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Introducing Santa Marta

Santa Marta's grace as a colonial city has faded under newer concrete buildings, but its proximity to the sea still makes it an attractive destination. For Colombians, this is one of the most popular tourist towns in the country, offering liberal amounts of sun, rum and long stretches of sandy beachfront property.

Among the city's attractions are an aquarium and the grand hacienda where Simón Bolívar died. But most travelers simply use Santa Marta as a jumping-off point for nearby attractions. El Rodadero, just to the south, is a fashionable beach resort. North of Santa Marta is the attractive fishing village of Taganga and, further northeast, the beautiful Parque Nacional Tayrona. Santa Marta is also the place to organize a trip to Ciudad Perdida, Tayrona's great pre-Hispanic city.

The climate is hot, but the sea breeze, especially in the evening, cools the city and makes it pleasant to wander about, or to sit over a beer or juice in any of the numerous open-air waterfront cafés.