Santo Domingo is filled with history. There are quite a few different sites to see here so you may have a difficult time trying to take it all in. If you will be arriving via cruise ship and will only be spending a few hours in Santo Domingo, here is a sample of what you can do.
Many travelers start out at the Zona Colonial. There are over 12 different landmarks that can be found here. Many travelers try to visit all of them, but if you have to choose just one of them Alcazar de Colon which was constructed for Columbus’ son. No matter where you go, just make sure you pace yourself as the sites are mostly outdoors and Santo Domingo gets very hot.
For lunch, head over to the Mercado Modelo. This is the local market and features a lot of different items to buy. Much of the market is indoors which makes it a good place to go to escape some of the afternoon heat and to get some shopping done as well. Remember that many of the stall keepers do like to call out to visitors to try to get them to browse their items and make a purchase. Also, make sure that you stop at one of the many Comedores like Plato de Dias and grab a good meal at a good price.
After lunch head over to the Jardin Botanico Nacional. Here you will find a variety of plants and some wildlife. There’s even a Japanese Zen garden that has quite a few interesting things to see. Make sure you also check out the Ecological Museum that features a lot of exhibits that deal with the Dominican Republic’s ecosystem.
Both the food and the nightlife in Santo Domingo are some of the best in the world. During the week many of the bars close by midnight which will probably have no affect on cruise ship passengers as they will probably have to be back on board well before then. Be forewarned as there are some sketchier areas in Santo Domingo, but the Colonial Zone tends to be fairly safe. The Hard Rock Cafe Santo Domingo is a popular spot among tourists that are looking for food or drinks. For those in the mood for Italian food with an amazing view, they should check out Ristorante Angelo. Malecon 7 is a great place to go to grab a drink before heading back to the ship.