Nestled on the Caribbean coast of Colombia lies the charming city of Santa Marta. Often referred to as the gateway to Colombia’s famous Tayrona National Park, this tropical city boasts a unique blend of culture, and history. The city’s natural beauty, warm climate, and welcoming people make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. In this article, we will explore the wonderful destination that is Santa Marta.
Santa Marta is the oldest surviving city in South America and was founded in 1525 by Spanish conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas. The city served as an important port for the Spanish during their colonization of the Americas, as it was the starting point for expeditions to the interior of the country. The city was also an important center for trade, as it was located on the main route between Europe and the Caribbean. It’s also the birthplace of many notable figures in Colombian history, including the country’s first president, Simón Bolívar.
Santa Marta has a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. The city is known for its warm and pleasant weather, but I must warn you, it can get hot! The average temperature ranges from 79°F to 86°F, with only small variations throughout the year. The hottest months are usually July and August, with temperatures reaching up to 93°F during the day. The coolest months are December and January, with average temperatures around 75°F.
Due to its location near the Caribbean Sea, Santa Marta experiences a high level of humidity, with levels ranging from 70% to 90%. This can make the temperature feel hotter than it actually is, and can also cause some discomfort for those who are not used to such high levels of humidity. While the weather is generally warm and pleasant, the city does experience a rainy season from May to November. During this time, heavy rain showers can be expected, often in the afternoon or evening. However, even during the rainy season, the weather is generally mild, with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures.
The Cathedral of Santa Marta
Santa Marta is a city that is steeped in history and culture, and there is much to see and do. The city’s historic center is one of its main attractions, and visitors can explore the charming colonial buildings that line its streets. The Cathedral of Santa Marta, located in the city’s main square, is also a popular attraction, and is one of the oldest churches in South America.
The Cathedral of Santa Marta was originally constructed as a small wooden chapel in 1525, and was later replaced by a larger, more substantial structure. The cathedral has undergone several renovations over the years, with the most recent being completed in 2009. The Cathedral is notable for its impressive façade, which features a series of arches and columns in a neoclassical style. The interior of the cathedral is equally impressive, with high vaulted ceilings, intricate carvings, and stunning stained glass windows.
Visitors can also admire the impressive altar, which is decorated with gold leaf and a multitude of intricate carvings. One of the most interesting features of the Cathedral is the crypt, which is located below the main altar. The crypt is home to the remains of the city’s founder, Rodrigo de Bastidas, as well as other important historical figures.
Parks and Beaches
For nature lovers, Santa Marta has all kinds of offerings. The city is located near several stunning beaches, including El Rodadero and Taganga, both of which are popular spots for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. The nearby Tayrona National Park is another must-visit attraction, offering visitors the chance to hike through lush jungle and explore secluded beaches. Of note, the yellow fever vaccine is required to enter Tayrona National Park.
Colombian cuisine is as diverse as the country’s landscapes, and Santa Marta is no exception. The city’s coastal location means that seafood is a staple of local cuisine, and visitors can sample fresh fish, shrimp, and lobster at many of the city’s restaurants. Other popular dishes include arepas, a type of cornbread, and bandeja paisa, a hearty dish made with rice, beans, meat, and plantains. If you want to learn more about traditional Colombian dishes, check out this article titled “Colombian Food” we released in February of 2021.
One cafe I enjoyed visiting during my stay was Ikaro Cafe. Ikaro is a charming coffee shop located in the heart of Santa Marta. The cafe is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. It offers a warm and inviting atmosphere for those looking to enjoy a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. The interior is cozy and welcoming, with comfortable seating and a laid-back vibe. The cafe is decorated with colorful artwork and plants, which add to the relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
In addition to coffee, Ikaro also offers a range of other drinks and snacks. The cafe’s smoothies and juices are made with fresh fruits and vegetables, and are a great option for those looking for a healthy and refreshing drink. The menu also includes a selection of sandwiches and salads, as well as pastries and desserts.
Santa Marta is a popular destination for tourists, and the city has a range of accommodations to suit all budgets. Visitors can choose from luxury hotels, budget hostels, and everything in between. There are also a plethora of Airbnb’s available throughout the city. Santa Marta’s location on the coast makes it a popular spot for beach-goers, while the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains offer opportunities for hiking and eco-tourism.
Santa Marta is a city that loves to celebrate, and there are several annual events that draw visitors from near and far. The most famous of these is the Festival of the Sea, which takes place in July and celebrates the city’s fishing heritage with parades, music, and dancing. Other popular events include the International Poetry Festival, which takes place in May, and the Festival of the Cumbia, a music and dance festival that celebrates the region’s Afro-Colombian heritage.
Santa Marta is worth the visit
Santa Marta is a city that has a lot to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or just soaking up the sun on a beautiful beach, this tropical paradise is well worth the visit.