Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic – City Guide
While I spent a majority of my time in the Dominican Republic in my beloved Santo Domingo, I did check out Santiago de los Caballeros for a few weeks, too.
The second largest city in the country felt a bit like a “campo” to me, but I definitely enjoyed my time there. The people were incredibly and amazingly friendly. Plus, the pace of life was like taking a refreshing step back compared to the capital.
- Population: Slightly under 1 million (metro)
- Weather: Warm & tropical, but quite pleasant (aka not too hot)
- Safety: Safer than the capital. I never felt unsafe in Santiago de los Cabelleros. Some claim the city is dangerous, but I didn’t see it. Statistics state otherwise.
- Language: Spanish is needed. But I did meet more people with a solid grasp of English here (on average) than in the capital.
Santiago, Dominican Republic is way, way cheaper than the capital. If you’re on a budget and looking to visit the country, this city may be your best option. I’d even venture to say Santiago de los Caballeros is similarly priced to Colombian cities. Everyday living is dirt cheaper here. The only issue is finding decent accommodation.
- Average Apartment Rental: $350-750 per month
- Gym Membership: $20-40 per month
- Average Meal: $3-8
- Beer in Club: $2-4
- Bottle (rum) in Club: $12-70
Where to Stay
This is where it gets tricky. Santiago de los Caballeros is not a touristy city. At all. Whatsoever. In fact, there’s maybe 15-20 hotels in the whole city. There just aren’t many travelers here. So you may have to dig a little to find solid accommodation. My last trip there I struggled to do just that. And it blew.
For starters, there are two areas you’ll want to stay in Santiago. I highly recommend finding an apartment or hotel near El Monumento or in the Los Jardines neighborhood. Both locations are ideal and will give you a number of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from.
I stayed in Los Jardines and loved the location. I could walk everywhere I wanted – from the gym to the bar or club. Supermarkets were easily accessed, too. The neighborhood is definitely my first choice when in Santiago de los Caballeros.
How to Get Around
Santiago is a small city. Transportation won’t cost much here. I’d recommend using Uber the vast majority of the time. However, after passing some time in the city, you can save some change by taking the collective taxis. Generally, I despise public transportation, but these shared taxis run on routes and are exceptionally consistent. You just have to learn the routes that take you where you need to go.
Taking taxis on the street isn’t a bad idea in Santiago. The city isn’t touristy – so you don’t have to deal with the “Gringo Rip Off” culture that plagues taxis in other cities. Still, I prefer Uber and would recommend sticking with the app in this town.
There are a surprisingly large amount of people in Santiago de los Caballeros that speak English. However, you’d be a fool to come here without a little knowledge of Spanish. The people in Santiago are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered and a little effort in Spanish will go a long way. Even terrible Spanish will open doors for you in this city and allow you to make friends.
Things to Do in Santiago de los Caballeros
While this city isn’t touristy at all, the few attractions in Santiago de los Caballeros are spectacular. I’ve always had a blast in this town. I wouldn’t recommend coming here strictly for tourism, but if you work online and just want a few things to do on occasion – this city fits the bill. Here are four fun things to do in Santiago de los Caballeros:
- Cigar Factory Tour: I freaking hate tours. Honestly, they blow 95% of the time. The La Aurora Cigar Factory Tour was in the 5% of tours I enjoy. This was the best tourism experience I’ve ever had in my life. The tour guide’s name is Eugenio, and he’s quite the character. Dude speaks like six languages fluently and makes you feel like a long-time friend during the tour. Plus, La Aurora makes some of the finest cigars in the world. Must-do while in Santiago, Dominican Republic! Learn more about La Aurora Cigar Factory Tour here.
- El Monumento: If you’re in Santiago, then you must check out El Monumento for an afternoon. The massive monument in the center of the city is quite the site to see. It’s fun to walk around at the top and check out the inside, too.
- Bus to the Beach: There’s not a lot of touristic things to do in Santiago, Dominican Republic. So hop in a Caribe Tours bus and head to Sosua for an afternoon. The ride is one hour and costs about $4-5 USD each way.
- 27 Waterfalls: Another bus trip, but so worth it. 27 Charcos de Damajagua (27 waterfalls) is an absolute must while in the region. This unique experience will have you swimming through crystal blue waters in canyons and sliding down rocks. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a ton of fun. If you do the tour without a company, it’s dirt cheap, too. Just remember to tip your guide well. Click here to learn more.
Nightlife in Santiago, Dominican Republic
RUMBBAAA!! I enjoyed Santiago de los Caballeros nightlife, but this isn’t a city that pops off every night. There are some fun clubs, but there’s no true “Zona Rosa” in the city. You’ll find a lot of reggaeton, perreo, and hookah throughout clubs in this city. Here are a few of my favorite spots:
- Levels: This club is located in a small mall called Bella Terra near Los Jardines, but it stays popping. The best night is Wednesday, as it’s ladies’ night and the place gets packed. However, Friday and Saturday can be good, too. This is my favorite disco in Santiago.
- Dubai Club: Arguably the most popular disco in all of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dubai Club stays packed with the upper-class of the city. I dug the vibe of this place, but it can be hit or miss. Your best bet if buying a bottle and posting up here, especially on the weekends.
- 75 Grados: A tiny club, but always a good time – 75 Grados in Santiago can get wild. Plus, the blender drinks and chill bartenders ensure the vibe is always perfect. Coming here until 12:30 or so is a great idea (then head off to a club). The music is strictly reggaeton and dembow, which definitely encourages grinding.
Santiago de los Caballeros does have an international airport. If traveling within the country, I’d recommend taking Caribe Tours wherever you want to go. I’ve had great success with the company and never had an issue. The bus to Santo Domingo only takes three hours, and you can be at the beach in around an hour from the city.
Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic – Overall
Santiago, Dominican Republic isn’t for everyone. The city is much quieter than Santo Domingo, and the pace of life is slower. But the nightlife here is good, and there’s just enough tourism to get by. If you want to base up in a quiet city that has just enough going for it, then Santiago may be for you. I enjoyed my time there and plan to come back sometime.