Santa Marta is situated on the northern Colombia-Caribbean coast. To get there, from San Gil, I took my first Colombian over night bus taking about 13 hours and arrived early in the morning at the slightly overheated bus terminal.
First impression was the crazy heat of the place, but not many people stay in Santa Marta for long (as it is a love/ hate city) and choose to carry on to the surrounding areas of Taganga, Tayrona National Park, Lost City Treck.
I stayed in Santa Marta for 1 day (which was enough time) to explore the large historic port city. Yes for me it was hot, dusty and crowded city, but after the mid day heat has passed, a nice stroll around the old city is perfect. My advice is not to stay right in the centre, unless your hostel/hotel comes with a pool to cool off. Stay slightly further out of the main hub, which has cheaper accommodation and nice to get away from the noise. It doesn’t cost much to get a taxi in or walk in.
The city itself has a lot of historic importance with it being the base of the Spanish contest from around 1525. Sites such as The Cathedral of Santa Marta which use to hold the remains of Simon Bolivar, The Gold Museum