Dominican Republic: Main Sights
A Land of Contrasts
Altos de Chavón
Any visitor to the Dominican Republic is likely to be wowed by Altos de Chavón. This recreation of a 16th century Italian village truly is a wonder to behold. Constructed during the 1970s and early 80s, the village is a living, breathing replica of a medieval town and a major centre for culture and the arts. Visitors can enjoy art schools, galleries and museums, or take in a concert at the 5,000 seat amphitheatre in which some of the biggest stars in the world have performed. A truly unique experience, Altos de Chavón can be easily reached from La Romana, the Dominican Republic’s third largest city.
Catedral Santa María La Menor
The Catedral Sana Maria La Menor is the oldest cathedral in the Americas. Situated in the ancient city of Santo Domingo, itself one of the oldest European settlements in the Western Hemisphere, the cathedral is an inspiring and beautiful sight. The building was constructed in the 1500s, and is thought by some to contain the remains of Christopher Columbus, the more famous brother of Bartholomew Columbus, Santo Domingo’s founder.
Playa Del Macao
The Dominican Republic is famed for its beaches, and the beaches at Playa del Macao are among the best. A favourite spot for surfers and sun-worshippers alike, you can while away the hours with a romantic novel or sip cocktails at the bar. Surfers are particularly fond of the bay’s legendary swell, and the spot is also popular with Scuba Divers. PADI license holders and learners alike will enjoy the incredible and populous marine life, not to mention the areas famous wreck dive for the more advanced. A visit to the Playa Del Macao must be on the top of any visitor’s list of things to do in the Dominican Republic.
Mount Isobel de Torres
Mount Isobel de Torres in Puerto Plata is the ultimate spot for views of the incredible landscape of the Dominican Republic. After a cable car journey to the top (walking is not advised!), visitors can roam the peak and take in the astonishing vistas. There is a huge statue reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer, not to mention colourful and beautiful gardens in which to enjoy the sunshine. A veritable Eden atop a mountain, bringing a camera is a must for this one.
One of the Dominican Republic’s most impressive natural sight, the Lago Enriquillo is a vast saltwater lake. The lake is home to an amazing range of exotic, Caribbean flora and fauna. You can see numerous creatures from the cuddly and cute to the decidedly dangerous – crocodiles are known to frequent the area! Though it is incredibly hot and arid, the area around Lago Enriquillo receives some 20 inches of rainfall a year, making it an ideal place to host the its wide range of plant life. Well worth a visit.
Plaza de la Cultura
The Plaza de la Cultura is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the ancient city of Santo Domingo. It is the cultural melting pot of the entire city and plays host to numerous museums, galleries and exhibitions, not to mention some beautiful examples of architecture. The area is also host to some fantastic restaurants that serve up a mixture of the very best Dominican cuisine alongside international options. A true must for any culture-vulture, the Plaza de la Cultura is the embodiment of Dominican culture and arts.
Eastern National Park
Another example of the Dominican Republic’s extraordinary wildlife and flora can be found in the Eastern National Park. One of the Caribbean’s biggest national parks, the Eastern National park is home to quite literally hundreds of different species of animals and plants. There is even a vast coral reef on the coast of the park, and this houses an incredible marine ecosystem. There are opportunities to dive and snorkel in the area, and the local knowledge of the wardens is virtually inexhaustible. You will not believe your eyes as you venture from sight to sight, wowed in increasing levels by the diversity of plant and animal life encapsulated within this vast and mesmerizing national park.
Museo de las Casas Reales
The Museo de las Casas Reales is one of Santo Domingo’s most important and historically significant monuments. Dating back to the colonial era, the museum was host to two palaces during both Spanish and French rule. Today it is preserved as an architectural monument. Located in the Zona Colonial, the building is extremely popular with tourists, so it is best to plan your visit in advance.
Museo de Ambar Dominicano
The Museo de Ambar Dominicano or ‘Amber Museum of Puerto Plata’ is a museum showcasing the best examples of amber jewelry and other amber-based creations. Amber is the national gem of the Dominican Republic and this museum, located in Puerto Plata, is a living monument that amber. A great place to pick up gifts for loved one and a truly breathtaking insight into the creation of spectacular jewelry.