Simón Bolívar Santa Marta Airport, photo by Jeancarlos - Medellin Guru
We provide a guide to Simón Bolívar International Airport – the Santa Marta airport with code SMR, which is the seventh largest airport in Colombia.

Santa Marta Airport Guide: Simón Bolívar Airport (SMR)

Simón Bolívar International Airport is the seventh largest airport in Colombia in terms of passengers. And it’s the Santa Marta airport for all flights to the city, with airport code SMR.

We previously provided airport guides for several of the airports in Colombia. And several Medellin Guru readers asked us to also provide a guide to the Santa Marta airport – Simón Bolívar International Airport – as they are planning to go to Santa Marta on vacation.

Also, located near to Santa Marta are two major tourist sites in Colombia: the popular and beautiful Parque Tayrona along the coast and also Ciudad Perdida – Colombia’s lost city.

The above photo from the air of the Santa Marta Airport is by Jeancarlos.

View of the Santa Marta airport from a boat, photo by Taggen

View of the Santa Marta airport from a boat, photo by Taggen

History of Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR)

Construction of the Santa Marta airport was started in December 1949 by Lineas Aéreas Nacionales (LANSA) with a goal to serve the nearby region.

In its early days the Santa Marta Airport, which is located on the coast, was used to operate by water and land. It was used by seaplanes and also by aircraft that landed on land.

By 1994, this airport had become insufficient to handle the increase of tourism to Santa Marta with the airport handling 1.5 million to 1.7 million passengers per year. So, in early 1995 an airport renovation and expansion project was initiated.

Over the next three years the terminal building was expanded to over double in size so it could serve up to 2.6 million passengers per year. Also, five new baggage carousels were added, the parking lot was expanding and a new air-conditioning system was added.

VivaAir Airbus A320 at a jetway bridge at the Santa Marta Airport, photo by Jeancarlos

VivaAir Airbus A320 at a jetway bridge at the Santa Marta Airport, photo by Jeancarlos

In addition, five jet bridges were added and a new control tower was built. The renovation and expansion of the Santa Marta Airport was completed in February 2018.

The airport is named in honor of Simón Bolívar, who was a military and political leader that played a leading role in the establishment of Colombia and several other Latin American countries as sovereign states, independent of Spanish rule.

Check-in area of Simón Bolívar International Airport, photo by Jeancarlos

Check-in area of Simón Bolívar International Airport, photo by Jeancarlos

More About Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR)

The passenger terminal at Simón Bolívar International Airport is very easy to navigate, as it’s a relatively small airport. And Wi-Fi is available in the terminal but may not always work in my experience.

The small Santa Marta airport currently only has four places with food: Café OMA, Dogger, Mr. Bono, and Marpikao. So, without a big selection, it’s better to eat something before going to the airport.

Inside the airport terminal there is at least one ATM machine from Bancolombia. And there is currently no currency exchange at the airport. But this may change once regular international flights to Santa Marta start in December 2018.

Also, there are two travel agencies at the airport: Aviatur and OVER. And parking is available at the airport with space for over 150 cars and over 40 motorcycles.

Viva Colombia aircraft at Santa Marta Airport (now VivaAir), photo by Samario231322

Viva Colombia aircraft at Santa Marta Airport (now VivaAir), photo by Samario231322

Flight Options from Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR)

Simón Bolívar International Airport in Santa Marta currently has regular flights from four different airlines with direct flights to and from five different destinations.

  1. Avianca– Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Bucaramanga
  2. LATAM– Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Pereira
  3. VivaAir– Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Medellín, Pereira
  4. Wingo – Bogotá

VivaAir had a flight from Santa Marta to Miami that started in December 2018 but this international non-stop flight to/from Miami was suspended in March 2019.

Also, Air Panama flew a charter flight to Santa Marta from Panama City in October 2018 with another charter flight planned in November 2018.

In addition, in October 2018, VivaAir (formerly VivaColombia) started using Simón Bolívar International Airport in Santa Marta as one of its hubs in Colombia.

Exchanging Money at Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR) 

There currently isn’t a currency exchange for exchanging money at the Santa Marta airport. But the fees at a currency exchange can be high as well as the actual exchange rate they offer won’t be great. So, this isn’t the best option for exchanging money.

At the Barranquilla airport there are at least one ATM machine from Bancolombia.

The exchange rate ATM machines provide in Colombia will usually be very close to the actual exchange rate that can be seen on XE. And the rate will be better than the rate found at the currency exchanges at the airport.

There are also other ways for exchanging money, receiving and transferring money in Santa Marta and other cities in Colombia like Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena, which we previously covered.

These include exchange centers in the city (Casas de Cambio), the Zeepod mobile app, money transfer services and money transfers at banks.

Santa Marta Airport Tips

Based on my experience flying over five times to/from Simón Bolívar International Airport in Santa Marta, I have three airport tips for foreigners.

  1. Plan to arrive early for your departing flight. I like to play it safe, so I would plan to be at the Santa Marta airport at least one hour before domestic flights. Likely you don’t need this much time at the airport to check-in and go through security at the small airport. But you never know when you might run into problems. And when international flights start at the airport, most airlines require you to be at the airport three hours before flights.
  2. There will usually be taxis at the airport. I have never encountered a problem in finding a taxi at the Santa Marta airport. And I never have experienced a problem with a taxi.
  3. Foreign tourists can get a refund of Colombia’s value-added tax (VAT) known as the IVA tax that is 19% at the DIAN office at the airport. In the Santa Marta airport there isn’t yet a DIAN office. But when international flights start in Decebmer they will likely be adding a DIAN office. We provide details about how to get the IVA tax refund here.

How to Get to Santa Marta From the Airport – Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR)

Simón Bolívar International Airport is located 8.7 miles (14 km) from Santa Marta. In Santa Marta, the easiest way to get to/from the airport is by using taxis, which are normally easy to find at the airport. Also, there is rarely much of a line waiting for taxis at the small airport.

The taxis in Santa Marta are metered and the minimum taxi fare in Santa Marta is 5,500 pesos. And the taxi fare from the airport to Santa Marta or the reverse direction is fixed at 26,000 pesos. The fare to and from the airport is higher to other locations, for example 38,000 pesos to Taganga. Also, there is a 700-peso addition to the fare for taxis in Santa Marta on the weekends and holidays and a 1,000-peso addition at night (after 8 am until 5 am).

Also, there is an inexpensive bus service available from the airport terminal to Santa Marta.

Airport Website: http://smr.aerooriente.com.co/

Address: Km 18 Vía Ciénaga, Santa Marta, Colombia

Telephone: +57 (5) 548 1360

Airports in Colombia

We have provided guides to the 10 largest airports in Colombia. The following list of these 10 largest airports in Colombia is in order by passenger traffic:

  1. El Dorado Airport (BOG) – Bogotá’s International Airport and the largest airport in Colombia.
  2. José María Córdova (MDE) – Medellín’s International Airport in Rionegro.
  3. Rafael Núñez Airport (CTG) – Cartagena’s International Airport.
  4. Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Airport (CLO) – Cali’s International Airport in Palmira.
  5. Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ) – Barranquilla’s International Airport.
  6. Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport (ADZ) – San Andrés’ International Airport.
  7. Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR) – Santa Marta’s International Airport.
  8. Matecaña International Airport (PEI) – Pereira’s International Airport.
  9. Palonegro Internationa Airport (BGA) – Bucaramanga’s International Airport.
  10. Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) – Medellín’s domestic airport in the city.

In addition, we looked at how to find cheap international flights to Medellín and Colombia.

Also, we looked at how to find cheap domestic flights in Colombia. And I have flown multiple times from Medellín to Santa Marta for less than $100 roundtrip.

Rodadero beach near Santa Marta

Rodadero beach near Santa Marta

The Bottom Line: Simón Bolívar International Airport in Santa Marta (SMR)

Cartagena is the most visited tourist city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. But Santa Marta is also a popular city for tourists, which is also located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Parque Tayrona also known as Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona

Parque Tayrona also known as Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona

Besides the beaches near Santa Marta, Parque Tayrona (Tayrona National Park) is near Santa Marta and is known for its beautiful beaches and the world’s highest coastal mountain range. It’s a tourist hotspot in Colombia.

Ciudad Perdida - Colombia's Lost City

Ciudad Perdida – Colombia’s Lost City

Also, Ciudad Perdida located near Santa Marta is the site of an ancient city in Colombia older than Machu Picchu. It’s a challenging but rewarding hike with ancient ruins, jungle and much more.

Many foreign tourists who travel to Santa Marta travel by air. So, several Medellin Guru readers asked for a guide to the Santa Marta airport, which we now have with this article.

Also, we looked at 16 top things to do in Santa Marta. In addition, we compared Medellín vs Santa Marta to see which is the better place to live.

Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.

Editors note: updated on May 4, 2019 to add that the reciprocity fee for Canadians entering Colombia has been eliminated on May 1, 2019.

Editors note: updated on January 4, 2020 to add current taxi fares in Santa Marta and to remove the VivaAir flight to/from Miami.

Editors note: updated on December 10, 2020 to add VivaAir flights to Cali that started on December 4, 2020.

Editors note: updated on June 27, 2021 with current airport destinations from Santa Marta.

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14 thoughts on “Santa Marta Airport Guide: Simón Bolívar Airport (SMR)”

    1. I once read that you need yellow fever vaccinations to visit Tayrona National Park or the lost city but not necessarily in Santa Marta . I cancelled a trip to Santa Marta when I was in Cartagena because of this but I would still like to visit. Does any one have accurate information

      • Reportedly you need a yellow fever vaccination to visit Tayrona National Park but not Santa Marta in my experience.

    2. Gaëtan May 29, 2019

      congrats on an always well reserarched and factual article!
      sorry to ask a pretty mundane question but does anybody know how much a taxi would cost from SMR to Guachaca (Eastern edge of Tayrona NP)?
      thank you in advance.

    3. Joëlle. April 18, 2019

      Hi Jeff,

      Is it possible to go to Aracataca, with a stop in Cienaga, from the airport, by bus or taxi?
      Would you know the price, please?
      Thank you 🙂

      • Going by taxi to Aracataca will be expensive. Buses will be much cheaper and from the airport you should go to the Santa Marta bus terminal (Terminal de Transporte) to catch a bus to Aracataca. Cost for the bus ride is about 12,000 pesos and it’s about an hour.

    4. MILENA SKWAREK November 5, 2018

      Hi Jeff,

      I am flying from SMR to Medellin. I was wondering if you knew whether you are required to show a yellow fever certification at SMR? And if it’s also required to go into Tayrona National Park?

      I have seen conflicting information.


      • Starting in April 2017, it’s required to have a yellow fever vaccination before visiting Parque Tayrona. See our article about Parque Tayrona – https://medellinguru.com/parque-tayrona/

        I haven’t been asked for my International Certificate of Vaccinations at the SMR airport in any of my trips.

    5. Very good. Thanks.

    6. Thanks for the helpful airport guide as I am planning to go to Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona later this month with a friend.

    7. Edmond Marc du Rogoff November 2, 2018

      As usual, excellent article. In March 18 flew from Santa Marta to Medellin. I was staying just South of Rodadero, and since I travel light, with just a backpack, I used the extremely cheap, fast and efficient city bus to the Airport. I strongly recommend it.

      • Hi Edmond, thanks. Yes, the city bus to/from the airport is inexpensive and a good way to travel if you don’t have many bags. I recall it was less than 2,000 pesos.

    8. Brian Cosier November 2, 2018

      hola Jeff,

      Good article.

      You’ve posted many good articles for expats and others interested in local restaurants, shopping malls, airports, etc., but if I could make a suggestion – articles on Colombian banks, helping expats understand how to open accounts, safety at ATMs, move money, pay bills….?


      • Hi Brian, thanks. Yes, those topics are on our list of additional topics we plan to cover. However, this list is very long with well over 100 topics.

        We do have an article on exchanging money, receiving and transferring money, see: https://medellinguru.com/exchanging-money/. This article includes info about safety of ATMs:

        “ATM machines are plentiful in Colombia. There are normally several found in each mall. They are also found in many locations on the streets. But we don’t recommend using ATM machines on the street in Colombia. It’s safer to use ATM machines located in malls.”

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