Santo Domingo Zona Colonial Walking Tour
Updated: Jan 5
La Zona Colonial is the historic central neighborhood of the Dominican Republic's capital Santo Domingo. The Colonial Zone dates back to 1496, making it the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas. Many travelers visiting the Dominican Republic tend to skip stopping by the capital and head straight to the beaches instead. Although the beaches are some of the best in the world, you should still visit Santo Domingo for its epic colonial-era ruins, amazing local city vibes, and rich Dominican cultural history museums that explain the origin of this awesome Caribbean city.
Wear some comfy shoes and join me on this walking tour of La Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This walking tour will take approximately 3 hours, with food and drink stops along the way. Santo Domingo Island is more than just beaches. Today we're tackling the capital of this beautiful tropical Island.
Santo Domingo is known for being the oldest Colonial City of the Americas
Transportation in Santo Domingo
The Santo Domingo airport (Aeropuerto Internacional de las Americas) is my favorite for budget airfare prices and a general base location to explore the rest of the Island. The Dominican Republic is a big island, so if you're planning a road trip, I recommend a month so you can see it all. For Santo Domingo, I recommend 1-3 days. For this blog post, we're traveling by foot, so no car is needed. I don't recommend driving in Santo Domingo; the traffic rules and drivers are all over the place. If you need to use a vehicle for transportation, Ubers are available in the capital. If walking is not your thing, you can also do this tour with a bike rental from Zona Bici Bike Rental.
Safety in Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo is a vibrant city that's always on the go. We've never experienced any theft problems while exploring the Dominican Republic, but we do advise you to be more mindful of your belongings while walking in the city, Santo Domingo.
Colonial Zone Santo Domingo Hotels
We recommend booking one of the three hotels by The Oxo House in the Colonial Zone. We love this option because it gives travelers great lodging alternatives with prices ranging from $30-$120. Check out Hostal La Colonia with a balcony offering amazing birds-eye views of The Colonial Zone for budget travelers. For mid-range travelers, check out Casa Sanchez, with an impressive pool to cool off on hot summer days; Santo Domingo weather can reach high levels during the summer months. For the history buff wanting to stay in a renovated colonial-era boutique hotel, check out Luca Hotel.
Things to do in Santo Domingo | Zona Colonial Walking Tour
We're basing this walking tour on our Hotel (Luca Boutique Hotel), our start and endpoint. We had to cut some of our dining/bar locations due to Covid restrictions.
Dominican Convent | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.
Our First stop on this walking tour of La Zona Colonial is at the Dominican Convent. Built in 1510, the Dominican Convent is home to 5 altarpieces made by one of the most important painters of all time-- the Spanish sculptor Juan Martinez Montañes also known as el Dios de la Madera, "The God of Wood." Inside this church, you can also see and visit the "Nuestra Señora del Rosario Chapel," patroness of Dominicans. The chapel's vault was embellished with the twelve signs of the zodiac, giving the chapel its nickname "The Zodiac Chapel." It is one of the very few chapels in the world where astrological signs and elements are predominant. The Dominican Convent took 12 years to be completed and became the first university in the Americas. Open from 8:30 am- 12:30 pm and from 3:00- 6:00 pm.
Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Step Back in Time and Enter the Dominican Convent.
Take your time walking around the beautiful streets of La Zona Colonial. Santo Domingo is full of history and well preserved; it's like going back in time and into a Colonial era.
Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Walk Around La Zona Colonial.
Parque Pellerano Castro | Parque Rosado | Parquecito de los Poetas
Parque Pellerano Castro, also known as Parque Rosado or Parquesito de Los Poetas, was a spot for major influential poets. Today, this park is a popular meeting place among the locals. Here you can find the statue of Julia de Burgos, who fought against political injustice.
Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: People watch at Parque Rosado.
Calle Las Damas | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.
Cobblestone Calle Las Damas, originally named Calle La Fortaleza, is the first paved street in the Americas, dating from 1502. This street is lined with historical buildings from the original settlement of Santo Domingo. Calle las Damas, "The Ladies Street," received its name after the wives of essential individuals in the Dominican Republic - sophisticated ladies of the court who liked to take walks after dusk down the street in their spare time.
Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Stroll Calle Las Damas.
Fortaleza Ozama | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.
Fortaleza Ozama, located in La Zona Colonial, on Calle Las Damas is the oldest standing fort in the Americas. Fortaleza Ozama is recognized by Unesco as the oldest military construction of European Origin in the Americas. Built-in 1502, Spanish Colonizers used Taino and African slaves to build the fortress using coral stone. Fortaleza Ozama is named after the nearby river. Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm; you can't miss this site while visiting the capital! There is an entrance fee of 70 DOP (USD 1.24) with guided tours available for USD 3.75.