Where to stay in Santa Marta
The best areas to stay in Santa Marta are the historic center, El Rodadero, and Taganga. Here is everything you need to know.
1. Historical center, the best option to stay in Santa Marta
In my opinion, the historic center is the best place to stay in the city. You can immersed yourself in the local life of the samarios and samarias, and live the rhythm of the city at any time of the day.
Here you will find most of the places to visit in Santa Marta, and it is very well connected to the surrounding areas of the city. It will be easy to go to places like Minca or Tayrona. It has a lot of restaurants, agencies to book tours, nightlife, stores, markets, etc.
You can find hotels for all budgets: hostels, very affordable private rooms, and higher-category hotels. As for safety, during the day it is a totally safe area, but always be careful with your things, as anywhere in the world. At night, nothing happened to us, but I did have the feeling that some streets had a bit of a weird atmosphere. Just don’t go through very lonely streets, and don’t stay out too late.
What to see and do in the historic center:
- Rodrigo Bastidas Monument.
- Stroll through Bolivar Park.
- Have a drink in Parque de los Novios.
- Lunch or dinner at Calle 3.
- Watch the sunset from the port.
Recommended hotels in Santa Marta
- $: Tunido, Masaya Santa Marta. I have stayed in both hotels and liked them both very much. They have private and shared rooms.
- $$: Boutique Hotel Casa Carolina, Boutique Hotel Casa Mia.
- $$$: Hilton Garden Inn.
2. El Rodadero, for those looking for relaxation and the beach
El Rodadero is just over 5 kilometers away from the historic center of Santa Marta and is known for having one of the best urban beaches in the city. It is a quite touristic and commercial neighborhood where you can find numerous hotels of different categories, restaurants, stores, nightlife, etc. I recommend this area to those who want to make a more relaxing and beach-oriented trip rather than one that is cultural.
El Rodadero Beach is usually quite crowded, but from there you can take a boat to less crowded beaches. Also a little to the south is Bello Horizonte, a quieter upper-middle-class neighborhood with luxury hotels.
What to see and do in El Rodadero:
- Relax and sunbathe on the beach.
- Rent a kayak.
- Go to Playa Blanca by boat.
- Stroll along the Rodadero boardwalk.
- Go jetskiing, windsurfing, or kitesurfing.
Recommended hotels in El Rodadero.
3. Taganga, a very good option for backpackers to stay in Santa Marta
Taganga was once a small and quiet fishing village located in a bay surrounded by mountains, 4 km from the center of Santa Marta. Over time, it began to attract the attention of more and more travelers to the point of becoming one of the most important tourist destinations in the city, especially among backpackers.
In Taganga, you can sleep by the beach, stay in a cool hostel, eat seafood, party, etc. Also, if you like snorkeling, Taganga is a good place to do so, thanks to the coral reefs and the number of marine animals. For all these reasons, Taganga is a very good option to stay in Santa Marta for backpackers.
However, in recent years, there have been several reports of theft from tourists, so if you are staying in Taganga or visiting the town, be careful with your belongings. One of the most commonly given tips is to take a boat to Playa Grande instead of walking through the bush, as the road can be very empty at certain times of the day.
What to see and do in Taganga
- Enjoy Taganga Beach.
- Go to Playa Grande.
- Snorkel or scuba dive. You will find lots of schools in town.
- Watch the sunset at the TNT Mirador.
Recommended hotels in Taganga
4. Tayrona, to be close to this natural beauty
If you arrive in Santa Marta with the intention of visiting the Tayrona Natural Park, one option is to stay in one of the hotels near the main entrance, in El Zaino, or sleep inside the park itself.
You can also stay in Santa Marta and take a day or multi-day trip, leaving your belongings at the hotel. I recommend visiting Tayrona on your own, but if you prefer, you can take this full-day guided tour of Tayrona.
If you want to visit Tayrona for several days, you will have to sleep inside the park, since the entrance ticket is valid for as many days as you want, but once you leave the park, the ticket is not valid for re-entry. Unless you want to pay the entrance fee again, the solution is to sleep inside the park. There are several campsites and hotels.
If you only want to visit Tayrona in one day and then you are going to continue to the northeast of Colombia, to places like Buritaca or Palomino, a good option is to sleep in a hotel that is just outside the park. This way you can visit Tayrona with only what you need and have the comfort of leaving the rest of your luggage at the hotel. This way you will not have to return to the city.
Recommended hotels in Tayrona
- $: Hierba Buena Eco Hostel, Recuerdos del Tayrona, Gaira Tayrona.
- $$: Villa Tayrona.
- $$$: Senda Koguiwa.
- $$$$: Watapuy Trail, Villa Maria Tayrona.
Map of where to stay in Santa Marta
I have created this map to help you choose a place to stay. You will see marked in red the main areas where to sleep in Santa Marta (besides being places you should visit during your visit); marked in orange the different hotels I recommend (with their respective links to Booking); and, finally, marked in blue, more places to see in the city.
You can click on each of the boxes in the drop-down menu on the map to see the areas, hotels, or places to visit. This will make it much easier for you to organize your trip and choose where you want to stay.
Don’t miss my Colombia travel guide for all the information about the country.
I hope this post about where to stay in Santa Marta has been very useful in organize your visit to this Colombian city. If you have any questions, I encourage you to leave a comment or email me. See you next time!