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Puerto Plata

Squeezed between a towering mountain and the ocean is this working port town, the oldest city on the north coast and possibly the prettiest in the country. Wander the Malecón or the downtown streets surrounding the Parque Central and you'll see that significant revitalization efforts, meant to impress an influx of Carnival cruise ship passengers, have replaced what was until recently a palpable feeling of neglect. Intermingled with run-of-the-mill shops are the once-opulent, often technicolor homes built by wealthy German tobacco merchants in the 1870s. Several restaurants are worth a visit, as are a few interesting museums, and one wonderful bed and breakfast. The cable car ride to the nearby bluff, if not clouded over, offers panoramic views.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Puerto Plata.