Santo Domingo is the beating heart of the Dominican Republic and a capital city that has managed to perfectly blend together the traditions and culture of the past, with the modern conveniences of today.
As the capital of the country, it has the largest population and is the best place to visit if you want to interact with locals and see how the majority of people truly live on a day to day basis.
Established in 1498, it’s also one of the oldest cities in the Americas and is still home to many of the original buildings that were constructed during the time of the Spanish conquistadors.
Many people pass over it in favor of more beachy destinations, but don’t be one of those fools! With a little bit of something for everyone, Santo Domingo is a definite must add to any Dominican Republic itinerary. Trust me, you won’t regret visiting this magical city and making memories that will last a lifetime!
However, as a large city, there are countless options when deciding where to stay in Santo Domingo and I know that it can be overwhelming and confusing at times.
But don’t worry, that’s why I’ve made this ultimate Santo Domingo area guide. To help you find the best place to stay in Santo Domingo no matter who you are and what type of accommodation you are looking for.
Where to Stay in Santo Domingo – Our Top Picks
Looking for a place to stay in Santo Domingo but don’t have much time? Here are my top overall recommendations of the coolest places.
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Best Apartment in Santo Domingo: Beautiful Apt Studio in Central Santo Domingo
This adorable one-bedroom apartment is an absolute gem tucked away in the Zona Universitaria. Its location is perfect for exploring the whole city, and if you need to go out of the city for any reason the train station is only a short walk away. In addition, the apartment has a fully equipped kitchen and a wonderful outdoor patio. If you are on a budget and traveling as a couple, this is certainly where to stay in Santo Domingo!
Best Hostel in Santo Domingo: Island Life Hostel
The Island Life Hostel is an award-winning hostel that’s not only my favorite hostel in Santo Domingo, but in all of the Dominican Republic! It has a super laid back and fun-loving atmosphere and is a great place to make new friends. Common areas include a swimming pool, a guest kitchen, a bar, and even a hot tub. The cherry on top is a free all you can eat breakfast served every morning!
Best Hotel in Santo Domingo: Whala Boca Chica – All Inclusive
If you are traveling with kids, this is unquestionably where to stay in Santo Domingo! It’s an extraordinary all-inclusive resort that has everything you could want and more. Once you step foot onto the property you won’t have to pay a penny towards any food or drinks (including alcohol) for the duration of your stay. Furthermore, you can participate in activities such as scuba diving, kite surfing, and bike tours.
Santo Domingo Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Santo Domingo
Before you can start choosing a place to stay, it’s super important to understand which neighborhood is the best to stay in. While the Dominican Republic is safe in resorts, some parts of the city do see some crime, so it’s best to choose a more touristy area.
Such as Zona Colonial, or the Old Quarter of Santo Domingo. It is by far and away the most popular area in Santo Domingo and for good reason! The Old Quarter is without a doubt the best place to visit in order to see the colonial architecture and is also home to numerous interesting and informative museums.
It’s a living, breathing UNESCO World Heritage Site with a little bit of something for everyone. No matter what you plan to do during your stay, this is where to stay in Santo Domingo if it’s your first time in the city!
For people who want to save some money, Zona Universitaria is where to stay in Santo Domingo! It’s only about 15 minutes away from the old quarter, but the accommodation prices are loads cheaper. Moreover, it has a vibrant atmosphere and is home to some of the best nightlife in Santo Domingo.
Boca Chica is the most popular beach in the Santo Domingo area. If you want to be close to the city, but also want to be close to the beach, this is where to stay in Santo Domingo! In addition, the airport is right next door which makes this area an ideal place to stay at the beginning or end of a trip.
Zona Colonial, also known as the Old Quarter, is the heart and soul of Santo Domingo. It’s a charming neighborhood full of colonial buildings and narrow cobblestone streets that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
Zona Universitaria is a lively, up-and-coming neighborhood adjacent to the coast and el Malecón de Santo Domingo. It’s home to the “Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo” (UASD) which was established in 1538 and is the oldest university in the Americas.
Boca Chica is a popular and scenic resort town located a little under an hour from downtown Santo Domingo. It’s full of giant resorts, beautiful white sand beaches, renowned restaurants, and more.
The 3 Best Areas to Stay in Santo Domingo
Now that you have a better idea of the neighborhoods you should stay in, it’s time to look at each one in a little more detail. If you’re looking for an apartment, condo, hostel, or hotel inSanto Domingo, I’ve listed the best ones, plus some awesome things to do in each area.
1. Zona Colonial – Where to Stay in Santo Domingo for your First Visit
Zona Colonial, also known as the Old Quarter, is the heart and soul of Santo Domingo. It’s a charming neighborhood full of colonial buildings and narrow cobblestone streets that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990. There’s no better place in Santo Domingo to wander around and get lost, and exploring this area will make you feel as if you’ve hopped into a time machine.
If it’s your first time in the city, or if you are a fan of history, this is without a doubt where to stay in Santo Domingo. One of the most interesting museums in this area, and a definite must-visit, is El Museo de la Resistencia. It’s a small museum that’s dedicated to those who fought against dictator regimes and oppression. Additionally, the Zona Colonial is jam-packed with delicious restaurants and cafe’s where you can pop in and refuel.
Best Condo in Zona Colonial: The Suite
This stunning one-bedroom apartment is hidden away inside a beautiful Spanish colonial building in the heart of the historic district. It’s super spacious, has been remodeled with modern fixtures, and thanks to a sofa in the living room that transforms into a bed, it can comfortably sleep up to four people . On top of that, there is an out of this world communal swimming pool in the courtyard.
Best Hostel in Zona Colonial: Island Life Hostel
The Island Life Hostel is a budget-friendly hostel located in the Zona Colonial. It has three different-sized dorm rooms, as well as multiple private room options. The staff is super knowledgeable and can help you book any sort of tour or transportation you may be interested in. Furthermore, it is surrounded by bars, restaurants, markets, historic sites, and more!
Best Hotel in Zona Colonial: Hotel Villa Colonial
This gorgeous boutique hotel is like a home away from home for travelers. They have a small staff whose main goal is to ensure that you have the best stay possible. They offer a wide selection of rooms that sleep up to four people, and every room comes with a private patio or balcony. Moreover, they have a fabulous swimming pool and a large tropical garden for hanging out.
Things to See and Do in Zona Colonial:
- Wander around, get lost, and explore the neighborhood either by foot or on a bike.
- Go on a guided colonial tour to learn more about how Santo Domingo has changed over time.
- Spend a few hours at “El Museo de la Resistencia” educating yourself on some of the darker parts of the countries history.
- Take a ride on the Santo Domingo Gondola (Teleférico) to get a unique perspective of the city.
- Make a pit stop at “Mamey Librería” and enjoy a tasty coffee while also checking out some local art and books.
- Discover hidden underground swimming holes in the caves of Three Eyes National Park.
- View a set of 15 minute micro-plays and look into the lives of local people at the “Microteatro.”
- Buy souvenirs for you and your loved ones at the markets along Calle El Conde.
2. Zona Universitaria – Where to Stay in Santo Domingo on a Budget
Zona Universitaria is a lively, up-and-coming neighborhood adjacent to the coast and el Malecón de Santo Domingo. It’s home to the “Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo” (UASD) which was established in 1538 and is the oldest university in the Americas. Besides the university, you will also find a wide array of museums, restaurants, bars, and clubs.
As you might expect from an area with a high concentration of young people, Zona Universitaria is one of the top areas in the city for nightlife. Along the water, there are a handful of up-scale options, while inland there are seemingly a never-ending amount of cheaper options. If you want to drink and dance the nights away, or if you are traveling on a budget, this is where to stay in Santo Domingo.
Best Apartment in Zona Universitaria: Beautiful Apt Studio in Central Santo Domingo
This cozy studio apartment is located right next to the university and is ideal for solo travelers or couples. Everything you could possibly need is within walking distance, including some of the top-rated bars and clubs in the city. Another perk of this apartment is that if you stay three nights or more you can do a free load of laundry. Lastly, it’s one of the best deals you will find in the whole country!
Best Hostel in Zona Universitaria: Malecon Premium Rooms
Malecon Premium Rooms offers private rooms only and is located just a stone’s throw away from el Malecon. While it’s not as social as your standard backpackers’ hostel, there’s at least a common room and a cafe where you can mingle and meet new people. In many ways, it’s more like a hotel, and if you want the privacy of a private room for the price of a hostel, this is the place for you!
Best Hotel in Zona Universitaria: Catalonia Santo Domingo
The Catalonia Santo Domingo is a luxury five-star hotel located right on the ocean. They have both double and triple rooms, with many of them having amazing sea views. Besides phenomenal rooms, the hotel also boasts a gym, a restaurant, a bar, and a beachside swimming pool. If all that wasn’t enough, they also have a spa and multiple meeting rooms. If you are traveling on business, this is where to stay in Santo Domingo!
Things to See and Do in Zona Universitaria:
- Walk around the “Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo,” the oldest university in the New World.
- Spend a day swimming and relaxing at Guiba public Beach.
- View over five thousand plants and trees at the National Botanical Garden.
- Go shopping in the first sustainable mall in the world, the Agora Mall.
- Spend a night out on the town at one of the many bars and clubs in the area.
- Rent a bike and ride along the Malecón de Santo Domingo.
- Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the highly regarded coastal restaurants.
- Visit the National Museum of Natural History or the Museum of Modern Art.
3. Boca Chica – Where to Stay in Santo Domingo for Families
Boca Chica is a popular and scenic resort town located a little under an hour from downtown Santo Domingo. It’s full of giant resorts, beautiful white sand beaches, renowned restaurants, and more. Furthermore, there’s a coral reef just off the coast, which makes this area a fantastic option for people who enjoy snorkeling or diving. The water is super calm, has a stunning turquoise color, maintains a shallow depth well out into the bay, and is often compared to a giant swimming pool.
Additionally, Boca Chica is one of the most popular places in the country for baseball, in a country that is absolutely obsessed with the sport. Tons of Major League Baseball teams have baseball academies in this area where they identify and train the next generation of professional players. If you are a fan of the sport, you can tour some of the facilities or even catch a live scrimmage if you are lucky.
Best Apartment in Boca Chica: Villa Almendra 301 – Sunny Beachfront Apartment
Even though it only has one bedroom, this apartment is super spacious and can sleep up to five people. The bedroom has both a double and a single bed, while the living room has a double sofa-bed. The kitchen is a great place to prepare a meal, but if you are feeling lazy there is also a delicious Italian restaurant directly below the apartment. My favorite aspect of this apartment is the large balcony overlooking the beach. It’s a tremendous place to drink a morning coffee or a late afternoon beer.
Best Luxury Apartment in Boca Chica: Spacious Beach’s Pent House w/ Jacuzzi
If you are traveling as a large group and looking for a place to stay, look no further! This insane three-bedroom penthouse can sleep eight and is part of the Hamaca Hotel Complex. As part of the complex, you have access to all the hotel amenities including the pools. My favorite part of this ridiculous apartment though is the huge private rooftop balcony home to a private Jacuzzi.
Best Hotel in Boca Chica: Whala Boca Chica – All Inclusive
The Whala Boca Chica is an awesome all-inclusive resort ideal for families and large groups. They have huge, family-sized rooms that can fit up to four people, and all of them include private terraces. While the rooms are great, it’s the other amenities that make this hotel stand out. They have a private white-sand beach, multiple beachside swimming pools, tennis courts, and more!
Things to See and Do in Boca Chica:
- Scuba dive or snorkel out on the coral reef.
- Take a sail boat tour out on the bay and around some of the coastal islands.
- Relax and work on your tan at the beach.
- Visit the Iglesia San Rafael Arcangel.
- Charter a boat and spend a day deep sea fishing on the open ocean.
- Play a round of frisbee golf with the family at Tierra Alta Disc Golf Course.
- Visit a Major League Baseball training facility and watch them practice. Some of the facilities even let you train with the players if you organize it in advance!
- Spend a day drinking beers or tropical cocktails at the Bocano Beach Club.
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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo may not be the most visited city in the Dominican Republic, but it’s a place you certainly don’t want to miss! Not only is it the cultural epicenter of this fantastic island nation, but it’s also full of fun activities. More and more people are flocking there every year though, so make sure you book your trip soon!
As you have seen,Santo Domingo has accommodation options for everyone, no matter what you are interested in or what your budget may be. I hope that this guide has helped you decide where to stay on your next trip toSanto Domingo. Did you find what you were looking for? Let me know in the comments!
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