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About Santa Marta
Santa Marta is a colourful, vibrant city on Colombia's Caribbean coastline. Still filled with colonial buildings left over from its past, nowadays it attracts travellers who use it as a base for trips to places like the protected shoreline of Tayrona National Natural Park. The popular trek through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains leads to the awe-inspiring Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) archaeological site. Here, for a taste of history, and a grounding reality check, you can see 1,200-year-old relics of the area's former inhabitants.
Santa Marta hostels have their own pools for a refreshing dip. You can stay in a 1920s Spanish villa with a leafy courtyard, a 100-year-old house with a brightly coloured facade or a hacienda-style mansion. There are also chic boutique-style hostels in Santa Marta with free breakfasts and laid-back wood-fronted places with gardens growing tropical fruits such as mangoes. Free Wi-Fi is widely available for organising meet-ups with new travel friends at lively Rodadero Beach.
Parque de los Novios is the most central hangout spot in Santa Marta, with outdoor seating at the relaxed bars and restaurants encircling the plaza. Visit the waterfront neighbourhood of El Rodadero for action-packed summer nights, with dancing from dusk till dawn and live music at the bars along the beach. Foodies can head to Avenida Bastidas to browse the market stalls selling seafood like lobster and ceviche as well as fresh local fruit.
Santa Marta has activities for everyone, from chill-seeking to thrill-seeking. There's high-octane scuba diving in Taganga (20 minutes out of the city) or a 45-minute drive will take you to relaxed tours of coffee plantations in the mountains surrounding the town of Minca. In the city, you can learn about local history ranging from the indigenous to the colonial era. For a deeper dive into the city's past, dip into the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) to see gleaming jewels and intricate ceramic artefacts.
Simón Bolívar International Airport is about 45 minutes south of the city by bus. If you're leaving Santa Marta for another Colombian destination, take a local bus from Carrera 1C to the south eastern Terminal de Transportes de Santa Marta for onward travel. Taxis are also available in the city and you can get around easily by foot once you're in the central area. For trips to Tayrona National Natural Park or the beach town of Palomino, grab a seat on one of the local buses from beside the main market.