Under $100: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Visiting the Dominican Republic’s capital and largest city is like going back in time. Santo Domingo is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas and was the site of the first university, cathedral, castle, monastery and fortress in the New World.
Some of the city’s most beautiful landmarks are free to the public, making it easy to take in all the history the city has to offer. Simply stroll the city’s plazas and streets to admire the city’s 16th-century architecture. See the Catedral Santa María La Menor, believed to be America’s first cathedral, built in 1512, or explore the ruins of the Monasterio de San Francisco, the first monastery in the Americas, dating from 1508.
The city’s Zona Colonial section is home to several impressive museums, such as the Museum of the Casas Reales, featuring impressive artifacts from the colonial period; the Naval Museum of the Atarazanas located in the former naval yards; and the Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana, documenting the struggle for freedom during the regimes of Trujillo. Museums are generally priced from $1–4.
Tour the striking Museo Alcázar de Colón, once the home of Christopher Columbus’ son, designed in the Gothic-Mudéjar transitional style, for less than $2. For around $3, you can see The Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest formal standing fortress in the Americas.
Venture outside the city to the surrounding Santo Domingo Greenbelt, where you’ll find the Mirador del Este located on the east bank of the Ozama River, home to the famous Columbus Lighthouse. Tour the lighthouse for less than $1.
Santo Domingo boasts a vibrant culinary scene, influenced by several different cultures due to its colonial history. Enjoy authentic Spanish, African, Caribbean and French cuisine at several restaurants and fantastic street food vendors, where you can find a hearty snack for less than $2. Grab breakfast or lunch at the charming Affogato Café or fresh seafood at Sushi Cebiches. For a truly authentic dining experience, visit El Conuco for traditional Dominican dishes, great cocktails, live music and dancing.
Getting around Santo Domingo via car can be difficult, but the taxi system is convenient and affordable, though it may require a bit of haggling. Fortunately all major attractions, dining and entertainment venues are located close to one another making it easy to see everything. Two new Metro lines were also installed, with fares as low as 5 cents.