The oldest city in Colombia, romantic Santa Marta is fringed by beautiful beaches and the stunning mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range. Ancient ruins take cover in the lush mangrove forests of Tayrona National Park, the perfect spot for a day hike. Snorkel along vibrant reefs, then make your way to a café for a multicultural meal that incorporates the flavors of Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. When the sun goes down, the nightlife kicks up its heels in the bars and discos of the Parque de Los Novios.
It's always been a convenient base to explore the outstanding nearby attractions, including Ciudad Perdida and Parque Nacional Natural (PNN) Tayrona, but a complete overhaul of Parque de los Novios (also known as Parque Santander) and the pedestrianization of a number of neighboring streets has given the city some desperately needed public space. Evenings here are now filled with friends meeting, drinking and enjoying some of the area's great new restaurants.
Santa Marta attracts throngs of holidaymaking Colombians in search of the simple pleasures of rum, fun and sun. It's packed with revelers on weekends, sucking down snow cones, burying themselves in sand, and gathering along the rocky piers for glistening sunsets. The climate is hot, but the heat here is drier than Cartagena, and the evening sea breeze cools the city and makes it pleasant to wander about.