Top 15 Things To Do In Santa Marta, Colombia

Things to do in Santa Marta

The most gorgeous bay of America, Santa Marta, is such a shining pearl you can’t cast aside when discovering Colombia. The stamp of Colombian’s liberator, Simon Bolivar, is not the only draw with its commemorated sites, but there’s also the exotic virgin beaches, as well as the majestic nature, which are truly exceptional. Here are some remarkable things to do in Santa Marta, Colombia, for an impressive South American adventure.

1. Learn about marine life at Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum

Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user F3rn4nd0 used under CC BY 2.5

Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum was founded in 1966 by a commercial shark farmer, Captain Francisco Ospina Navia, to feed the public’s curiosity about marine life. The venue, accessible by boats, features more than 100 sea life species, a majority of which are native to the area. You’ll find 15 glass aquariums boasting more than 800 water creatures such as sea birds, sea lions, dolphins, and sharks, and 13 swimming pools, with access to the Caribbean sea. The museum on-site contains nautical tools, hundreds of dissected specimens of mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish to explore, alone or with the kids.

Rodadero Sea Aquarium and Museum

Address: Edf. Fuentemar Cra 1 No. 7, 69 Ed, Gaira, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Website: Rodadero sea aquarium and museum

Opening hours: 8am - 4pm (daily)

2. Unwind in Simon Bolivar Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Immerse yourself in the beauty and history of this park, named after Simon Bolivar, a forerunner in Columbia and surrounding countries’ liberation from the Spanish Empire. The location, overlooking the bay, is appealing with its lush gardens, trees, and birds. You can sit and enjoy the serenity or explore the historic colonial buildings, including the Consistorial Palace and Customs House or Gold Museum, housing items from pre-Colombian history. The statue of Simon Bolivar, sitting on a horse, and the Monument of the Cariatides are also worth checking out.

Simon Bolivar Park

Address: Cra. 1, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

3. Explore the area’s history at Tairona Gold Museum - Casa de la Aduana

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

The Customs House, now Tairona Gold Museum, is an old building used during the colonial era. The two-floor structure houses four galleries, featuring important documents and exhibitions about the country’s history, from stories about the Magdalena province and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta that existed about two millennia ago up to the slavery period. You’ll find items made of stone, pottery, and gold used by the people who once inhabited this location, as well as details about their rituals and festivals. There’s also a section that focuses on the life of Simón Bolivar. If you’re a history buff, you shouldn’t miss this place.

Tairona Gold Museum - Casa de la Aduana

Address: Carrera 2 Parque Simón Bolívar, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Website: Tairona Gold Museum - Casa de la Aduana

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 8am - 1pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

Price: Free

4. Admire the Tayrona Monument

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Tayrona Monument, sitting on the roundabout at Carrera 1ª, was built by Héctor Lombana, a teacher, to commemorate the area’s initial settlers’ culture. The carve, created by fiberglass, features two Tayrona Indians, a standing male, and a seated female, backing the sea and facing the historic Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Around the base are symbols used by the indigenous people. At night, the sculpt is beautifully illuminated by lights fixed at the bottom. Tayrona Monument is not the only statue in the town honoring these natives, but it’s one of the oldest and most revered.

Tayrona Monument

Address: Cra. 1c #22, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

5. Enjoy panoramic views of the city from Cerro Ziruma

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Enjoy the best vistas of the beaches of Rodadero and the bay from this small, vegetation-covered mountain. Cerro Ziruma links the El Rodadero and Santa Marta, and it’s a favorite destination for the city’s joggers and hikers. If you wish to join them, wear a cap and take some water along with you. A camera will also be handy.

Cerro Ziruma

Address: Ziruma #Cr 6 No 11b 127, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

6. Have a fun escape to El Rodadero

El Rodadero, Santa Marta, Colombia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Julieth Gómez Durán used under CC BY 2.0

Although El Rodadero Beach is notoriously congested during the long weekends, the leading tourist attraction of Santa Marta remains great for sunbathing and skiing experiences. Hemmed in by many accommodations, from swank hotels to cheap-o guesthouses, the stretch of sand overlooking the Caribbean sea also becomes one of the best sleeping destinations.

7. Go museum hopping in Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Llegada a la Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user SALOMON BERMUDEZ used under CC BY-SA 3.0

La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is the right venue to trace the memory of Simón Bolívar. The place of death of the Colombian legend used to be an extensive farm yielding honey, rum, and panela (whole cane sugar). The old white building displaying sculptures, furniture, and lovely paintings is apt for history exploration.

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Address: Av. del Libertador - Sector San Pedro Alejandrino, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Opening Hours: 9 am to 4:30 pm

8. Stroll down the Bastidas Boardwalk

Having a leisurely stroll along the Bastidas Boardwalk to feel the fresh breeze and enjoy the scenic views of the desolate El Morro island off the coast would indeed be fun. There stands a momentous effigy of the city’s founder of Spain named Rodrigo de Bastidas. Another thrilling thing you can’t skip out on is the breath-taking sundown dipping over the blue Caribbean ocean.

Bastidas Boardwalk

Address: Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Opening Hours: 24 hours

9. Catch the romantic sunset view at Bahia de Santa Marta

Bahia de Santa Marta 04
Source: Photo by user Cesar Ivan Noreña... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Traveling with a sweetheart in Santa Marta? Take the unbelievable opportunity of witnessing the romantic sunset that Bahia de Santa Maria has to offer. Whether your spot is from a terrace of a stylish hotel, or the dock filled with fishing boats, you will find the tangerine sky view adding to the amorous surroundings truly majestic.

Bahia de Santa Marta

Address: Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Website: Bahia de Santa Marta

10. Meet up with new friends at Parque de Los Novios

2018 Santa Marta (Colombia) - Centro Histórico - Palomas en el Parque de los Novios
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Felipe Restrepo A... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Parque de los Novios is a vast public space where people can enjoy their days by taking a stroll, watching the graceful salsa dancers moving their body or seeing the fire performances, and also catch up with friends. Want to do more? Be sure to hit it up at night to listen to the Vallenato played by the local musicians and try the delicious snacks offered by the vendors.

Parque de Los Novios

Address: Cl. 20, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Website: Parque de Los Novios

11. Feed the soul at Catedral de Santa Marta

Catedral de Sta. Marta 002
Source: Photo by user Donrallon used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Another worthy historical attraction you can’t avoid would be the Cathedral of Santa Marta, the first basilica established in South America. The Renaissance architecture does indeed represent the story and the legend of the old Catholic church. The immense building has also become the pride of the Magdalena people.

Catedral de Santa Marta

Address: Cra. 4 #16 - 02, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

Contact Number: +57 3156782845

12. Camp in Tayrona National Natural Park

Source: Photo by user Ben Bowes used under CC BY 2.0

If you can’t be apart from South America’s tropical nature, go discover the magnificent Tayrona National Natural Park. The area is covered with thick jungle with green vegetation, mountains, and secluded beaches. Aside of setting up a tent and savoring the enticing views, you can observe the endemic animals such jaguars and red woodpeckers.

Tayrona National Natural Park

Address: Magdalena, Colombia

Website: Tayrona National Natural Park

13. Find an incredible getaway in Playa Cristal

Playa Cristal Santa Marta Colombia - panoramio
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [email protected] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Set within the Natural Park of Tayrona, the Playa Cristal, or Crystal Beach, literally offers an astounding natural view, ideal for your beach escape. The white sand swept away by the turquoise water, the lush hills overgrown by tropical trees, and the sunny weather are the highlights of the off-beaten-track. To reach there, you only need a boat.

Playa Cristal

Address: Tayrona National Natural Park, Santa Marta, Colombia

Website: Playa Cristal

14. Retreat to Taganga

Taganga, Santa Marta, Colombia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Henrr Pomares used under CC0

A few minutes away, north of Santa Maria, lies a beautiful fishing village named Taganga, famous for its captivating white sand beach and colonial settlements. The paradise, having a direct link to the Tayrona National Natural Park, is perfect for soaking up the sun, enjoying the sunset, and exploring the marine life of the Caribbean sea. It uniquely boasts the Taganga Fault.


Address: Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia

15. Feed the sharks at Mundo Marino

Willing to touch turtles, greet the Rays, and say hi to the feral sharks, yet you can’t swim? Don’t be concerned, simply hit the full-fledged aquarium, commonly known as Mundo Marino. If you want to feed the toothed mammals, visit in the afternoon at 4 pm. The knowledgeable and friendly guides are ready to provide informative to all visitors.

Mundo Marino

Address: Entre Calle 11A y Calle 10, Cra. 2, El Rodadero, Magdalena, Colombia

Website: Mundo Marino (in Spanish)

Find the real Colombian dream

There is nothing more satisfying than seeking bottomless excitement in the gem on Colombia’s coast called Santa Marta. The home of Simón Bolívar does offer a wide array of amazing attractions, from historical sites to dramatic nature. Go visit Santa Marta soon!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I am Rofiq from East Java, Indonesia. I am passionate about exploring new places, meeting new people, learning new languages and cultures. I always do solo traveling and backpacking since they are...Read more

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