The ultimate Dominican Republic itinerary for road trips – 1 week, 10 days, 2 weeks and more

When you are traveling to the Dominican Republic, there is much more to explore than just beaches and all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana. If you want to explore the authentic regions of the country, a Dominican Republic itinerary for 1 week, 10 days, 2 weeks or any other duration of your holiday will be the perfect option. As I have already planned hundreds of itineraries for road trips in the Dominican Republic, I am happy to share with you some of the best recommendations, experiences and insider tips. And if you are not sure if a Dominican Republic trip outside of the omnipresent resorts is the right thing for you, this article about the best Dominican Republic itineraries will also help you with further information.

For a shorter road-trip starting from/to Punta Cana, you can check out this 7-day Punta Cana itinerary.
If you are particularly interested in the area around Las Terrenas and Las Galeras, you can have a look at this 3-day Samaná itinerary.

For further super helpful information about exploring the country with a rental car, you can also read our general road-trip guide for the Dominican Republic.
Questing about your Punta Cana car rental – continue reading here!

Important information about Dominican Republic itineraries

 Usually, the first question I receive when talking about traveling for one week in the Dominican Republic with a rental car (or any other duration) is if it is safe to do so in the country. The clear answer to this is yes! There are particular things you have to take care of, but most of the security recommendations apply to all Latin American countries. Don’t flash any jewelry, avoid visiting obscure places in cities at night, be careful when approached by strangers and – particularly important when traveling the Dominican Republic with a rental car – don’t leave any valuables in the car, particularly not visible from outside.

One issue might be driving in the Dominican Republic, which is particularly crazy sometimes, especially in the city. If you have never rented a vehicle abroad, you might be better off with a private driver, but otherwise, you shall be fine. Just remind yourself to drive defensively and always watch what’s happening around you, so that you are not going to overlook any motorcycles, dogs or villagers which always might pop up to the left, right or in front of your car.

If you’d like some further information about how it is to drive in the Dominican Republic, you can check out the article about renting a car in Punta Cana. Most of the advice and tips mentioned in this article are also valid for the entire Dominican Republic.

For your Dominican Republic vacation

Travel resources

Punta Cana Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
Santo Domingo Airport Transfers: Info | Book It*
All-Inclusive Resorts: Info | Book It*
Guesthouses & AirBnBs: Info | Book It*
Excursions: Info | Book It*
Rental Car: Info | Book It*
Road-Trips & Self-Drive Tours: Info | Plan It
Travel Insurance (incl. covid-19 coverage): Book it*

Talking about renting a car it is important to rent your car with a trustworthy company to avoid any surprises when taking over the vehicle. Particularly important is to book the rental car in the Dominican Republic with all insurances included, as otherwise, the rental car companies are trying to sell you a lot of additional policies.

Therefore, my recommendation is to use price comparison websites such as Discover Cars* or Sunny Cars*, which are mainly listing reputable international providers. When using the filter options provided, you can search for rental cars in the Dominican Republic where all insurances (liability insurance, third-party insurance, passenger insurance, CDW with 0 USD deductible, etc.) are included.

 While Discover Cars* features amazing prices, Sunny Cars* is kind of a premium rental car broker, that only offers the best rental car companies with full insurance included.

 In case you’d like to pick my brain for the Dominican Republic itinerary according to your preferences – it doesn’t matter if you travel for 1 week, 10 days, 2 weeks or more – you can also use my travel coaching services. The best is always to start with a phone call so that we can see if it makes more sense that I create a hand-crafted travel itinerary for your Dominican Republic holiday or if I connect you with a local tour operator with a long track record of road trips and tailor-made vacations in the Dominican Republic.

If this Dominican Republic itinerary doesn’t fit your needs, you can also check out the following trip planning proposals:

Categories for accommodation recommendations

As I have traveled the entire country, I am also happy to include specific accommodation recommendations for this Dominican Republic travel itinerary. I have stayed or visited most of these places, hence I know what I am recommending.

I have divided the recommendations into five different categories so that you can find the best option according to your budget and preferences. You can check out the entire list of recommendations in a certain accommodation category by clicking on the button below.

Category Description Accommodation List
Backpacker ($) Cheapest accommodation, usually below 30 USD per night per private room or less than 20 USD per bed in a dorm Check resort prices at Punta Cana Travel Blog
Value ($$) Hidden gems, cute guesthouses and rare finds for budget travelers – clean, recommendable and great price-value ratio, usually between 35 and 70 USD per night per room Check resort prices at Punta Cana Travel Blog
Mid-range ($$$) Hotels with decent comfort, a wide array of services and/or a prime location. Perfect for the seasoned traveler who is looking for outstanding accommodation without breaking the bank; price level usually between 75 USD and 150 USD per night per room (might vary depending on the season) Check resort prices at Punta Cana Travel Blog
Splurge ($$$$) If you are looking for the little extra with one-of-a-kind accommodation, this category is yours. Amazing eco-lodges, stunning beachfront hotels and unique experiences are what you can expect. Price level might vary widely, but expect to pay between 150 USD and 300 USD per night per room. Check resort prices at Punta Cana Travel Blog
Luxury ($$$$$) The best of the best in the Dominican Republic. This kind of hotels are not available in every region but if you stay here, it will for sure be the best place to stay around. Check resort prices at Punta Cana Travel Blog

Dominican Republic 2-week itinerary

 Let’s start straight with the Dominican Republic 2-week itinerary. Note that 2 weeks aren’t a fixed duration. Throughout this road-trip itinerary, you will find plenty of options mentioned to shorten or extend this trip to the Dominican Republic, hence you can use this as a draft as well for your vacation lasting 10 days, 3 weeks or even if you just have 1 week in the Dominican Republic. If the following suggestion doesn’t suit you, you can also have a look at this 1-week itinerary from/to Punta Cana.

Day 1: Arrival in the Dominican Republic

 This day marks the start of your Dominican Republic vacation. Especially when you are not interested in the plenty of all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana, you can fly straight into Santo Domingo as this is the best starting point to explore the Dominican Republic on your own. There are plenty of direct flights from the United States (including New York, Miami, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Washington and Newark) and other countries, such as Canada, Colombia, Spain, France, Mexico and Panama.

 Once you have arrived in Santo Domingo, it is a quick 30-minutes ride to the center – check out the recommended Santo Domingo Airport Transfers here.

 Alternatively, if you have already booked your flight to Punta Cana or if flight connections from your departure airport are significantly better to Punta Cana, this is also not a problem, as Punta Cana is only 2.5 hours away from Punta Cana. If you arrive there, just take a shuttle to Santo Domingo, either from your hotel or directly from Punta Cana International Airport.

 It doesn’t matter if you arrive at Punta Cana Airport or Santo Domingo Las Américas International Airport, I would not recommend picking up your rental car right after your flight. First of all, you might be overwhelmed arriving in a new country and driving your own car immediately, and second, you absolutely won’t need a rental car in Santo Domingo, hence it is better to pick it up when you leave the city.

 In case you have already spent a few days before in Punta Cana, you can check out the Punta Cana itinerary here for further ideas. There is also a post about the best day trips in Punta Cana and the most exciting things to do in Punta Cana.

 When booking your hotel in Santo Domingo, I’d highly recommend a hotel in the Colonial Zone* as this is where most of the things are happening in the city. You will spend at least 90% of your time in the Zona Colonial, hence with booking accommodation right in this area, you save yourself a lot of time and money by avoiding taxis, Ubers and the notorious traffic jams of the city. Check my Santo Domingo accommodation recommendations for every budget below.

Total distance: 17 miles / 30 kilometers (add 100 miles / 165 kilometers if arriving in Punta Cana)
Driving time: approx. 30 minutes (add 2 hours if arriving in Punta Cana)
Accommodation Recommendations:
BACKPACKER ($) – Island Life Backpackers*
VALUE ($$) – Casa Naemie*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Hotel Villa Colonial*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Billini Hotel*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – Casas de XVI*
Not the right accommodation among those proposals? Check out the 27 best Airbnbs in Santo Domingo for other unique places to stay.
Further information on Punta Cana Travel Blog:
10 reasons why you should visit the Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo
23 exciting things-to-do in Santo Domingo (and 5 NOT to do)

One of the beautiful courtyards in the Colonial Zone, here the restaurant Falafel

Day 2) Exploring Santo Domingo

 This day in this ultimate Dominican Republic itinerary is completely reserved for Santo Domingo, the bustling and multi-cultural capital of the Dominican Republic.

After breakfast in your hotel or one of the multi-faceted coffee shops in the Colonial Zone, you can explore the unique history and colonial vibe of the area. The Zona Colonial or simply “La Zona”, as Dominicans are calling them, can be explored entirely by foot, as its size is less than a square mile.

 If you’d like to know more about the history, you can also explore the area with a guide. They are usually available on spot in the pedestrian zone El Conde, even though if you are looking for a guide with proper English, it might be recommendable to book a tour respectively a guide in advance.

 In the afternoon, you can continue exploring the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo at your own pace. Visit the most famous attractions such as Alcázar de Colón, Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, Calle Las Damas, Fortaleza Ozama or Plaza de España, and soak in the vibe of the Caribbean’s most important historic center. You can find more information on why you definitely should spend an entire day of your Dominican Republic trip in Santo Domingo here.

 Alternatively, if you’d like to venture out and explore some other attractions in other parts of the city, check out the most amazing things to do in Santo Domingo.

 In the evening, make sure to explore the plenty of restaurants and vibrant nightlife. You can either chill at one of the bars with a local drink and watch the Dominicans enjoying their life or dance the night away at one of the several local dance bars. As long as you don’t get too drunk, nightlife in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is absolutely safe.

Accommodation Recommendations:
BACKPACKER ($) – Island Life Backpackers*
VALUE ($$) – Casa Naemie*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Hotel Villa Colonial*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Billini Hotel*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – Casas de XVI*
Not the right accommodation among those proposals? Check out the 27 best Airbnbs in Santo Domingo for other unique places to stay.
Further information on Punta Cana Travel Blog:
10 reasons why you should visit the Zona Colonial of Santo Domingo
23 exciting things-to-do in Santo Domingo (and 5 NOT to do)

Day 3) Start your Dominican Republic road trip

Today we are getting serious about your Dominican Republic itinerary for the next 2 weeks. Pick up your rental car according to your booking. It is highly recommendable to book your car with a pick-up in the city center of Santo Domingo*. Like this, you only have a 10- to 20-minute Uber ride from the Colonial Zone and prevent backtracking to the airport.

 Once leaving the city you head towards the Cordillera Central, the central mountain range of the Dominican Republic. Peaks here reach up to 10000 feet, which results in a majestic natural backdrop and amazing sceneries.

 You have the choice between Constanza and Jarabacoa, which are the main towns in this area. While Jarabacoa is famous for its outdoor activities, such as rafting, paragliding or ATV adventures, Constanza is the highest city in the Dominican Republic and features a mild climate, much fresher than the tropical heat at the Dominican Republics’ beaches and coastal towns.

 In case you decide on the Dominican Republic 10-day itinerary, you can pass the Cordillera Central and head straight to Punta Rucia (as described on day 5). From Santo Domingo to Punta Rucia it is a 4.5-hour drive, covering a distance of 160 miles.

 On the way to Jarabacoa or Constanza (and also on the way to Punta Rucia), you can make a stop at Saltos de la Jima, one of the many waterfalls in the Dominican Republic. It is located pretty close to the highway (the Autopista Duarte), hence it marks a good stop on your way north.

Total distance: 90 miles / 145 kilometers (both destinations, Jarabacoa and Constanza)
Driving time: approx. 3 hours in total
Accommodation Recommendations for Constanza:
BACKPACKER ($) – Hostal La Fuente*
VALUE ($$) – Rancho Constanza*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Hotel Alto Cerro*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Nubes de Chulavista*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – n/a

Accommodation Recommendations for Jarabacoa:
BACKPACKER ($) – Blue Lady Rooms*
VALUE ($$) – Mi Hogar Jarabacoa*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Hotel Gran Jimenoa*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Japanese Villa*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – n/a

Optional: Southwest of the Dominican Republic

Instead of heading straight north, you can also start your Dominican Republic itinerary with a road trip to the Southwest. This area is one of the most undeveloped areas in the country and therefore has its particular charme, especially as it features many top natural attractions of the Dominican Republic, such as Bahía de las Águilas, Laguna Oviedo, Bahoruco Cloud Forest, Los Patos, Arroyo Salado, Trudillé and Cabo Rojo.

If you are a nature lover, you definitely won’t regret traveling to the Southwest of the Dominican Republic, but it is only recommendable if you can add at least 4 extra days to your itinerary from Santo Domingo. I might publish a separate itinerary for the Southwest in the future. Until then, you can check out the following recommendation options in this region. For this area, it is sufficient if you base yourself in 1 or 2 spots and explore all the things to do from there.

Accommodation Recommendations for the Southwest of the Dominican Republic:
Best Barahona budget hotel (VALUE – $$)Loro Tuerto*
Best hotel location to explore the entire Southwest (MID-RANGE – $$$)Ecolodge Vistamar*
Beautiful glamping at the beach (MID-RANGE – $$$) Cueva de las Aguilas*
Best hotel in Pedernales (MID-RANGE – $$$) Vista de Aguilas*
Best adventure hotel (SPLURGE – $$$$) Platon Ecolodge*

Day 4) Exploring the Cordillera Central

Today you have the full selection of different activities in the Cordillera Central. If you decide for Constanza I’d recommend the following things to see, of which most are easily reachable with your rental car:
– statue Diviño Niño right next to Constanza with a spectacular view of the city’
– Cascada Aguas Blancas, an impressive waterfall in the Cordillera Central (the road is pretty bad, an SUV is recommendable)
– several fruit and vegetable plantations – make sure to try the Caribbean strawberries (you even can pick strawberries on your own at the Ranchito Fresas Ariyama)
– the bar and restaurant “La Esquina” with its mountain chalet vibe

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The author Chris in the Dominican Republic

In case you prefer Jarabacoa, you can particularly splurge on adventure excursions, such as paragliding, river rafting, mountain biking or ATV tours.

 For further information about both places, you can check out the 1-week Punta Cana itinerary, as they are included in this Dominican Republic trip suggestion as well.

Accommodation Recommendations for Constanza:
BACKPACKER ($) – Hostal La Fuente*
VALUE ($$) –
Rancho Constanza*
MID-RANGE ($$$) –
Hotel Alto Cerro*
SPLURGE ($$$$) –
Nubes de Chulavista*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – n/a

Accommodation Recommendations for Jarabacoa:
BACKPACKER ($) – Blue Lady Rooms*
VALUE ($$) – Mi Hogar Jarabacoa*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Hotel Gran Jimenoa*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Japanese Villa*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – n/a

Day 5) Cordillera Central – Punta Rucia

Until now this Dominican Republic itinerary had a lack of beaches, but this will change today (and for the upcoming days as well) as you will approach the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. Actually, Punta Rucia is one of my favorite beach towns in the entire Dominican Republic, particularly if you are looking for peace, relaxation and a Caribbean vibe like 20 years ago. There are no big hotels in Punta Rucia, just a lot of guesthouses and a premium resort with around a dozen rooms*.

On the way to Punta Rucia, you can either stop at the 27 Charcos of Damajagua, a pretty cool family activity consisting of hiking, canyoning and water sliding down a canyon, or you head to San José de las Matas, a region completely off-the-beaten-path and usually only known to local tourists. When visiting this area, you can stop at the thermal springs of Aguas Calientes Parque de Agua, the waterfall Salto de Anacaona and the famous D’Leonora Empanadas, a food stall with local delicacies made out of yucca.

Total distance: 95 miles / 155 kilometers (from Jarabacoa); 135 miles / 215 kilometers (from Constanza)
Driving time: approx. 3-4 hours in total
Accommodation Recommendations for Punta Rucia:
BACKPACKER ($) – n/a*
VALUE ($$) – Corales Guesthouse*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Paradise Island Beach Resort*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Punta Rucia Lodge*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – n/a

Day 6) The best snorkeling in the Dominican Republic

 Your 2-week itinerary for the Dominican Republic not only includes Punta Rucia because it is a nice beach town, but it is also particularly worth visiting because it features the best snorkeling in the Dominican Republic, called Cayo Arena.

 To reach Cayo Arena, you simply take a boat from Punta Rucia to this beautiful sandbar. It not only has a fantastic reef, but it also offers amazing views especially when going there very early in the morning. The boat can be organized by your accommodation in Punta Rucia. Alternatively, you can head to the harbor and just negotiate with a fisherman to bring you there. The whole excursion, including snorkeling time and visiting the mangroves on the way back, usually takes around 2-3 hours.

In the afternoon, you can either relax at the beach or visit the Parque Natural Santuario de Mamíferos Marinos de Estero Hondo, a sanctuary for huge sea mammals, which you can observe there with a bit of luck. It is super close to Punta Rucia, with your rental car you are there in less than 10 minutes.

Accommodation Recommendations for Punta Rucia:
BACKPACKER ($) – n/a*
VALUE ($$) – Corales Guesthouse*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Paradise Island Beach Resort*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Punta Rucia Lodge*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – n/a

Day 7) Puerto Plata & the North Coast

Today you are going to leave Punta Rucia, your next stop on the Dominican Republic travel itinerary is Puerto Plata. The 6th biggest city in the Dominican Republic (or the 3rd biggest city if you count Santo Domingo as one city) features a couple of activities that should be on your list of the things to do in the Dominican Republic.

First of all, you should visit the Montaña Isabel de Torres, the most prominent mountain of Puerto Plata. You can drive up there with your car rental, but it is even more beautiful if you take the cable car up there. Views during the ride and from the peak are amazing and with a fee of just 10 USD, it fits nearly every travel budget.

Second, you should visit the historic old town of Puerto Plata, which is the second most beautiful after the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo. Check out the historic streets with their colorful buildings, incl. the market area and the Parque Central.

 For a nice stroll and a beer with an ocean view, I’d recommend the Malecón of Puerto Plata, the oceanfront promenade.

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 For the upcoming nights, you can either stay in Cabarete or Puerto Plata. For most individual travelers, Cabarete is more recommendable, as it offers more restaurants, bars and other infrastructure for tourists. It has a pretty cool surfer vibe, but you will also enjoy the town if you are not surfing. Together with Las Terrenas and Punta Rucia, Cabarete is my favorite beach town in the Dominican Republic. Particularly the strip of restaurants and bars with its lounge vibe right at the beach is one of the coolest areas in the entire country. Puerto Plata is the better option if you are looking for an all-inclusive resort for a couple of days (check here the difference between Punta Canas’ and Puerto Platas’ resorts) or for one of the few luxury hotels along the north coast.

Total distance: 75 miles / 120 kilometers (to Cabarete)
Driving time: approx. 3 hours in total (45 minutes less to Puerto Plata)
Accommodation Recommendations for Cabarete and Puerto Plata:
BACKPACKER ($) – Laguna Park Hostel*
VALUE ($$) – Surfbreak Cabarete*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Velero Beach Resort*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Ultraviolet Residences*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – Casa Colonial* (in Puerto Plata)
ALL-INCLUSIVEIberostar Costa Dorada* (in Puerto Plata)

Day 8 and 9) Explore the ocean and the spectacular North Coast mountain range

 In terms of activities, it hardly is important if you decide to base yourself in Cabarete or Puerto Plata. You can reach all of the following things to do from either place. This area is particularly worth visiting and spending a couple of days at due to its vast array of outdoor activities – unparalleled in the Dominican Republic. Some of these activities include:

  • take windsurfing, kitesurfing or (wave) surfing lessons in Cabarete (check here for a beginner offer*)
  • have a walk at the miles-long beaches between Puerto Plata and Cabarete
  • take part in the most exciting Canyoning Tour in the entire Caribbean (check here for details*)
  • rappel down a spectacular and otherwise inaccessible waterfall in the Cordillera Ceptentrional (check here for details*)
  • visit Puerto Plata, the rum distillery, the old town and the cable car (in case you haven’t had time the day before) (check here for details*)
  • book a mountainbike tour in Cabarete
  • go hiking in the Cordillera Septentrional
  • rent an SUP and paddle the ocean (check here for details*)
  • explore the turquoise rivers and cascades in the mountains, for example, Rio Soñador
  • visit a coffee plantation and the Ambar mines
  • go ziplining in Puerto Plata (check here for details*)
  • cruise with a catamaran along the north shores and enjoy snorkeling (check here for details*)

 As you can see, there are tons of options in this area and you can fill a full week with this Cabarete and Puerto Plata itinerary. Therefore, if you have more time, feel free to book additional nights than the 3 proposed in this Dominican Republic itinerary for 2 weeks.

Accommodation Recommendations for Cabarete and Puerto Plata:
BACKPACKER ($) – Laguna Park Hostel*
VALUE ($$) – Surfbreak Cabarete*
MID-RANGE ($$$) – Velero Beach Resort*
SPLURGE ($$$$) – Ultraviolet Residences*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – Casa Colonial* (in Puerto Plata)
ALL-INCLUSIVEIberostar Costa Dorada* (in Puerto Plata)

Day 10) Road-trip along the North Coast of the Dominican Republic

Today you can continue your journey through the Dominican Republic and explore the fascinating north coast of the country. The road is one of the best ways to enjoy a road trip in the Dominican Republic, as scenery changes between the ocean on the one side and mountains on the other side. Furthermore, plenty of options to stop along the way are giving you the perfect road-trip feeling. Some of the highlights and things to do on the road from Cabarete to Samaná, your next destination in this 2-week Dominican Republic travel itinerary, are (sorted from west to east):

  • Playa Magante and Playa Rogelio, a local’s favorite among the beaches in the Dominican Republic with plenty of local bars and food stalls
  • Rio San Juan with its iconic Laguna Gri-Gri (which can be explored by boat)
  • Playa Caleton, another locals favorite
  • Playa Grande, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic
  • Playa Preciosa, the lesser-known neighbor of Playa Grande (reachable walking from the same parking lot)
  • Cabo Francés Viejo, a natural monument with short walking trails and stunning views of the coastline
  • El Saltadero, a waterfall easily reachable close to Cabrera
  • Playa Diamante, a secluded bay with a shipwreck in the water
  • Laguna Dudu, a unique lagoon where you can jump from a zipline into the water
  • Playa Arroyo Salado, perfect to end this amazing day full of activities and adventures

 Your destination for the day is the Samaná peninsula, one of the most beautiful regions in the Dominican Republic, very popular among individual travelers in the Dominican Republic. You can chosse between three different villages respectively mini cities: Las Terrenas, Las Galeras and El Valle.

Total distance: 95 miles / 155 kilometers (to Las Terrenas)
Driving time: approx. 3 hours in total (to Las Terrenas, add an hour for Las Galeras and El Valle, add 45 minutes if coming from Puerto Plata)
Accommodation Recommendations for Las Terrenas:
BACKPACKER ($) –
Dan & Manty’s Guesthouse*
VALUE ($$) –
Beach Hotel Casa Nina*
MID-RANGE ($$$) –
Hotel Playa Colibri*
SPLURGE ($$$$) –
Samán Boutique-Hotel*
LUXURY ($$$$$) –
Sublime Samaná*

Accommodation Recommendations for Las Galeras:
BACKPACKER ($) Hostel La Ballena Backpacker*
VALUE ($$) 21 Palms*
MID-RANGE ($$$) Chalet Tropical*

Accommodation Recommendations for El Valle:
SPLURGE ($$$$) El Valle Lodge*
SPLURGE/ADVENTURE ($$$$) Dominican Tree House*

Further information on Punta Cana Travel Blog:
Best beaches on the Samaná peninsula
Waterfall Salto El Limón
Los Haitises National Park
Whalewatching in the Dominican Republic

Insider tip: Beach huts at Playa Rogelio

 Sometimes it is difficult to find remote and romantic beach huts in the Dominican Republic to stay a couple of nights, as beaches are either fully developed or absolutely pristine. On the way from Cabarete to Las Terrenas, you can find one of these rare opportunities without spending a fortune at Playa Magante / Playa Rogelio. Check out these rustic but beautiful beach bungalows here* and consider adding an extra night into your Dominican Republic trip.

Day 11-13) Explore the Samaná peninsula

You have reached the last amazing destination of your vacation in the Dominican Republic: Samaná.

You have the choice between staying in Las Terrenas, Las Galeras or El Valle.

Las Terrenas is the main tourist place in Samaná, but it is by far not as touristic as Punta Cana. It offers the perfect mix between touristic infrastructure (beach bars, restaurants, accommodation, etc.), beautiful beaches and authentic local experiences.

Las Galeras is quieter than Las Terrenas and therefore is perfectly recommendable if you prefer peace and relaxation. Las Terrenas and Las Galeras likewise are the perfect getaway to explore the marvelous beaches of the Samaná peninsula.

 El Valle is the adventure destination on the Samaná peninsula. It just features a few eco-lodges, some at the beach, some in the jungle, including the famous Dominican Tree House Village*. El Valle is a perfect getaway for 1 or 2 nights, but for a longer stay, it lacks local options regarding bars, restaurants or shopping opportunities.

 All three destinations are perfect to explore the several attractions of the Samaná peninsula, such as Los Haitises National Park (by boat), whale watching excursions, the several pristine beaches of Samaná and Salto El Limón, one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Dominican Republic.

Accommodation Recommendations for Las Terrenas:
BACKPACKER ($) –
Dan & Manty’s Guesthouse*
VALUE ($$) –
Beach Hotel Casa Nina*
MID-RANGE ($$$) –
Hotel Playa Colibri*
SPLURGE ($$$$) –
Samán Boutique-Hotel*
LUXURY ($$$$$) –
Sublime Samaná*

Accommodation Recommendations for Las Galeras:
BACKPACKER ($) Hostel La Ballena Backpacker*
VALUE ($$) 21 Palms*
MID-RANGE ($$$) Chalet Tropical*

Accommodation Recommendations for El Valle:
SPLURGE ($$$$) El Valle Lodge*
SPLURGE/ADVENTURE ($$$$)Dominican Tree House*

Further information on Punta Cana Travel Blog:
Best beaches on the Samaná peninsula
Waterfall Salto El Limón
Los Haitises National Park
Whalewatching in the Dominican Republic

Day 14) Head back to the airport area

This day of your Dominican Republic itinerary is kind of optional as it depends on when your flight is leaving. If your flight departs in the morning or until noon from Santo Domingos Las Américas International Airport (2-3 hours away from Samaná) or if you are flying back home from Punta Cana International Airport (a 4 to 5-hour drive from Samaná), you might want to head to the airport area already today, so that you can return your car without any pressure. Especially flights to the United States sometimes leave pretty early, hence staying the night close to the airport might not be the worst idea. On the other hand, if your flight departs late enough, you can easily extend your stay in Samaná by one night.

On the way from Samaná to Santo Domingo, you have a few more options of stopping along the road. Especially Salto Socoa marks a nice road-trip stopover, as it is a beautiful waterfall with swimming opportunities just 10 minutes away from the highway.

 Once arriving in the airport area, you don’t necessarily need to stay right at the airport, even though this is an option if you have a very early morning flight. Alternatively, you can stay in Boca Chica or Juan Dolio, which are the beach towns closest to Santo Domingo. Boca Chica is closest to Las Américas International Airport with a great lagoon to swim and to SUP, Juan Dolio has a wider beach and is better if you are looking for a quieter experience.

Total distance: 85 miles / 140 kilometers (to Santo Domingo Airport)
Driving time: approx. 2 hours in total (from Las Terrenas, add an hour if coming from Las Galeras and El Valle, add two hours if going to Punta Cana Airport)
Accommodation Recommendations for Santo Domingo Airport:
BACKPACKER ($) – n/a
VALUE ($$) –
Batey Hotel Boutique*
MID-RANGE ($$$) –
Hampton by Hilton Inn Santo Domingo* (at Santo Domingo Airport)
SPLURGE ($$$$) –
Casa Hemingway*
LUXURY ($$$$$) – n/a
*

Day 15) Fly back home

 Today marks the end of your road trip through the Dominican Republic. You can return your rental car at the airport and check in for your flight.

 Of course, this Dominican Republic 2-week itinerary is just a proposal with lots of ideas on where to stay and with things to do. If you need any further help customizing this itinerary, contact me through my travel coaching program and I am super happy to help. You can also check out all accommodations recommendations from this itinerary sorted by travel budget here.

Dominican Republic 10-day itinerary

 If you don’t have time for a full 2-week holiday in the Dominican Republic, you can also shorten this travel program into a Dominican Republic 10-day itinerary.  This is easier as it sounds, as the 2-week travel itinerary described above presents some options to cut the one or other day.

 First, you can leave out the Cordillera Central (Constanza or Jarabacoa) on days 3 or 4. Even though the central mountain area of the Dominican Republic is gorgeous, it is the less spectacular option of all the places involved in the Dominican Republic trip plan presented above – at least according to my opinion. Of course, if you are a mountain buff and don’t want to snorkel, you can alternatively leave out Punta Rucia.

 Assuming you decide for skipping the Cordillera Central, which saves you two days, you can head straight from Santo Domingo to Punta Rucia. The stop proposed on the road – Salto de la Jima on day 3 – would still be possible. Also, the area around San José de las Matas is along the same way, even though it will be a bit tough time-wise, considering that you just pick up your car rental in the morning in Santo Domingo.

 A further reduction of 2 days to get a 10-day itinerary for the Dominican Republic can be achieved by reducing the time you stay in Cabarete and Samaná by one night. Even though this option would mean a pretty short stay in both places, it is still possible. Alternatively, if you don’t want to be that rushed, you can also skip the 2 nights in Punta Rucia and therefore have the number of nights left as initially proposed (3 nights Cabarete and 4 nights Samaná).

7-day itinerary for the Dominican Republic

 If even this 10-day Dominican Republic itinerary is too long for you and you only have 1 week in the Dominican Republic, you can further shorten this travel plan to still experience the country super authentically.

However, in this case, I would recommend skipping the days 4 to 9 completely.

 If you are only planning for a 7-day itinerary in the Dominican Republic, you would take over your rental car as described on day 3, but then head straight to the north coast. My special recommendation would be to stay the night at Playa Magante, a local’s beach with romantic and rustic beach huts right at the ocean*.

 Day 4 in a Dominican Republic travel itinerary for 1 week would be the same as Day 10 in a 2-week road-trip itinerary. Day 5 to 7 would also be the same as days 11 to 13 in the longer travel itinerary above.

 If you indeed only have 7 days available, you would need to head back to the airport area in the afternoon of day 6 or the morning of day 7, depending on when your flight is starting. If you have 1 week in the Dominican Republic, you can enjoy the full amount of time in Samaná and head back to the Santo Domingo area as described in the 2-week itinerary.

 With these changes, you can still experience some of the most amazing things to do in the Dominican Republic within your 7-day itinerary.

Plan a trip to the Dominican Republic professionally?

 I understand that planning a road trip to the Dominican Republic can be overwhelming, even though the travel itineraries presented in his article and my other Dominican Republic itineraries – the Punta Cana 1-week itinerary and the Samaná 3-day itinerary – already give you a lot of help planning your holiday in the Caribbean.

 I have also published a general Dominican Republic road-trip overview, where you can find even more additional information about planning your trip to the Dominican Republic.

 However, if you still need professional help to avoid any of those travel hiccups which can happen everywhere, no worries.

 Just check my travel coaching offers (usually a 30-minutes call is enough to get you started) so that we can talk about all your doubts and questions you might have. Depending on what you need and how you’d like to plan your Dominican Republic travel itinerary, I can even put you in contact with a local tour operator, who is operating self-drive tours in the country for many years, has an excellent track record and offers 24/7 personalized service via WhatsApp and phone, especially during your trip. Depending on your itinerary, I can even negotiate a small discount for you with this tour operator.

 However, the main object of this extensive itinerary for a Dominican Republic holiday is that you can plan your vacation on your own. To start with this right now, you can book your rental car here and continue with the accommodation options.

 As a special bonus, I have put together all the recommendations from this itinerary in one link, so you can book the whole trip right away. Just use the links below to connect to the accommodation options suitable for your budget.

How do you like this travel itinerary for your Dominican Republic vacation? Could you imagine yourself doing such a tour?

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The face behind Punta Cana Travel Blog: Chris

CHRIS

Author, Travel Coach & Punta Cana based digital nomad

Hey, I am Chris, a born and raised German, travel-addictive and Caribbean Soul. Since 2011 I have been living in the Caribbean, among them 5 years in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana is my home-base here in the country and I’d love to tell you more about how to experience Punta Cana off-the-beaten-track and give you all the advice you want to know for your vacation in Punta Cana.

2 thoughts on “The ultimate Dominican Republic itinerary for road trips – 1 week, 10 days, 2 weeks and more”

  1. How much approximatey does the boat cost from Punta Rucia to Cayo Arena? The cheapest version arranged by the hotel or by the local fisherman, no tours!?

    1. Hi Barbara,
      usually, if you catch a boat from Punta Rucia to Cayo Arena with the local fishermen it shall cost around 3000 to 4000 Dominican Pesos.
      However, I can imagine that they charge a bit more now due to enormous increase in fuel prices.
      Cheers from Punta Cana
      Chris

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