ColombiaOne.comTravelVisitor's Guide to Santa Marta, The Oldest City in Colombia

Visitor’s Guide to Santa Marta, The Oldest City in Colombia


Morro Santa Marta
Santa Marta is a destination that captivates history, culture, and nature enthusiasts alike. Credit:Luis Ospino/Colombia One

Santa Marta is one of the oldest cities in South America and the oldest in Colombia, offering a rich tapestry of landscapes, environmental treasures, and recreational delights. It encompasses everything from pristine beaches like El Rodadero, a popular tourist beach, to well-preserved diverse ecosystems and natural parks. Notably, it hosts the historical site where liberator Simon Bolivar took his last breath.

Exploring the wonders of Santa Marta

Here’s a guide if you want to visit this magical city, including where to go, stay, and eat for the best experience.

Tayrona National Park

Embark on your Santa Marta adventure by exploring the impressive Tayrona National Natural Park. This protected area boasts a stunning coastline with untouched beaches and dense forests. Wander along trails to discover secluded beaches like Cabo San Juan and Arrecifes.

Guide Visit Santa Marta
The Tayrona Park is located 34 km from Santa Marta in the department of Magdalena and is one of the most important Natural Parks in Colombia. Credit: OpenAperture/CC BY-SA 3.0

Minca: Ecological city

Find tranquility in the mountains by visiting the charming town of Minca. Surrounded by lush coffee plantations and waterfalls, Minca is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts, nature lovers, and bird watchers.

“El Rodadero” beach

For those seeking beautiful beaches with a lively atmosphere, El Rodadero Beach is perfect. Frequented by both locals and tourists, its golden sands and warm, crystal-clear waters offer a picturesque setting at any time.

Santa Marta is a destination that captivates history, culture, and nature enthusiasts alike. Credit: wallpaperflare/Public domain

Lost City hike

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, one of the world’s highest coastal mountain ranges, provides unparalleled hiking opportunities. The trek to the Lost City is a multi-day adventure leading to the ancient and mysterious archaeological site.

Lost city
Lost city in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, Colombia. Credit: katiebordner/CC BY 2.0


A short distance from Santa Marta is the fishing village of Taganga. This picturesque place is ideal for snorkeling and savoring fresh local cuisine. Explore its vibrant underwater world, including coral reefs and diverse marine life.

Taganga tourism destination Colombia
Taganga beach with fishing boats. Credit: Colombia One/AP

Gold Museum

History and indigenous culture enthusiasts should not miss the Tairona Gold Museum. The museum displays a remarkable collection of gold artifacts crafted by the Tairona civilization, including pre-Hispanic pieces and items from the colonial era.

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Step back in time by visiting La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where Simón Bolívar spent his last days. This colonial-style estate surrounded by beautiful gardens offers a unique and pleasant way to experience Colombia’s history.

San Pedro Alejandrino
Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta. Credit: Wikipedia/SALOMON BERMUDEZ/CC BY-SA 3.0

Best times to visit Santa Marta

The optimal periods to explore Santa Marta are from January to March and from June to August, when the sky is clear, and the weather is drier. Throughout the year, temperatures rarely drop below 22 ºC, with highs reaching 33 ºC, resulting in an average annual temperature of 28.3 °C.

Santa Marta
Tourists in the historic center of Santa Marta. Credit: AP/olombia One

Accommodation in Santa Marta

Choose El Rodadero for popular beaches, hotels, and a lively atmosphere, or Tayrona for adventures in the jungles and beaches of the protected national park. El Dorado is a haven for bird watchers and features a significant bird reserve.

Dining in Santa Marta

Explore Asadero Camarita near Minca for excellent grilled pork, or indulge in diverse options like Ouzo, Rocoto, Bar Burukuka, and El Humo. To taste local cuisine, Lulo offers indigenous dishes, while Maharaja India, Marc de Sabores, Tronco Burrito, and Bienvenüe Crepes offer moderately priced options.

Guide Visit Santa Marta
Burukuka restaurant in Santa Marta. Credit: Instagram/Burukuka

Santa Marta is a captivating destination, rich in history and natural wonders, welcoming travelers to explore its diverse offerings throughout the year.

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