The provincial capital of Santa Marta has rapidly developed into a traveler’s treasure on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The country’s oldest colonial city has white-sand beaches and pleasant warm weather. Nearby, Tayrona National Park attracts visitors throughout the year. The pervasive salsa and vallenato music keeps the town alive with the sounds of the Caribbean.

Spend several hours at Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum southwest of Santa Marta to see its majestic sharks and dolphins. Swim in the warm seawater at nearby Playa Blanca (White Beach) or work on your tan against a backdrop of coastal cliffs. Dine at local beachside restaurants and stay overnight in a cabin. Head to the Quinta of Saint Peter of Alexandria, a 17th-century house and garden, now a museum dedicated to military leader Simón Bolívar, who led many South American countries to independence.

Hike to Ciudad Perdida (Lost City), formally Teyuna Archaeological Park. The ancient Indian city was founded over 700 years earlier than Peru’s Machu Picchu. Plan for about three days each way for the 27-mile (44-kilometer) walk. Cross rivers, streams and waterfalls and pass small Indian communities as you cover the remote terrain. You may see jungle animals too: jaguars, tapirs or condors. Climb 1,200 stone steps to reach the entrance to the city where an indigenous tribe once lived.

See natural wonders in Tayrona National Park via a tour or taxi from Santa Marta. Rent gear in the city and then scuba dive or snorkel at the beach. Hike to Cabo San Juan and rent a tent or hammock in a cliff-top cabin overlooking the ocean.

Fly to Santa Marta from Bogotá. The airport, just south of the city, is easily reached by public bus. To the east of Santa Marta, visit the mountain range known as Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park. Discover remnants of the Tayrona culture and other indigenous tribes. Enjoy views of snow-capped mountains for a dramatic change of scenery from the Caribbean coast.

Known for

Beach, Café and Nature

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Where to stay in Santa Marta

Historic Center
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Historic Center

Beach, Café, Dining

Take a trip back in time as you explore the center of Colombia’s oldest surviving city, complete with colonial buildings and collections of indigenous gold and pottery.

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Top hotels in Santa Marta

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Santa Marta Marriott Resort Playa Dormida
Santa Marta Marriott Resort Playa Dormida
4.5 out of 5
Carrera 3 No 142-60, Bello Horizonte, Santa Marta
C$166/night
Aug 15 - Aug 16
4.2/5Very Good! (6 reviews)

"Our stay at the Marriott Santa Marta simply exceeded our expectations. We will must definitely return in the future. Todo el staff fue muy amable y servicial con todas nuestras solicitudes en especial la supervisora de Front Desk quien hizo nuestra estadía muy placentera."…"

Reviewed on 12 Jul. 2019

Santa Marta Marriott Resort Playa Dormida
Image for Hilton Garden Inn Santa Marta
Hilton Garden Inn Santa Marta
3.5 out of 5
Carrera 1C No. 24-04, Santa Marta
C$94/night
Jul 21 - Jul 22
4.5/5Wonderful! (174 reviews)

"All okay. All the employees are very knowledgeable and polite and friendly. I felt very welcome."…"

Reviewed on 23 May 2019

Hilton Garden Inn Santa Marta
Image for Hotel Tamacá Beach Resort
Hotel Tamacá Beach Resort
3.5 out of 5
Carrera 2a No. 11A - 98, Santa Marta
C$109/night
Jul 23 - Jul 24
4.1/5Very Good! (157 reviews)

"Excelent service, beach near good staff. near to city and mall arrecibo"…"

Reviewed on 6 Jul. 2019

Hotel Tamacá Beach Resort

Top activities in Santa Marta

Private Santa Marta Tour
Image for Private Santa Marta Tour

Private Santa Marta Tour

C$219

On this day trip to Santa Marta, listen to commentary from your guide and visit the historical la Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where Simón Bolivar died. Enjoy time at the beach as well as lunch and convenient roundtrip transportation to most central Cartagena hotels.

Playa Blanca & Aquarium Tour
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Playa Blanca & Aquarium Tour

C$46

Enjoy a day of aquatic delight by combining a visit to the Rodadero Sea Aquarium with an afternoon of snorkeling and lounging on the gorgeous Playa Blanca. Learn about sharks, sea lions, and dolphins at the aquarium, and then go snorkeling in the warm Caribbean waters to see coral reefs.

Guided Santa Marta City Tour
Image for Guided Santa Marta City Tour

Guided Santa Marta City Tour

C$46

Become immersed in Santa Marta's deep history on a half-day tour that covers the city's main landmarks. Travel through the historic center, the port, and the famed cathedral as your friendly and knowledgeable guide brings together modern culture and the legacy of history in a single narrative.

Tayrona National Park Beach Tour with Cañaveral & Arrecifes
Image for Tayrona National Park Beach Tour with Cañaveral & Arrecifes

Tayrona National Park Beach Tour with Cañaveral & Arrecifes

C$50

Discover the utter beauty of Tayrona National Park with a tour of its most paradisiacal beaches. An expert guide takes you on a leisurely hike through the park's tropical rainforests to the pristine beaches of Cañaveral and Arrecifes, where you can soak up incredible views on the sand.

Tayrona National Park & Neguanje Bay Tour with Crystal Beach
Image for Tayrona National Park & Neguanje Bay Tour with Crystal Beach

Tayrona National Park & Neguanje Bay Tour with Crystal Beach

C$50

Venture into Tayrona National Park and explore its flourishing beauty on this full-day tour. Discover gorgeous Neguanje Bay and take a scenic cruise to the idyllic Crystal Beach, where you can spend time relaxing on soft sands or swimming in the cool, clear water.

Aquarium & Playa Blanca Tour
Image for Aquarium & Playa Blanca Tour

Aquarium & Playa Blanca Tour

C$210

Watch the lively marine creatures at the Rodadero Sea Aquarium and enjoy an afternoon on the shores of Playa Blanca for a day of maritime delight. This tour takes you from the Rodadero dock and through Gaira Bay to the aquarium, where you can see marine species along with the seal and dolphin shows.

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