A Travel Price Comparison for Colombia Santa Marta vs. Medellin for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Santa Marta or Medellin?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Santa Marta and Medellin can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Where Should I go: Santa Marta or Medellin?

Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a city in the Magdalena Department of Colombia's Costa Norte. Over the last decade, security has steadily been replacing the shadow of the Colombia's violent past. One destination in Colombia's northeast region is now attracting more international visitors: the coastal Caribbean area of Santa Marta. Established in 1525 by the Spanish as a base of conquest, Santa Marta sits at the foot of the world's highest coastal mountain range, the towering Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is South America's oldest European-founded town and the second most important colonial city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. While many travelers complain about Santa Marta's horrible traffic and unsightly urban sprawl, the city holds a numerous amounts of great hotels, bars and restaurants and holds a few fantastic destinations nearby to which you can go during the daytime.


In addition to big improvements in public safety, Medellin has witnessed a huge surge in urban development projects, including Colombia's first metro system and cable cars to service poorer neighborhoods located high on the mountain sides. There is an abundance of parks, libraries, museums and public spaces with many cultural events taking place. Many travelers also enjoy visiting the surrounding villages, where life is simple and landscapes and nature reserves are wonderful. Medellin has now become one of the "it" cities in the world, with tons of tourists visiting and foreigners settling and retiring here. Beautiful mountains, warm weather, friendly locals, and a vibrant culture are just a few of the reasons why you should visit Medellin.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Eco Tours in Colombia, The Best Food and Culinary Tours in Colombia, The Best Luxury Tours to Colombia, and The Best G Adventures Tours to Colombia.

Which place is cheaper, Medellin or Santa Marta?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Santa Marta is $32, while the average daily cost in Medellin is $23. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Santa Marta and Medellin in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Santa Marta $14
    Medellin $4.75
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Santa Marta $28
    Medellin $9.50
Compare Hotels in Santa Marta and Medellin

Looking for a hotel in Santa Marta or Medellin? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Santa Marta

Hotels in Medellin

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Santa Marta Hotel Prices and Medellin Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Santa Marta $5.27
    Medellin $4.14
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Santa Marta

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Santa Marta:

  • Gas

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Marta

Also for Santa Marta, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • 1.Transfer to TAYRONA park from Cartagena Private or Viceversa.: $256
  • Arrival or Departure Transfer: Simón Bolívar Airport: $14
  • Barranquilla / Santa Marta Transfer: $245
  • Cartagena / Santa Marta Transfer: $340
  • Cartagena to or from Santa Marta Private Transfer: $146
  • Exclusive transfer Santa Marta - Cartagena: $229
  • Exclusive transfer Santa Marta Airport - Tayrona Park Sector: $64
  • Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Santa Marta: $25
  • Private Arrival or Departure Transfer: Simon Bolivar Airport (One Way): $12
  • Private Transfer Santa Marta to Palomino (or vice versa): $121
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta Cruise Port to Cartagena hotels: $76
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta Cruise Port to Cartagena hotels: $68

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Medellin

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Medellin:

  • Taxi

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Medellin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Medellin:

  • Transfer in private minivan Guatape- Medellin airport (MDE): $42
  • Transfer from or to Medellin's airport: $55
  • Transfer Private Car from Medellin city - Medellin Airport (MDE): $23
  • Transfer Private Car from Medellin Airport (MDE) - Medellin city: $23
  • Transfer Jose Maria Cordoba Airport -Hotel or Accommodation: $79
  • Transfer José María Córdova Airport - Medellin - Private Ride Airport .. !!: $45
  • Santa Marta Airport to Santa Marta (or vice versa) Private Transfer : $16
  • RoundtripTransfer Privatecar Medellin Airport (MDE) Medellin City: $40
  • Private Transfer from MDE Airport to Hotels and City of Medellín: $120
  • Private Transfer Jose Marie Cordova Airport to Medellin Bello: $100
  • Private Round Transfer to Guatape lakes and Penol rock!: $239
  • Private Medellin Airport Transfer with English-Speaking Driver: $50

Is it cheaper to fly into Santa Marta or Medellin?

Prices for flights to both Medellin and Santa Marta change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Santa Marta $10
    Medellin $9.61
Typical Food Prices in Santa Marta

For Santa Marta, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:

  • Breakfast

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Marta

For Santa Marta, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City Half-Day : $66
  • Santa Marta Street Food Tour: $75
  • Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City: $77

Typical Food Prices in Medellin

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Medellin:

  • Lunch

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Medellin

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Medellin.

  • Homemade Paisa Dinner at a Local's Home in Medellín: $71
  • Half-Day Food Tour Visiting the Best Viewpoints in Medellín!: $75
  • Sabor Colombiano Cooking Studio: $75
  • Food Tour in An Authentic Culinary Experience: $109
  • Combo Tour: Street Art, Christmas Lights and Food Tour in Medellin: $131
  • Medellin tour with Fernando Botero´s, street art and food tour: $138
  • Medellin City Tour Including The History of Tango and Lunch or Dinner: $138
  • Full Day Private Medellin City, Street Art and Food Tour: $145
  • Private tour: Medellin City – Pablo Escobar and Food Tour: $166
  • Combo Tour: Metro System, Christmas Lights and Food Tour of Medellin: $166
  • Combo Tour: Dark days & Christmas tour Including Lunch or Dinner: $166
  • A Night Out in Medellin with Dinner and Drinks Included: $175

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Santa Marta $14
    Medellin $13

Tours and Activities in Santa Marta

For Santa Marta, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Old Town, Harbour & Highlights Self-guided Tour: $6.28
  • Skip the Line: Santa Marta Marine World Aquarium Admission Ticket and Guide: $6.67
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: the Pearl of America: $6.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - Botanical Garden: $10
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino : $10
  • Cultural Heritage Tour Santa Marta: $16
  • Santa Marta Bike Tour: $16
  • BE RELAX TOUR - Bahia Concha: $22
  • Full Day Tour to Bahía Concha and Tayrona Park with Pickup: $25
  • Horse Riding at La Mello Adventure Lodge: $35
  • Guided Walking Food Experience: $38
  • Santa Marta Food Experience: $39

Tours and Activities in Medellin

Here are a few actual costs in Medellin for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Medellin City Private Tour: $83
  • Private Full Day Tour in Guatape: $40
  • Private Tour to Explore Comuna 13 in Medellín: $65
  • Private tour Guatapé Peñol stone and coffee farm: $139
  • 2 Hour Medellin Off Road ATV Experiences: $160
  • 3 Hours City Tour in Medellin Colombia: $27
  • 4 hours Private Pablo Escobar Dark days Tour of Medellin: $60
  • 5-Hour Coffee and Pablo Express Mix Tour in Medellín: $110
  • ATV Quad Tour from Medellin with Transportation : $132
  • ATV Tour 3 Mountains Medellin: $170
  • ATV | Medellín: Quad Tour : $155
  • Amazing Arvi natural reserve private tour: $118

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Santa Marta $6.71
    Medellin $7.21
Typical Alcohol Prices in Santa Marta

Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Santa Marta from other travelers:

  • Beer
  • Beer

Sample the Local Flavors in Medellin

Also in Medellin, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Medellin Pub Crawl Including Food and City Tour: $139

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Santa Marta and Medellin, we can see that Santa Marta is more expensive. And not only is Medellin much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Medellin would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Medellin and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Santa Marta would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Santa Marta than you might in Medellin.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Santa Marta Expensive? and Is Medellin Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Santa Marta or Medellin?

Medellin has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Santa Marta. When comparing the sizes of Santa Marta and Medellin, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.