The Dominican Republic has become one of the hottest destinations for travelers this year, especially now that it is the summer season.
Drinks by the pool, toes in the sand, and not a worry in the world at one of the country’s many luxe, beachside all-inclusive resorts; that’s what travelers strive for when booking a trip to this immaculate Caribbean country.
While roughly 80 percent of American travelers make their way to the trendy beach town of Punta Cana, another city is ready to make a name for itself.
Punta Cana will always be the golden child of the Dominican, but the cultural city of Santiago is well worth a trip for a variety of reasons.
Here are 7 reasons why Santiago is surging in popularity:
Santiago de Los Caballeros, more commonly known as Santiago, is an inland city away from the famous beaches.
Travelers won’t find any upscale all-inclusive resorts in the city, but that doesn’t mean there are not worthy places to stay.
The city is full of top-notch accommodations near the city’s buzzing downtown district. Guests will find themselves enjoying the amenities even though it’s not all-inclusive.
High-end hotels, such as the Hodelpa Gran Almirante Hotel & Casino, will rock your socks off, while others have been booking cozy rental homes to immerse themselves like a local.
Tasty Dominican Cuisine
Santiago is a busy city with its residents constantly on the move. From street vendors to wild taxi drivers with a lead foot, the city can become chaotic.
One of the best parts of traveling is getting a taste of their culture. Literally. What better way to experience food passed down for generations that may not be commonly available in your hometown?
Santiago is no different. One way to escape the chaos is to find one of its many Mom and Pop style restaurants and indulge yourself in tasty Dominican cuisine.
The Perfect Day Trip Destination
Many travelers book an all-inclusive resort with the intention of being glued to their beach chair. Others like to get out and explore a bit.
Santiago is suited for everyone and close enough to be worthy of a day trip from multiple Dominican resorts.
Located approximately an hour south of the beautiful beach town of Puerto Plata and a 4-hour road trip from Punta Cana, beaches can easily be reached.
The city is fun to explore because you never know what hidden treasures you will come across. One attraction that can’t be ignored is the towering behemoth known as the Monumento de los Héroes de la Restauración.
Reaching heights of approximately 230 feet, it truly cannot be missed. Others, such as Duarte Park, are a must-see.
This park is home to colonial-style historic buildings nestled within an urban space featuring beautiful gardens in the heart of the city.
With the recent announcement of millions of dollars being invested to attract more tourists, there are surely even more amazing sites on the way.
Many Western tourists fly directly into Punta Cana, but there are many major airports within the country. Santiago holds one of them.
Cibao International Airport (STI) offers multiple flights directly from the mainland USA. Whether you are looking to make Santiago your main destination or a gateway to the beach, travelers can easily fly here.
An hour away, Puerto Plata is also home to an international airport. According to STI’s official website, 5 major U.S. airlines fly here:
Avoiding The Tourist Crowd
Since the majority of Dominican Republic tourists are there for a dreamy beach vacation, it can become packed like sardines at many of the resort areas.
Coming to Santiago, whether for a day trip, weekend getaway or as a main destination for an off-the-beaten-path cultural experience, is a great strategy to avoid the packed beach crowds.
When travelers book a beach vacation, they often think of relaxation. When tourists are blocking your beach view or blaring music nearby, those dreamy beach vibes can disappear real quick.
A trip to the city can be just what the doctor ordered.
An Emerging Eco-Tourism Hub
Santiago is a scenic city surrounded by lush greenery. Even at first glance, it can easily be seen why it is emerging as an eco-tourism destination.
Those with a high sense of adventure come to take on the Pico Diego de Ocampo peak, rising over 4000 feet in a gorge mountain range.
With peaceful botanical gardens and plenty of mountain trails to hike, outdoor enthusiasts love what they find here in and around Santiago.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com