Two Week Dream Itinerary in the Dominican Republic – without the Resorts!

Playa Coson

With NYC fully in the grasp of winter, I’ve been dreaming of a warm getaway to the Caribbean. If you have your trip booked and are looking to plan two full weeks, look no further! My dream itinerary will take you to the capital, the countryside, and of course the beach – all without being cooped up in a resort.

There are plenty of listings on AirBnB, as well as hostels, so you will always find a good place to stay. Just check the reviews. In terms of getting around, Uber is definitely in the capital, but you can ask a local business to call a taxi for you. Do not use street hails. If you speak some Spanish and know your way around, you can catch a local public car that follow predetermined routes. Otherwise, if you are in the capital you can take the metro. Read more about using public transportation in the Dominican Republic here.

Day 1 and 2: Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial

Many international flights can get you to Santo Domingo, so my itinerary starts here, in my favorite Dominican city. Spend your first days getting acclimated by exploring Zona Colonial, where much of the European history of the island has been preserved as part of a UNESCO site.

Historic buildings in Zona Colonial.

Wander the old streets and hang out in the squares to people watch. Check out the Puerto del Conde and wander the main drag. Grab an ice cream from Helados Bon. Check out Choco Museo to learn about the chocolate making process and to taste some home grown chocolate. You can also do a little souvenir shopping on Avenida Mella, and get food in Barrio Chino.

Delicious ice cream.

There are also a number of independent galleries, museums and historic buildings that you can tour. The art school along the Conde has a gallery which is free entry.

At night, check out live music – on select Sundays near Las Ruinas de San Francisco, Grupo Bonye performs latin music, and if you like Jazz check out the Jazz en Dominicana blog for events, be prepared to dance! Arrive super early to snag some chairs and bring cash to purchase snacks and drinks nearby.

You can find numerous nightclubs in the neighborhood, but if you’re looking for a more low-key evening, grab an overpriced drink at one of the restaurants overlooking the Alcazar de Colon.

For a bonus, go up to the rooftop pool at Hotel Billini, you can pay for a day pass for access.

Read more about Zona Colonial!

Day 3: Distrito Nacional

Start your morning, when it is cool, at the Jardín Botánico Nacional. Bring some snacks, wander the grounds, and check out the Japanese Garden.

Bridge in the Japanese Gardin.

From there grab lunch at Yokomo Sushi just north of the garden or at Agora Mall, where you can get the Dominican take on sushi (sushi aplantanao), which means – sushi with avocado, plantains and a sweet sauce.

Either way, head to Agora Mall, south of the garden, to do some window shopping, get coffee, and settle in for a movie and snacks at a reasonable price at the cinema. You may be able to find movies with English subtitles, just check at the counter. If you have more time to kill, there’s an Ikea across the street! ENDLESS MEATBALLS.

Day 4: Plaza de la Cultura

The last day in the capital, take it easy by checking out a few museums in the Plaza de la Cultura.  The plaza also contains the Teatro Nacional, so you may be able to catch a performance there. I suggest maybe two museums so take your pick from the roster: Museo de Arte Moderno, Museo del Hombre Dominicano, and the Museo de Historia Natural. Admission is cheap, around $50 pesos for each museum.

Painting at the art museum.

Afterwards, get a drink at Cinema Cafe and see live music, or see a movie at the Cinemateca Dominicana. If you’re looking for a fancy evening, get dinner at Laurel in Piantini. If you need something more affordable, grab a sandwich at Barra Payan either off Churchill or in Zona Colonial.

If you need more ideas, especially for dates, read here.

Day 5 and 6: La Vega – Central Region

From the capital, drive about two hours northwest to the La Vega province to visit the towns of Jarabacoa and Costanza. Jarabacoa is a mountainous town with rivers and pines. Grab dinner or drinks at the rotating restaurant within the Jamaca de Dios eco-resort, Aroma de las Montaña.

Jamaca de Dios

While I’ve never been to Costanza, I’ve been wanting to go to see the farms and the pyramids.

Day 7: To the heart – Santiago

Another hour to the north is Santiago, the country’s second largest city, also known as the Heart City as it is indeed in the heart of the country. The main attraction there is the monument, from which you can see panoramic view of the city on top of a hill. At the base, there are a number of restaurants. You can supposedly get the best yaroa in Santiago so now is your chance!

El Monumento by day.

Spend some time on Calle del Sol, which is the more historic part of the city and get drinks in the evening on Avenida Metropolitanas where there are a few bars.

Read a more in-depth itinerary about Santiago.

Day 8 and 9: North Coast

From Santiago, head to the north coast to spend two days in Sosua and Cabarete, two neighboring beach towns. I’ve somehow never been to Sosua, so all I can say is stay out of trouble, and enjoy the beaches. I’ve visited Cabarete a few times and always find it quite comfortable and low key. Cabarete is known for its beach sports such as kite surfing and also has quite the party scene at night. Get a drink at Mojito Bar or check out one of the many tourist friendly restaurants along the beach or main strip.

Cabarete Beach.

Day 10-14: Las Terrenas

After over a week of traveling around the country, take some time to enjoy the beaches and nature in Las Terrenas. For those who like outdoor adventure, take a horseback ride to the Salto del Limon Waterfall. But mostly, just relax and enjoy beachfront meals. Depending on the time of year, you may be able to do some whale watching.

Salto Limon
Salto Limon in Las Terrenas

See more about what I did on a trip to Las Terrenas.

Bonus day!

If you are flying in or out of Santo Domingo, stop at Boca Chica beach for some fried fish. There are a number of mini restaurants along the beach where you can get fried fish, plantain, and batata.

You could easily spend a month touring the country, but if you only have two weeks this itinerary will help you make the most of your trip!

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments.

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