Things to do
Where to Shop in Santo Domingo
Casa Alfarera in Santo Domingo
Photo: Angel Rosario
Discover the coolest independent shops and boutiques in Santo Domingo
As the biggest city in the Caribbean region, Santo Domingo is like no other. A complex mix of chaotic traffic, sundrenched streets lined with dazzling colonial-style houses, and upbeat rhythms of salsa music blasting from colmado corner shops all come together to create the irrepressible exuberance that is sure to capture your heart.
When you visit, you’ll want to carve out some time to explore some of the city’s best independent shops and boutiques and take a piece of Dominican craftsmanship home with you. From chic, one-of-a-kind handmade shoes to limited-edition ceramics and stoneware. Here are our favorite shopping destinations in Santo Domingo.
La Alpargatería, Santo Domingo
Photo: La alpargateria
1. La Alpargatería
At La Alpargatería, you'll find a wide variety of unique espadrille designs, each one made by hand on a 100% natural jute sole. From sandals and high platforms to closed leather shoes, there's something for every style and occasion.
But what really sets La Alpargatería apart is their commitment to personalized service. The store's friendly staff will make you feel right at home as you try on shoes and browse the collection. And if you can't find exactly what you're looking for, you can even request a custom design made just for you.
While you wait for your shoes to be completed, you can enjoy nearby cafes and restaurants or explore the city. Prices at La Alpargatería are reasonable, with options starting at $54.00 USD and up.
La Alpargatería has two locations in Santo Domingo - one in the Zona Colonial and the other in the trendy neighborhood of Ensanche Piantini. Both stores are open from 10 am to 6 pm.
Tienda Libélula Artesanal in Santo Domingo
Photo: Angel Rosario
2. Tienda Libélula Artesanal
If you're in Santo Domingo and looking for natural and eco-friendly body care products, you'll want to check out Libélula Artesanal. This little store is just a short drive from the colonial zone and offers a wide range of handmade products made with local raw materials. Their specialty is soap made from various natural oils, but they also have products for hair, nails, and beard care.
One of the coolest things about Libélula Artesanal is the story behind its founding. The shop is run by a hardworking mother and daughter duo who started it because they were frustrated by the lack of natural skin products available in the country. It's been over nine years since then, and during that time, they've done an excellent job of expanding their product range. Plus, they're environmentally conscious and encourage customers to ditch the packaging and bring their own reusable bags.
Libélula Artesanal is open Monday to Friday from 1.30 pm to 6.30 pm. You can find the shop at Plaza Paseo de la Churchill, on Avenue Winston Churchill. Prices start at 2.00 USD.
Jenny Polanco Boutique, Santo Domingo
Photo: Anton Lau
3. Jenny Polanco Boutique
Founded in 1979 by the renowned fashion designer of the same name, Jenny Polanco is a Dominican fashion brand that celebrates the craftsmanship and beauty of the Dominican Republic. The brand offers signature pieces of clothing, dresses, jewelry, handbags, and other accessories that capture the essence of the never-ending summer and adds a touch of Caribbean elegance and laidback luxury to your wardrobe.
Their handmade collections are inspired by old tales from Dominican folklore, showcasing the country's rich cultural heritage. The brand designs often incorporate traditional elements and themes, conveying a deep admiration for Dominican culture and a commitment to promoting local style.
You can find Jenny Polanco boutiques at several locations in Santo Domingo, including Calle Padre Billini 53, Callejón de los Curas in Zona Colonial, Av. John F. Kennedy 1 inside Agora Mall, and Calle Porfirio Herrera #17 in the Piantini area. The stores are open on weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm.
Gallery Bolos in Santo Domingo
Photo: Angel Rosario
4. Galería Bolós
More than just an art gallery, Galería Bolós is a cultural experience that showcases the beauty and diversity of Dominican and Haitian art. Housed in a colonial-style villa, this unique space combines contemporary art, handmade furniture, and artisanal gifts in a way that's both elegant and approachable.
Founder Manuel Bolós has traveled extensively through Haiti and the Dominican Republic, seeking out the best and most unique art pieces and materials that bridge the gap between these two nations. The gallery boasts a vast and varied collection of works, ranging from colorful Dominican carnival masks to raw and naive art pieces from legendary Haitian painters.
Once inside, you'll find yourself surrounded by a lush indoor garden, high ceilings, and an eclectic mix of decor that feels like a blend of the Caribbean and New York City's trendiest neighborhoods. Take a seat on one of the colorful wooden benches and lose yourself in the fascinating coffee table books that delve deeper into the island's art and culture.
Gallery Bolos opens from 10 am to 7 pm and is located at Calle Isabel La Católica 15. Just a stone's throw from Catedral Primada de América in the Colonial Zone.
Casa Alfarera, Santo Domingo
Photo: Angel Rosario
5. Casa Alfarera
Casa Alfarera, located in the historic Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo, is a workshop dedicated to the art of ceramics and stoneware. The workshop was founded in 2013 by Ysabela Molini, a skilled ceramist, and her team of experienced Dominican potters and artisans.
The raw materials for Casa Alfarera's pieces are foraged all over Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Between the prehistoric volcanic rocks, soft sandstones, and tall Mahogany trees, Molini and her team discovered the rich local clay they now use on the wheel to create their glorious collections.
The shop offers a wide range of suitcase-friendly products, including porcelain, stoneware, dinnerware, and decor, each exuding a tropical minimalistic vibe. The pieces are glazed in natural and warm earthy colors tones, ensuring that there's something to suit every taste and style. And if you happen to fall in love with one of their bigger pieces (such as a waist-high floor vase), they'll happily ship it to you anywhere in the world.
You can purchase these unique pieces starting at $10.00 USD. The workshop is conveniently located at Calle Mercedes 161 in the Zona Colonial and is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
Written by Angel Rosario.
Published March 2022.
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