Once the capital of the New World, Santo Domingo today is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic – as well as a congested city with numerous transportation options. Along with planning how you'll get to Santo Domingo, as a tourist you will have to wade through every different way you have to get around town, which can be an overwhelming task to undertake.
While flying is by far the most popular way to get to Santo Domingo, tourists also have the option of sailing; be it aboard a private yacht or a large cruise ship.
The public transportation system in Santo Domingo is extensive, yet, walking remains the best way to get around the most popularly visited spots by tourists, such as the district. When walking either isn't an option or something you'd like to avoid, you can not only rent a car, take the bus, or zip around underground on the metro, but you can also hail a taxi, a publico, or a motoconcho.
...arrive with your guard up...
Santo Domingo is home to two different international airports: (SDQ) which is just east of the city center, and (JBQ) in the nearby suburb of Higüero. For the most part, all international travel touches down at Las Americas, while La Isabela is reserved for domestic flights with the rare exception. Between these two airports, you'll be able to fly direct from the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and even Canada if you hire a private charter. You can learn more about flying to Santo Domingo by clicking here, but make sure to arrive with your guard up –hustlers are known for hanging out around the airport hopping to catch a naive tourist unaware.
It has only been in the last decade or so that sailing to the Dominican Republic has been an option, let alone a popular one. Sailors still do not flock to this country, but it is an option worth considering if you have the skill set or the means and inclination to hire a crewed yacht to make your travel to the Dominican Republic an adventure. Boca Chica and serves as the port of entry for the Santo Domingo, and there are several marinas and anchorages available.
One of six cruise ports in the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo is popular amongst big name cruise ships not only for its known historical intrigues, but because of the nightlife scene that many cruisers look forward to experiencing. If making the trip to the Dominican Republic a luxurious high seas adventure is on your bucket list, check with big names like Carnival, Cunard, Radisson Seven Seas, and Seabourn, all of which are known for making stops in Santo Domingo.
Because the local driving conditions are not the best, and public transportation is plentiful, renting a car in Santo Domingo is not necessary. Those who decide to go ahead and rent anywhere will spend anywhere between $30 and $130(USD) a day to do so, and must have a valid driver's license. Local and international agencies are available both at the airport and around town, but by far the most popular place to rent from it at the airport. Click here to learn more about renting a car in Santo Domingo.
The taxi system in Santo Domingo is well-organized and reliable, but you have to make sure it's an official taxi you're getting into. The area is known for having illegal drivers who are looking for every opportunity to rip passengers off, and even assault and rob from them. Because of this, it is recommended that tourists call a well-known and trusted local taxi operator and have them pick them up. You'll find a complete listing of local cab companies, as well as more information about taxis in the area when you click here.
Motoconchos are a truly unique way to get around Santo Domingo. The term means "motorcycle taxi," and they are one of the fastest, if not riskiest, ways for small groups to get around. Because of their size, motoconchos can only carry two, maybe three passengers at a time. Drivers are reckless, zipping in and out of traffic, and sometimes even riding on sidewalks in an effort to get their passengers to their destination in a hurry. The cost of this form of transport is low, but should be discussed with the driver in advance.
Taking the bus in Santo Domingo is not recommended. While this option is certainly the most affordable way to get around, the vehicles lack air conditioning and are often overcrowded, making them uncomfortable for most tourists. If you want to travel outside of Santo Domingo on a bus, however, the coach service is known for its comfort and reliability, not to mention the low cost.
Find out more about each bus service here.
On the streets of Santo Domingo there is another form of transportation that is even more numerous than buses and taxis, and that is the carro publico. Publicos are large cars and small buses that serve as a cross between taxis and buses, and may best be described as a public taxi. They follow set routes like a bus, but will stop and pick up passengers whenever someone flags them down, continuing to do so until the vehicle is full. The fare is about $0.30(USD) a person, but the trade off for the cheap ride is the fact that you'll be sharing the vehicle with a complete stranger.
In 2009, Santo Domingo inaugurated a form of transportation that is unique to the Caribbean: a subway. The first METRO system is only available in Santo Domino at this time, with one line that travels north to south and has 16 stops which are listed below. A subway card costs just $0.70(USD).
With so many viable transportation options it is important to do your homework and know what is available to you before you arrive in Santo Domingo and are faced with decision time. Cost is rarely an issue on this island, so it may be convenience and personal preference that pushes you in one direction or the next in the end.
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