A beautiful view from within central Santa Marta-mobile

How to get from
Cartagena to Santa Marta

Cartagena to Santa Marta Trip Overview

Distance167 km (104.4 miles)
Price range$15-$432
Ride Duration Range3h 30m-5h 30m
Earliest Departure05:00
Latest Departure23:00

The best way to get from Cartagena to Santa Marta is by bus. The scenic trip along the coast typically takes around four hours. Buses depart every four hours so you will need to plan accordingly. Santa Marta is known for its beautiful beaches, so you’ll definitely want to bring your beach gear. There are also lots of great views and historical places to take pictures of while you are out and about. To experience the best weather, try and book a trip between November and April.

Travel Schedule Options from Cartagena to Santa Marta

Taking a bus from Cartagena to Santa Marta

Fastest bus: 3h 45m

Cheapest bus: $15

The fastest: 3h 45m

The cheapest: $15





Reclining Seats



English Speaking Staff

The fastest: 4h

The cheapest: $432


Free cancellations

Clean and comfortable cabin

Many departure times

Helpful drivers, service


Crowded vehicle

Possible language barriers

Few amenities offered - only basic necessities

Specific neighborhood pick up




The fastest: 3h 30m

The cheapest: $273






A beautiful view from within central Santa Marta

About the ride from Cartagena to Santa Marta

Cartagena is a beautiful, historical city to visit, but if you want to see a Caribbean seaside piece of paradise, Santa Marta is the place to be. The second oldest city in South America will welcome you with its stunning beaches, beautiful nature, and remarkable culture.

When traveling the 237 kilometer (147 mile) distance between Cartagena and Santa Marta, you have two options. You can travel with a minivan, which takes between 4 and 6 hours to arrive. If you need more privacy on your trip, you can book a private ride. There are cars available for 3 and 4 passengers, as well as private minivans for groups between 6 and 12 passengers. Private transportation is usually faster than shared, and you can choose your departure and drop off locations.

You can visit Santa Marta at any time of the year. However, the coastal city has two distinctive seasons that may impact your decision. The rainy season lasts from March to November, with the highest rainfall levels in October. The dry season lasts from December up to mid-March, and this is the best time to visit Santa Marta.


What to see when traveling from Cartagena to Santa Marta

What you are able to see outside of your window when traveling between Cartagena and Santa Marta depends on what time of the day your ride is leaving. If you’re leaving during the day, you’re in for a scenic ride. 

You’ll be traveling on Troncal del Caribe, a road that occasionally goes along the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Sit back and enjoy the views of the sun blazing over the blue waters. Your ride might also make a stop in Barranquilla during your journey, and you might be able to snap a few shots of the city from your window.

Once you arrive in Santa Marta, you’ll probably be craving some food and sea. Head to the beach for ceviche and a swim. During your stay here, you should explore the beautiful area around the city. Some of the must-see things are the magnificent Tayrona National Park, Playa Blanca, and La Ciudad Perdida Trek, which will take you to the “Lost City”, an ancient settlement built by the Tayrona people around the year 800 AD.

Did you know that Santa Marta is one of the cheapest places in the world where you can get a scuba diving certification? Well, now you do. The underwater spots around town are safe and beautiful for this kind of adventure. 

If you’re craving some local treats, visit the Santa Marta Public Market, where you’ll find fresh fish, fruits, and veggies, as well as unique local herbs. For those who don’t want to prepare the fish by themselves, there are many street food joints where you can try some of the tasty local fish specials.

For those who want to connect with other backpackers, divers, and party-goers, Taganga is the place to be. A small fishing village has turned into a tourism hotspot almost overnight. There are many dive shops, hostels, a few restaurants, and party places around here. From here, you can also hike to some secluded beaches, such as Playa Grande or Bonito Gordo.


How to get from Cartagena to Santa Marta


Taking a minivan 

Taking a minivan from Cartagena to Santa Marta is a fast and convenient way to travel between these two places. Most trips take around 4 hours to arrive in Santa Marta. Minivans are equipped with A/C and comfortable seating. They don’t have toilets on board, but the drivers will make frequent stops during your journey. You can choose between a shared and a private ride.


Driving  with a private car

For those who need more privacy during their trip between Cartagena and Santa Maria, there are private cars available. Cars are comfortable, and they have A/C. The drivers will make frequent stops during your trip for toilets and rest. There are cars available for 3 and 4 passengers. This is a more expensive option compared to minivans, but it’s a bit faster and more comfortable. Also, when you book a private car, you have the option to choose your departure time, pick up, and drop off locations.

Companies Operating from Cartagena to Santa Marta

Average time


Average price

$219 - $397


Average time

4h 40m

Average price

$249 - $432


Average time

3h 45m - 4h

Average price



Average time


Average price

$211 - $257


Average time


Average price



Popular stations and stops in Cartagena and Santa Marta

Departure stations in Cartagena

Terminal de Transportes de Cartagena

Cartagena Airport (CTG)

Cartagena - Any hotel

Cartagena - Any hotel

Cartagena Transport Terminal Terminal (Cartagena de Indias)

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Arrival stations in Santa Marta

Terminal de Transportes Santa Marta

Santa Marta - Any hotel

Marsol Transportes Santa Marta

Playa El Rodadero - Any hotel

Terminal de Transportes de Santa Marta

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