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The coastal city of Santa Marta one of Colombia’s best destinations for pristine beaches on the Caribbean, warm weather and amazing trekking. With its proximity to the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, there is really no place like it.

If this is what you are looking for in your next vacation, then you are in the right place. Here we will show you the range of activities, beaches, hikes and everything else there is to know about Santa Marta.

Santa Marta @laure
Santa Marta

Santa Marta Essentials:

Altitude : from sea level to 18,942 ft (in the Sierra Nevada) Population : 500,000 What to see : Tayrona National Park, trekking in the Sierra Nevada, visit to Minca. What to do : Go to the beach, visit historical sites. When to go : All year round. The best month is March. Getting around : Easy access to taxis, buses and ferries. Safety : Safe Climate : The climate generally varies between 24°c and 33°c, cooler in the Sierra Nevada. Cultural events : Fiesta del MarAltitude: from sea level to 18,942 ft (in the Sierra Nevada) Population : 500,000 What to see : Tayrona National Park, trekking in the Sierra Nevada, visit to Minca. What to do : Go to the beach, visit historical sites. When to go : All year round. The best month is March. Getting around : Easy access to taxis, buses and ferries. Safety : Safe Climate : The climate generally varies between 24°c and 33°c, cooler in the Sierra Nevada. Cultural events : Fiesta del Mar

Things to do in Santa Marta

The city of Santa Marta and its surroundings offers a great range in activities. Here are our suggestions:

Explore the city’s heritage and cultural landmarks :

  • A great way to learn some of Santa Marta and Colombia’s history is to visit the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum), full of pottery and gold from the region in addition to artifacts from the Kogi and Arhuaco peoples.
  • Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is a colonial-era estate (“hacienda”) on the outskirts of Santa Marta where Simon Bolivar spent his last days. Although now this estate serves as a landmark and a monument for South America’s liberator, it originally was a sugarmill. 
  • Parque de Los Novios has become a popular place for people watching and for having a few drinks in the evening.
  • The cathedral is notable for its various architectural influences and for maybe being Colombia’s oldest church. Simon Bolivar was also buried here in 1830, although his ashes were later moved. 
santa marta catedral magdalena colombia © Tristan Quevilly
Santa Marta Cathedral Magdalena Colombia ©Tristan29photography

The beaches near Santa Marta :

Beaches in Santa Marta are not really worth the visit. But here is a list of the top beaches you can get to quickly from Santa Marta:

  • Rodadero: a family resort and a popular destination for nightlife, restaurants and live music.
  • Playa Blanca: swim, sunbathe and relax at this pristine beach, only a ferry ride away from Santa Marta.
  • Ciénaga de Santa Marta: not a beach but this coastal road actually goes all the way to Barranquilla. This is a great walk for seeing waterbirds.
  • Taganga: this former fishing town north of Santa Marta is great place for water activities such as scuba diving.

Sistema Solar, an afro-caribeño music group from Santa Marta. In this video clip, you will find the landscapes of Taganga.

If you are willing to travel to find secluded beaches and breathtaking hikes, head to Tayrona park :

You can still enjoy the beach and the pristine Caribbean coast but you will also experience the bordering, lush jungle that borders the coast for about 35 km.

Here are some notable secluded beaches in Tayrona, although the currents might be too strong to swim at all of them :

  • Castilletes (longest beach, very calm)
  • Arrecifes (best valued lodging, no swimming)
  • Cabo San Juan de la Guía (iconic view, popular, can swim)
  • La Piscina (small but great for swimming)
  • Nudist Beach (can swim, can be nude)

The walks here are beautiful and easy and we recommend staying for a few nights. (contact Aventure Colombia for more information and/or booking: [email protected])

Tip: if you can avoid going on the weekends or on holidays, to avoid the crowds

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzroBrebLts

Trek the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and go to the Lost City:

The Sierra Nevada is the highest coastal mountain in the world (5800 m). Because this mountain range is so big, on a clear day you can see it’s snow peaks, even when you’re in a bathing suit enjoying the tropical heat.

If you are a big hiker or you’re feeling adventurous, then you should really consider trekking to La Ciudad Perdida (“the Lost City”).

Ciudad Perdida is an ancient city in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta that was built by the Tayrona people (as early as the 7th century) and discovered in the early 1970s. It is one of the largest pre-Columbian towns known and quickly became one of our world’s wonders. If you have any interest in going to the Lost City, make sure you plan your trip with time because it will take about 5-6 days to get there and back.

ciudad perdida lost city sierra nevada de santa marta colombia © tristan quevilly 96
Lost city, Sierra nevada of Santa Sarta Colombia ©Tristan29photography

Minca

Minca can be a great option if you do not want to spend days hiking but do want to immerse yourself in nature and experience the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. This small village is a great place for bird-watching, enjoying the scenery and drinking famous organic coffee. In the Sierra Nevada’s tropical rainforest you might also see some exotic birds, monkeys and plants.

sierra nevada de santa marta minca colombia ©anonimo USO INTERNO
Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta Minca Colombia ©anonimo

Where to eat and drink

Nightlife and restaurants in Santa Marta are a big attraction to the city. This medium sized city attracts foreigners and Colombians alike and the warm weather just makes everyone cheerful.

Santa Marta : Restaurants

DONDE CHUCHO A must if you like seafood, 27 years of experience and 3 restaurants in Santa Marta Donde Chucho Gourmet in the centre, Parque de los Novios Donde Chucho Blu located at the Rodadero Marina Donde Chucho Rodadero: Calle 6 # 2-61 Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 11am – 11pm

COCTELERIA JUANCHO The best ceviche in town Address: Carrera 1 n°22-23, Santa Marta Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 9am – 9.30pm; Sat-Sun: 9am – 10.30pm.

BURUKUKA Chic bar and restaurant, famous for its steak Address: Calle 20 n°5-60, Santa Marta Restaurant opening hours: Mon-Sat: noon – 3pm and 6pm – 10pm, Sun: noon – 6pm Bar opening hours: Mon-Wed: 12pm-10pm, Thu-Sat: 12pm-3am, Sun: 12pm-6pm.

LULO Known for its arepas and creative juices Address: Carrera 3 n°16-34, Santa Marta Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-11pm, Sat-Sun: 9am-11pm

CAFÉ IKARO Delicious vegetarian and vegan cuisine with organically grown food. Artisanal beers, innovative juices, homemade vegan ice cream and organic coffee specialities. Address: Calle 19 #3-60 Br (near paraue de los Novios) Opening hours: Tue-Sun: 8am – 9pm

Gourmet break :

GNAM GELATERIA Greedy alert! Delicious homemade ice creams with local flavours (lulo, zapote, corozo ….) and international flavours, there is something for everyone. Just a stone’s throw from the Parque de los Novios. Address: Cra. 3 #16-74 #16-2 a Opening hours: Mon-Sun 11am – 11pm

SMR Gnam Gelateria @laure
Santa Marta Gnam Gelateria

Santa Marta : Les Bars

CRAB’S BAR Rock music and great cocktails Address: Cl. 18 n°3-69, Santa Marta Opening hours: Sun-Tue: closed; Wed: 8am-1am; Thu: 8am-2am; Fri-Sat: 8am-3am

LA BRISA LOCA A large rooftop bar and dance stage Address: Cl. 14 n°3-58, Santa Marta

CHARLIE’S BAR Casual atmosphere for drinking beer and socialising Address: Cl. 19 no. 412, Santa Marta Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 6pm-2am

LA AZOTEA A remarkable rooftop nightclub Address: Cra. 3 n°19-25, Santa Marta Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 6pm-3am; Sun: 6am-12pm

LA PUERTA Popular nightclub with a wide variety of music. Address: Cl. 17 n°2-29, Santa Marta Opening hours: every day from 6pm to 3am

Where to go next?

Are you wondering where to go after you visit Santa Marta?

You can’t be in Santa Marta without going to at least one of the following:

  • Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta –  if you want to experience breathtaking sunrises, a view of the snowy peaks, waterfalls and observe wildlife;
  • Tayrona national park  / La Ciudad Perdida – great for trekking and a “must-see” treasure of the world;
  • La Guajira – a coastal desert on the northern most point of Colombia and on the border of Venezuela;

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