Top 15 Things to See and Do in Beautiful Santa Marta Colombia

Becoming increasingly popular each day as a tourist destination, this historical and cultural city of Santa Marta Colombia, in South America, is typically known for its beaches. It is frequented by Colombians more than foreigners. 

While the locals in the city believe in working hard, they believe in partying harder. This is the reason they spend their leisure time relaxing and partying on the many beaches in the city. The biggest priority for most travelers is the budget. Traveling to Santa Marta will not burn a hole in your pocket as it is quite a reasonable city, and this is the reason that so many foreign tourists are flocking to this city each year to spend their summers. 

El Rodadero, Santa Marta Colombia
El Rodadero, Santa Marta, Colombia

What does one want on vacation? Beaches, mountains, relaxation, fun and adventure? If you think beaches are all there is to this coastal city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, think again. Its colonial architecture, nature, and wildlife are some of the other things you should not miss when you are done soaking in the sun on the pristine beaches.


Located at Rodadero, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia, this is one of the best beaches in Santa Marta. It is always bustling with people due to the numerous eateries, pubs, hotels, and resorts here. You should not miss the local street food on your visit here. 

There are several stalls where you can shop for your souvenirs, albeit a lot of haggling is required, and the vendors can be quite stubborn into forcing you into a purchase. The place is always packed with a crowd at night, who are always in a party mood. If you want to experience the nightlife in Santa Marta, this is the place to be.

Scuba Diving in Taganga

Taganga is a small village near the Tayrona national park, Taganga, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia. If you want to experience some adventure without shelling out too much money, Taganga is exceptionally cost-effective for learning Scuba diving and is the cheapest in the world. Their crew is extremely well-trained and patient. 

Taganga Colombia
Diving at Taganga

You can see colorful corals, turtles, schools of fish, and if you are lucky, even dolphins! Do not miss this exciting activity and you must keep this on the top of your itineraries for Santa Marta, Colombia.

La Ciudad Perdida Trek

Ciudad Perdida is known as “The Lost City” of Colombia and is an abandoned archaeological site, which regained popularity in the 1970s, after having forgotten when the Spanish arrived in Colombia. 

La Ciudad perdida
La Ciudad Perdida Trek

You will take about four or five-days trek to reach this ancient site, and if you are not one for some adventure, don’t do it. The only way to get here is on foot, but once you reach, you will be glad you made it, as it makes for the most amazing experience leaving you with the most wonderful stories to tell. The location is Ciudad Perdida, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.

La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

An old hacienda, along with a sugar refinery, this structure in South America was built in 1608. It has been declared a Colombian National Monument. It is significant for the fact that it was the place where Simon Bolivar, a leader who helped gain independence from the Spanish, died. 

If you wish to see the place the traditional way, hire a local guide. They will take you through the colonial times through their historical facts and stories.

Llegada a la Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Check out Tayrona National Park

The Tayrona National Park is a protected area on the coast, and one of the best places to see biodiversity. You can see birds, leaf cutter ants, sloths, etc. near the entrance. You can see over forty species of mammals and over four hundred species of birds at the Park. 

Since it is vast, it would be worthwhile to spend a night there and see everything that the Park is famous for. The national park is located at Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.

124 Tayrona National Park Colombia
Tayrona National Park

Visit the Santa Marta Public Market

Probably one of the most bustling parts of Santa Marta, Colombia, the local market is not to be missed at all. It provides you an authentic Colombian experience, with local meat shops and locally prepared dishes. 

The upper floor of the market sells fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. The bottom floor sells local seafood, meat, apparel, shoes, and soccer jerseys. You can buy your fish and ask the vendors to fry it for you. A truly local experience!

077 Santa Marta Colombia Street Market
Santa Marta Public Market

Catch some rays on Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia, is the most visited beach here. Playa Blanca is less crowded, apart from the holiday season, and is a white sand beach with turquoise blue water. This is one of the perfect destinations for snorkeling in Colombia and probably in South America.

You can engage in activities such as ziplining, a ride on the banana boat, and other water sports. With many local restaurants, you can just take a beer and sit in the sun, get tanned, and make for the most relaxing holiday. 

Playa Blanca

Party by the beach

You can just chill by the beach if you are in a party mood. Most of the locals as well as tourists flock to the many beaches of Santa Marta during the night for a chill party scene, after a tiring day of sightseeing and shopping, or just after getting back home from work. You can head to El Rodarero or the Playa beach for the best party scenes. The location is Roarero, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.

People-watch at Parque de Los Novios

Los Novios is a park known mostly for its restaurants and the kind of crowd that come here. The biggest attraction of the park is the gathering of young people in the evenings before they are ready to head out to the restaurants and pubs. The music from the eateries is so loud that you can sit in the park and enjoy the music even if you are not hungry. You can locate this place at Parque de Los Novios, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.

Parquede los Novios Lemedu
Parque de Los Novios

Get close to nature in Minca

If you get tired of the beaches and want to explore a change in scenery, head to Minca, which is a green village in the mountains. You can visit the two famous waterfalls, Pozo Azul and Marinka, or go hiking. If you are an ornithologist or just possess a universal love for birds, this is an excellent area for bird-watching.

The world’s largest hammock is found here at the Casa Elemento hostel, but you will have to take up a three-hour hike to reach there. Don’t forget to visit the coffee farms here. You can visit Minka for a day or extend it to two days with an overnight stay, and you will not regret it. You can find this beautiful village at Minca, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.

Minca, Pozo Azul, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia, By the River
Minca, Pozo Azul, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia, By the River

Sample the Caribbean Cuisine and Street Food

Since Santa Marta is a beach city, there is no dearth of the widely popular seafood. It is also cheap and always served fresh by the local vendors. Go for the ceviche served in a styrofoam cup, and fried fish served with coconut rice. You must try the juices and fruits here; they are so fresh! Binge on the lobsters, they are juicy and tender. Fried potatoes are quite popular, and you will relish the grilled chorizos too. Your taste buds deserve a treat, and this is one of the best places to pamper them. So, go and check out the eateries at Avenida Bastitas, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.

Caribbean dinner plate
Caribbean dinner plate

Wander the Historic City Center

South America has many cities, of which Santa Marta is the oldest and one of the first where the Spanish settled. The historic city center is the Cathedral de Santa Marta, which is the oldest on the entire continent of South America. There is a fair bit of crime in the central city, and you must be careful while exploring the city center. 

Simon Bolivar was a freedom fighter, and his remains were kept here before they were sent back to his family. The city center is a place to know more about the city, and you must head there if you are one for local history.


Paseo El Camellon

Between the new Marina and the old port, runs the waterfront promenade. Lined with palm trees, the area features huge statues that make for excellent photography spots for tourists. 

Heliconia mincana
Heliconia mincana
Photo from the El Dorado Reserve

There are various craft stores from which you can shop. The area also houses the Governor’s house, along with many restaurants to eat at, once you are tired from all the sightseeing.

El Dorado Reserve

One of the most popular bird-watching destinations in Colombia, you can see various rare and endangered bird species here. Some birds that you can see are the hummingbird, trogons, and quetzals. You can go for night trails if you wish to see monkeys, lizards, frogs, and possums.

El Dorado Reserve is a lush forest with a view of the mountains, and you can stay the night if you wish, but you must book the accommodations in advance. 

Tairona Museo de Oro

Museo del Oro Tairona - Santa Marta Colombia - Canutillos
Museo del Oro Tairona – Santa Marta Colombia

This is one of the attractions that is absolutely free and has no entry fee. The focus is on Tayrona and other indigenous people from ancient times. This museum has old golden collectibles that reveal stories about the culture and life of these people. If your feet get tired, you can relax in their courtyard and take in all the history of the place. If you like history, you will love this place. You will find this museum at Museo de Oro, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.