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Is Mexico or Colombia better for vacation?
What about settling down for a long-term stay?
Whichever type of travel you’re planning, this Colombia vs Mexico showdown will help you decide which Latin America country is better for your travel style and preferences.
We spent six months in Colombia and have spent more than four months in Mexico, so we have first hand experience living, traveling, and working in both places and believe both of them are definitely worth visiting .
But, which one is right for you? This Colombia vs Mexico showdown will compare:
- Tourist Attractions
- Ease of Tourism
- Capital Cities
- Nature and Hiking
- and Food
Each category has a winner and the total scores are tallied up at the end so by the time you reach the bottom of this page, you’ll know for sure whether Colombia or Peru is the right country for you!
The colorful streets of Guatape, Colombia
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 beaches, diving, and ‘Old Town’ of Cartagena
- The gorgeous lakes, strange hike, and ruins of Pablo Escobar’s legacy in Guatape
- Hiking in Tayrona National Park and to the Lost City
- The beautiful countryside in the Coffee Triangle
- Amazon Rainforest and pink dolphins in Leticia
- The Carribbean paradise of San Andres Island
- Monserrate Mountain, salt mines, and big city life Bogota
- Trandy restaurants, shopping, nightlife and bar hopping in Poblado, Medellin
- Riding the Medellin cable car and exploring Parque Arvi
While there are certainly other things to do, these are the ones I found that most people tend to visit.
Chichen Itza ruins
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 the Coba ruins, Chichen Itza (named one of the new seven wondors of the world), and more
- Swimming in caves and underground cenotes
- Visiting Colonial cities like Taxco and San Miguel de Allende
- Swimming at Laguna Bacalar
- Boat cruises and scuba diving
- All the culture, museums, and churches of Mexico City
- Lucha Libre wrestling matches and Club America soccer games
- The trendy shopping, restaurants, and nightlife in the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods
- Food tourism like taco, tequila, and mezcal tours, etc.
- Hiking, mountain climbing, and volcano spotting in Mexico’s 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 easy options for organized tours if that’s what you’re looking for.
Mexico vs. Colombia Ease of Tourism Winner: Mexico
When choosing between Colombia or Mexico infrastructure shouldn’t weigh to heavily because they’re both quite similar.
Latin America isn’t exactly known for having the easiest infrastructure to navigate, but I found Colombia and Mexico to both have a pretty good set up for whatever you need.
In the bigger cities, like Mexico City, Bogota, and Medellin, you can always find nice grocery stores, access to public transportation (Mexico City and Medellin both have metros), modern highways, shopping malls, fast internet, Uber, and options for quality healthcare.
Mexico vs. Colombia Infrastructure Winner: Tie
Let’s take a closer look at the countries’ capital cities and pare down the comparison to only Bogota vs. Mexico City.
Both are at high altitude (Mexico City sits at 7,200 feet and Bogota is at 8,660 feet) but they wear that height in two different ways.
Bogota is cold, chilly, and rainy all year long. Mexico City has much more mild weather but that comes at the expense of also having much more air pollution and smoggier air overall.
Size-wise, they’re also pretty similar with Mexico City coming in with a population of 8.8 million people and Bogota with a population of 7 million people.
Mexico City is 13% more expensive than Bogota.
It has more trendy/cool neighborhoods to spend your time in – Condesa, Roma, and Coyoacan being the highlights – while the La Candelaria district in Bogota is only nice during the day but dangerous at night. Zona Rosa and Chapinero in Bogota are also trendy but I personally prefer Condesa and Roma in Mexico City.
There is also more to see and do around Mexico City than there is around Bogota.
Within an hour bus ride from Mexico City you can take multiple awesome day trips to places like:
- Izta-Popo National Park (with active volcanoes)
- Desierto de Los Leones (with an abandoned 400-year-old convent)
- Xochimilco Canals (where you can day drink on colorful trajinera boats)
- The town of Texcoco (with ancient ruins and the best barbacoa in Mexico)
- The 2,000-year-old Teotihuacan ruins (which were already ruins when the Aztecs discovered them… crazy)
In contrast, Bogota just doesn’t have as many or as varied day trips (although it does have a Taco Bell, which is definitely a point in its favor).
If you’re trying to decide between Bogota or Mexico City, I’ll leave you with this – Dan and I spent four days in Bogota and found that was enough to experience most that the city has to offer.
We’ve spent three months in Mexico City and are already planning our third trip back to it because it’s one of our absolute favorite places in the world.
For digital nomads especially, the Bogota vs. Mexico City comparison doesn’t even come close, Mexico City is leagues ahead of its Colombian counterpart.
For vacationers too, I will recommend Mexico City over Bogota every time.
Mexico vs. Colombia Capital Cities Winner: Mexico
Cenote in Tulum, Mexico
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 nature was a bit difficult to access if you didn’t have a car.
With that said, there are plenty of really nice places in the country side, especially in the coffee region, for you to enjoy. Whether you visit the small towns of Jardin, Santa Marta, or Salento, there’s a lot of beautiful scenery. Colombia also has parts of the Amazon rain forest and ruins like Ciudad Perdida, ‘the lost city.’
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 the stunning Lake of 7 Colors at Laguna Bacalar, hiked near active volcanoes in Izta-Popo National Park, and visited more ruins than we can count.
Overall, the nature in Mexico is way more varied, interesting, and accessible (this being the main advantage) than it is in Colombia.
Mexico vs. Colombia Nature and Hiking Winner: Mexico
Colombia is famous for its 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, a neighborhood in Medellin, 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. There is also a craft beer scene in Mexico City than in Medellin, 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
Is Colombia or Mexico safer?
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 multi-month trip through 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 are 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.
Some typical Colombian foods to try are:
- Coco locos (coconut and lime drink)
- Bandeja Paisa (egg, meat, rice, and beans breakfast dish)
- Ajiaco (soup)
And, or course, much more. All of it is good, but besides empanadas, there’s nothing I’ve craved or gone out of my way to get my hands on after leaving. I’m glad I got to try it all, but none of it was super outstanding to me.
To 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. In Mexico, some of the best foods to try are:
- Chilaquiles (breakfast nachos)
- Tons of pastries
- Tortas (Mexican sandwiches)
- Chips and fresh guacamole and salsa
- Cinnamon-sugary churros
- Nieve (kind of like sherbet)
- And sooooo much more
I could honestly write about Mexican food for days.
Just the variety in the tacos alone – barbacoa, carnitas, al pastor, carne asada, guisado, etc, etc, etc, – is a fabulous culinary journey.
Mexico is hands down one of the best food countries in the world and there’s also a ton of really great options for international food in Mexico City as well which really sealed the deal.
Mexico vs. Colombia Foor Winner: Mexico
The colorful streets of Colombia
Mexico vs. Colombia Travel Winner
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 Colombia vs. Mexico showdown 6 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.
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flights to your destination and then browse furnished apartments and unique stays on Airbnb or check out the top hotels on Booking.com! Then, start planning your trip with the complete Mexico Series to explore more than 40 articles covering what to eat, drink, do, and discover throughout the country.
This article is part of the Latin America Smackdown Series. Read the rest below:
Or, explore more from around the world in the complete Country Comparison Series!
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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.
➤ 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.