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Travelling Ideas

What to see in Santa Marta and the Tayrona National Park (Colombia)

Santa Marta ( Colombia ) is the capital of the department of Magdalena and the oldest city in the country. It was founded in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas and is located on the Colombian Caribbean coast, 240 kilometers northeast of Cartagena. Santa Marta is not such a popular destination for foreigners, even so it has many charming places and corners to visit.

Near the city they are full of places that are well worth visiting. It is usually the starting point to visit Tayrona Park, Minca and the Lost City . Here you will also find beautiful beaches.

Santa Marta

To start getting to know the city, you can take a guided tour of Santa Marta . It is very interesting and will be the perfect starting point to get to know the most emblematic places and to begin to locate yourself in the city.

In the historic center there are many interesting places to visit:

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The Monument to Rodrigo Bastidas

In 1928, the sculpture of the founder of Santa Marta , Rodrigo de Bastidas, was inaugurated on the ruins of Fort San Vicente. It was the work of the Spanish sculptor Jose Lafita Diaz.

Cathedral Basilica

You will find the Cathedral of Santa Marta located in a square in the historic center of Santa Marta, being one of the most important Catholic buildings in the city.

The Cathedral is Renaissance in style and was built in the 1760s. Since 1953, the remains of Rodrigo de Bastidas have been housed there.

Bolivar Park

In the Bolivar Park of Santa Marta is the statue of the Liberator Simon Bolivar. In its beginnings it was known as the Plaza de Armas. At the beginning of the republic, it adopts the name of Plaza de la Constitucion. Finally, due to the proximity to the Customs House, where Simon Bolivar was, it was called Parque Bolivar. There are 2 monuments that you cannot miss in this square: the Fountain of the Four Faces and the Equestrian statue of Simon Bolivar , the work of the sculptor Leone Tommasi donated by the Government of Venezuela.

It is a fairly busy area, with benches and some trees. In the afternoons there are usually children playing ball and ladies gossiping. It is a great area to walk around and have an ice cream.

Boyfriend’s park

Another of the parks that you should visit in the historic center is Parque de los Novios. It is one of the gastronomic and tourist centers of Santa Marta, and a place always full of atmosphere.

In the park is the statue of Francisco de Paula Santander and the bust of the politician Manuel Murillo Toro , 2 times president of Colombia.

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Carrera 3

Carrera 3 is a street with a lot of atmosphere, local food restaurants, food stalls and bars to have a drink.

It is a very colorful place, each house has a colored facade and the street is usually decorated with pennants. At night there is a very good atmosphere with music and lights.

Diving in Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a popular place to dive because the waters are calm and transparent . In addition, it is one of the cheapest places in the world to get your diving certification. It is also a good place for beginners because the water is very calm. You can dive in the surroundings of Santa Marta, Taganga and Tayrona Park. You can usually see large schools of fish of different colors, coral reefs and turtles and dolphins if you are lucky.

In the center of Santa Marta you will find several places where it offers the possibility of excursions and diving trips.

Rodadero neighborhood

Rodadero is the place where many tourists decide to stay in Santa Marta. It is a neighborhood located next to the beach, 5 kilometers away from the center of Santa Marta. Here you will come across many restaurants, bars, hotels and resorts, shops, nightclubs…

Rodadero beach is not ugly, but it is always very crowded with people and with street vendors that do not let you disconnect. However, it is a good accommodation option. If you are interested in staying in Rodadero you can see availability and prices of accommodation for your dates from this link.

Taganga town

Taganga is a small fishing village about 5 kilometers from the center of Santa Marta. In this town there are many hostels, several restaurants, places to party and diving schools.

The town is beautiful , there are also natural places that you can visit such as the viewpoint, the large beach or arrive by speedboat at Crystal Beach, without a doubt a paradise.

To get to Taganga from Santa Marta you can go by taxi or by local bus.

Excursion to Tayrona Park

Many of the people who come to Santa Marta do so to visit the Tayrona National Natural Park, one of the most popular places in all of Colombia.

Whether you want to visit Santa Marta or you are in Cartagena de Indias, you cannot miss an excursion to Tayrona Park.

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In the Park you will find jungle, paradisiacal beaches and places as beautiful as Cabo de San Juan.

You should know that it can only be visited on foot (there is also the possibility of visiting the park on horseback, but I always recommend not using the animals for these purposes, so it is better to enjoy this paradise on foot). Once you pay the entrance fee and enter the park, you can stay as long as you want with this ticket. But you cannot leave the park and re-enter the next day with the same ticket, you will have to pay the ticket again. If you want to visit Tayrona Park for more than one day, you must stay inside. It is worth enjoying this place and staying one night either in the park or nearby.

We decided to spend three nights here. We didn’t find hotels inside the park that we just liked, so we stayed in a hotel near the entrance to the park, right on the beach. Some paradisiacal villas with sea views, with swimming pool, very quiet and among vegetation. They were a few days of relaxation in which we really enjoyed this natural environment!

We bought the entrance to the park one day, and the other two days we did excursions and hiking trails around the park, which are also beautiful.

Excursion to Minca

Another of the most popular excursions from Santa Marta is Minca. It is an area with lush vegetation of the Sierra Nevada where tourists come in search of nature, peace and disconnection. The most interesting visit is to the La Victoria coffee farm and the cocoa farm. There are very cool routes that take you to see the Marinka waterfall and the Blue well.

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