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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

Lost City (Ciudad Perdida)

Lost City (Ciudad Perdida)

The Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida, is the archaeological site of an ancient indigenous city in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Thought to have been a commercial center for trade around 700 A.D., its population probably ranged between 1,400 and 3,000 inhabitants. Hidden in the jungle for over a thousand years, the Lost City was found in 1972 when treasure hunters followed a series of stone steps leading up to an abandoned city.The Lost City is open to visitors, but the trip is not for the faint of heart. The nearly 30 mile trek takes visitors through farmland and jungle on an unforgettable six-day journey. Part of the adventure includes trekking over mountains filled with exotic plants and animals, climbing stone paths through dense jungle, bathing in waterfalls and sleeping in indigenous villages.Upon arriving at Lost City, climb more than 1,000 stone steps to the top of the site for incredible views of the surrounding mountains and jungle. Take time to explore the more than 250 stone terraces that were carved out of the mountainside, each of which was a space for living and working. The different areas of the city were joined to the fields by a network of cobbled paths and stairs, and an irrigation system channels rainwater downhill to avoid damage and erosion.Members of local tribes, including the Arhuacos, Koguis, and others, continue to maintain many of their ancestral beliefs and customs. They visited the site regularly before it was widely discovered, and gave it the name Teyuna. This trek takes you through some of their villages where life has remained unchanged for centuries.More
Tayrona National Park (Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona)

Tayrona National Park (Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona)

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
Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal)

Crystal Beach (Playa Cristal)

On the edge of Tayrona National Natural Park and the northern coast of Colombia, Crystal Beach(Playa Cristal) is one of the most picturesque white sand beaches in South America. Its clear turquoise waters provide ideal conditions for swimming and snorkeling. Many come to relax on the soft sand shaded by coconut palms or to eat fresh seafood caught right off the shore. It is also a great base for exploring the Tayrona National Park, one of Colombia’s most important protected ecological areas, for the day.Marine life in the waters off Crystal Beach(Playa Cristal) includes sea turtles, dolphins, and several species of fish. Even without spotting one these creatures, the coral and sponges of the reef provide colorful underwater scenes. The Caribbean reefs offshore also attract those seeking scuba diving and other water sports.More
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park

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
Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca

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
Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

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
El Rodadero

El Rodadero

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
Tayrona Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Tairona)

Tayrona Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Tairona)

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
Santa Marta Historic Center (Centro Historico de Santa Marta)

Santa Marta Historic Center (Centro Historico de Santa Marta)

Sandwiched between picturesque beaches and lush mountains, Santa Marta is both the oldest surviving city in Colombia and a gateway to Tayrona National Park. Explore the UNESCO-recognized historic center on foot, making time to visit highlights such as the 18th century cathedral, Tayrona Gold Museum (Museo de Oro Tairona), and Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino.More
Carlos El Pibe Valderrama Statue

Carlos El Pibe Valderrama Statue

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

Recent reviews from experiences in Santa Marta

Minca Perfect Ending to our Trip!
Jennifer_J, Feb 2021
Full Day Minca Extreme
The took amazing pictures of us at the Minka Waterfalls and made sure we had plenty of time at each stop.
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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