Santa Marta practical Guide: All you need to know to visit Santa Marta region

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Visiting Santa Marta and the surrounding region is one of the classics of any trip to Colombia. Quite simply because it’s home to some of the most visited destinations in the world, with Tayrona Park at the top of the list!

Between beach, mountains and rainforest, the region around Santa Marta offers many possibilities for discovery, and it’s a place we love. The Sierra Nevada, the mountains surrounding the city and home to four ancestral indigenous peoples, gives a special identity to this sacred territory.

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Santa Marta general information

Visiting the Santa Marta region

Santa Marta is a city in the process of developing and slowly turning to tourism. A promenade along the bay has been laid out and the historic center is being renovated.

The city is watched over by the Sierra Nevada. It is sacred territory and home to the Arhuaco (Ika), Wiwa, Kogui and Kankuamo indigenous peoples.

  • Foundation: July 19, 1525
  • Natural region : Caribbean
  • Department: Magdalena
  • People: Samarios
  • Population: 540,000
  • Altitude: 2 m
  • Climate: hot to cold semi-arid
  • Minimum temperature: 23 °C
  • Maximum temperature: 32 °C
  • Dry season: December to April
  • Rainy season: May to November
  • When to go: all year round

Best things to do in and around Santa Marta

Santa Marta Travel Guide

Santa Marta is a city well worth a visit. Over the past few years, it has been undergoing a major facelift, with the historic center gradually regaining its lustre. Of course, there are plenty of beaches to swim at, especially in the Rodadero district, where you’ll find everything you need to have a good time.

As soon as you leave the city, the options for enjoying nature are impressive.

Tayrona Park boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Colombia, and the entire coast as far as Riohacha offers the chance to enjoy the Caribbean Sea. To the south, the Cienaga Grande is a unique ecosystem of fresh and salt water, home to the incredible palafitic villages of Nueva Venecia and Buenavista.

In the Sierra Nevada, Minca has become a must for lovers of waterfalls and forest walks. You can also try trekking to Ciudad Perdida for a physical and spiritual experience, on this territory sacred to the natives.

Best places to visit around Santa Marta

All our posts about Santa Marta and surroundings

Santa Marta Travel Guide

Visit Nueva Venecia travel guide: the stilt villages of Cienaga Grande

Tayrona National Park travel guide: all you need to know

Indigenous travel agency to discover the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta

Visit Taganga travel guide: between good memories and bad reputation

Visit Buritaca travel guide: things to do between sea and river

Our experience in the Tayrona National: feeback and tips

Bunkuany travel guide: the alternative trek to the Lost City

Lost City Trek: our travel guide to the Ciudad Perdida

The most beautiful beaches in Tayrona National Park: the ultimate guide

Around Santa Marta travel guide: best things to do and see in the area

Where to stay in Santa Marta

Santa Marta Travel Guide

Santa Marta, the best hotels

Casa Mia Hotels

Hotel

Casa Mia Hotels

Double room : $300.000 to $350.000 COP

This is the hotel where we stayed during our stay in Santa Marta. We recommend staying on the top floor, where the rooms are brighter. Nice decor, good service, and conveniently located right in the historic center.

Santa Marta, the best hotels

Hotel Cactus

Hotel

Hotel Cactus

Double room : $300.000 to $350.000 COP

A truly sublime hotel for those who want to enjoy one of the best hotels in Santa Marta, especially the loft room on the roof with direct access to the pool and views of the Sierra Nevada…

Santa Marta, the best hotels

Catedral Plaza Hotel

Hotel

Catedral Plaza Hotel

Double room : $250.000 to $300.000 COP

Just for the rooftop swimming pool with a view of the Cathedral… a top-of-the-range hotel with meticulous attention to detail, but with attractive rates depending on the time of year. Treat yourself and enjoy a sunset over the rooftops of Santa Marta.

Santa Marta, the best hotels

Casa de Isabella Hotel

Hotel

Casa de Isabella Hotel

Double room : $250.000 to $300.000 COP/Double room : $300.000 to $350.000 COP

A beautiful hotel in a superb colonial house, with huge rooms and a rooftop with a small pool and a view… all at a very affordable price! We understand why readers recommend it.

Santa Marta, the best hotels

La Guaca Hostel

Hostal

La Guaca Hostel

Dormitory : $0 to $25.000/Double room : $0 to $100.000 COP

A hostal recommended by our readers, super welcoming, great atmosphere and with a lovely patio for cooling off. A little out of the way, it’s a 20-minute walk from the historic center and the Mercado Publico, but it’s not too bad and the price is right.

Santa Marta, the best hotels

Republica Hostel

Hostal

Republica Hostel

Dormitory : $0 to $25.000/Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

A new concept in the center of Santa Marta, all new and beautiful, with a particularly well-appointed decor and, of course, the swimming pool to match. Dormitories and double rooms.

Santa Marta, the best hotels

Masaya Hostal

Hostal

Masaya Hostal

Dormitory : $25.000 to $50.000/Double room : $100.000 to $150.000 COP

Opened in Bogotá by a group of French friends, Masaya’s success is such that they have opened the same concept in San Agustin and Santa Marta. The setting is ideal, a magnificent colonial house with swimming pool and rooftop.