Santa Marta or Cartagena de Indias

santa marta or cartagena de indias which one choose

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Are you traveling to Colombia and have doubts about your itinerary? Do you have to choose between visiting Santa Marta or Cartagena de Indias?

If you have time and you can, don’t rule out either, and visit these two cities. Both are historic cities, with incredible old towns, and surrounded by emblematic places.

But if you finally must decide for one of them, we are going to expose you briefly about each of them, so you can decide freely which one suits you or which one you feel like seeing more, Santa Marta or Cartagena de Indias.

Santa Marta

If you like history, get ready to discover Santa Marta! This is the oldest city in Colombia and the oldest in all of South America. Luckily, for its age, we can say that Santa Marta is very well preserved.

colorful houses in Santa marta street

Despite its history, the truth is that this city does not receive as many travelers as one might expect. Being so close to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, adventurers use it only as a commuter town, to start their trekking to the Lost City of Colombia the next day.

views of the lost city of santa marta marta in sunny day

Still, its streets adorned with colorful houses in the old town, seem to us a must-see before starting your tour from Santa Marta.

If you add to its charming narrow streets, its spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea, you get a perfect combination. The sunset by the sea in this area is especially beautiful, and the reddish tones leave some spectacular images.

If you’re left wanting more beach you can always take the tour to Punta Gallinas from Santa Marta. Punta Gallinas is the northernmost area of Colombia, where you will find paradisiacal beaches while being in the middle of a desert, the Auyama Desert.

taroa dunes by the sea in punta gallinas in Santa marta

Cartagena de Indias

A little more than 4 hours from Santa Marta, is Cartagena de Indias. This mythical colonial city is one of the must-see places in Colombia.

church in cartagena de indias with the sea in the background close to santa marta

Over the years, the city became an important port thanks to the ships that deposited gold from the area (mainly from Peru and Ecuador) to be transported to Spain. Thanks to this, the city had a great development, which today you can see in the two-day itinerary through Cartagena de Indias.

Its old quarter will allow you to travel back in time, to its greatest splendor. No wonder, it is considered the most beautiful city in the country as well as being one of the oldest cities in Colombia, behind Santa Marta.

colorful houses in cartagena de indias

If you are looking for a beach destination, here you have anything to envy Santa Marta. Very close to the city is the Isla del Pirata. It is a island paradise, with crystalline waters that will be the envy of your social networks.

So… Santa Marta or Cartagena de Indias?

Sorry, we can’t help you choose. If it’s up to us, we’ll take, without a doubt, both.

If you want our recommendation, you can choose the trip to Santa Marta as a more adventurous destination, and take the trekking to the Lost City of Colombia, and then travel to Cartagena de Indias to enjoy its paradisiacal beaches.

Be that as it may, both places are spectacular. The two cities are the most beautiful you can see in colonial Colombia, so whether you choose one city or the other, you will have made a good choice.

Have you already decided on Santa Marta or Cartagena de Indias? Which will finally be your next destination?

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