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. In top of that, the beaches are not very charming 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:
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”.
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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.
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.
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.
Where to sleep? What to do? Where to eat? How do you get from one place to another?
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