– well that is until my energetic guide Carlos let the whole group in on the history of Santo Domingo and Dominican Republic. The city definitely has more than enough to keep you busy for a few days, but is still small and walkable enough to get a good taste in a day or two.

Day One Morning

Visit the ruins of the Hospital of Saint Nicolas of Bari

The Hospital of Saint Nicolas of Bari was the first hospital in the New World, constructed between 1503-1508 under the order of Nicolas de Ovando. Named after the famed Saint Nicholas of Bari, the structure acted as a military hospital and has been attacked by pirates many times over its 350 years of operations. After suffering significant damages after the earthquake of 1911, most of the hospital was torn down and what remains today is the ruins of the existing building. Read more about the hospital here.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Colonial Zone, Ruins of the hospital of Saint Nicolas of Bari, Saint Nicolas Hospital of Bari, hospital ruin Santo Domingo
Ruins of the Saint Nicolas Hospital of Bari
Wander through the quaint and colorful homes & businesses of the Ciudad Colonial

Located on the west bank of the Ozama River, the Ciudad Colonial (Colonial Zone) is the historic central neighborhood of Santo Domingo and home to the oldest European-style homes in the Americas. In 1990 the Ciudad Colonial was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Colonial Zone

Day One Afternoon

Grab lunch at Time Vegetarian Kitchen

Whether you’re vegetarian or not I think everyone can agree that the food here is great and the presentation is impressive. Time offers both vegan and vegetarian options on their menu.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Time Vegetarian Kitchen, Time Kitchen, Time Santo Domingo
The grilled cheese at Time (photo courtesy of Nick Argires)
See the first paved street in the Americas– Calle Las Damas

Translating out to the ‘Street of the Ladies’, Calle Las Damas is lined with gorgeous 16th century architecture and is now home to museums, embassies, and Santo Domingo’s finest hotels. Named after Maria de Toledo and her ladies that would stroll the street from the Alcazar de Colón Palace.

Stroll along colorful Calle Jose Reyes

Located within the Ciudad Colonial, Calle Jose Reyes is home to countless colorful doorways to keep you snapping photos all afternoon.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Colonial Zone
One of the many colorful doorways along Calle Jose Reyes
Primada de America Cathedral

The oldest standing cathedral in the Americas designed by several architects and constructed from 1521-1540.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Primada de America Cathedral
A wedding ceremony inside the Primada de America Cathedral
Alcazar de Colón Museum

Originally a fortified palace– in fact, the first one in the Americas. The Alcazar de Colón Palace is a part of the Ciudad Colonial and of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was here that Spanish conquistadors once met and planned expeditions. By the 1700s the palace had been abandoned and began falling into disrepair and in the 1900s restoration processes had begun. About half of the original rooms have been restored and houses a museum of medieval and renaissance art.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Colonial Zone, Alcazar de Colon
Ashley Renne of Hey Ashley Renne outside the Alcazar de Colón Museum

Day One Evening

Have a traditional Dominican dinner at Meson d’Bari

Meson d’Bari serves up traditional Dominican dishes with new twists. The restaurant is located in the Ciudad Colonial inside a gorgeous restored two-story home.

Check out the cute cafes and boutique shops in the Colonial Zone

The Colonial Zone is just as lively in the evenings as it is during the daytime. My favorite shop meets cafe with adorable interior design was Desiree Cepeda.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Colonial Zone, Desiree Cepeda
Desiree Cepeda
Grupo Bonyé

If you’re in Santo Domingo on a Sunday do not miss out on the weekly Grupo Bonyé concert in front of the ruins of San Francisco Monastery and dance the night away to Meringue, Salsa and Son Cubano jams from 6-10 pm.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Bonye, Grupo Bonyé, Grupo Bonye, San Francisco Monastery, San Francisco Monastery Santo Domingo
Grupo Bonyé

Searching for off the beaten path destinations in the Caribbean? Check out Culebra Island, Puerto Rico

Day Two: Sun, Fun & Rum At Boca Chica

Boca Chica is a local beach hang out, just 45 minutes away from Santo Domingo. White sands, clear waters, shacks lining the palm-fringed beach selling fried fish and beers– the prefect city break awaits.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Boca Chica
Photo courtesy of Nick Argires

Day Two Morning

After breakfast, grab a taxi, uber or bus headed toward Boca Chica.

Enjoy a day at the beach at Boca Chica

Make sure and try red snapper, tostones, yaniqueques, and a coco loco when you’re not splashing around in the crystal clear waters. Shacks selling tasty Dominican snacks line the beach, while salesmen pushing carts loaded with coconuts traipse up and down the beach.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Boca Chica
Boca Chica

Day Two Afternoon

Boca Chica Marina Restaurant

Head over to nearby Boca Chica Marina Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant serves up seafood and other classic dishes.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Boca Chica, Boca Chica Marina Restaurant
The views from Boca Chica Marina Restaurant
Soak up the sun & fun

Enjoy the remainder of the afternoon swimming in the ocean near the restaurant.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Boca Chica, Boca Chica Marina Restaurant

Day Two Evening

Head back to Santo Domingo for a final evening on the town.

Buché Perico

Make your way back to Calle Las Damas for dinner at Buché Perico. Buché Perico serves up Dominican favorites with a modern twist, infusing flavors from other cultures worldwide. Once the island’s first foundry- the beautiful colonial building is decorated to perfection.

Dance the night away

Go out dancing at the local bars around the Ciudad Colonial, or Grupo Bonyé mentioned previously if it is a Sunday. Some great places to hit up for nightlife are:

  • Jalao: Head here for live music every evening.
  • Colmados: A small corner grocery store that transforms into a bar at night.
  • Duarte Square: The square and the bars around it are where the LGBTQ+ crowd heads for nightlife in catholic and conservative Dominican Republic.
  • Onno’s Bar: A local bar and restaurant popular for its vibrant dance parties.
2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Colonial Zone

Taking a Caribbean Cruise? Learn how to visit Trunk Bay on a St. Thomas stopover

Where To Stay In Santo Domingo

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Santo Domingo, Colonial Zone, Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando, Hotel Nicolas Ovando
Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando

On my recent trip to Santo Domingo with Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, I stayed at the Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando. However, if you’re looking for backpacker and budget options check out:

Backpacker
Hotel Primaveral Mansion
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Midrange
Mauad Hotel Boutique
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Splurge
Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando
Booking.com | Hotels.com |

Tours

I know not everyone wants to explore a place on their own. Here are a few different day tour options in and around Santo Domingo:

How To Get Around

You can easily explore Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone on foot, but taxis and uber can be easily hired if need be or if planning to squeeze in a site on the outskirts. For reaching Boca Chica taxis can be hired for around RD$3,500 return from the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo. If you have a larger group 9-passenger vans including driver can hired for about RD$13,000 for the day.

Best Time To Visit

November-March are the best months of the year to visit Santo Domingo as weather is drier and temperatures more comfortable. April-July is a great time to visit as well with many celebrations like the Meringue Festival happening, though temperatures tend to be a bit hotter. August-October is generally recommended to be avoided as it is hurricane season, so unless rains and the chance of storms don’t put a damper on your holiday then it’s best to visit outside of these months.

Going to Puerto Rico on your Caribbean adventure? Don’t miss beautiful Cabo Rojo

Safety

Just like many other cities throughout the world, the typical precautions apply. Santo Domingo does have a reputation for crime, so do try to keep valuables locked up in your room, or concealed while on you. Violent crime is not unheard of, so do be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially at night.

2 days Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Boca Chica
Photo Courtesy of Nick Argires

Have Any Questions About This Santo Domingo Itinerary?

Ask your Santo Domingo itinerary questions in the comments section below.

Need Travel Insurance For Dominican Republic?

Compare travel insurance coverage and costs at  battleface and World Nomads.

2 thoughts on “Two Days In Santo Domingo & Boca Chica”

  1. Excellent write up and photos Nicki! I think based on your travels, the name should be Doministan haha. Loved the portrait of the man with the coconut!

    1. Thanks Fidel!

      Haha Doministan makes it fit my blog even more ?. I was a little hesitant about taking on the trip at first because I wasn’t quite sure how to fit Dominican Republic into my usual niche, but it was a culture and food focus so I decided to take it on. I’m glad I did because it was a blast and showed me there’s so much more to DR than the typical package tourist sales pitch I typically see.

      And I loved the man with the coconut too. He was digging getting his photos taken, pausing to pose at perfect times

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