Santa Marta was founded in 1525, making it the second oldest city in the continent.Its founder, Rodrigo de Bastidas, had a different vision than the other conquistadors, and saw in Santa Marta a place where he could leave a legacy and rest in peace. In 1525 he was betrayed by his liutenant and a new governor was appointed for the administration of the city. In 1596 its development was boosted and the city became a staging ground for important expeditions to neighboring territories. Like Cartagena de Indias, Santa Marta was a target for piracy and thieves during the XVIth and XVII centuries, and is well known for being the place where Simon Bolivar spent its last days.
Travel tips for Santa Marta
The electric current kind used in Colombia is 110-volt AC (110 V), with a frequency of 60 Hz. We recommend you to have a plug adaptor if you travel to places that use other voltage to avoid that the electronic devices suffer a short-circuit and don't work. The most common danger in Santa Marta as in other big cities is the thefts, so we recommend not to have with you highly valued objects at the sight of the people. We recommend not to walk through unknown streets at night, especially if you see motorcyclists with cover up faces. Among the means of transportation there are public buses with rates of 1400 COP, taxis of average prices of 4500 COP, and besides that inter-city buses. There are also mototaxis that cover little routes and it’s an informal low-cost mean of transportation, but it’s less secure and the minimum price is 1000 COP.
Santa Marta weather
Best time to visit Santa Marta
The best period to visit Santa Marta goes from December to March, the season when there are less rains.
Climate in Santa Marta
The climate in Santa Marta is tropical with a rainy season from April to November. The average temperature is 80,6 °F (27 °C).
Things to do in Santa Marta
Santa Marta, the oldest Colombian city, shines with the light of its diversity and monumental beauty, which is perceptible on the architecture of its constructions, streets, culture and history. Its location, between the Caribbean Sea and the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta is a privilege and make the city become an endless source of activities, reason why they use the slogan "the magic of having all". Santa Marta really has all, from the warm and quiet beaches of white sand as El Rodadero, till the natural environments of rich biodiversity in the Tayrona Park and the Quebrada Valencia.
Nightlife in Santa Marta
Discoteca La Escollera
Location: Calle 5A 4 Hours: 8:45 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Prices: no available information The favourite place to spend a fun night until early morning. They propose a varied cocktails and drinks menu to share with you travel friends. You will enjoy the music with special guests, from Colombia or abroad, and events made for special dates as Halloween and Christmas.
Location: Cl. 18, 369 Hours: 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wednesday to Saturday It’s a bar where you can drink beer with friends listening to rock music from the 80s and 90s. The decoration of the place is quite appealing and irreverent as rock style is, so don’t you be surprised if you see a bathtub close to your table or a bike hanging of the ceiling, it’s the most normal here.
Location: Crossing point of Calle 3 with Calle 19 Price: no available information The name talks about the place where is located, in a flat roof (azotea in Spanish). Some people think is little, but it’s a popular place with a varied menu of drinks and cocktails for the clients, rumba and varied music or DJs invited to cheer up your night under the shining stars.
Location: Calle 19 No 4-58 Hours: 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Sunday Price: no available information Located at the historic center of Santa Marta, it’s a place with warm atmosphere, a great service and a large offer to choose among drinks and cocktails. There are also live shows to cheer up the environment.
Where to eat in Santa Marta?
Location: Carrera. 3 #19-27 Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Sunday Prices: no available information There are various rooms where you will enjoy calmly a delicious lunch served with great attention, each dish is presented in an impeccable presentation, although the price can be high. The service is great and pleasant with the clients, it’s recommended to book in advance your table, since a lot of people come to eat there.
Nader Delicias Arabes
Location: Carrera 12 # 27-09 Esquina Bavaria Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday Prices: no available information Some people say it’s a not to be missed restaurant during your visit to Santa Marta, due to features as the excellent location, large parts of food, the exquisite flavor, the wonderful service and the closeness of the owner, Nader, to the clients. We recommend the bandeja mixta, los quibbes and platillo Al Tarik.
Location: Calle 19 #2 - 17 Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday Prices: from 20000 COP to 45000 COP
Location: Carrera 2N Circa 19-20 Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Prices: n/d If you wish to taste some exotic food from a neighbor country, Rocoto is one of the best places in Santa Marta to eat Peruvian food. The service is great, the food tasty and the environment quite pleasant to spend a memorable moment, you can book your table in advance to avoid worries. There is a large wine menu for special occasions.
The tourist places to see in Santa Marta are:
Museo Bolivariano de Arte Contemporaneo
Location: Av. del Libertador, sin número, Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Sunday Price: no available information This magnificent museum was open in 1986 and was born as a tribute to the liberator Simon Bolivar who desired the integration of the south America countries. The museum harbors more than 200 works in various rooms that include drawing, engraving, painting, sculpture, video art and much more. It offers workshops, guided visits and classes for diverse groups.
Museo de Oro Tairona Casa de la Aduana
Location: > Location: Carrera 2 Parque Simon Bolivar Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday / 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sundays Price: free entrance This construction was built in 1531, has been preserved until nowadays and protects the cultural legacy of the old settlers of Sierra Nevada. In the museum you will appreciate goldsmithing, pieces made of gold with a value more important than the economic, the cultural value; besides that, there are rooms where you can learn about the past of pre-Hispanic cultures that lived in the territory and the history of this old building.
Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona
Location: Going through the highway to Riohacha, at 20 mi (32 km) from the city at the entrance called El Zaino. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Price: You can see it in the website It’s a natural park where you can spend a relaxing afternoon, getting to know the biodiversity of Colombia. Enjoy it lodging in the areas provided to that effect to the visitors as the sector Canaveral or the sector Arrecifes. If you wish to visit the place it’s recommended to be vaccinated of yellow fever and anti-tetanus injection.
Acuario y Museo del Mar de Rodadero
Location: Cove Inca Inca in front of the beach El Rodadero Hours: n/d
The things to do in Santa Marta
Parachuting and pure adrenalin
Location: Location: Santa Marta bay. You can measure your bravery when you are in the air standing on a moving plane about to go through hundreds meters in some minutes while you descend in free fall. Travel at more than 149 mi per hour (240 km/h) with experts on air that will guarantee that you land without big damages. If you want you will have an exciting souvenir in HD video to revive the feeling again and again once you are safe at home.
Rappel in rock walls
La Peinada waterfall After an adventurous trekking across the nature you will get to this colorful place surrounded of green, and you will feel the pure air going into your lungs. With a rope tied to steep walls of rock you will scale step by step while a torrent of water flows under your feet, making you feel sliding a natural water sledge.
Mountaineering through the Sierra Nevada
Location: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Go through the interesting and challenging geography of the place, while you experience the climate conditions which vary due to the height. You will find beautiful nature places, contemplate exotic species of flora and fauna, but always keeping in mind having comfortable and warm clothes, besides never getting dirty the environment with wastes.
Typical dishes in Santa Marta
Arroz con coco
It’s a rice that in the preparation has little pieces of coconut and can be served with raisins, having as a result a sweet and sour flavor. It’s usually served with a fried fish, very common in the coast.
It’s a fruit similar to the green banana that is made puree and mixed in a frying pan with hogao (tomato and white onion), served with coastal cheese to obtain an exquisite flavor, a dish that you can find in many restaurants.
A dish made of manioc that has inside ground meat, coastal cheese and crumbled chicken; all of it is fried in lot of oil.
How to reach Santa Marta
Santa Marta by train
Nowadays there is no useful railway to Santa Marta. The trains that go through the city transport raw materials.
Santa Marta by flight
The distance from Bogota to Santa Marta in a straight line is 459 mi (739 km). The nearest airport to Santa Marta is the Aeropuerto Internacional Simon Bolivar, located at 10 mi (16 km) from the city, which has a diversity of travel routes. The main airlines that provide trips are Avianca, Latam, Viva Colombia, Copa Airlines and Iberia.
Santa Marta by bus
The distance from Bogota to Santa Marta on the highway is 584 mi (940 km) and the travel takes about 17 hours. Bus companies as Expreso Brasilia, Copetran and Berlinas del Fonce cover this route. You can get to Santa Marta from cities as Cartagena, Barranquilla and Valledupar, among others.
Accomodations in Santa Marta
Hostal North Bay
Location: Calle 24 # 2-05 close to the Historic Center of the city Rate: From 28000 to 140000 COP The beds in the low-cost rooms are personal, not bunk beds, although the room is shared and also the toilet. The reception is open 24 hours a day, has a garden and game room, besides free wifi. There are restaurants, bars and shops in the proximity.
Location: Calle 19 # 3-32. Historic center Rate: From 29000 COP to 132000 COP The rooms are shared and you rest in bunk beds. There is free wifi, sheets and a fan, and the building is close to bars, restaurants and the beach El Rodadero.
La Villana Hostel
Location: Calle 17 No 3-70 Rate: from 50000 COP to 500000 COP Enjoy an outdoors pool, free wifi, reception desk 24 hours, garden and a terrace. The rooms are shared and have all the amenities, you can even enjoy outside barbecues to spend unforgettable moments.
Location: Calle 151 N° 3C - 78. Sector Aeromar, at 2 kms from the Aeropuerto Simon Bolivar Rate: From 50000 to 110000 COP The rooms at the Hostal Central are double rooms and have air conditioning, private bathroom and some of them a private balcony.
Hotel Porto Bahia
Location: Cra 4 N 6-69, Beach El Rodadero Rate: From 159477 COP to 319957 COP Enjoy the beautiful view of Santa Marta from one of the private balcony rooms. Each room has air conditioning, free wifi, private bathroom, a minibar, a safe and cable TV. Besides, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast and a variety of exotic cocktails.
Hotel San Miguel Imperial
Location: Calle 21 No. 6-96 Rate: From 140000 COP to 180000 COP The rooms have free wifi, air conditioning, private bathroom, cable TV and wake-up alarm service. You can enjoy walks around the famous Parque Tayrona and the mall of Santa Marta is located at 10 minutes from the hotel.
Important dates in Santa Marta
Festival del Mar
Ending July and begining of August
It’s a celebration that lasts several days, whose main attraction is the water sports as swimming and kayak. As part of this event, you will enjoy music shows, cultural shows, dances and a lot of fun. It includes also the Reinado Nacional e Internacional del Mar.
Carnaval de Mamatoco
Enjoy a party atmosphere in honor of San Agaton, a non-recognized saint, but all the locals participate in troupes and religious processions this date. You can admire the appealing dances and get to know the beauty queens who always cheer up the festival.
Fiesta del Caiman
This festival is celebrated in a town close to Cienaga, the locals are dressed with colorful costumes, the streets tint of joy and you can see parades of a wood statue with the shape of a caiman, with a rag doll called Tomasita in its jaws. There is an award for the most spirited participants.