Santa Marta, Colombia

Discover the best of Santa Marta: beaches, ecotourism, volunteering, pet-friendly options and more. Plan your memorable trip today!

Published 2023-01-03 10:08:33

A city in the Caribbean that captivates with its magic

Santa Marta, Colombia, also known as the Pearl of the Americas and one of the oldest cities in the country, is characterized by its stunning beaches, the diversity of its natural parks and the warmth of its people. It also boasts the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, home to the highest coastal mountain in the world.

Santa Marta is the capital of the Department of Magdalena and is becoming more and more of a unique and natural destination, thanks to the country's tourism boom. Founded in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas, Santa Marta is a city that opens its doors to anyone looking for something different, surrounded by what makes Colombia the best: nature.

Near this coastal city there are many places to suit the different types of traveler. For example, Minca, a town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, with incredible waterfalls and rivers, where you can find the best coffee in the region; or Palomino, the ideal place for those who want to learn to surf and get away from it all. There are also important natural parks, such as the Tayrona National Park or the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, home to the mythical Ciudad Perdida (Lost City).

Explore the charming city of Santa Marta and don't miss the opportunity to visit the historic center and the bay, enjoying an unforgettable sunset while discovering its streets full of history and color.

At night, Santa Marta transforms into a place full of life and energy, with a vibrant nightlife that will allow you to enjoy the rumba like never before. Don't wait any longer to discover all that Santa Marta has to offer!

Location of Santa Marta: The oldest city in Colombia

Santa Marta is a beautiful city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. It is located in the department of Magdalena, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada. This privileged location offers a breathtaking landscape with a unique combination of mountains, jungle and paradise beaches.

Santa Marta is also known for its rich history and culture, reflected in its Historic Center and popular festivals. This strategic location also makes it an ideal destination for those looking to combine adventure, nature and culture.

How to get to Santa Marta?

If you are coming from abroad or from the interior of the country, you will have to take a flight from Bogota or Medellin, the cities where you will find direct flights of approximately 1 hour and a half to Santa Marta.

Once you arrive at Simón Bolívar International Airport, you can get to the city center by various means of transportation, either by taxi, private transportation or public transportation. This trip takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

You can also get to Santa Marta by land with private transportation or by bus, and the time it takes to get there depends on the city you are in. By land, the city is connected with other important capitals of the Caribbean, such as Riohacha (Department of Guajira), Barranquilla (Department of Atlántico) and Cartagena (Department of Bolivar), you can get from these cities through the Troncal del Caribe.

Santa Marta is connected to the Troncal del Magdalena and several inland cities, including Bogotá. All transport options can be found at the Santa Marta Transportation Terminal.

What to do in Santa Marta, Colombia?

  1. Take a selfie on the most Instagrammable mural in Santa Marta

  2. Relax on one of the area's beaches

  3. Visit the historic center of the city with a Free Walking Tour

  4. Taste Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta coffee at Vívolo Café

  5. Take a local street food tour

  6. Explore the Tayrona Natural Park 

  7. Take a trip to Minca Natural

  8. Relax while tubing down the Palomino River

  9. Visit the mythical Ciudad Perdida 

  10. Explore the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta

You might also be interested in Top things to do in Santa Marta Colombia: More than 30 tips!

A mixture of cultures, flavors and history: The gastronomy of Santa Marta

Due to the arrival of ships from different European and African regions in the port of Santa Marta, the city was immersed in a combination of indigenous flavors, mainly with African influences, brought by the slaves to this area of the Caribbean.

Did you know that sofrito began to be used in food thanks to the introduction of African cuisine in the Colombian Caribbean? In Santa Marta we have a rich gastronomy, these are the main dishes you can try when you visit this city:

  1. Arepa de huevo

  2. Cayeye, a typical dish made of green bananas

  3. Rice with coconut

  4. Fish ‘sancocho’ (typical regional broth)

  5. Shrimp ceviche

We also invite you to try the juices made from the natural tropical fruits of the region: lulo, corozo, passion fruit, mango biche, sapote, guanabana, among others. And at night, try the street food and eat like a Samario on the Santa Marta Street Food Tour.

What tourist attractions are there in Santa Marta?

  1. Tairona Gold Museum: This museum has a large collection of gold and pottery. You will learn a lot about the history of the region.

  2. Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino: This historic place was the home of the liberator Simón Bolívar during the last days of his life. Today it is a museum that honors his legacy and offers an insight into the history of Colombia and other countries in Latin America.

  3. Cathedral Basilica of Santa Marta: This church is one of the oldest in Latin America built in the 18th century. Its location in the historic center of the city makes it ideal for combining with a stroll around the city.

  4. Visit the Aquarium and Sea Museum: This is the ideal place to learn about the marine fauna of the area. You can take a tour of its aquariums and learn about the different species found in the region.

  5. Ciudad Perdida (Lost City): This is a guided hike of several days (you can choose 4, 5 or 6 days) that will take you through the jungle to the Ciudad Perdida, an ancient city built by the Taironas.

Tips Visiters: for your trip to Santa Marta

Hey Visiters! We know that it is important to consider other aspects when planning your trip to Santa Marta, so we share with you these 3 tips or recommendations to make your experience in Santa Marta unforgettable:

  1. Plan your trip well in advance: Research the different options for transport, accommodation, tours and activities that Santa Marta has to offer. This will allow you to optimize your time and budget.

  2. Protect yourself from the sun: Santa Marta is a tropical city and the sun can be very strong. Don't forget to bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes. Also pack comfortable and cool clothing.

  3. Get to know the local culture: Santa Marta is a city rich in history and culture. Take advantage of your trip to learn more about the customs and traditions of the Caribbean and respect local rules and traditions.

In Santa Marta, you will find:

  • Stunning beaches: The coast of Santa Marta has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Colombian Caribbean, such as Playa Blanca, Taganga and Bahía Concha. These beaches offer crystal clear waters, white sands and a wide range of water sports and ecological activities.

    Cabo San Juan del Guía, Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
  • Unique gastronomy: The food in Santa Marta is a unique blend of indigenous, Spanish and African influences. You can try dishes such as cazuela de mariscos, rice with coconut, shrimp ceviche and the famous fish sancocho.

    Cazuela de mariscos, tajadas y pescado frito, comida típica de la región de Santa Marta, Colombia
  • History and culture: In the city of Santa Marta you can visit historical sites such as the Tairona Gold Museum, which showcases the region's rich pre-Columbian culture, or the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino.

    Quinta de San Pedro, Alejandrino: Mausoleo en Santa Marta, Colombia
  • Vibrant nightlife: Santa Marta offers a wide variety of bars, discos and restaurants to enjoy the city's nightlife. From live music to dance shows, there is something for everyone.

  • A city that welcomes you with open arms: Santa Marta is an ideal place to visit with friends, family or even if you are just traveling, you will always find the best options to spend the best days of rest and adventure in the city.

  • Trips to the surrounding area: The city is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes and picturesque villages. You can make an excursion to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and stop in the town of Minca, famous for its high quality coffee and its biodiversity of birds, waterfalls and freshwater springs.

  • Participate in community projects: Santa Marta is a place where you can get involved in community projects and work hand in hand with the local communities. There are several non-profit organizations working on educational, environmental and community development projects, and they are looking for volunteers willing to work with them. It is a unique opportunity to learn more about the culture and traditions of the region while contributing to community development.

    • Pet friendly beaches: Santa Marta has several beaches that allow pets, such as Taganga Beach, El Rodadero Beach or even in Santa Marta Bay you will find a dog park. You can enjoy a day of sun and beach with your best furry friend.

    Remember that Visit Santa Marta is waiting for you with open arms at Casa Marina. If you want us to help you customize your trip and live an adventure in Santa Marta, contact us for more information through [email protected].

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