The Best Backpacker Hostels in Santa Marta, Colombia

Photo of Sorrel Moseley-Williams
Writer2 June 2021

If you’re backpacking in Colombia, the Caribbean beach town of Santa Marta has many budget-friendly places to stay, allowing you to save money for experiences, such as visiting the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) or Tayrona National Park. From beachside abodes with a party vibe to characterful rooms in colonial mansions, here’s our pick of the best hostels in the city – bookable with Culture Trip.

Selina Palomino

Hotel
Map View
Selina_Palomino
Courtesy of Selina Palomino / Expedia

About 51mi (82km) from Santa Marta and just a 20-minute walk to a white sandy Caribbean beach, Selina Palomino offers a swag bag of rooms, from hotel-standard suites to stylish eight-person dorms. Digital nomads will appreciate the co-working space, while there’s a swimming pool for the days you don’t fancy the walk to the beach. Food-wise, there’s a small restaurant and a communal kitchen. Selina also helps locate local guides and yoga instructors and showcases a range of cross-cultural programs.

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Cacao Hostel

Hostel
Map View
Courtesy of Cacao Hostel / Booking.com

Just a 10-minute walk from the historic center, Cacao Hostel covers all the essentials, complete with meals, laundry service and even a poolside bar. All dorms and private rooms feature air conditioning, an essential in steamy Santa Marta. Breakfast is included, while lunch and a family-style dinner are also available. Cool off in the patio plunge pool before lounging away in a hammock, drink in hand. The friendly Cacao staff can help you get to the Lost City in the scenic Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

La Guaca Hostel

Hostel
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Courtesy of La Guaca Hostel / Booking.com

Enormous windows ensure natural illumination at La Guaca Hostel, a spacious former residence, where dorms and private rooms are packed with colorful details and Colombian character. The outside plunge pool is a treat, and aside from the included breakfast, the small cafe serves tapas, pizzas and burgers. The communal areas, such as the plant-adorned lounge and patio, feature strung-up hammocks and sociable benches, creating a perfect environment for meeting fellow travelers over evening beers.

República Hostel Santa Marta

Hostel
Map View
Courtesy of República Hostel Santa Marta / Booking.com

Sitting opposite Parque Bolívar and close to the public beach, the República Hostel Santa Marta is well located for reaching a number of historical sights, restaurants and bars. The dorms and ensuite private rooms are equipped with air conditioning, and there’s a communal kitchen and laundry service. Also, the friendly staff can help with airport connections and tour tips. The small bar serves cold beer until 11pm, while the Spanish colonial patio – the República’s social hub – has a refreshing pool.

Aluna Casa y Cafe

Hostel
Map View
Courtesy of Aluna Casa y Cafe / Expedia

For those travelers looking for tranquility rather than the party scene in Santa Marta’s city center, the sunny dorms and ensuite private rooms at Aluna Casa hit the spot. While breakfast isn’t included, there’s a communal kitchen, and Aluna’s cafe offers tasty meals. There are also plenty of places to eat nearby. The shaded rooftop terrace is perfect for planning your day or unwinding. You can also count on laundry service and tour assistance.

Playa del Ritmo Beach Hostel and Bar

Hostel
Map View
Courtesy of Playa del Ritmo Beach Hostel and Bar / Expedia

South of the city and right on the beach, Playa del Ritmo makes for a great base for tons of outdoor activities, such as swimming, diving, kayaking, beach volleyball and football. Dorms and private rooms come with ocean or lagoon and mountain views. Playa del Ritmo’s restaurant menu includes veggie options; you can also use the communal kitchen or snap up ice-cold beer at the bar.

Viajero Hostel Santa Marta

Hostel
Map View
Courtesy of Viajero Hostel Santa Marta / Expedia

Party spot Viajero has air-conditioned private rooms and dorms. Spacious communal areas include a restaurant serving arepas (maize patties) and ceviche and an expansive rooftop terrace with mountain views. Travelers will revel in the large plunge pool and the bar that ensures live-music parties are a blast. The hostel offers excursion packages for sailing the bay, diving in Tayrona and ecotourism in the small Sierra Nevada village of Minca, including mountain biking and hiking.

Casa Avelina Hostal

Hostel
Map View
Courtesy of Casa Avelina Hostal / Expedia

Two levels of recycled shipping containers, fitted with doors, large windows and balconies, were added to this post-colonial house to create the Casa Avelina Hostel. It also includes a village square-style courtyard housing a Colombian restaurant, a cocktail bar and separate areas for gatherings. Aside from the game room, complete with a pool table, there are live-music dance parties and free twice-weekly city tours.

Tunido

Hostel
Map View
Courtesy of Tunido / Expedia

This colonial-style house sits in the city center across from the Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis and within a five-minute walk of the Museo del Oro Tairona (indigenous museum). The day starts with a complimentary breakfast, while supper is a communal and vegetarian affair. The friendly staff will help organize excursions and transportation. Accommodation spans from simple private rooms and dorms to a women-only option.

Drop Bear Hostel

Hostel
Map View

Fancy sleeping in a former kingpin’s mansion? Then live out your narco fantasies for real in this funky hostel that was once a hideout for Santa Marta’s most nefarious crime lords. Drug trafficking aside, the hostel is a hit for its super-comfy beds, swimming pool and sociable vibe.

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  • La Brisa Loca

    Resort, Hostel
    Map View
    Courtesy of La Brisa Loca / Expedia

    Set in a century-old mansion, this beautiful hostel is famous for its wild parties. With space for 90 backpackers throughout the plush complex, the fiestas (parties) at La Brisa Loca are undeniably loca (crazy). The best action takes place on the buzzing rooftop terrace, although you’ll also love hanging by the beautiful indoor pool amid a lush ivory-clad courtyard.

    Calle 11 Hostel

    Resort, Hostel
    Map View

    Travelers looking to spend some time relaxing by the beach should opt to stay in glitzy El Rodadero, and there’s no better hostel in this fashionable seaside suburb than the uber-chic Calle 11 Hostel. This affluent whitewashed building, a former mafioso mansion, is set around a tranquil garden overlooking an extravagant pool. Inside, the facilities are well above par, cementing its place among the fanciest hostels in the city.

    Dreamer Santa Marta

    Hostel
    Map View
    Courtesy of Dreamer Santa Marta / Hostelworld

    Despite lying in the outskirts, the Dreamer Santa Marta is a hit among backpackers for its super-social vibe and fun recreational activities. It’s a party hostel, so don’t come expecting any peace and quiet. But then again, those looking to escape the mayhem can jump on a bus nearby en route to the pristine Tayrona National Park.

    Masaya Santa Marta

    Resort, Hostel
    Map View
    Courtesy of Masaya Santa Marta / Expedia

    A backpacker’s hostel or plush vacation resort? The difference is barely distinguishable in what might well be the most lavish hostel in Colombia. With no less than two swimming pools, an indoor cinema, an open kitchen and loads of funky decor throughout, the impossibly stylish Masaya Santa Marta takes flashpacking to a whole new level.

    La Galeria del Arte

    Bed and Breakfast
    Map View

    More of a bed and breakfast than a hostel per se, La Galeria del Arte is a hit with more mature budget travelers who seek quiet and friendly accommodation in the heart of the city. As the name suggests, the complex is adorned with fancy modern art courtesy of the talented owners who love to share their craft. Best of all, delicious home-cooked Italian cuisine is offered nightly in an intimate setting.

    Harry Stewart contributed additional reporting.

    These recommendations were updated on June 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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