If getting to know the history and culture of the Dominican Republic during your vacation is one of your goals, you will surely like to visit La Vega province , considered the richest city in the country, and where you can be part of all the fun activities and exciting it offers.
Why visit the La Vega province in the Dominican Republic?
La Vega is located in the north-central part of the Caribbean country and also has a highly developed economy, in terms of the production of coffee, cocoa, Caribbean-flavored alcoholic beverages, and various textile products.
This city, whose capital is the same name, was founded by Christopher Columbus in 1494. In fact, it is one of the first cities established on the then-known “Hispaniola island”. At the beginning, this destination played a much more important role, since it was the center of gold production in the country.
In this way, it began to be known as a city of great value, retaining this title until now in the Dominican Republic. It should be noted that La Vega was initially a primitive village, and it was not until 1560, when, after an earthquake, it moved to the upper valley of the Camú River, just 7 kilometers away.
As we can see, it is a place full of history . In fact, it is possible to visit the ruins of La Vega Vieja! On the other hand, La Vega was not only a great producer of gold, but also became a fertile area for the cultivation of sugar cane.
Its name comes from the valley that surrounds it, and it is, thanks to its economic development, that a stone church of great value was soon built. It is said that this church was where Fray Pedro de Córdova gave his first speeches in favor of the rights of the Indians.
In 1562, a strong earthquake devastated the city and only a few ruins remained, such as those of the Monastery of San Francisco, where Fray Bartolomé de las Casas gave his first mass. A year later it was rebuilt on the banks of the Camú River.
It is important to note that La Vega is world famous for its carnival: La Vega Carnival, the most popular and exciting in the Dominican Republic. If you are in the country during the celebrations, you will have the opportunity to be part of it, and enjoy all the color and enthusiasm of the Dominicans.
What is the best season to visit this province?
La Vega offers travelers the opportunity to enjoy a warm Caribbean climate throughout the year, even the sun makes an appearance during the winter months.
But it’s worth noting that the island is busiest from December to April, and the rainy season arrives in June. With that in mind, the best time to visit the Dominican Republic is in the months of April to May, when the weather is pleasant and there is little influx of tourists.
Top 7: What are the best things to do in La Vega?
Now yes, it is time to know the best things to do in La Vega, as well as some places that you will surely like to visit during a day trip or a getaway with friends, or with family. Let’s see!
- Go hiking in Valle de La Vega
One of the first things to do in La Vega, especially if you like outdoor activities, is hiking in Valle de La Vega. As we have mentioned, the city is located next to a valley full of greenery, and roads where you can walk freely, if you are looking to enjoy a beautiful landscape or a picnic.
It should be noted that the interior zone of the Caribbean country has the best places to walk, especially in the Valle de la Vega. In this region you can make all kinds of excursions for all kinds of people or with greater or lesser difficulty.
So, you can explore the valley on foot, horseback riding or by bicycle. And it is that throughout the journey you will also enjoy impressive views. Undoubtedly, fun and adventure are the order of the day.
In addition, you can opt for one of the most popular excursions among tourists. One of the most demanded is the excursion that goes up to the Duarte peak, considered the highest in the Caribbean, and La Pelona mountain. This route lasts between 2 to 5 days. Depending on the route you choose, the duration time will be different.
However, no matter what level of difficulty you decide to take, all 3 routes follow the famous Yaque del Norte river trail. During the tour, you will pass through many tropical forests, natural ponds with crystal clear waters, and you will cross musical streams.
Each of the routes shows different natural settings, so if you don’t want to miss anything, it is best to opt for the longest one. However, the shortest will show you the most majestic and unmissable of the entire route.
In fact, some of the routes are much shorter, lasting from half to a full day. But don’t worry, the guides make sure that you see the most beautiful natural settings, such as El Mogote.
In addition, there are the routes to La Jagua and Los Tablones (from four to seven hours long) and are highly recommended, although it is advisable to hire a local guide, since the signage is not very clear.
- Discover and explore the Ruins of La Vega Vieja
In addition to the rich historical area that Santo Domingo offers us, the history of the Dominican Republic is also distributed in other equally valuable places, such as the Ruins of La Vega Vieja.
La Vega was founded just two years after the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island, making it a very old city. It should be noted that the Ruins were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it is not only a tourist place, but also a protected area that you can visit if you want to know La Vega from its foundations.
Shortly after its foundation between the 15th and 16th centuries, the town of La Vega built the Fort of La Concepción, which was in charge of establishing a space to defend the place from land attacks.
In addition, among the ruins are other historical places, such as the first diocese of America. Being of great military importance, the colonizers built the first settlements to consolidate the Spanish presence on the island.
But the site did not become more important until the discovery of gold, deposits near the green river. Furthermore, the valley abounded in wood of excellent quality, and many young Indians, who served as labor. It is important to note that at that time it was the home of the Tainos.
Thus, on September 2, 1562, the earthquake occurred that ended up almost completely devastating the city, for which, later, the Spanish decided to build another town where the city of La Vega is currently located. Only 7 kilometers from the ruins.
It should be noted that one of the few structures that remained standing was a part of the fortress. In fact, it is one of the ruins that can best be appreciated during the tour. Of the enormous Cathedral, only a column and part of the foundation remained.
As a curious fact, the colonizers used a large part of the bricks from the old Cathedral and the Fort to build the first buildings and complexes of the new city of La Vega. By the end of the 16th century, old La Vega did not house a single resident, so it was completely depopulated.
Just like an architectural relic that today tourists can visit to delve into an important part of the history of the Dominican Republic and that you cannot miss!
- Do not miss the city of eternal spring: Jarabacoa
There is no doubt that the main tourist places in the Dominican Republic tend to be places with a large influx of tourists. But since this country has everything for everyone, you may want to take a break and get away from the city for a bit to a quieter place.
Jarabacoa is one of the preferred destinations for the most experienced travelers to enjoy some peace and relaxation in the best climate on the island. Well yes, Jarabacoa offers a space that is not only really beautiful, but also a pleasant and cool climate after several days on the beach, sun and sand.
Although the city center has a lot to offer, Jarabacoa is simply a unique place that is worth including in your tour, especially for its great gastronomic variety and natural settings full of pine trees and tropical vegetation. In addition, here you can do numerous activities perfect for the whole family.
From horseback riding, paragliding, rafting, mountain biking, rappelling, golf and much more. Another outstanding activity that we cannot fail to mention is that excursions to Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the Caribbean with 3,087 meters high, depart from Jarabacoa.
It is a wonderful and unforgettable experience! So do not hesitate to sign up for this adventure.
- Get closer to the Salto de Jimenoa
Another thing to do in La Vega that we recommend you write down in your travel plan is to visit the famous Salto de Jimenoa. It is a waterfall with a height of 40 meters. Only the route that takes us to the waterfall offers amazing views and also invites us to cross a series of suspension bridges over the Jimenoa River.
As we can see, it is a very relaxing place where you can breathe fresh air while appreciating its beautiful views of the natural setting. In fact, you will be able to access a viewpoint that points to the municipality of Jarabacoa. In the midst of a natural environment full of tropical flora, you simply cannot help but connect with nature.
Do not miss this magnificent experience!
- Visit the magnificent Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Like many churches in the world, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is a religious meeting place, but also a place that brings together an architectural style of great artistic and cultural value inside and on its façades.
It is located in the Central Plaza of the city, in front of the Central Park and near Plaza Jorge. In fact, you won’t have to search for too long, as the building stands out for its modern design and for being an imposing construction.
It was designed by the architect Pedro Mena Lajara and its construction began in 1977. The complex combines elements of both modern and Byzantine art. In addition, it has triple arches on its doors and representations of the clouds of heaven on its ceiling.
One of the most striking elements is located behind the altar. It is a representation of the stars with lights. His style symbolizes Christian spirituality. In fact, these symbolic elements are found throughout the complex.
We have a good example in its gray walls, which represent the human limits to receive the light of God. Likewise, the 12 towers symbolize the 12 apostles and the twelve gates of the Heavenly Jerusalem. One difference with respect to other churches is that, instead of contemplating a Christ on the Cross, we can see a Risen Christ.
As we can see, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is one of the main sanctuaries in the Dominican Republic and one of the largest cathedrals, since it has a capacity for a thousand people. Since its construction it has been an important religious destination for national and international devotees.
- Get to know the Valle Nuevo Scientific Reserve
We also recommend visiting the Valle Nuevo Scientific Reserve, which offers one of the most popular camps in the country. It is especially suitable, if what you are looking for is a quiet place without the comforts that the modern city offers us. Here, you can fully enjoy nature, and without complications.
In addition, you will love discovering the pyramids that mark the location of the center of the island. In fact, the island is divided into four equal parts, so the pyramid marks the exact center.
As we can see, all the things to do in La Vega, this is one of the most popular to get into the heart of nature, and disconnect from the stress of everyday life and the high influx of tourists.
- Take a dip in La Confluencia
La Vega also contains one of the most incredible natural spas on the island: La Confluencia. Its name is due to the meeting between the Jimenoa and Yaque del Norte rivers. This natural pool is visited by both national and international tourists.
In addition, during the journey to get to the spa, you will enjoy a route full of many flowers and lush vegetation. Upon arrival, La Confluencia will seduce you with its crystalline waters to take a dip.
You can also go horseback riding or enjoy the surroundings immersed in the sounds of the surrounding nature. Finally, do not forget to have a picnic to have a perfect day. Just don’t forget the snacks!
La Vega is home to many places full of the most vibrant tropical charm. It is simply a province that has something to offer for all types of travelers. We recommend that you not leave it without trying the peasant Moor, one of the most delicious traditional dishes in the region. No matter which restaurant you choose, quality and good taste are guaranteed.