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I love Latin America.
The people, the culture, the nature, the language; all of it is amazing.
Unfortunately, what many people have to base their opinion on when deciding where to travel in Latin America is what they see in the media.
While there certainly are places that you probably shouldn’t visit in both Mexico and Colombia if you value your life, the reality for both countries is much different than what you might expect.
So, let’s take a look at traveling in Mexico vs. Colombia to see which option might be better for you.
Although I don’t feel the need to seek out every tourist attraction that a city or country has to offer, I do enjoy seeing the sites as time allows.
If there’s one thing missing for tourists in Colombia, it’s probably a wide range of true tourist attractions as compared to other countries in Latin America. Some of the most popular are…
- The beach paradise of Cartagena
- The colorful town of Guatape
- Tayrona National Park
- San Andres Island
- Monserrate Mountain in Bogota
- Bar hopping in Poblado
- Medellin Cable Car
While there are certainly other things to do, these are the ones I found that most people tend to visit.
If tourist attractions are your thing, you won’t be disappointed in Mexico.
Some of the most popular are…
- The beaches and islands of Quintana Roo (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, etc.)
- Mayan ruins like Coba, Chichen Itza, and more
- Underground Cenotes
- Colonial cities like Taxco, Puebla, and San Miguel de Allende
- Laguna Bacalar
- Boat cruises and scuba diving
- Many national parks
I had to really limit myself on the Mexico one just because there’s so much to see. For me, their list of tourist attractions beats Colombia’s any day.
Mexico vs. Colombia Tourist Attraction Winner: Mexico
Ease of Tourism
Because of the sheer volume of tourist attractions in Mexico, there are a ton of different choices for all types of travelers. Whether you want to do everything on your own or do an organized/prepaid tour, there are always options available to you.
Since Colombia is still in the earlier stages of its tourism industry, everything can be just a little bit more difficult to figure out. There isn’t always a ton of information about what to do, and there aren’t many of easy options for organized tours if that’s what you’re looking for.
Mexico vs. Colombia Ease of Tourism Winner: Mexico
Latin America isn’t exactly known for having the easiest infrastructure to navigate, but I found Colombia and Mexico to both have pretty good infrastructure for whatever you need.
In the bigger cities, you can almost always find nice grocery stores, access to public transportation (Mexico City and Medellin both have metros), modern highways, shopping malls, taxis, Uber, and options for quality healthcare.
Mexico vs. Colombia Infrastructure Winner: Tie
Nature and Hiking
Both Mexico and Colombia are beautiful countries with a lot of nature to see.
However, what I found in Colombia (at least in Medellin) was that the nature was a bit difficult to access if you didn’t have a car. With that said, there are plenty of really nice places around the country for you to enjoy. Whether you visit Santa Marta, Jardin, or Salento, there’s a lot of beautiful scenery.
The main advantage that Mexico has is that the country is significantly bigger than Colombia, so there are just more options. We swam in cenotes in Tulum, spent days on the beaches of Playa del Carmen, relaxed at Laguna Bacalar, and hiked near active volcanoes in Izta-Popo National Park. Overall, the nature in Mexico is way more varied, interesting, and accessible than it is in Colombia.
Mexico vs. Colombia Nature and Hiking Winner: Mexico
Colombia is famous for their nightlife scene. No matter what city you’re in, you can find wild bars, clubs, or parties to go to. This is especially true in the cities that tourists tend to go to, Medellin and Bogota.
Poblado has the best nightlife in Colombia, but you can find one just as good in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Additionally, Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world, so you can find whatever you’re looking for there as well. They also have a much better rising craft beer scene in Mexico City, which I enjoyed taste testing during our trip.
Both countries have great nightlife, but Mexico just comes out ahead on this round.
Mexico vs. Colombia Nightlife Winner: Mexico
Both countries have been plagued by drug violence over the years.
However, Colombia has managed to reduce it significantly (at least anywhere that you will likely see), and there’s no question that it’s an incredibly safe country for you to visit as long as you’re smart.
On the other hand, Mexico is still fighting its war on drugs. With that said, the violence tends to be concentrated in specific areas of the country that you can easily avoid. We never felt the least bit unsafe at any point during our two months in Mexico, even while visiting a city (Taxco) in one of the states (Guerrero) that the United States has on its no travel list.
In both countries, common sense prevails. If you’re seeking drugs, prostitutes, or any other nefarious activities, all bets are off.
Mexico vs. Colombia Safety Winner: Colombia
I love food, and it’s one of the most important things to me when I’m traveling.
There’s a lot of good Colombian food (bandeja paisa, anyone?), and there’s also quite a few different international options for you if you’re in the bigger cities. Even in the less touristy neighborhood of Envigado in Medellin, there were definitely some really good restaurants.
However, for me, Colombian food doesn’t come close to Mexican food. Being from the United States, I’ve always enjoyed Mexican food, so it was pretty great to be able to get really amazing and cheap Mexican food wherever I went. There’s also a ton of really great options for international food as well in Mexico City, which sealed the deal.
Mexico vs. Colombia Foor Winner: Mexico
Overall Winner of Mexico vs. Colombia
There’s really no question for me when it comes down to which country I recommend visiting. The score says it all, and Mexico wins this showdown 5 to 1. Although I loved the time that I spent in Colombia, Mexico just comes out ahead.
Whether you’re a long-term traveler or someone looking for an easy and fun vacation, Mexico has it all.
PS still not sure which country to see? Keep reading our Colombia vs. Peru take down to explore more options in South America. Whichever you choose, document your trip like a pro with Nomadic Matt’s 8-week travel photography course from the experts!