The city and municipality of Santa Marta is in northern Colombia, along the shores of the Caribbean Sea, against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains. Santa Marta is the capital of the Magdalena Department, an important sea port and nerve centre of tourism, history and culture.
Expreso Brasilia does several daily trips from Bogota to Santa Marta (16 hours) and the 13-hour trip from Medellin to Santa Marta via Barranquilla.
Use our Santa Marta Transportation Guide below for all the information you need to know about transportation to and within Santa Marta. Further information about the many exciting things to see and do in Santa Marta can be found in our Santa Marta Destination Guide and Santa Marta Tours page. For transportation options across Colombia see our Colombia Transportation Guide.
Santa Marta is connected to Bogotá and other Colombian cities by daily flights. Both Avianca and Aerorepública have several daily flights on the Bogotá-Santa Marta and Medellin-Santa Marta routes. The El Rodadero airport outside the city limits, en route to Barranquilla, is used for these domestic flights. The Simón Bolívar Airport is about 16 kms from the city centre.
International airlines flying in to El Dorado Airport at Bogotá are Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air Canada, Air France, American Airlines, Avianca, Continental Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta, Iberia, KLM, LAN, Mexicana, and Varig.
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world.
Bus links from Santa Marta to other cities are reasonably good. Daily, air-conditioned services operate to Bogotá, Cartagena, Medellin, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga. To get to the bus terminal located on the city's southeastern outskirts, take a minibus from Carrera 1C in the city centre.
The 16-hour trip to Bogotá costs US$ 41. Bucaramanga is 9 hours away and the fare is US$ 28. There are six daily services to both destinations. Buses to Barranquilla ((US$ 4, 1¾ hours) leave at 15-30 minute intervals. Some of them go directly to Cartagena (4 hours, US$ 10). If you miss one, you can always get on to a connecting bus at Barranquilla.
You can also utilise bus services to neighbouring Venezuela since Santa Marta lies on the routes Cartagena-Caracas (Venezuela) and Cartagena-Maicao (Colombia). Direct bus services ply from Santa Marta to Maracaibo in Venezuela (7 hours).
There are half-hourly buses to Maicao (US$ 10, 4 hours). From here, hop into a colectivo (a shared taxi or mini-bus) going to Maracaibo (Venezuela). Colectivos have regular departures from 5 am to 3 pm going up to Maracaibo's bus terminal (2 ½ hours, US$ 10). Maicao has a reputation for being unsafe, so it's best not to venture outside the bus terminal and leave the place as quickly as possible.
Expreso Brasilia, Expresos Amerlujo and Unitransco/Bus Ven operate three direct Santa Marta-Maracaibo services daily (US$29, 7 hours). Originating in Cartagena, the buses halt at Santa Marta and proceed to Maracaibo and Caracas. Passport formalities are completed at the border checkpoint of Paraguachón. While crossing over from Colombia to Venezuela, you can change money and set your watch one hour ahead to Venezuelan time. Also, be prepared to hand over your baggage for a thorough search before entering Venezuela.
Besides being an important trading port, Santa Marta also accommodates cruise ships which can dock at the Irotama Resort Golf and Marina.
Getting Around Santa Marta
It's useful to be familiar with the system of street numbering when going around Santa Marta. The beach is "Carrera 1" (1st Street). The actual first street therefore becomes "Carrera 1A (1A Street). The street following the first row of buildings becomes Carrera 2 (2nd Street). Streets going north-south are "Calles".
While taxi fares in larger Colombian cities are charged by the meter, Santa Marta's cabbies operate more informally. A 10-minute ride will cost 3,500 pesos, a longer ride as much as 20,000 pesos or more, depending on your destination. A transfer to the Tayrona Park costs 60'000 pesos from the city of Santa Marta, 70'000 pesos from Rodadero, 68'000 pesos from Taganga and 80'000 pesos from the airport
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Visitors can also travel by bus to areas near Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park as these are extremely economical.
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