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Are you trying to decide between visiting Lima or Mexico City?
I spent one month in each, living and working as a digital nomad. In the end, I got to know both cities pretty well. If you’re debating which one you want to visit, here’s my ultimate showdown of Lima vs. Mexico City to help you decide!
Both Mexico City and Lima are considered food capitals of the world. However, Lima edges out Mexico City just a bit because they have three of the Top 50 Best Restaurants in 2017, as well as Chef’s Choice Award for Best Chef. Mexico City only has two.
However, I think you already know who’s going to win this round. Mexico has one of the best cuisines in the world. Tacos, burritos, sopes, enchiladas, quesadillas and more are all super cheap and soo delicious. By contrast, Peruvian food is definitely not as good. It’s mostly fish, chicken, beef, rice, and beans.
If you love high-end restaurants, you will prefer Peru, but if you’re a backpacker, budget, or long-term traveler like me, Mexico City food wins hands-down.
Lima vs. Mexico City Food Winner: Mexico City
Craft beer in Mexico City is amazing, and we tried a lot of different breweries during out stay. Even most restaurants in the city will have a few options to try outside of the usual Corona or Negro Modelo.
In Lima, the brewery scene is definitely picking up steam as well. We visited the Barranco Beer Co and Brewpub Wicks during a day in Barranco and had craft brews at a few other places as well. In both cities, there’s a lot of great beer to try.
As far as nightlife goes, I think they’re tied.
Personally I prefer Zona Rosa in Mexico City to Miraflores in Lima but both have tons of bars and clubs, are walkable, and you can find honestly anything that you’re looking for. If you’re big into nightlife, capital cities are usually the place to be and neither of these disappoint. For me, it’s a definite tie.
Lima vs. Mexico City Nightlife: Tie
This one is a no-brainer.
The day trip options in Lima we’re pretty sparse. There’s a waterfall you can hike to and the Caral Ruins, but that’s about it. The beaches can be nice in high-season (Dec – April) but if you go any other time it’s gray and cloudy pretty much every day.
During our month in Lima the only weekend trip we took was to the Islas Ballestas and Huacachina Oasis. However, they’re four and five hours from Lima by bus and not suitable for just a day trip.
Mexico City, on the other hand, has so many choices. In one month here I definitely can’t even check off all I want to do (always a good problem to have).
There’s the beautiful colonial town of Taxco, the traditional puebla of Tepoztlan, ruins of the Cholula and Teotihuacan pyramids, national parks and hiking among active volcanos, the list goes on and on and on. This category isn’t even close
Lima vs. Mexico City Day Trip Winner: Mexico City
Nature and Hiking
In Mexico City, there are multiple national parks for hiking nearby, including Cumbres del Ajusco in the city limits.
My favorite was our hike in Itza-Popo national park about an hour from the city, where you can trek at high altitude and see the still erupting Popo volcano. We also visited the massive Central Park-like green space called Chapultepec Park, which has so much to do you can easily spend an entire day there and not see it all.
In Lima, there is no central park area and no national parks nearby for hiking. The closest we got to nature was the wildlife at the Islas Ballestas. Lima is a stark contrast to the rest of Peru where stunning and unique hiking is available at almost every turn.
Lima vs. Mexico City Nature and Hiking Winner: Mexico City
Ease of Transport
The traffic in Lima is horrible. We would regularly get stuck in our Uber for an hour or more, going at an almost standstill pace.
The traffic in Mexico City is a little less bad, and we’re not stuck in traffic jams as often for sure. Mexico City and Lima also both have metros, but the one in Mexico City is a bit more extensive. Ubers are cheap in both cities.
Lima vs. Mexico City Ease of Transport Winner: Mexico City
Things To Do in the City
There is so much to do in Mexico City! Even for digital nomads just looking for evening activities in Mexico City there are plenty of options. Visit Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Lucha Libre wrestling matches, soccer games, major Catholic historical sites, the ballet, cooking classes, craft beer breweries, the list is endless.
In Lima, there wasn’t as much to do. For sure, Barranco in Lima is an amazing area but the Coyoacan neighborhood in Mexico City easily rivals it.
Mexico City has the biggest park in Latin America with a free zoo with giant pandas, a castle, and skyline views. In Lima, green space was hard to come by. You can find cooking classes and churches in Lima too, but nothing rivals a night at a Lucha Libre wrestling event.
I know they are both massive cities, but for me, I’m having way more fun in Mexico City.
Lima vs. Mexico City Things To Do Winner: Mexico City
Cost of Living
This category is pretty close. Our apartment was almost the exact same price in each city, about $575 a month, but in Lima that got us a studio and in Mexico City we have a nicer two-bedroom apartment.
Groceries and drinks were also a little more expensive in Lima than they are in Mexico City, I think mostly because we can shop at a Walmart here and there are more options available.
I don’t have a definitive write up with my monthly budget in each city, but just anecdotally, for me, Mexico City seems just a bit cheaper to live in than Lima… but it’s so close I’m going to call it a tie.
Lima vs. Mexico City Cost of Living Winner: Tie
Day to Day Life
Are you a digital nomad? In that case you’ll be interested in the day-to-day life outside of tourism. For sure, internet is better in Mexico than in Peru, and we have better and faster access here in Mexico City than we did in Lima.
Groceries are also cheaper in Mexico City. We can shop at Walmart which has tons of American stuff that wasn’t as easy to come by in Lima. In Peru, the supermarkets were more expensive and definitely had less options.
Finally, the smog. The pollution in Lima is terrible and a gray haze hung over the city at almost all times. It’s the most polluted city in Latin America, which was very clear while we were there. Mexico City is also very polluted, but not as bad as Lima. Taking these three factors into account, for digital nomads Mexico City is better.
Lima vs. Mexico City Day-to-Day life Winner: Mexico City
And theLima vs. Mexico City Travel Winner is…
Well, this is embarrassing for Lima. The city didn’t win a single round and only tied two. The final count has Mexico City winning six categories and Lima winning zero. Yikes.
I think you can definitely tell which city I prefer.
Mexico City has better food, more to do, and easy access to day trips and national parks. If you’re debating between the two, I’d choose Mexico City hands down!
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Mexico City and explore accomodation like furnished apartments and unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city. Then, plan the rest of your trip with Mexico Series covering the best things to see, do, eat, drink, and discover throughout the country.