Dominican Republic Sights & Attractions
Away from the gorgeous beaches, discover colonial history and crumbling monuments in these must-see attractions.
Top attractions in the Dominican Republic, include…
(Santo Domingo) – Walk in the footsteps of Fernando Cortés, Christopher Columbus and Francis Drake in the historic Zona Colonial in Santo Domingo, home to the New World's first cathedral, university and hospital.
Explore the narrow cobbled streets of the Colonial Zone, a 260ha area bordering the Río Ozama that contains dozens of historical buildings including palaces, forts, churches, museums, parks, plazas and monuments. Some of the best sites include:
Tour the impressive Alcazar de Colon, built with coral limestone in 1510 by Diego Colon, the son of Christopher Columbus. The building features more than 20 rooms decorated with 15th century period tapestries and the Caribbean's most important collection of European Renaissance paintings.
Stroll the ramparts of the Foraleza Ozama, built in 1502 – the oldest fortress in the Americas.
Ponder artistic treasures such as the silver altar inside the Gothic Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor (or La Catedral Primada de América). This was America's first cathedral, built of coral limestone in 1514 and consecrated in 1540.
Learn more about Santo Domingo's history at the fascinating Museo de las Casas Reales, a treasury of tapestries, maps and colonial artefacts dating from 1492 to 1821. See replicas of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria; one exhibit is said to hold some of Columbus' ashes.
Explore the massive remains of the oldest fort in the New World, built with 2m-thick walls in 1654 and surrounded by a moat. Visit the small historical museum to see a collection of historical artefacts. Fort San Felipe was used as a prison during the Trujillo dictatorship. It stands at the end of the Malecón in Puerto Plata.
Explore charming cobblestone paths lined with medieval architecture at this replicated copy of a fortified village as it would have looked in Spain, southern France or Italy in the Middle Ages.
Set high on a bluff overlooking the Río Chavón, Altos de Chavon is the country's leading attraction and is a flourishing centre for Caribbean art.
The coral block and terracotta brick buildings house numerous craft workshops, galleries, artists' studios, shops and restaurants. Altos de Chavon is located on the south coast, just east of Casa de Campo and around 150km east of Santo Domingo.
(The Three Eyes of Water) – Wander inside this remarkable 15m-high open-air limestone cave, home to countless stalactites and stalagmites.
The cave contains three freshwater lagoons set on three different levels, each fed by an underground river. Look out for the many turtles, fish and bats inside the cave.
The pre-Columbian Taino Indians allegedly used the site for religious ceremonies. The cavern is in the Los Tres Ojos National Park, just to the east of Santo Domingo.
Latest update Dominican Republic honeymoon destination: 15 November, 2017