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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!

 

Food

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

 

street food in Mexico City

 

Nightlife

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

 

Day Trips

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

 

Taxco, a European town in Mexico

 

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

 

Izta Popo National Park near 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

 

biblioteca vasconcelos library in 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

 

Mexico City skyline in Chapultepec Park

 

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.

 

I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:

➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.

➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.

Skyscanner and the Scott's Cheap Flights newsletter help me find and book cheap flights and mistake fares.

Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field. 

➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.

➤ Finally, I love hosting my travel blog on SiteGround because they have helpful and responsive customer service and I love MediaVine and CJ for helping me make a living doing what I love!

6 Comments

  1. What a great idea for a post! And you completely convinced me to move Mexico City up my list of places to visit 😉 I have a friend of mine that lives in Lima, and she tells that same about the weather and the traffic there! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • You’re welcome! I’m totally surprised by how much I like Mexico City… one of my favorite places I’ve been to in the past few years for sure. Definitely recommend it!

      Reply
  2. Imao this is a joke, especially the food part. Peru honestly has better food, while Mexican food may be good, it’s just way too overrated. Also Mexico has a pretty bad obesity rate, while Peru is more in the middle of obesity and still has tons of good foods. The US is near Mexico so they are gonna obviously have tacos there, and honestly I’d rather have arroz Chaufa than tacos. Peru has Machu Picchu, Cusco, and many other historic sites. I know you’re comparing Lima to Mexico City, but Peru isn’t just Machu Picchu and Llamas. There are many historic sites, there’s the amazon, there’s many deserts, sand dunes, and an oasis. There’s lots of mountains to hike. Machu Picchu itself is better than Chichén Itzá. Mexico is way too overrated, while everything other than Machu Picchu in Peru is underrated. Mexico City could be better by a little because it’s bigger and stuff like that. Peru is still amazing, it has better food, and would be safer than Mexico City and Mexico.

    Reply
    • If you know this article is ONLY about Mexico City and Lima then why are all your comments about places outside of them? Check out the Mexico vs. Peru article for the complete country comparison and more content you’ll definitely disagree with.

      Reply
  3. I will agree in most aspects, Lima Traffic is one of the worst. I lived in Lima for a while and it is not the Smog what you see being so cloudy, is the fact that the altitudes of the Andes do not allow the air to flow. Main reason why you get high amounts of humidity in Lima. As far as Night life goes, I will chose Lima over Mexico just because I’am a foodie and I do tend to find more options in Lima 24hr than in DF. When it comes to night clubs, they are both pretty awful, maybe Lima wins slightly just because the girls are prettier. Nature and Hiking, this is a tough one for me – they were both very unique. While the outskirts of the DF had more greenish, Lima towards Huancaya, had probably one of the most amazing views I’ve seen in my 24 years of travel. I was surprised how no one knew about this place, it is not well known. Also you have the forest of the Lomas. On the other hand Mexico had Tepozteco and the Desierto de Leones with lakes. This is the most tough one for me to chose and I will say is a tie. Things to do in the city, I think this one Mexico DF wins it hands down, there’s more things to do when it comes to libraries, shows, etc. Although Lima has more Museums and beautiful colonial churches to visit if you are one of those. Cost of Living, I found Mexico DF a lot cheaper. Lima can be some what expensive and I have no idea how, because people don’t seem to have a higher income than in DF. Day to Day life, I feel much safer in Lima than I did in Mexico DF. I like the fact Lima has bodegas everywhere and pretty much everything is reachable if you know what you are searching. I really don’t miss Walmart. Food wise, this is a tricky one, Peruvian food is so far ahead when it comes to variety, the flavors are just out of this world. In Mexico DF your variety options are not that wide, you kinda have to stick to the same. I remember certain days it was tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not my cup of tea, yet I will say that DF does have more food street vendors, which makes your day to day cheaper. But I am a foodie and I cannot live off tacos day and night, so I will go with Lima. The only downside of Lima is that everytime I go out I spend about 20 dollars in meals, were in Mexico I will spend no more than 6 to 10 dollars. So if you want cheap good food Mexico is my choice, but if you want beyond good food Lima is a winner.

    Reply
    • Wow, thanks for sharing such an insightful comment. I just looked up Huancaya and it looks insanely beautiful – I’ll definitely be adding that to my Peru bucket list!

      Reply

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