Colombia’s oldest city, ancient ruins, a floating village, spectacular beaches and a towering mountain range are all found in this Costa Caribe region.

With centuries-old colonial history, coastal towns, excellent diving opportunities and superb wildlife spotting, Magdalena is one of Colombia’s favorite tourist destinations. Magdalena is a department located in the central area of the Costa Caribe. It has a natural landscape made up of the Caribbean Sea coastline, marshland, rivers and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains.

Start your tour in Santa Marta, which in 1525 became the first Colombian city settled by Spanish colonists. Learn about regional history at the Custom’s House, Tayrona Gold Museum and Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino. Swim in calm water at Playa Blanca and enjoy panoramic views from Ziruma Hill. Go to Taganga for competitively priced scuba diving excursions and try adventure sports in Mamancana Natural Reserve.

Spend some time hopping between the attractive coves and blissful beaches of Tayrona National Park. Among several to choose from are Concha Bay, Cristal Beach and Gairaca Beach. Hike amid a verdant jungle to Cabo San Juan, a popular backpacker hangout. Experience the way of life of the Tayrona indigenous people at Pueblito.

Venture into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, dominated by the soaring snowcapped peaks of Pico Cristóbal Colón and Pico Simón Bolivar. Visit the indigenous township called Bonda and take scenic walks to coffee farms, swimming holes and waterfalls in Minca. Join a multiday hike through lush surroundings to Ciudad Perdida, a ruined city thought to date back to the 9th century.

Another interesting place to see is the Salamanca Island Nature Reserve, home to almost 200 bird species. Marvel at the colorful stilted houses in Trojas de Cataca, a fishing village set on the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta swamp. Don’t miss Mompox, which is arguably Colombia’s finest colonial settlement.

Santa Marta is the main gateway to Magdalena’s attractions and its Simón Bolívar International Airport receives flights from Bogotá, Cartagena and Medellín. After a busy day, dine on delicious seafood, be entertained by drumming troupes and reflect on your newfound travel knowledge.