A cable car takes visitors to the top of the enormous flat-topped Pico Isabel de Torres. On clear days there are spectacular views of the city and coastline – go early, before the mountain clouds up. The botanical gardens at the top are good for an hour’s stroll. You'll also find a large statue of Christ the Redeemer (similar to but smaller than its counterpart in Rio de Janeiro), an overpriced restaurant and aggressive knickknack sellers. Cable-car tickets are cash only.

Board the teleférico at its base at the southern end of Camino a los Domínguez, 800m uphill from Av José Ginebra (near the entrance to the campus for Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago, aka UTESA). A motoconcho (motorcycle taxi) here costs RD$75, a taxi RD$300. The ride is notorious for opening late or closing early. Officially licensed guides will no doubt try to coax any independent travelers to use their services, though they really aren’t necessary.

In theory, you can also walk up (or down) the mountain, paying only a one-way fare to return (the trail begins under the cable car). However, this can’t really be recommended, partly because it’s a strenuous two- to three-hour walk (about 7km) and certainly impossible to do without a guide (in part because of safety issues). On weekends, local guides (RD$1000) hang out in the ticket-office parking lot. Iguana Mama also offers this tour.