Santa Marta is a favorite destination for those traveling across the north of Colombia. It is a small city with beautiful beaches both inside the city itself, and in more remote locations outside of the city centre. However, the most important thing about getting to Santa Marta from Cartagena is that it is the entrance point to a paradise: Tayrona National Park.
Getting to Santa Marta from Cartagena by Public Transportation
This is the most economic option but the longest way to get to Santa Marta if you are on a budget and have the time to do it. You just need to keep in mind that the bus terminal in Cartagena is located far from the centre, about 1hour by bus or 40 minutes by taxi, which could cost you around COP$20.000 (About $7USD)
If you are close to the statue of la India Catalina on Avenida Pedro de Heredia, look for the bus company Metrocar, which will bring you to the bus terminal (There are many different bus routes, before getting on a bus, ask the driver if he goes to the terminal). The bus fare is less than $1USD. When you arrive at the Cartagena Bus Terminal, look for the companies Brasilia or Berlinas. The price for the Cartagena to Santa Marta route should be about $15USD, no matter which company. However, since we are in the land of haggling, try asking for a discount. The trip to Santa Marta takes about 4 hours.
We recommend that if you travel by bus, do it during the day so that you have time to find accommodations in Santa Marta and get a feel for the city. Keep in mind also that, like in Cartagena, the bus terminal in Santa Marta is also located outside of the city centre.
Shuttle transfer service
This is without doubt the quickest, easiest, and most secure way to get from Cartagena to Santa Marta by land. A modern van will take you from a meeting point in Cartagena to the city of Santa Marta or vice versa.
Marsol and Berlinas are the two most well known companies that offer this shuttle service from Cartagena. You can book your sit for you from the comfort of your own home. Just click here
You can reach Palomino by bus from Cartagena a small beach town on the country’s northern Caribbean coast, is a popular destination, especially among backpackers. Sporting a laid back and hipster vibe, it is a great stop on a tour of Colombia’s northern coast. From the public market in Santa Marta, there are regular buses that leave every 15 minutes (they are the same buses that go to Tayrona). UPDATE 2021: ROUTES TO PALOMINO AND TAYRONA FROM CARTAGENA ARE TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED. YOU MUST GO TO SANTA MARTA FIRST AND TAKE A PUBLIC BUS FROM THE PUBLIC MARKET.
Tubing on the Palomino River is probably the most popular thing to do in Palomino
What to do in Santa Marta?
Once in Santa Marta you can visit the beaches in the city like Rodadero or Playa de los Cocos and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and the vibrant night time environment, which we certainly recommend. Also Try to walk through the historic centre, the artisanal market, visit the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino where Simón Bolívar spent his last days and died, Parque de los novios, here you’ll find the Palace of Justice to one side and nice restaurants and bars to the other. Locals and tourists both hang out here.
Taganga is also a great place to stay for an extended period of time in order to really get a feel for the local way of life and it's just 20 minutes away from Santa Marta. It began as a small fishing town, and the nightlife has a bohemian feel with a variety of bars where you can enjoy a drink with a beach side view. From Taganga you can take a boat directly to Tayrona National Park.
Some of the best beaches in Santa Marta are Chengue Beach, Cabo San Juan, Bahia Concha, and Cristal Beach, Playa Neguanje among others.
When is Tayrona Park closed?
Tayrona National Park will be closed 3 times in 2021
Tayrona closures were reconfirmed by the official account @parquescolombia The National Park will be closed during:
📌 February: 1st - 29th
📌June: 1st - 15th
📌 Since October 19th to November 2nd
Remember that in order to travel to certain regions of Colombia you must have received the Yellow Fever vaccine at least 15 days prior to your departure date.
These regions include: La Guajira, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, los Llanos Orientales, la Amazonía, la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Atlantic Coastline. If you plan to visit jungles or natural parks, it is recommended that you also receive the tetanus vaccine. Other recommended vaccinations include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid Fever, MMR (Mumps, Measles, Rubella) and diphtheria-tetanus. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online chat feature if you have more questions or concerns about activities and things to do and see during your vacation.
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