Santo Domingo is not your typical Caribbean escape. The Dominican Republic's capital city has its fair share of beaches and sunshine, but also a metropolitan spirit that emanates from its nightclubs, shops, restaurants and museums. Old-world landmarks share streets with modern businesses, and you're rarely out of earshot of 'merengue' – a genre of Latin music that was born on the island.
The heart of Santo Domingo lies in the Zona Colonial, the city's historic district and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Streets here are lined with cobblestones, colourful buildings and some of the city's oldest monuments. The Catedral Primada de America, which dates back to 1514, features a mashup of Gothic, Romanesque and baroque architecture as well as a vaulted ceiling and 14 interior chapels. Nearby, you'll find the Alcázar de Colón – a viceregal palace and former home of Christopher Columbus's son, Diego, that's now a museum housing medieval and Renaissance art.
The energy of Santo Domingo comes to a head in Malecón, a waterfront promenade lined with flashy casino hotels, restaurants and nightclubs. The evening entertainment here is considered some of the best in the Caribbean. Come to witness one of the many festivals that pass by throughout the year or listen to merengue, bachata and salsa music after dark.