Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a medium-sized city on the Eastern Caribbean Coast.

It is far from being our favorite city in Colombia because there is not much to do and there is not much interest in visiting the downtown area. On top of that, the beaches are not very pleasant and are crowded with street vendors and tourists.

But besides that, Santa Marta is the ideal place to organize different activities and excursions in the whole region. So there is a good chance that you will make a stop there for a few days.

To minimize the number of nights in Santa Marta, decide in advance which activities you want to participate in and everything should go well. 😉

In addition, maybe you are one of those travelers who could appreciate the luxurious hotels located on the beach of Rodadero and Bello Horizonte.

Why would you like to visit or pass by Santa Marta:

  • Exploring the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta and Tayrona 
  • Booking 5-day tour to the Ciudad Perdida
  • Birdwatching in the Cuchillo San Lorenzo 
  • Passing your Open Water Diver Certification
  • Because you’re coming from San Gil with the night bus
  • Chill in a Luxury Beach Resort Hotel
  • Organizing a trip to the desert of La Guajira


Articles about Santa Marta you must read before coming:


Would you like to use private transportation?


Wanna fly over?



Getting to Santa Marta?

We wrote an article about it: Best ways to travel to Santa Marta

From Cartagena to Santa Marta:


From Riohacha to Santa Marta:


From Tayrona to Santa Marta:

  • Wait for a bus on the side of the road | 1 h
  • Take a shuttle at the park entrance | 1 h


From Palomino to Santa Marta:

  • Wait for a bus on the side of the road | 2 h


From Medellin to Santa Marta:


From Bogota to Santa Marta:

  • Direct flights from the airport | Avianca, Viva Colombia & Latam | 1h30 | Book your flight now 
  • A few direct buses leave from the terminal Salitre. Schedule – double-check with the bus company | Copetran & Expreso Brasilia | 20 h


From Cali to Santa Marta:


From Pereira to Santa Marta:


From San Gil to Santa Marta:


S. Marta's airport?

Santa Marta’s airport is next to Rodadero.

  • 25 min by taxi.
  • 45 min by public transportation

S.Marta's bus terminal?

The Santa Marta bus terminal is located on the outskirts of the city.
It takes about 20min to reach the centre by taxi.

El Mercado Publico?

The “Mercado Publico” at the address “Calle 11 con Carrera 11” also acts as an “annex” terminal for certain destinations such as Palomino and Tayrona.
It takes about 5-10min by taxi to reach it from the “Parque De Los Novios”.

Table of Contents

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Where to stay in Santa Marta

The old center of Santa Marta is tiny and we don't recommend you to pick a hotel in Calle 11 and below. Most of the restaurants are located around Parque de Los Novios. Santa Marta can be quite dodgy at night. Use cabs at night if it's late and be aware of your surroundings. There are mosquitoes in Santa Marta. Take your repellent.

  • Masaya

    Hostel - $$


    Upscale hotels. Nice building. Vast and comfy bedrooms. Bar and two swimming pools. Many social events.
    Get the best price
  • Republica

    Hostel - $$$


    Large hostel with 2 lovely courtyards. Fantastic social area with a bar and swimming pool. Events.
    Get the best price
  • Casa Carolina

    Hotel Boutique - $$$

    Casa Carolina

    Fantastic hotel with excellent facilities (Pool & Jacuzzi). Comfortable rooms. Delicious food.
    Get the best price
  • Camali

    Hotel - $$


    A bit far from Parque de Los Novios but excellent value for money. Pool. Awesome owners.
    Get the best price
  • Casa Mia

    Hotel Boutique - $$$

    Casa Mia

    Small hotel with comfortable rooms. Excellent staff, always ready to help. Small pool.
    Get the best price
  • Don Pepe

    Luxury - $$$$

    Don Pepe

    Excellent facilities (Pool & jacuzzi) and beautiful rooms. Perfect service.
    Get the best price

Where to stay in Rodadero & Pozo Colorado

Rodadero is located 20 min away by taxi from the old center. It's like the Boca Grande of Cartagena. There are big buildings called hotel resorts and lots of restaurants. The beach is better than in Santa Marta but there are street sellers everywhere. If you're looking for something quieter and less touristy, I advise you to pick your hotel in Pozo Colorados.

  • Playa del ritmo

    Hostel - $$

    Playa del ritmo

    Lovely hostel with a private beach. Perfect for resting. Friendly staff and quiet location.
    Get the best price
  • Casa verano

    Upscale - $$$

    Casa verano

    Top-notch hotel with excellent services. Small and personalized. Delicious food. Pool. No kid.
    Get the best price

Things to do in Santa Marta

There is not much to do in Santa Marta. Some tourists decide to rent an apartment in Rodadero and enjoy the crowded beach below their balcony. Other travelers use it as a base to explore the surroundings mentioned below.

  • Cristal & Cinto

    8 hours | $$

    Cristal & Cinto

    The best beaches "near" Santa Marta. Nobody knows about Cinto. Gorgeous reef.
    Get the best price
  • Playa Concha

    8 hours | $$

    Playa Concha

    Easy day trip to reach a lovely beach. You can get there by taxi (45 min). Or book a sailboat trip.
    Get the best price
  • Diving

    5 hours | $$$


    You're allowed to dive in Tayrona Park. Not impressive reefs but cheap price.
    Get the best price
  • Gold Museum

    1 hour | $

    Gold Museum

    A small collection of gold artifacts and some explanation about Santa Marta's history.
    Learn more
  • Tubing

    8 hours | $


    Go down the river on an inner-tube. Don Diego river is 1h30 away.
    Google Map
  • Cerro Kennedy

    2 - 3 days | $$$

    Cerro Kennedy

    Go to Minca and start a 2-day hike to admire the sunrise from Cerro Kennedy. Great views!
    Get the best price
  • Tayrona

    2 - 3 days


    Don't book a tour. It's useless. Start from Calabazo and explore Tayrona like nobody else. Read our travel guide!
  • Paso del Mango

    3 days

    Paso del Mango

    Everyone goes to Minca to explore the Sierra Nevada. Be different and travel to Paso del Mango. Read our travel guide!
  • Punta Gallinas

    3 days | $$$

    Punta Gallinas

    Go to the northernmost point of South America and admire the beauty of the La Guajira desert.
    We recommend
  • Mountain biking

    5 hours | $$$

    Mountain biking

    If you're fit and want to explore the Sierra Nevado on a good mountain bike. It's tough but beautiful.
    Get the best price
  • E-bike

    8 hours | $$$


    Stop laying back on the beach and explore the Sierra Nevada on an electric bike. It's fun and cheap
    Get the best price
  • Aruhaco Stay

    2 days | $$

    Aruhaco Stay

    Live for 2 days in an Aruhaco community. Learn about their culture and ideology. Departure from Palomino.
    We recommend
  • The lost city

    4 days | $$$

    The lost city

    4-day trek through lush vegetation to admire the remnants of an old civilization. Epic experience!
    Get the best price
  • Motorcycle Tour

    2+ days | $$$$

    Motorcycle Tour

    Be part of a biking gang for a couple of days. Excellent gears and guides. Ride wherever you want.
    Get the best price

Our articles about Santa Marta

We spent more than 2 weeks in Santa Marta and wrote about our travel experiences.

Partners we recommend in Santa Marta

Some local partners we have met, tested and approved during our stay in Santa Marta.

  • Magic tour: Excellent local travel agency based in Santa Marta.

Where to eat & drink?

For us, good restaurants and exciting nightlife are important when traveling. We gathered our favorite picks on an interactive Map. Download the APP "Mapstr" and look for "Colombia Insider"!

More places on the East Coast

Find out all our other favorite places on the Eastern Caribbean Coast

More Travel Guides

(Click on the Map)

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Specific information by location

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Where to sleep? What to do? Where to eat? How do you get from one place to another?

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