Puerto Plata’s historic center (Centro Historico) is the heart of the city, where visitors will find the richest Victorian style architecture, gingerbread homes and vibrant echoes of this city’s past. It all starts at the Parque Independencia, a central park surrounded by the most interesting buildings, and home to the Cathedral of San Felipe.
Puerto Plata’s Historic Center Main Attractions
Besides the Cathedral and the central park, the area has a long list of landmark restaurants, buildings, institutions, stores, markets, and other places of importance to historians and tourism. Right across the park we find La Casita Azul Restaurant, a must visit for those who value fine cuisine. An important building at the right corner houses the Island Treasures gift shop, a perfect stop for local handcrafts and gifts.
La Casita Azul
On the left corner we find a series of historic buildings where Ice Cream Shop La Mariposa has been serving customers for more than 50 years. The building is 100% preserved and the cafe restaurant service is frequented by locals and foreigners, many from the Puerto Plata Cruise ship ports. On the left side of the Cathedral we find the historic building where the Puerto Plata Cultural House is located, a good stop for current art exhibits. Next to it there is an artisan market open several days a week.
Paseo de Doña Blanca
One Block away, between Calle Beller and Juan Bosch, we find the Paseo de Doña Blanca, a red-painted alley street dedicated to Mrs. Bianca Franceschini, a pioneer in the development of the early tourism industry in Puerto Plata at the end of the 18th century. Right next to it there is a cigar store and café, Pachuché.
El Patio de Frida
At the end of the “red street” we find El Patio de Frida, a Mexican restaurant honoring the famous painter Frida Kahlo. The food here is superb, and the decor is just as good – we highly recommend it.
Just around the South corner we find the Umbrella Street, a colorful promenade where we visit gift shops, bars and restaurants, including El Rincon Del Café #2, the top place to taste and buy wide varieties of organic Dominican coffee.
Umbrella Street has a Café Restaurant we just love: Vitts. It is the top bar in this promenade, with a lovely patio surrounded by lush green plants and a large bar with art deco style. Going around the Umbrella Street we find the Casa 40, a vibrant restaurant within an artist community housed in a historic Victorian house and great vibes.
Two Blocks away we move on to explore Kaffe, a classic international restaurant in a renovated historic home, fully staged as it was decades ago. The house has various areas, including a patio in the back with open air dining.
Right next door we find El Arepazo Venezolano, for those who know how good cachapas and arepas can be. Further on we moved to visit El Rincon del Cafe I, to buy our favorite Dominican coffee. Up ahead we make a stop in a restaurant we visit often, Skina. This is where we order special Dominican food dishes.
Right next door to Skina there is an alley lined up with drink and food options enough for every taste: Paso Melosa. This is a promenade alley where visitors find a wine bar, a pizza shop, gift shop, pastry shop, coffee shop, ice cream and much more.
Two blocks away in Calle 13 de Julio visitors will find the Gregorio Luperon Museum, honoring the most important figure of the North Dominican Republic, and a national hero. The exhibits are worth a visit, providing a complete insight into life and society during his lifetime.
The Fort San Felipe
One of the top ten tours in Puerto Plata is located in La Puntilla, the very end of the Malecon boulevard of Puerto Plata. The Fort San Felipe is a timeless sentinel, still guarding the city’s port entrance. Its construction was commissioned by King Phillip II of Spain in 1564, and completed in 1577.
The fort is the only remnant of the 16th century left standing, due to the destruction of most of the old city during the restoration wars. Inside, the exhibit displays antique Taino Pottery pieces, and weapons from the colonial era. Dominican Forefather Juan Pablo Duarte was imprisoned here on August 27th, 1844 – same year the DR gained its independence.
Puerto Plata Fire Department
A still active relic in the city, the historic Puerto Plata Fire Department is still in one piece after its creation in 1830, by then DR president Gregorio Luperon. The building is still intact, kept as a museum for posterity. It is located right on the ocean drive boulevard, the Malecon.
The Amber Museum
The Dominican Amber Museum in Puerto Plata is the most important of its kind, with several show rooms displaying important pieces across the exhibits that explain the creation, mining, and characteristics of amber. Fossilized insects can be found among the pieces, and all amber color varieties. Visitors can also purchase jewelry, rum, Larimar and La Aurora cigars.
The historic center lights up during Christmas season, decorated with Xmas motifs and offering live shows and special events for families. If you travel to Puerto Plata in December you can enjoy the beautiful atmosphere and visually pleasing, photo op set up in the park and surroundings.
Photo Gallery: Puerto Plata Christmas
There is more to see in the historic center, this article will be regularly updated to reflect the full options available in the best area of Puerto Plata. Book a group guided tour of the historic center with the Puerto Plata Concierge.