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Pocket Guide: Santiago

The second largest city in the Dominican Republic, and one of the oldest settlements in the New World, Santiago boasts a rich history, lively culture and vibrant nightlife and great hotels. Explore the labyrinthine streets of the old town, shop for bargains on the Calle El Sol, cool off in the local waterpark or learn more about the country’s past in Santiago’s museums and galleries.

Where to Stay in Santiago

Old Town – The historic centre of Santiago is made up of traditional single storey Dominican houses, colourful buildings and bustling streets. A great place to start your sightseeing tour of the city and to soak up some local culture, the Old Town is a must see during your stay in a Santiago hotel.

Calle El Sol – The main shopping street in Santiago, head to Calle El Sol to flex your haggling skills and pick up some bargains. You’ll find a great choice of shops on the street itself and a wealth of department stores, markets and independent retailers on the roads on either side.

The Monument – The roads around the Monument are the heart of Santiago’s nightlife. Busiest at the weekends, the area is a great place to meet locals, sample regional drinks and enjoy the authentic Dominican atmosphere.

Cerros de Gurabo – One of the most upmarket parts of Santiago, Cerros de Gurabo is full of mansions, tree-lined streets and fancy cars. Spend an afternoon wandering the leafy roads to see how the other half live.

How to Make the Most of Your Hotel in Santiago

The most prominent landmark in Santiago is the Monumento a los Heroes de la Restauracion. Also known as the Santiago Monument, the marble structure has been built on a hill overlooking the city and measures 220 feet high. Another of the city’s famous sights is the Aurora Cigar Factory. An important part of Santiago’s commercial history, cigar making still goes on at the factory to this day. Take a tour to see how the cigars are made and pick up a few souvenirs on the way. To learn more about contemporary life in Santiago, visit the Centro Leon. A popular cultural centre and event space, the centre houses exhibitions on Caribbean and Dominican cultures and customs. Other sights include the Cathedral of Santiago, the 17th century Fortaleza San Luis and the Hermanos Patino Bridge, the largest and oldest north/south bridge in the city.

As Santiago is less visited than Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, a visit to the country’s second city is a great chance to experience authentic Dominican life. Have a night out in the bars and restaurants around the Monument, shop with the locals along the Calle El Sol or take in a bit of art and culture at the Centro Leon. Visit the city’s Tobacco Museum or the Aurora Cigar Factory to learn about its economic past or, if you want to see a slice of modern Dominican life, get tickets for a local baseball match and experience one of the country’s favourite pastimes.