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For a few great days of jungle treks, pristine Caribbean waters, rowdy nightlife and sand in your shorts, head for Santa Marta. This attractive Colombian town has sweeping views of the sea and a little urban core with busy shops and cafés, cheap hotels and fun salsatecas. It's popular with domestic tourists and in the off-season you can get good deals at the beachside resorts. There are excellent opportunities for eco-tourism around Santa Marta, including cheap scuba diving at nearby Taganga and camping at Parque Nacional Tayrona. With time and lots of energy, it's possible to trek to Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City), one of the biggest ...

For a few great days of jungle treks, pristine Caribbean waters, rowdy nightlife and sand in your shorts, head for Santa Marta. This attractive Colombian town has sweeping views of the sea and a little urban core with busy shops and cafés, cheap hotels and fun salsatecas. It's popular with domestic tourists and in the off-season you can get good deals at the beachside resorts. There are excellent opportunities for eco-tourism around Santa Marta, including cheap scuba diving at nearby Taganga and camping at Parque Nacional Tayrona. With time and lots of energy, it's possible to trek to Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City), one of the biggest pre-Columbian towns in South America. It's a six-day hike to get there and back and guided trips can be arranged in Santa Marta. Sites worth visiting in Santa Marta itself include the excellent Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) and the Quinta de san Pedro Alejandrino, where Simón Bolívar spent his final days and died. On weekends, salsa addicts should not miss the lively downtown bars and clubs.

Michael Kohn
About the Expert

Michael Kohn is the author of Lonely Planet guides to Israel & the Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Tibet, Central Asia, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka.

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Michael Kohn for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Northern coast of Colombia by the Caribbean Sea.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Colombian Peso
  • Research: Wikitravel | wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December-March or July-August