Our offers for shore excursions in and around Santo Domingo
Discover Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with the best shore excursion in a small group with us. The right excursion for your cruise stay can be selected here:
Small groupsExcursions in a family atmosphere
Great servicePick up directly at the harbor
High reliabilityOn-time-back-to-ship warranty
Effective time managementBook your activities in advance
Cheap shore excursionSave money by self organising
High individualityArrange activities and times freely
Useful information for shore excursions in Santo Domingo
We have put together below all information about the cruise port, the most beautiful attractions as well as other tips for your cruise excursions in Santo Domingo.
The most beautiful attractions in Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, is perhaps the most modern and dynamic metropolis in the Caribbean. “La Capital”, as it is affectionately known, embodies the pulse of Dominican culture in which old and new meet seamlessly. From centuries-old architecture and history to large shopping malls, art galleries, vibrant nightlife and a booming food scene – the offers are diverse.
Exploring the colonial city, America’s first European settlement and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a recommended experience for all travelers. The historic district is a pedestrian-friendly labyrinth of narrow streets filled with architectural wonders from the 16th to the early 20th centuries. They lead to colonial buildings, museums, shops, hotels, restaurants and sidewalk cafes.
Ascend to the Old City for a 45-minute tour of the Chu Chu Colonial mini train, walk along America’s first paved road, or rent a bike and explore Santo Domingo on your own. For a relaxing break in nature you can visit the Botanical Garden, which is also the largest in the Caribbean. Buy a linen Chacabana shirt, leather handbag or a typical faceless ceramic doll in one of the exclusive shopping malls or art gallery in the colonial city.
Dine in stylish hotels throughout the city, where renowned chefs refine Dominican and international cuisine. Relax with a Dominican Puro cigar in one of the open terrace bistros overlooking Plaza de España. When you’re ready for the beach, after a 40-minute drive in Boca Chica you will find soft white sand overlooking the Caribbean Sea. No matter what you are looking for, Santo Domingo has something for everyone.
If you want to explore the area’s attractions, you can start from Santo Domingo with numerous shore excursions.
National Botanical Garden
National Botanical Garden was founded in 1976 and named after the experienced Dominican botanist Dr. Rafael M. Moscosoder, who cataloged the remarkable plant spectrum of Hispaniola. The symbol of the park is the leaf of a palm tree, which locals call “Guanito” and, of course, can be found in the garden itself. The park covers 395 arces and shows the remarkable endemism of the birds and vegetation native to the second largest island of the Caribbean.
This garden offers collections of bromeliads, ferns, palm trees, succulents, medicinal plants and an exhibition of over 300 species of orchids. The sprawling, well-manicured park is also a popular destination for birdwatchers as a variety of bird species, both well-known and rare, form either permanent or temporary houses in the Dominican Republic. A traditional Japanese garden is also located on the property, ideal for picnics. The Botanical Garden is open daily from 9:00 AM to 17:00 PM.
Alcázar de Colón
One of the most popular museums in Santo Domingo, the Alcázar de Colón, is also one of the most impressive in architecture. This gothic and renaissance palace completed around 1512 was once the home of Diego Columbus, the son of Christopher Columbus and his wife María de Toledo, niece of King Ferdinand of Spain. Overlooking Plaza de España and the Ozama River, it is the oldest royal residence in America and the first fortified palace that has been converted into a museum.
Exhibited in 22 rooms are furnitures from the 16th century, art, musical instruments and weapons. Spiral staircases lead to the couple’s well-preserved rooms and the sumptuous reception hall with its chandeliers, where events were held for the Spanish aristocracy. In contrast to other museums, no objects presented are connected to the building. The exhibits probably never existed, instead, they should only give a classy impression of that time.
Built by the Spaniards at the beginning of the 16th century, Ozama Fortress is America’s first permanent military structure marking the beginning of Spanish colonization. The fortress was built behind a vast, walled park and resembles a medieval castle. It is dominated by a 69m/ 226ft high central tower. The winding spiral staircase of the tower leads to a viewing platform with impressive views of the Ozama River and the port of Santo Domingo.
Also on display are the original cannons that served to protect the entrance to the city from pirates and intruders. The construction of the fortress led by Santo Domingo’s Governor Fray Nicolás de Ovando lasted from 1502 to 1508. Admire the original coral stone material and the medieval look, explore its inner tunnels and dungeons where prisoners, including Christopher Columbus, were once kept.
Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor
The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor is considered the oldest cathedral in the New World and at the same time one of the oldest existing churches in America. It was built for 17 years, from 1523 to 1540. You will find the cathedral at Parque de Colón at the end of Calle El Conde.
The appearance of the rather simple-looking cathedral can be attributed to numerous looting by pirates. In 1586, for example, Santo Domingo was plundered by Sir Francis Drake and occupied for about a month until all the residents had submitted all their valuables.
In 1877 the alleged bones of Columbus were found in the cathedral and buried in the Faro de Colón. Meanwhile, it has been proven that Sevilla has parts of the original remains of Columbus. However, since these are not fully complete, it can not be ruled out that Santo Domingo is also in possession of such remains.
Faro de Colon
The landmark of Santo Domingo is the Faro de Colón, in English “Lighthouse of Columbus”. Together with the Old Town of Santo Domingo, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. Faro da Colón is built in a cross shape and stately 787 ft long, 111 ft wide and 150 ft high. Faro houses a museum, with departments for all states of the American continent. Next to the museum there is the tomb of Columbus in the lighthouse. As already mentioned, however, Seville claims to own the tomb of Columbus. A later DNA analysis of the bones in Seville confirmed in 2006 that they actually come from Christopher Columbus. Still, it is possible that parts of Columbus’ remains are in Santo Domingo.
This building is guarded by military around the clock. If you get permission, you can climb the roof and enjoy the view over Santo Domingo from there. On Friday and Saturday evenings, 156 headlamps in a light spectacle are supposed to shine the cross of Faro de Colon from the roof of the tomb into the sky. The spectacle was originally supposed to be held every night, but the inadequate power supply with recurring power outages does not allow it to happen.
Cueva de los tres Ojos
Near Faro a Colón you can find the enchanting caves Cuevas de los Tres Ojos, a gigantic subterranean system of stalactite caves. The extensive cave system is partially filled with water. If you’re lucky, chances are you’ll be able to admire turtles in one of the three lakes during a tour of the caves.
Three emerald-green lakes, which appear as a single lake due to their arrangement, will delight you with their great coloring. These so-called “eyes” of the city can be reached by stairs. Below you can take a boat over one of the lakes. In addition, rare plants thrive in the dark, humid climate and also many bats live there. Enjoy the peace and unique atmosphere in the cave away from the hustle and bustle of the big city!
Map of the cruise port in Santo Domingo
The port of Santo Domingo is located at the mouth of the Ozama River and consists of the two moorings “Don Diego” and the modern cruise terminal “Sans Souci”.
Don Diego is strategically located with immediate access to the ‘Zona Colonial’, the historic center of Santo Domingo. However, only smaller cruise ships can moor here.
The newer and generously sized terminal “Sans Souci” is an extremely modern terminal. It is specially designed for large cruise ships and offers a good infrastructure for cruise passengers. The terminal is located on the other side of the Omaza River, opposite to the Old Town which can be reached in a 10-minute drive.
If you book a shore excursion in Santo Domingo with us, you will of course be picked up directly at the port area near your berth. Our cruise excursions usually take place in English.
Things to know about shore excursions in and around Santo Domingo
Shipping companies and routes
Cruises from shipping companies like Seabourn Cruise line and NCL usually call here at the port of Santo Domingo.
Immigration and visa
U.S. citizens and also U.K. citizens must have a valid passport to enter the Dominican Republic. No visa is required for stays less than 6 months if you have an onward or return ticket.
For more accurate and up-to-date information please contact your cruise operator regarding the valid entry requirements.
The official currency in the Dominican Republic is the peso (RD $ or DOP). Many places in the Dominican Republic also accept US dollar or euro. However, you should be careful because sometimes it can be more expensive to pay with foreign currencies. (1 dollar = 50 pesos; 1 pound = 65.76 pesos)
Taxi and other public transports
- If you want to explore the city in a traditional way, you can also treat yourself to a carriage ride into the city. Some carriages are always ready at the berth San Souci.
- The metro in Santo Domingo has two lines and covers a large part of the city. It runs from 6 AM to 22 PM every 5 to 10 minutes. It is considered relatively safe because a lot of security personnel are present.
- So-called Guaguas (minibuses) and Carros publicos (cars) always follow the same route and collect people everywhere on the track if there is room. They drive up and down all major roads. You pay about 25 pesos per way.
- The green OMSA buses are at 15 pesos per trip and run regularly on the main roads. Since they stop at many stops, you usually need a relatively long time to reach your destination.
- A hop-on hop-off city tour can be a great way to relax and discover many of the main attractions.
- If you decide to rent a car, make sure you have enough insurance coverage! An international driving license is recommended. You also should not drive in the dark for safety.
Due to the always summery climate, the Caribbean is a year-round destination. Temperatures often varies between 25 to 30°C / 77 to 86 °F. The main travel time is between November – March, outside the rainy season. In other months you have to expect rain and between July and October also hurricanes.
Video: Impressions of Santo Domingo
“My Cruise Excursion” offers a great way to experience your trip. We are currently working on our own offer for Santo Domingo, so come back to check frequently our page.
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