15 Things to do in Santa Marta, Colombia

Santa Marta

Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a resort city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast near the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is the most important seaport in Colombia. Also this city is always attracting tourists because it combines all the most beautiful features. Both the mountains and the sea are close by, and the city’s infrastructure is perfectly developed, although for a relaxing vacation Santa Marta in Colombia is also ideal.

Historical background

The city was founded back in 1525 by Spanish conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas. It is believed that Santa Marta is one of the first cities created by the Spaniards in Colombia. It is worth noting that the Spaniards chose the perfect place for it.

Santa Marta, Colombia

What to see?

Just look at the photos of Santa Marta in Colombia, and you realize that in this city you can walk a lot and a long time, admiring its beauty:

  1. The city itself. Very colorful streets, through which it is pleasant to wander both alone and in company. The center of the city, of course, is full of stores, malls and restaurants.
  2. Beaches. Since Santa Marta is a city by the sea, it is definitely worth visiting its coast. There are many beaches here, and many hotels have their own. The most popular among tourists are Plaice Grande and Plaice Crystal. Both of these beaches are located in the area of El Rodarero.
  3. Taganga fishing village. It is best known for its wonderful restaurants, which attract not only tourists but also locals. Here you can taste delicious local food at good prices.
  4. Underwater beauty. Fans of outdoor activities Santa Marta will delight you with wonderful places for diving. You can look at the wreck El Barco Hundido, admire underwater caves and huge coral gardens, and enjoy the diversity of marine life – morays, lobsters, barracudas can be seen literally from a hand’s distance.
  5. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park is also, undoubtedly, a must-see part of the trip. The park is very large, colorful and light. It has many hiking trails that you can wander for days enjoying the beauty of the pristine nature.
  6. Lost City. The hiking trail from the national park takes you to Ciudad Perdida. It is an Indian settlement that was discovered back in the early twentieth century and is still undergoing archaeological excavations.

Santa Marta Hotels

Santa Marta, like any resort city, has many different hotels, hostels, and apartments. This list is just a few of them that are definitely worth checking out:

Santa Marta Restaurants

The city’s best dining establishments are represented in this list:

  • Restaurante Bar Burukuka – Colombian, Latin American cuisine, affordable prices;
  • Soul Food – Latin American and Caribbean cuisine;
  • Ouzo Restaurante – Mediterranean cuisine, wine bar;
  • Restaurante Lamart – Caribbean, Latin American, Colombian food;
  • Lulo – affordable prices, local flavor;
  • Donde Chucho – Caribbean, Latin American, and Colombian cuisine, an inexpensive place.
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When is the best time to go?

Santa Marta is an amazing city in which any time of year is a good season. The only thing, however, is that each season has its own specifics, which you should take into account when going on a trip:

  1. November through February is the windy season in Santa Marta. Temperatures hardly drop, but you should keep in mind that the winds here are strong, though pleasant. But for example, the best time to go diving is from December until April.
  2. The spring in Santa Marta is dry, but it does not affect tourists, because the hotels are always provided with water.
  3. The autumn is the rainy season. As is always the case in these climate zones, the rains are short but heavy. The streets are not adapted to such amounts of water, the gutters can’t cope, so after the rain the streets are flooded. For locals this has long ceased to be a problem, but tourists can be unpleasantly surprised.
  4. Summer is a good time to visit Santa Marta, but keep in mind that the city is very hot, and the beaches can easily get burnt. Be sure to use sunscreen.

How to get there?

Santa Marta is easy to find on a map of Colombia, and just as easy to get to it. Direct flights from Russia may be a problem, so it is much easier to get there through Bogota, the capital of Colombia. From Bogota there are frequent flights to Santa Marta.

The best way to get from Santa Marta Airport to the city center is to take a cab, although there are also buses from the airport.

Santa Marta and Tayrona Park in Colombia

Hola amigos y amigas! This article is about a coastal town where tourists from all over the world flock every year. Santa Marta in Colombia is not just a seaport, it is also the starting point for you to explore the country.

White beaches, museums with antiquities, excursions and nature reserves within walking distance – all this you can easily see when you are in Santa Marta. But, let’s go over it all in order.

Tickets

Santa Marta is a pretty big city with international flights. So if you are planning to visit the sea and are thinking about which city is the best to fly to, Santa Marta will be one of the top choices.

Once you arrive, you will be enchanted by the local scenery, because the airport stands directly by the sea. And this view already sets you up for a vacation.

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Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Simon Bolivar Airport

From the airport you can get to the city center in 30 minutes by mini bus as pictured above or by cab.

The cost of the bus is about 50 rubles. Cheap and cordial, you’ll get to the center of Rodadero slower than by cab. Keep in mind that buses are always heavily packed, and you won’t feel comfortable with a suitcase. You have to pay the fare at the entrance to the driver.

Cab drivers immediately see tourists and charge 10 times more, so it all depends on your language skills. For local cab to the city will cost 200 rubles.

I wrote about how to learn Spanish in a short time here.

Of course it’s best to plan a trip to Colombia in advance. Since it is unlikely to be cheap. The average ticket from Moscow to Bogota costs 70,000 rubles round trip.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

But, what to say, when it comes to cheap tickets, you should keep an eye out for sales and discounts, which are also quite a lot. So you can save on flights and add a few days to your vacation on paradisiacal beaches.

Domestically, there are several companies flying from Bogota to Santa Marta, for example. The most common is the national airline Viva Colombia.

When you buy tickets from their official website, you buy the cheapest tickets possible.

A ticket from Bogotá to Santa Marta will cost about 35 USD. While Latam and Avianca sell tickets starting at 50 USD. The flight will be about 1.5 hours.

But I want to point out that Viva Colombia is a low-cost airline, which means that the ticket price doesn’t include luggage and you can only take your hand luggage with you.

Transportation

If you’re planning a trip around Colombia and don’t want to stop in just one city, it’s worth planning your itinerary carefully. So, being on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, you can not deny yourself anything and pass the main resort towns and not only.

Public transport runs from Santa Marta to Baranquilla (2 hours), and from there you can go to Cartagena (another 2 hours). You can also rent a car.

Colombia’s most famous cities are always connected. So you can easily plan your itinerary.

In general, Colombia has well-developed public transport. So if there is no air service, you can always take a bus.

The main thing – don’t buy the cheapest bus ticket, pay 300 rubles more and get a comfortable trip with comfortable seats, wi-fi, personal TV and clean toilets. Relevant, especially if the trip lasts 8 hours, right?

Yes, when traveling around the country, be prepared for a long commute.

Mountains, serpentine roads, altitude differences, changes in climate – this can make the trip much more difficult if you have mountain sickness. Prepare a first aid kit in advance or buy lollipops – also helps.

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In Santa Marta, it’s easiest to take a cab. The city is small, so the cost is not too high. But it’s easy to get lost in the buses.

Also in the city is especially relevant motorcycle cabs.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

The eternal discussion in the streets.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and you’re being honked at without stopping. It’s a way to find a passenger and earn a little money by giving him a ride home.

It was very annoying, because to walk down the street quietly is simply not possible. A lot of people do it that way. Although not to say that tourists use this transport. And I understand them.

Where to live

The choice of housing should be very responsibly. Do not just book the first hotel that comes along at a discount. The area where the hotel is located is more important than the hotel. Therefore, I pointed out the most touristy and safe places to stay.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

We lived in Taganga. As you can see, this area is kind of outside the city. But it is absolutely easy to get to the center of Santa Marta. Ten minutes by bus or cab and you’re there.

When I was choosing where to live, I looked at the attractions nearby. There are some beautiful beaches near the Taganga area – the best in the area, which influenced my choice of this place.

What to see

Since you’re in Santa Marta, you certainly want to visit the beach, see and enjoy the Caribbean Sea, and maybe explore the city a bit. You don’t need a lot of time to see the city. Two or three days is enough.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Santa Marta Waterfront

Colonial Center

The historic center has a colonial atmosphere and is where the museums and main attractions are concentrated. In the center there is also the pulse of the city with all the best bars and restaurants, especially Callejon de la Aduana and Calle de Cuartel where you can feel the buzz of life.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Gold Museum

The Museum of Gold, where various artifacts, jewelry, masks and everyday objects are collected, can also be of interest. Admission to the museum is free. The museum building itself is just as interesting as the exhibits.

The colonial style and wooden balconies and patios look very attractive. On a sweltering day, here you can hide from the heat and spend time with benefit.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Gold Museum from the inside

Finding a hostel in downtown Santa Marta is also not difficult. Prices start at 10 USD for the simplest accommodation. For 100 USD per night you can stay in the best hotel with all the facilities and the best service and elements of colonial architecture.

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Anyway, the center of the city and museums can be seen in a day or two, but a good beach nearby is a canopy of gold.

Santa Marta Cathedral

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

The Catedral de Santa Marta is impossible to miss. All tours include a visit to it.Inside the temple is the burial of the founder of the city – Rodrigo de Bastidas. Admission is free. At 7, 12, 18 you can get to the service.

San Pedro Alejandrino

San Pedro Alejandrino is the city’s largest park, where the house-museum where Simón Bolívar lived and died stands.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

The statue is made of Carrara marble.

The park closes fairly early at 4:30 p.m., so it is best to visit in the morning. The entrance fee for a foreign tourist is 7USD.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

The square with the flags of different countries

Beaches

In Santa Marta, the main beach El Rodadero is a gathering of vendors who are constantly offering to buy something. We spent a few days there, but that’s all we needed.

Rodadero

I liked Rodadero better in the evening at sunset, when you can see the street performers at night and find a cozy place for dinner. But for the beach, it’s better to look for more secluded spots.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Rodadero Beach

White Beach

Playa Blanca or white beach is near Taganga. 3 USD round trip and you will spend a whole day on a beautiful white beach where you will not be pestered by vendors. You can get to this beach only by boat, but it is worth it.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

White Beach

On the way tourists are offered to visit the aquarium. Here you can swim with dolphins or watch a show with fish. The cost will be 10 USD.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Show with dolphins

Those who want to get off at this stop, and those who stay in the boat will be taken to the white beach. Here you will have to pay for a tent, because natural shade is a problem here.

If you want to take an excursion, buy it in the evening. Prices get lower as you have to fill the buses and boats. Feel free to ask for a discount.

Tortuga

Playa Tortuga, which translates to turtle beach, is a lost place where tourists tend not to get to. This beach is very secluded because it is located outside the city. You can get here by cab for 3-5 USD.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Deserted beach Tortuga

A great place to relax just you and the locals, as this beach is private.

Parque Nacional Tairona

Parque nacional Tairona is a true gem of Colombia which many tourists from around the world want to visit. Typically, the journey to Parque nacional Tairona begins from Santa Marta, where you can purchase a tour or take a bus yourself and drive to the park entrance.

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Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

We traveled on our own, which allowed us to move around and see what was really interesting.

First of all, the cost of a ticket to the park for a foreigner is much higher than for locals.

Plus you have to buy mandatory insurance for each day. You also pay for lodging at the entrance. The cost per night varies depending on where you want to stay.

San Juan is the most touristy place, so the prices there are higher. All together it cost me about 250 USD for 2 nights and 3 days.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

San Juan is the most popular beach for vacationing

You can sleep in the park either in a hammock or in a tent. The cost is the same.

To get to the Caribbean Sea and the white sand of Tyrone Park, you have to walk a trail through the jungle.

The path will take about 3 hours of walking. If you do not want to travel this route on your own, you can rent a horse 15USD.

After about half of the route you will see the sea:

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

On the way to the first beach.

You will reach the beach of Arrecife, where it is forbidden to swim because of the dangerous current.

Then you will discover the small beach of la Piscina (translated as pool) with crystal clear blue water without waves. This is where some tourists stay overnight.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Here you can stop and swim and continue the route for about another 1.5 hours. After that you will find yourself at the magnificent beach of San Juan. Incredible nature, clean sea, huge rocks and local fauna will surprise you on the first day. Pelicans fly here, little crocodiles live and iguanas roam the beach.

Therefore, to enter the jungle on an unknown route is dangerous. The park is very large and it is easy to get lost.

Santa Marta and Tyrone Park in Colombia

Iguanas walk freely on the beach

It is worth noting that the food here is expensive. Therefore, many people take with them canned food, water, fruit. In a local restaurant, simple rice with vegetables costs 7 USD.

There is a medical aid station on the beach. Remember the insurance that you buy at the entrance? If something happens to you, you will definitely get help.

At night, park guards are vigilant about keeping order in the park.

It is forbidden to move on the boulders on the beach. Lovers of romance, who decided to seclude themselves on the beach, are also caught, fined and kicked out of the park.

Conclusion

Santa Marta is a beautiful resort town with a consistently hot climate. Think carefully about your itinerary, stock up on drinking water, and head out to meet the adventures!

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