Santa Marta Tourism

When you think of a vacation on the Caribbean, Colombia does not automatically spring to mind. Yet this small South American nation has taken several steps towards opening itself to tourism and developing into a place with unique charms to attract would-be travelers. If you picture yourself in a place sandwiched between sweeping tropical beaches and snow-capped mountains, Santa Marta is the place for you.

A small port city on the Northern coast of Colombia, Santa Marta is nestled between the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range and the balmy Caribbean Sea. As one of the first places settled by the Spanish in South America, Santa Marta boasts a versatile, multicultural heritage that is apparent in the cuisine, languages and music that are prevalent in the region.

A brand new marina that looks futuristic in comparison to its surroundings has literally opened the port city up to a throng of travelers, who find themselves pleasantly surprised by the locale, given its troubled history in recent times.

Verdant tropical jungles spread out just a few miles from the city center, making Santa Marta the ideal location for adventure lovers and hiking enthusiasts. “Ciudad Perdida” the “Lost” City (Well… they’ve found it) constitutes one of the major attractions to draw people towards Santa Marta. Most people use Santa Marta merely as a base to explore the surrounding areas of Cartenga (UNESCO world heritage site), Rodadero and the Tayrona National Park, and don’t give the oldest city in Colombia a fair try.

The Spanish-colonial charm is emphasized by the quaint street-lights that give the city a dated yet romantic air that combines well with the warm tropical breeze that comes rolling in off the sea.

Essential travel information and Santa Marta tips for your visit

Do's:

  • Take the time to walk the old city center, where the Spanish colonial influences are at its strongest.
  • Stay hydrated – the climate is enjoyable but draining and you can quickly get dehydrated while seeing the sights and exploring the city.
  • Avoid drinking water from the taps – opt for bottled drinking water.
  • Take a Yellow Fever vaccine and tetanus shot at least 15 days before you enter the jungles.
  • Taxi’s have no meters! Be sure to decide a price with the driver before you get in to avoid complications.

 Dont's:

  • Venture into the seedier blocks by yourself after dark.
  • Eat food at street-stalls if you have a delicate stomach – you want to be mobile and enjoying your vacation after all!
  • Offer your opinion on local politics or religion.
  • Discuss Colombia’s history as a cocaine hub. They are not proud of it nor eager to hear what you think.
  • Forget your sun-block and insect repellent. The sun is not extremely harsh but you will be burnt with excessive exposure. The insects lean heavily towards feasting on tourists.

The best tours and activities in the city, guided by experts to give you a local insight to the best of Santa Marta

  • Know the pollution level of Santa Marta before you plan your visit.

    • Air Pollution 55 (Moderate)
    • Water Pollution 70.83 (High)
    • Noise and Light Pollution 50 (Moderate)
    • Unattended dirt and garbage 83.33 (Very High)
    • Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 66.67 (High)
    • Dissatisfaction with Garbage Disposal 91.67 (Very High)
    • Dissatisfaction to Spend Time in the City 50 (Moderate)
    • Dissatisfaction with Green zones and parks 75 (High)
  • How safe is Santa Marta for tourists? Understand risks and safety concerns that can hamper your travel experience in Santa Marta.

    • Burglary and Theft 62.5 (High)
    • Mugging and Robbery 54.17 (Moderate)
    • Assault and Armed Robbery 50 (Moderate)
    • Corruption and Bribery 75 (High)
    • Car Stealing 37.5 (Low)
    • Robbery of Car belongings 62.5 (High)
    • Attacks 41.67 (Moderate)
    • Drug offense 66.67 (High)
    • Safety walking alone during daylight 62.5 (High)
    • Safety walking alone during night 33.33 (Low)
    • Insulting and offensive behaviour 50 (Moderate)
    • Hate crime due to Racism, Religion, ethnic origin 37.5 (Low)
    • Property crimes and Vandalism 50 (Moderate)
    • Safety Index 44.9 (Moderate)
    • Climate Index 61.06 (High)
    • Pollution Index 73.1 (High)
    • Traffic Commute Time Index 6 (Very Low)
    • Health Care Index 62.5 (High)
    • Property Price to Income Ratio 20.65 (Very High)
    • Indices such as Quality of life, Climate & Healthcare index are good to be high whereas others such as Property price, Traffic & Cost of living Index are good to be low.

  • Here's how much it will cost to shop in Santa Marta

    • Local calling per minute on Prepaid mobile 0.03 USD
    • International Movie per seat 2.94 USD
    • Summer clothing in a chain store 54.84 USD
    • Pair of Basic Nike Shoes 80 USD
    • Pair of Basic Levis Jeans 32.86 USD

*Stats and figures mentioned are crowd-sourced ‚Äčand subjected to change without notice.

* Some of the data on this page is powered by Numbeo