Santo Domingo is known to have the most vibrant, diverse, and consistent nightlife scene in the Dominican Republic. Ask locals and they’ll quickly agree. Here is where you’ll find the widest range of entertainment after dusk, from outdoor merengue concerts to lounges and car washes that double as clubs and sidewalk bars. Whether you're looking for upscale or casual fun, you’ll find it in Santo Domingo.
There are three main hubs for nightlife in Santo Domingo. Ciudad Colonial (which means "Colonial City" in English), is ideal for bar hopping and live music. Around Piantini and Ensanche Naco, you'll find a mix of lively bars and nightclubs. Head to the Malecón boulevard for seaside recreational parks and hotels offering additional entertainment.
Keep in mind that you’re in a major city in the Caribbean. If you want to paint the town red, be sure to dress nicely—casually chic, at the very least. Public transportation is sparse and unsafe after dark, but ride-hailing services like Uber and Cabify are a click away and function very well at all hours around the city. Be as cautious as you would be anywhere else in the world when it comes to partying late at night: Avoid walking solo or on isolated streets and always mind your liquor.
Below are recommendations for places that offer the best of Santo Domingo’s nightlife.
In the Colonial City, you’ll find bars clustered on Calle Hostos, starting with Onno’s, a popular chain in the DR for strong cocktails and chart-topping tunes. At the end of the street are a handful of small local bars facing the dramatic ruins of the San Francisco Monastery, blasting merengue or bachata music.
Facing Plaza de España, taverns from the Spanish colonial days have been converted into rows of upscale bars offering tapas, cocktails, and fine dining. For late-night drinks, head to La Espiral 313 or Caciba Bar on Calle Mercedes, where you’ll find a variety of music, including electronic and rock.
Adjacent to Plaza de España, you'll find Quintana Bar, a bar and lounge housed in a former colonial building. Millennials flock here for stiff drinks, cheap beer, and plenty of dancing. Over on Calle Isabel La Católica are a handful of sidewalk bars for those who want to chat over drinks. Navarricos offers one-dollar tapas and affordable wine by the glass.
The Malecón and downtown Santo Domingo boast their own share of upscale bars. The JW Marriott’s Vertygo 101 is worth a stop to stand on its glass-floor terrace, 101-feet high in the air. Nearby, La Posta Bar fills up after-work hours as professionals mingle over drinks and bites. You’ll find additional options on Avenida Tiradentes, another hub of post-work bars with partially open-air seating.
Nightclubs are ubiquitous in Santo Domingo, with many taking the form of lounges. In the Colonial City, your best bet is Parada 77. Downtown, on Avenida Tiradentes, Miami Hot runs late into the morning hours with a DJ spinning the latest merengue, reggaeton, salsa, and international hits. Zambra, in the Piantini district, is another popular pick among young professionals.
Live music is easy to find any day of the week in the capital, and is an essential part of Santo Domingo’s culture.
For live merengue and bachata, head to Jet Set Club on a Monday night. The venue is known for its weekly concerts featuring Dominican artists, and tickets are usually no more than 1,320 Dominican pesos ($25). Hard Rock Live is another excellent venue for concerts, with two stories and an upscale ambiance.
The Ballet Folklórico gives free performances at Plaza de España in the Colonial City on Saturdays. This folkloric dance group performs a colorful two-hour, historical rendition of the DR’s cultural dances, ending with merengue. On Sundays, catch a free live performance with Grupo Bonyé at the San Francisco Monastery Ruins. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., hundreds of locals from around the city come here to dance salsa, son cubano, and merengue. Crowds often continue to Parada 77 for indoor dancing.
Other live music venues are tucked inside restaurants. In the Colonial City, Jalao offers live Dominican music performances nearly every day of the week, as well as occasional dance lessons. A few steps away, Buche Perico often hosts live jazz acts on its outdoor, covered terrace at night. You’ll also find performances all around the city’s brand hotels and casinos, or in the parks where musicians often roam and play for tips.
Events and Festivals
Carnival season kicks off in the Dominican Republic the first Sunday in February and lasts through the first weekend of March. It’s the most festive time to be in the city, with parades taking place on the Malecón and in Santo Domingo Este. The largest carnival parade is in March; it is one of the most spectacular events in the capital, featuring carnival groups from the country’s 31 provinces.
Independence Day, February 27, also brings plenty of free outdoor concerts, as well as an impressive two-hour military parade on the Malecón—complete with helicopters and end-of-day fireworks.
The most popular ticketed event in the city draws thousands of people to Santo Domingo’s Olympic Stadium every year: Festival Presidente. A celebration of Latin music, this festival offers three nights of concerts featuring top Dominican and international artists from around Latin America and the U.S. Past line-ups have included Prince Royce, Daddy Yankee, and Bruno Mars.
Tips for Going Out in Santo Domingo
- Nightclubs tend to stay open longer on weekends, closing between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Concerts often end around 2 a.m. at private venues, as do bars around the city. The more local the establishment and location, the longer the place stays open. In recent years, noise ordinances have been enforced more strictly, and outdoor bars cannot blast music into the streets past midnight.
- The majority of bars and lounges don’t charge a cover. Concerts and events have fees, but these will vary according to the venue and artist.
- Tipping in the DR is the norm, so do tip your bartender or server as you would anywhere else in the world.
- You’re free to walk outside with your cup of rum, as open container laws are nonexistent in the DR. Be aware that this means everyone else can too, so be wary of your surroundings late at night.
- Santo Domingo’s metro shuts down at midnight, but it’s safer to use a ride-hailing service to get to and from your nightly activities. Uber and Cabidy have operated in Santo Domingo for several years and are safe; use the same precautions you would at home when using such services. Local taxis are also available. Do not hail one from the street or enter a random taxi; instead, call the central cab company Apolo Taxi.