Tayrona National Park—on the northeast coast of Colombia, where rainforest-covered mountains meet golden sandy shores and secluded coves—has some of the loveliest beaches in all of South America. Don’t miss these top Caribbean beaches during your visit to the protected park.
Santa Marta Historic Center (Centro Historico de Santa Marta)
You can easily explore the Santa Marta Historic Center on foot in just a day, starting from Plaza Bolívar before moving onto Parque de los Novios and the surrounding museums. Opt for a self-guided audio tour and move through the center at your own pace or join a walking tour—these typically stop at Santa Marta Cathedral, Paseo El Camellón, and more. If you have limited time in the region, a bike tour can help you cover more ground, while street food-focused excursions are also an option.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Santa Marta is hot and humid year-round—pack bug repellent and sunscreen if you plan on exploring on foot or by bike.
- Taxis in Santa Marta don’t use meters, so remember to agree on a price before getting into the vehicle.
- Santa Marta has several accessible attractions, although the narrow sidewalks of the historic center may not always be fully wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Santa Marta is situated 65 miles (105 kilometers) from Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Most easily accessed by air, Avianca flies daily from both Bogotá and Medellín, while buses run regularly from Cartagena and Barranquilla.
When to Get There
For the best weather, visit Santa Marta between December and May but remember that this is peak tourism season in the city, so crowds may be larger than normal in the historic center. Alternatively, visit in late-July for the annual Festival of the Sea.
Day Trips from Santa Marta Although Santa Marta Historic Center is a destination in its own right, many travelers use the city as a starting point for further exploration of the region. One of the most popular day trips from Santa Marta is Tayrona National Park, although you can also retreat to the mountains in Minca—a village hemmed by lush jungle and known for its giant hammock—or explore the legacy of Gabriel García Márquez in his hometown of Aracataca.