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Things to do in Santa Marta

Things to do in  Santa Marta

Welcome to Santa Marta

White sand beaches and blue opal ocean are not the only reasons to visit this coastal marvel in Colombia. It’s South America-meets-the Caribbean, which makes for a truly unique cultural experience. Oh, and did we tell you that there’s an ancient lost city ruin nearby? In a jungle? Sign us up.

Top 10 attractions in Santa Marta

#1
Lost City (Ciudad Perdida)

Lost City (Ciudad Perdida)

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Deep within the Sierra Nevada, the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida is an indigenous archaeological site accessible only via a challenging multi-day trek through the surrounding jungle. Prepare to wade through waterfalls and climb more than 1,000 stone steps to reach the secluded ruins, where you’re rewarded with panoramic views.More
#2
Tayrona National Park (Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona)

Tayrona National Park (Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona)

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Ruins, reefs, mangroves, and beaches make up the 37,000-acre Tayrona National Park, one of Colombia’s most popular ecotourism destinations. Visit to hike along the coast, relax on the beaches, snorkel among the coral reefs, or simply disconnect from daily life.More
#3
Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal)

Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal)

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Part of Tayrona National Park, Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal is a white-sand haven that provides ideal conditions for swimming and snorkeling. Marine life off Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal includes sea turtles, dolphins, and several species of fish. Even without spotting one of these creatures, the coral and sponges of the reef provide colorful underwater scenes.More
#4
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park

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Just off the coast of northern Colombia, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park is home to a wealth of endangered flora and fauna as well as the world’s highest coastal peak. Dominated by mountains and popular among hikers, this UNESCO-recognized national park is home to bird reserves, archaeological ruins, and indigenous villages.More
#5
Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

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The final resting place of South American liberator Simón Bolívar, the 17th-century Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is now a historical landmark, museum, gallery, and botanical garden containing over 200 works of contemporary South American art. See where Bolívar took his last breath, marvel over antique artefacts, wander the expansive gardens, and admire artworks from the countries that Bolívar liberated.More
#6
Tayrona Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Tairona)

Tayrona Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Tairona)

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Housed in the restored 16th-century former Customs House—itself one of the oldest buildings in the Americas—the Tayrona Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Tairona) offers an insight into the region’s history. Admire a vast collection of pre-Columbian gold and pottery, while learning about the indigenous Tairona people.More
#7
El Rodadero

El Rodadero

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Backed by luxury high-rise hotels and popular among Colombian travelers, El Rodadero is a lively, local alternative to the internationally popular Playa Blanca.More
#8
Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca

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Backed by verdant mountains and lined with swaying palms, Playa Blanca is a tropical paradise situated just outside of Santa Marta. Go for a swim in the calm waters, enjoy a fresh seafood lunch, and relax under a thatched roof palapa for a quieter alternative to El Rodadero Beach.More
#9
Carlos El Pibe Valderrama Statue

Carlos El Pibe Valderrama Statue

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Former Colombian football player Carlos El PibeValderrama is known for his athletic ability and his outgoing personality, and this 22-foot-tall bronze statue of him in his hometown conveys both qualities. He is known as “El Pibe” or “the kid” and for his blond curly head of hair. His distinct personality has made him one of the most recognizable figures in football worldwide. Part of the Colombian national team in the 1990s, he represented Colombia in several international tournaments and became known for his skills in passing and accuracy in assisting. He is one of few foreign players who joined Major League Soccer in the United States.His statue is the work of Colombian artist Amilkar Ariza, standing tall outside the Estadio Eduardo Santos in Santa Marta. It was erected in 2006 in honor of his contributions to Colombian national sports.More
#10
Marine World Aquarium (Mundo Marino Acuario)

Marine World Aquarium (Mundo Marino Acuario)

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With more than 200 species on display, Santa Marta’s Marine World Aquarium (Mundo Marino Acuario) is a must for nature lovers of all ages. Discover sharks, turtles, starfish, octopuses, seabirds, and more, while learning about conservation efforts in the region.More
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Recent reviews from experiences in Santa Marta

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Just go!
Michael_G, May 2022
Full-Day Hiking Tour in Minca with coffee & Cocoa Workshop
They spoke almost perfect English as well.
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Awesome and safe private transfer!
Anisha_K, Dec 2021
Private transportation service from Santa Marta to Cartagena
He spoke good English and was a safe driver who knew the fastest way to get there.
star-5
Minca Perfect Ending to our Trip!
Jennifer_J, Feb 2021
Full Day Sierra Minca
The took amazing pictures of us at the Minka Waterfalls and made sure we had plenty of time at each stop.
star-4
Ciudad Perdida, a great adventure. My advice, just do it.
Michael_D, Dec 2020
Hike for 4 days to the Lost City, Santa Marta
As young aspirants to see and do the 'so much' of our planet they seemed to love spending time chatting with me about places on Earth that had felt my feet and known my tears at the sheer beauty we have around us.
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All about Santa Marta

Time Zone
COT (UTC -5)

People Also Ask

What is Santa Marta known for?

Santa Marta is best known as a jumping-off point for Tayrona National Park, the Lost City trek, and the mountain village of Minca. It’s also famous for being one of the oldest Spanish settlements in Colombia—this colonial history is best reflected in its whitewashed cathedral.

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What language is spoken in Santa Marta?

Spanish is the primary language spoken in Santa Marta, like the rest of Colombia and the majority of South America. The Colombian accent is considered easy to understand, even for those who are new to the language. English is also widely spoken here due to Santa Marta’s popularity with travelers.

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How many days do you need in Santa Marta?

If you plan on using Santa Marta as a base for exploring Tayrona National Park and Minca, put aside at least four days on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Then, in addition to day trips, you’ll have time to admire the colonial architecture and relax on the beach of nearby Taganga.

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Can you swim in Santa Marta?

Most of the beaches in the vicinity of Santa Marta are great for swimming and snorkeling—top picks in Tayrona National Park include Playa Cristal, Playa Cinto, and Bahia Concha. Beaches conveniently close to the center include Santa Marta and El Rodadero, whose calm waters are safe for swimming.

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Is Santa Marta safe for tourists?

Yes. Santa Marta is generally a safe place for tourists to visit. Just like with most cities and towns, there are reports of pickpocketing, so stay vigilant and secure your valuables, tucking them out of sight. Avoid more rural areas after dark.

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Is Santa Marta worth visiting?

Yes. As the first Spanish settlement in Colombia and one of the oldest colonial cities in Latin America, Santa Marta is worth visiting. As well as being a convenient launchpad for Minca, the Lost City trek, and Tayrona National Park, it also boasts colonial architecture and nearby beaches.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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What are the top things to do in Santa Marta?
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