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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
  • Infrastructure
  • Capital Cities
  • Nature and Hiking
  • Nightlife
  • Safety
  • 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 Mexico is the right country for you!


Guatape, Colombia

The colorful streets of Guatape, Colombia


Tourist Attractions

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. However, there are still quite a few interesting experiences and things to do. 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

Chichen Itza ruins


If tourist attractions are your thing, you won’t be disappointed in Mexico.

Some of the most popular experiences and things to do in the country are…

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


colorful bus in Colombia


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.

If you prefer to keep your vacations completely stress-free, check out these multi-day best of Mexico and best of Colombia tours with Intrepid to finish you travel planning in just one click!

Mexico vs. Colombia Ease of Tourism Winner: Mexico


Bogota skyline

Bogota, Colombia



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


Capital Cities

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 of what 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

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

Want more of the outdoors? Join our new Sustainable Hiking Collective on Facebook to connect with the international hiking community, discover new destinations, join virtual trail cleanups, and take part in monthly sustainability challenges. 


bar in 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


Mexican painted skull art



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


tacos in Mexico



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)
  • Empanadas
  • Bandeja Paisa (egg, meat, rice, and beans breakfast dish)
  • Arepas
  • 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:

  • Enchiladas
  • Chilaquiles (breakfast nachos)
  • Tons of pastries
  • Tacos
  • Sopes
  • 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


colorful streets of Colombia

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?

Explore unique stays on Airbnb – like these light-filled lofts in Roma and Condesa, my favorite neighborhoods in Mexico City – and the top hotels on to plan your trip to Mexico.

Then, check out more food, culture, and outdoors experiences on Airbnb to round out your Mexico itinerary (or book a multi-day Mexico tour with Intrepid to finish your travel planning in one click!).


This article is part of the Latin America Smackdown Series. Read the rest below: 

Colombia vs. Peru: Which Should You Visit?

Mexico vs. Peru: Which Should You Visit?

Mexico vs. Honduras: Which Should You Visit?

Ecuador vs. Bolivia: Which Should You Visit?

Or, explore more from around the world in the complete Country Comparison Series!


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Colombia vs Mexico travel Pinterest pin


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  1. Compare Mexico
    With Colombia is like comparing USA with Belize. Mexico is huge, big, is like a continent , with the most sophisticated nightlife in Latin America . It is Better to compare Mexico with Brazil . Colombia is too much small and without any decent nightlife and entertainment options for US people.

    • Interesting take, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • I think Mexico will have an edge when compared to any other Latin Country due to the amount of people that travel there Mexico probably gets more international arrivals in 2 months than Colombia gets in a whole year.

    • I’ve been to both Mexico and Colombia over a handful of times and strongly disagree with a couple of your opinions. In regards to nature, Colombia definitely has an advantage over Mexico though the latter has better beaches.
      The second item I don’t agree that should be on this list is food. North America is obviously more familiar with Mexican cuisine but does that make it better? I’ve had many awesome Colombian dishes and Mexican dishes, and they are very different and delicious. This criteria is more of a preference since I’d personally prefer the exotic fruits found in Colombia any day. In addition I’ve found a lot of Mexican food to be on the unhealthy side compared to Colombian food. Finally, half of my trips to Mexico have ended not “setting well” with my digestive system while I’ve yet to get sick due to eating.
      Sanitation should be a topic you should also cover since this can ruin many vacations. Montezuma’s revenge is not a joke!

      • Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I find a lot of latin american food to be on the unhealthy side to be honest, I didn’t think Mexico or Colombia was worse than the other. Also, I agree with getting sick… when I update the article I’ll include a section for that!

  2. Quintana Roo is the perfect storm of global tourism gone bad. Cancun has all-inclusive crowd, Tulum has obnoxious hipsters, Akumal has cruise ship crowd, and PDC has remote working libertarian techbros.It’s the least interesting part of Mexico. Meanwhile Poblado is the least interesting part of Medellin, and Colombia as a whole, a small version of Playa with a bit of Tulum mixed in – in that it’s mostly young foreigners who just come to club and drink coffee (sample some of Colombia’s other famous export) for cheap. If people like sanitized version of Latin America that fits neatly on instagram posts then this is where they should go. But if they like more texture and they learn a bit more of Spanish, and come with open mind they can see more wondrous things both in Colombia and Mexico….

    • Writing off an entire coast of Mexico and one of the biggest cities in Colombia isn’t exactly open minded… We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

    • Please clarify Joshua. You sound knowledgeable… what are the best places to visit in Colombia? It sounds like you don’t enjoy Cartagena? Colombia as a whole is … “a small version of Playa — with a bit of Tulum”..? What does this mean?? The entire country?

  3. Hi! I think that Colombia would be a great place to visit . has a great variety of climates and places to visit, it´s urbanization (Medellin, Bogota and Cartagena) in my opinion is better than that of some other country in Latin America or rather if you want to visit it for its landscapes, the culture that keeps or simply for the coffee, I do not think you’ll be disappointed

    • It definitely is a great place to visit, it all just depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation!

  4. FYI I keep trying to read posts on this blog, but each one appears with the same content (a post about craft beer).

    • Thanks Beth – I’m working to get that fixed and everything should be back to normal in the next few hours.

  5. “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!”

    I think you mean Mexico.


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