Explore the capital city of Higüey

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Spend a day roaming the city of Higüey, the capital of La Altagracia province and the gateway to Punta Cana. As you approach Higüey, you'll see more and more scooters and motorcycles weaving about, often with two or three people on them. You might even see a person on a scooter balancing huge sacks, propane tanks, scaffolding and just about every other item imaginable.

Higüey was founded in 1502 by conquistador Juan Ponce de León and is a major site all Dominicans visit at least once. The massive, imposing cathedral here is made entirely of poured concrete and is the nation's main pilgrimage centre.

Basílica Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia is a showcase of modern religious architecture. It's best known for its stunning altar and framed painting of the Holy Mother. Artwork by Spanish muralist José Vela Zanetti flanks either side of the altar and enormous arches grace the exterior.

The Basilica was inaugurated in 1971 and on January 21 each year, pilgrims flock here to pay homage to the Virgin of Altagracia - the patron saint of the Dominican Republic.

After you've seen the Basilica and the religious monuments nearby, stroll through the small streets of the town, exploring the local businesses. Stop in the supermarket Iberia to buy Santo Domingo, the best local coffee and stock up on Brugal, Bermudez or Barcelo rum (the three major local brands). There's a great variety of merchandise here available at affordable prices. Treat yourself to a Bon Ice Cream before you go - it has been the country's favourite brand for more than 40 years.