• Naureen Chhipa

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.

Dominican Republic Colonial Zone
Zona Colonial Santo Domingo

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

Colonial Zone Hotel Luca Boutique Hotel
Luca Hotel by The Oxo House

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.

Landmark church in Santo Domino, Dominican Republic.
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.

strolling the streets of the colonial zone in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
La Zona Colonial - Santo Domingo

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.

Walking Tour of la Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo.
La Zona Colonial, Dominican Republic

walking tour of the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo Travel Blog



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.

A pink park dedicated to poets in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Parque Rosado | Santo Domingo | La Zona Colonial


Calle Las Damas | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. First Paved Street of the Americas.
Calle Las Damas, Zona Colonial



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.


Unesco's Santo Domingo Military Fort. Dominican Republic. Dominican Flag. Zona Colonial.
Fortaleza Ozama, Zona Colonial


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.

Cheap Things to do in Santo Domingo: Visit and Tour Fortaleza Ozama.





Calle El Conde | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


16th Century Original Dominican Street Signs
Vintage Street Signs in La Zona Colonial

Next, we're taking a stroll down Calle el Conde. Calle el Conde is the first commercial street in the city of Santo Domingo, stretching ten blocks! This cobbled street road is filled with alfresco restaurants, street music, and local souvenir shopping. Calle el Conde runs from Puerta del Conde to Escaleras del Conde ending at the waterfront malecon by Rio Ozama.

Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Walk Around Calle El Conde.




Parque Colón | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


Parque Colon or Columbus Park, is the central square of La Zona Colonial. Locals and tourists alike gather here to people watch, enjoy an outdoor meal, shop, or pass the time.

Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Seize the Day at Parque Colón.

Square park in Santo Domingo. International Travel and History in Dominican Republic.
Parque Colon, La Zona Colonial


Catedral Santa Maria la Menor | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


Right behind the Christopher Colombus statue in Parque Colon, you'll find the Catedral Santa Maria la Menor. This was the first church in the Americas, noticeable by its Gothic/16th-century look. The cathedral's structure is made of sea coral, and it is said that this church has access to tunnels previously used by pirates to escape authorities. Unfortunately, those tunnels are not open to the public.

Cheap Things to do in Santo Domingo: La Zona
Sea Coral Structure at Catedral Santa Maria la Menor

Cheap Things to do in Santo Domingo: Get an Audio Tour at one of the many churches in La Zona Colonial.



Paletas Bajo Cero | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


Let's take a mini walking break and cool off while enjoying some artisanal ice cream pops at Paletas Bajo Cero. This trendy ice cream shop offers local and traditional flavors.

Artisanal Dominican Ice cream. Food Travel Blog Santo Domingo.
Paletas Bajo Cero, La Zona Colonial.

Cheap Things to do in Santo Domingo: Indulge in a Mouth-Watering Paleta.

Ice cream Flavors from Paletas Bajo Cero. Eating in La Zona Colonial.
Chocolate con Fresa & Aguacate con Dulce de Leche

Eating around la Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo. Places to visit in the colonial zone.
Zona Colonial Walking Tour Eating Break :)


Panteon de la Patria | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


After, we're heading to The Pantheon of the Fatherland. Built between 1714-1746 in a Neo-Classic Renaissance style and serving as the final resting place of the republic's most honored citizens. Notables buried here: Trujillos assasins, Francisco Gregorio Bellini, Gregorio Luperón, and Eugenio Hosto. Open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Travel Tip: Catch the changing of the guard in action at sunset.

Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Pay respect and honor those who made a difference.

Dominican Republic Flag. International Travel.
Panteon de la Patria Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


Chapel of our Lady of Remedy | Zona Colonial Santo Domingo.

Colonial Zone Santo Domingo Churches
Chapel of Our Lady of Remedy | Zona Colonial

As you continue walking through La Zona Colonial, you'll pass by the Chapel of Our Lady of Remedy (Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios.)

Without official visiting hours, you may enter this impressive gothic-style chapel if the doors are open. Usually, this chapel is reserved for artistic events and private group tours. This chapel is a historic landmark site in Santo Domingo city that dates back to the 16th century, making it one of the still-standing first churches in The Americas filled with Santo Domingo's history. This chapel is one of those beautiful places not to miss on your walking tour of the colonial zone.


Free Things to do in Santo Domingo:

Visit the Chapel of Our Lady of Remedy.





Museum of Royal Houses | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


Our favorite museum in the city of Santo Domingo was The Museum of Royal Houses. Built during the Colonial era and boasting beautiful courtyards, The Museum of Royal houses is one of the top places to go for a look back in time into the origin of this Caribbean Island. This museum is divided into two floors, housing 20 exhibition rooms that showcase the blending of Spanish, African, and Taino Culture, resulting in the Dominican heritage.

Beautiful courtyards in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Family travel and places to go in the Colonial Zone.
Museum of Royal Houses

Cheap Things to do in Santo Domingo: Brush up on some Dominican history at the Museum of Royal Houses.



Take your time walking around the beautiful streets of La Zona Colonial. Santo Domingo is full of history and well preserved; it's like being back in time and in a Colonial era.

Cheap Things to do in Santo Domingo: Have a Cocktail at Sabina Bar

Bars in Santo Domingo Zona Colonial
Sabina Bar

Take a well-deserved Santo Domingo city break from this walking tour and enjoy some savory bites and cocktails at Sabina Bar. We read amazing reviews about this place and were excited to check it out as this was named one of the top places to go for great cocktails. Unfortunately for us, it was still closed despite checking google for updated Covid hours. If you do get to visit this awesome Colonial Zone bar, leave a comment below and let me know how it was! We'll be sure to check it out next time we're in town.


Colonial Zone Santo Domingo Restaurants |
Colonial Zone Santo Domingo Nightlife:
Sabina Bar, Dominican Republic.





Plaza España | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


Plaza España is a small square in the Colonial Zone next to the port where you can stop by for another alfresco bite, drink or take a break, sit down, and people watch.

Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: People Watch at Plaza España.

Santo Domingo Travel Blog. Santo Domingo Restaurants and places to go.
Plaza España | Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo.


Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco | Zona Colonial.


The Monastery of San Francisco was built in the Dominican Republic between 1509-1560 as a Monastery for Dominican Friars. In the 1880s, the Monastery was converted into a mental asylum and later destroyed by a hurricane in 1930. The Monastery has never repaired after. What remains today are the eerie ruins that will run chills down your spine upon entering! After reading about the history and transformation of this place, I knew I had to visit when exploring Santo Domingo and touring la Zona Colonial. Some say these Caribbean ruins are haunted. Every Sunday, Bonye (a local band) plays live music from 6-10 pm; locals, tourists, and visitors from the now and then socialize with a drink and dance.

Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Visit the Ruins of the Monastery of San Francisco.

Ruins in Dominican Republic. Travel Santo Domingo Guide.
Ruinas del Monasterio de San Francisco



Wander the Many Colorful Hills of La Zona | Zona Colonial.


On your way from the Ruins of the Monastery of San Francisco to the Ruins of the hospital of San Nicholas de Bari (the first and oldest hospital of the Americas), you'll pass a very scenic and colorful hillside street. Each street side is lined with local Dominican colorful homes. You can walk on the road or climb a few stairs to the sidewalk, also the home's front entrance. Please be respectful of your surroundings when visiting and don't stare inside these local homes-- it isn't polite! However, if you encounter a chatty local sitting on the front porch, do strike a conversation! I've found while traveling, these are the memories I cherish the most when remembering my trip and travel adventures.

Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Take a hike and chat with a local.

Dominican Republic Travel | Places to go |
La Zona Colonial | Santo Domingo | Dominican Republic


Ruinas del Hospital San Nicholas de Bari | Zona Colonial.


Recognized by Unesco as the oldest hospital built in the Americas, Las Ruinas del Hospital San Nicolas de Bari was constructed between 1503-1508 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and was inspired by the Italian Renaissance. This hospital was later used as a construction model for all future hospitals in Europe. These Dominican ruins are still very well preserved and a bit creepy to walk through, in my opinion, yet beautiful nevertheless and a great site to roam around and explore with admiration.

Free Things to do in Santo Domingo: Visit the ruins of the first hospital built in the Americas.

The first hospital built in the Americas. Dominican Republic Travel.
Ruinas del Hospital San Nicholas de Bari | Zona Colonial



Early Dinner at Veo Veo | La Zona Colonial

This trendy and contemporary bistro café offers a modern twist on Dominican cuisine. Veo Veo in La Zona Colonial is a great spot to unwind at with some cocktails, live music, and an exquisite culinary fusion of local and international bites.




La Alpagateria | La Zona Colonial


A great souvenir to take home and remember your trip to Santo Domingo can be found at La Alpagateria. This shop offers handcrafted shoes and a hidden speakeasy restaurant located in the back of the store where you can stop for a bite and a drink after shopping.



Nightlife in Santo Domingo | Zona Colonial

There are many up-and-coming restaurants and bars in La Zona Colonial. However, most were closed at the time of our visit due to Covid, and the city implemented a curfew. If this is still the case, we recommend hanging out in open outdoor public spaces and plazas.

Plaza Colon, Plaza Expaña, El Malecon, and Calle el Conde are great options.


Hope you enjoyed this walking tour of La Zona Colonial. As always, thanks for reading!














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La Zona Colonial Walking Tour | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic Travel Blog


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