Where to Go, Around the City
Quick one day city center stroll
There are two main ways to stroll around or take city center tours:
🚲 Bike rental: $10.000 per hour rental. 2-3 hours
🚶 Walking: Free walking tours (recommend $20.000 tip) or private paid tours ($40.000 +)
Malecón de Bastidas
A must do plan in the city center is strolling around the Santa Marta Bay promenade, also known as Bastidas promenade, after the founder of the city, Rodrigo de Bastidas. The recently renovated Malecon is an important historical site and connecting artery of the city center.
With the recent works, artisans were relocated in modern stalls and selective restaurants and bars are set to open in the dining area. The promenade also includes children playground, 1.5km running circuit, urban gym, pet park and other amenities designed under universal standards.
The Malecon also leads to the Marine, which has nice gastronomy offer with informal bars and restaurants and is the sailing point for most high-end sailing tours or recreational / party boats.
This is one of the most picturesque and best sunset spots in the city, with the “Morro” emerging in the horizon.
El Morro is the guardian, custodian, and witness of the historical evolution of Santa Marta. For many locals, El Morro is the best representation of being “Samario” and main.
It is a rocky hill that during the conquest and the colony was used as a strategic means to preserve the city against pirate attacks. Today it is used as the seat of the lighthouse that guides ships entering and leaving the port.
El Morro is also considered a sacred site for the practice of rituals and worship of the indigenous communities that inhabit the Sierra Nevada.
The Plaza or Parque de Bolívar is the main square in Santa Marta, located in the central and oldest sector of the city.
The Plaza has great historical importance with buildings of architectural value, Libraries, the Tayrona Gold Museum, and monuments.
Considering Santa Marta is one of the first Spanish-founded cities in America and the oldest in Colombia (1525), its square-centric urban growth model led to the construction of main offices and houses around it.
The square has been called Plaza de Armas in the colonial period, Plaza de la Constitución after the independence and now, Plaza de Bolivar, as Simon Bolivar’s corpse was veiled in a burning chamber in the Tairona Museum. The square has an equestrian statue of Bolívar and a four-face Fountain of Italian precedence. Nowadays, the square is used to host cultural, artistic, and political events (Cromo 500).
The Santa Marta Cathedral is in the Historic Center of Santa Marta surrounded by small restaurants and other colonial buildings. It is three blocks east from the main beach and the International Marina.
The Cathedral was built in 1765 and took over 30 more years to complete due to constant pirate attacks that resulted in the town being burnt down on more than 20 occasions. It has now been renovated on many occasions over the past centuries giving it a mix of several architectural styles.
Other than mass and a cool midday break from the city’s heat, you can head inside for a glimpse into the city’s history through the various plaques on the walls. It also stores the ashes of the founder of Santa Marta, Rodrigo de Bastidas, as well as the heart of Liberator Simón Bolívar. The military leader was first buried in the church before his remains we’re transferred to Venezuela.
Tairona Museo del Oro
The Tairona Museo de Oro is in the colonial Customs House (Casa de la Aduana), a branch of Bogotá’s Museo del Oro, containing pre-colonial tools and remains. The museum reflects in the lives and stories of people from the Sierra Nevada and Magdalena over the last 2,000 years (BanRep Museo del Oro Tairona), through four thematic galleries:
- Pre-Hispanic societies gallery describes the people that inhabited the Sierra Nevada during the Nahuange (200 to 900 A.D.) and Tairona (900 to 1600 A.D.).
- People of Magdalena gallery: is a journey through present-day Magdalena province and its people.
- Stories from the Casa de la Aduana gallery tells of the foundation of the city, of battles and pirates, social customs, and of the recent times of the port, the railway, bananas, and tourism.
- Bolívar was here: is the gallery devoted to Simón Bolivar, who died in Santa Marta in 1830.
- Free entrance for all.
- The permanent exhibition is fully bilingual (Spanish + English).
Open Tuesday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sundays and Public Holidays: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed on Mondays, including public holiday Mondays
Callejón del Correo
This pedestrian corridor that connects El Parque de los Novios Park with el Parque de Bolívar, between 15th and 17th streets, has nice, varied restaurants for all tastes. This photogenic place is the favorite spot for dinner and a few beers before continuing the night in the Parque de los Novios. Adorned with lights, posters, flags, and street performers, it is a corridor full of life and good energy. You can find nice dishes and entries starting at $20.000+ and beer at $8.000.
Santa Marta Theater
The Theater was inaugurated in 1949, designed by Cuban Manuel Carrera one of the most representative Latin American architects of the 20th century. His architecture represents in the Caribbean a symbol of the ‘Art Deco’ style. At the time of its opening, it became an innovative urban icon and came to represent the identity of the Historic Center.
The theater was rebuilt and reopened in November 2021 and has a permanent free cultural agenda to offer.
Parque de los novios
Los Novios Santa Marta Park is one of the most emblematic places in the city to enjoy the best nightlife, due to the variety of restaurants and bars found there.
This tourist place is in the Historic Center of Santa Marta, just two blocks from the Bay of Santa Marta and 3 blocks from the Basilica Cathedral of Santa Marta.
The park is full of restaurants with terraces, hotels, vendors, and street artists that make the park the most socially active and main nightlife scene of the city.
Pescaíto is just a 5-minute drive away from the City Center.
In October 2021, the ‘Tras la Perla’ Foundation launched the ‘Pescaíto Days’ Festival in Barrio Pescaíto, a traditional neighborhood from which important sports and musical figures have emerged. Music, games, gastronomy, culture, sports, creativity, among others, were part of two days of cultural and social encounters.
The festival, and recent infrastructure works are turning Pescaíto into an emerging sport and cultural touristic destination.
The local government is promoting the Plaza de Pescados y Mariscos (Fish and Seafood Plaza), as well as the Plazoleta de Comidas Populares (Popular Food Market), in the public market of Santa Marta, as a gastronomic tourist point for Samarians and visitors to enjoy a wide range of local products and typical services of the city.
Quinta de San Pedro
This colonial hacienda from the XVll century was Simón Bolivar’s home during his final days. Today, it is an open museum that allows visitors to understand his life and work through art from the nations he freed.
Guided tours include stepping into the former hacienda, where you can see Bolivar’s bed and personal belongings at the time of his death in 1830, a walk through the botanical garden and the Modern Art Museum.
With over 150 species, the botanical garden offers visitors the chance of seeing some of the most beautiful and representative flora of the northern parts of the country. It has become a teaching ground for investigation purposes and conversational education.
In your final stop, visit the Altar de la Patria, or Nation’s Altar, a monument made of marble built in 1930 to honor the Bolívar on the first centenary of his death and take a few minutes to walk through the picturesque Plaza de Banderas, where all the flags of the Americas are present as an expression of Bolivar’s hopes and dreams of continental unity.
Low season. 09:00 a.m. at 4:30 p.m.
High season. 09:00 a.m. at 5:30 p.m.
December 24 and 31. 09:00 a.m. at 1:00 p.m.
Kids 0 to 5 (Nationals and Foreigners) Free
Kids 6 to 12 $15.000
Nationals 13+ $17.000
Foreigners 13+ $23.000
Active and retired military Free
The guidance service is offered by students as part of School Tourism Practices or Social Service, which are mandatory to earn a bachelor’s degree or college student volunteers. No fee is charged but direct tips to volunteers is strongly encouraged.
How to get there:
La Quinta is a widely known place for locals, two blocks away from Buenavista, Santa Marta’s shopping mall in Santa Marta. Taxis usually have fixed fees and will charge you $6.000 – $8.000 within the Santa Marta perimeter and $12.000 – $15.000 from Rodadero and Taganga. Several bus routes cover this area, so check before visiting as they are updated constantly.