10 amazing free activities to do in Santo Domingo

Whether you’re wanting to immerse yourself in the Dominican Republic’s eclectic music and dance scene or, sample the city’s culinary delights, or  explore the museums, history and culture of Ciudad Colonial (the colonial zone), the oldest European settlement of the New World, Santo Domingo has something free to impress all its visitors. Here is our pick of the best free stuff to do in Santo Domingo (thank us later).




1. Head to the city’s open-air salsa night
Every Sunday just in front the Runias de San Francisco, salsa group Bonyé, perform a mixture of salsa, bachata, merengue and other types of Latin music from 5-10pm. Locals and tourists mingle in crowds under the stars, sipping rum or beer which is sold at the venue. Not to be missed.

Runias de San Francisco
Runias de San Francisco, Santo Domingo













2. People watch in Parque Colon
The central square of the Colonial zone, you can sit and watch the world go by here.


Parque Colon Santo Domingo
Parque Colon Santo Domingo












3. Check out the Palacio Nacionales

This impressive building houses a branch of the Dominican Republic government including the office of the country’s President and Vice President.

Palacio Nacional, Santo Domingo
Palacio Nacional, Santo Domingo











4. Check the Chinatown markets
Formed in the early 1900s, today Chinatown is an integral part of the city of Santo Domingo.
Whilst you’ll have to fork out a little for street food and fruit, checking out the vibrant market culture is completely free. Just watch out for pickpockets and follow some of our advice in our post on Santo Domingo safety.

Chinatown Santo Domingo
Chinatown Santo Domingo

5. Head to the free jazz concert
Thursday night is the free open-air jazz concert on the stairway of El Conde, in Zona Colonial. An amazing ambience from start to finish (8-10pm).

Carolina Camacho at the jazz night
Carolina Camacho at the jazz night

6. Wander around Zona Colonial
With over 300 historical artifacts and museums, Ciudad Colonial (sometimes known as Zona Colonial) is a history buff’s dream. The UNESCO-protected site is where Columbus settled in the New World and the entire area is the oldest section of the Americas!

Fachada Catedral Primada de América - Ciudad Colonial
Fachada Catedral Primada de América -Zona Colonial

7. Sample some Dominican chocolate…
The Chocomuseo on Calle Cande offers a chocolate-making workshop (not free) and unlimited samples of Dominican chocolate (free!).

Santo Domingo chocolate

8. …And some Dominican rum
The Museo del Ron on Calle Isabel la Catolica is where you can learn the history of Dominican rum production. (And taste it too, of course!).

Brugal; Santo Domingo
One of the country’s tastiest rums!

9. Play chess with the locals
Outdoor chess and dominoes are a national pass-time. Ask to pull up a chair and learn a trick or two, or simply capture the moment and take a picture. Locals and friendly and most of the time, they’ll won’t mind (as long as you don’t distract them that is)!

Domino time in the city

10. Wander around Parque Independencia
Open from 8.30am-6pm, Parque Independencia was erected to recognise the country’s struggle for independence and contains the remains of four of the Dominican Republic’s Founding Fathers.

Parque Independencia
Parque Independencia

Looking for a super-fun hostel experience in Santo Domingo? Island Life Backpackers was voted best hostel in the DR! Be sure to contact us today for room rates and offers on trips and excursions.


Bgabel/Wikipedia; Jean-Marc Astesana/Flickr; ReinhardLink/Flickr; Wikipedia; IslandLife; Genosonic/Flickr;Chocablog; IslandLife; IslandLife