Overview Compare Flight Bus To Stay
How to get from Medellin to Santa Marta
Santa Marta is one of the main tourist hubs on Colombia’s north coast. It is the door to Tayrona park, one of the most beautiful and visited national parks in Colombia. Santa Marta is also a good jumping-off point to other popular destinations like Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Ciudad Perdida. In addition, it is well known for having some of the most affordable scuba diving centres in South America.
Note that Santa Marta’s city centre is quite small and there is no beach in that area. If you prefer to be by the beach, stay in the Rodadero area. Rodarero is more welcoming to tourists, safer than staying in Santa Marta’s city centre and is closer to the airport. Some backpackers also stay in Taganga, but bear in mind that this area is not as safe as Rodadero.
2 ways to get from Medellin to Santa Marta
|Flight||2 hours||$32.50 (150,000 COP)||Check Flights|
|Bus||15 hours 30 minutes||$26 (120,000 COP)||Check Bus Tickets|
From Medellin to Santa Marta is an 825 km distance(512 miles) and there are two ways to complete this journey: a 1-hour flight or a 15.5-hour bus ride. Fares range between $26 (120,000 COP) and $48 (220,000 COP).
Night buses are a great way to save money on accommodation, whilst catching some sleep at the same time. Most buses are very comfortable and offer a number of facilities, usually having more space than a plane. However, this particular ride may be too long for some people because it is over 15 hours!
Flying may be a more convenient option for those short on time. It takes a little more than one hour versus the 15 hours on the road with the bus. However, transfers to and from airports may increase the total cost in case you are on a budget.
In Colombia domestic flights are affordable and the price is often competitive with the bus rates. If you book some time in advance as well, the chances of finding a cheap flight significantly increase and can be equal or just a little above the bus fare.
If you do choose to fly from Medellin to Santa Marta, consider including a carbon compensation fee to help reduce your impact on the environment.
Medellin to Santa Marta by Flight
Step 1: Medellin city centre to airport
All flights to Santa Marta depart from Jose Maria Cordoba Airport (MDE), located 30 km from the city centre.
To get to Jose María Cordoba airport from Medellin city centre, there are three main options available every day: taxi, Colectivo or bus.
Taxis have a flat rate of $17.50 (80,000 COP) and take about 30 minutes. They are the safest option if you are flying at night.
Colectivos are shared taxis where you split the taxi cost with the other people. If there are 4 people you will pay $4.30 (20,000 COP). This option is good only if you do not have a lot of luggage. They depart from San Diego Mall in the city centre and go straight to the airport.
The bus service is provided by the company, Combuses. They depart every 15 minutes from San Diego Mall or in front of Nutibara hotel, both within the city centre area. They will all say ‘Aeropuerto JMC’ on the front and the cost is $2.30 (10,500 COP), which is to be paid directly to the driver.
Step 2: Medellin to Santa Marta by Flight
There are 3 airlines that offer direct flights from Medellin to Santa Marta; Avianca, Latam and Viva Air. In total, there are five departures a day, from 07:15 to 20:30. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.
Prices start from around $21.50 (100,000 COP) with a cabin-luggage-only option. Note that prices may increase if you book on short notice as well.
In terms of service, Avianca is a bigger airline and their service is superior. They offer refreshments, plus most planes have an individual tv and charging port. Another good option is Latam, who also offers a fairly good service.
Viva air, on the other hand, is a low-cost airline that charge extra for everything, even checking in at the airport. Most of the time their service is poor, so, unless the price difference with the other airlines is significant (which is not often the case), we don’t really recommend it.
Step 3: Santa Marta airport to city centre
Simon Bolivar International Airport in Santa Marta (SMR) is located 17 km from the city centre.
To get to the city centre, you can take a taxi from right outside the airport for around $7.50 (35,000 COP). The ride is about 30 minutes.
A much more affordable option is to take the public bus for $0.30 (1,500 COP), but keep in mind it will take much longer, sometimes over 1 hour, and it may get crowded.
The bus stop is outside the airport, past the car park. The bus line going towards the city centre is the ‘03’. This line also passes through the Rodadero area, in case you are staying there.
Somewhat confusing to most travellers, there are actually no set stops for buses in Santa Marta, so you just have to rely on the driver and other people for knowing where to get off.
Another popular option is to pre-arrange an airport pick-up with your hostel, hotel or Airbnb. This usually costs about the same as a taxi.
Medellin to Santa Marta by Bus
Step 1: Medellin to Santa Marta
Buses operating from Medellin to Santa Marta depart from Terminal del Norte. The main bus companies covering this route are Expreso Brasilia and Rápido Ochoa.
The buses are comfortable and include reclining seats, AC, a toilet, individual tvs and charging ports.
You can book your tickets online (showing them on a mobile is not sufficient, so make sure to print your ticket in advance!). You can also buy your ticket directly at the bus terminal, but keep in mind that night buses tend to sell out quickly, especially on weekends, so it is better to book ahead.
Bus schedule from Medellin to Santa Marta
|$23.50 (108,000 COP)|
Check Bus Tickets
|$27.50 (127,000 COP)|
Check Bus Tickets
Step 2: Santa Marta Bus Terminal to the city centre
The best way to get to Santa Marta city centre is to take a taxi. The fare should be around $1.70 (8,000 COP). If you are staying in either of the El Rodadero or Taganga areas, that fare will increase to around COP $5 (25,000 COP).
Our favourite places to stay in Santa Marta
Santa Marta is a great jumping-off point to many locations along the coast – Tayrona National Park, Palomino, Minca.
Here you’ll find budget-friendly options, as well as lots of luxury hotels that most of us can only dream about.
PRO:TIP: Santa Marta doesn’t showcase the best of what Colombia has to offer. We’d recommend staying for only 1 night on your way to your next destination.
Check out our recommendations located in the best areas of Santa Marta:
Casa Verano Beach Hotel - Treat Yourself
You can’t get much closer to the beach than at Casa Verano Beach Hotel. 10 steps and your feet will be covered by the golden sand. Here you can switch between the sea and the outdoor swimming pool surrounded by palm trees.
The rooms continue with the oasis feel. They’re the perfect place to retreat to at the end of the day. The staff will also help you to have the most peaceful and memorable stay possible.
- Right next to the beach
- Swimming pool
- Adults only
- Superb breakfast included
Double rooms costs $80+ per night
Casa de Leda - Mid Range
You’re missing out if you don’t stay at Casa de Leda. It’s interior offers a magical mixture of colonial style and modern decor. Here you’ll find a spa, rooftop terrace with a bar and an indoor pool.
You can’t get much better location-wise. You’ll be situated within Santa Marta’s historical centre, and you can enjoy panoramic views of the cathedral.
- Best location
- Stunning interior
- Indoor pool and spa
- Great breakfast included
Double rooms cost between $40-$80 per night
Akuamarina Hotel - Budget Friendly
You won’t quite believe what you get for the price here. Not many budget-friendly places have a hot tub on the roof or a water feature in the centre of the hotel.
The rooms are large and clean, boasting splashes of aqua throughout the room. You can’t ask for a much better location either. It’s close to lots of amenities and the historic centre.
- Rooftop hot tub and bar
- Friendly and helpful staff
- Great location
- Excellent breakfast included
Double rooms start from $20 per night
Santa Marta Travel Guides
A guide to Santa Marta, Colombia | Best restaurants & things to do
Routes from Santa Marta
Santa Marta to Minca (and back)
Most popular routes in Colombia
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Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.