Bogota, Colombia Vs. Lima, Peru Vs. Mexico City

If you’re a big city person with a penchant for Latin America, then Bogota, Colombia Vs. Lima, Peru Vs. Mexico City might be the comparison post you need to succeed.

See, these three cities are the “Holy Trinity” of Spanish-speaking metropolises with epic populations to boot. The smallest city featured here has over 9+ million locals. We’re not talking about quaint little countryside villages today.

Luckily, I’ve had the good fortune of passing time in all three of these metropolises. Months in Bogota and Lima have been endured and enjoyed, including a little degeneracy from time to time.

I’m a little new to Mexico City, so I might be a bit premature here. But that’s never stopped me before. Trust me: I’m going to be just as honest with you as I have with a fair few cute Latinas over the years…

Todo es tu culpa. No es mio, pero no te preocupes, amor. Dame 15 minutos y podemos hacerlo bien rico alguna ves.

That didn’t come out right. Or maybe it did. Wait. Damnit! Stop it, Jake. Focus.

Go back to writing about Latin American mega-cities. Don’t you dare open up your WhatsApp archives and start looking at old videos. Just refrain from perving out and let’s stick to being productive today.

Anyway…let’s dig in and see where budding travelers, digital ex-pats, and true degenerates should pass their days in Latin America.

Below you’ll find the ultimate guide comparing Bogota Vs. Lima Vs. Mexico City. We’ll take a look at things like:


Bogota, Colombia Vs. Lima, Peru Vs. Mexico City

This may get a little sloppy, but we should be able to determine a winner once all is said and done. While Bogota vs. Lima, Peru vs. Mexico City won’t be a clear-cut choice for all, my goal is to help you find the perfect spot for some big city living in Latin America.

Here we go:

City Size

All three of these cities are monstrosities. Enormously big. Massive mega-cities filled with millions upon millions of people. Just look at this list.

Mexico City is the largest city in the Americas, with a metro population of nearly 23 million — although some statisticians reckon Sao Paulo takes the cake. Bogota and Lima are no slouches, either. Lima has about 11 million peeps in the metro area, while Bogota hosts a smooth 9 million residents.

There’s no real winner or loser in this category. These cities are so large, it’s damn near impossible to fully understand them.

I will say a few things though…

Lima feels far smaller than Mexico City and even a little less gigantic than Bogota. Why? Because you won’t be spending much time outside Miraflores or Barranco. There’s just no reason to because all the good stuff lies in these two locales.

Bogota feels a little larger because you have more neighborhoods to check out, including Zona T, Parque 93, Chapinero, Galerias, and La Candelaria.

Mexico City is a behemoth. As my flight landed, I stared out the window and saw urban sprawl as far as the eye can see. The city seemingly never ends. You could be on a bus heading out of town and it would take hours to reach the rural areas.

While I’ve only spent time in Condesa and Roma Norte so far, people tell me that there are nearly a dozen neighborhoods here worth checking out in the city.

  • Winner: Tie. You won’t get bored in any of these spots.

Cost of Living

Bogota is a little cheaper than Lima. Everything from food to Airbnb apartments is cheaper in Bogota than in Lima.

I’m still putting my finger on the cost of living in Mexico City. Overall, I’d say Mexico City could be the cheapest of the three – if you didn’t live in Condesa, Polanco, or Roma Norte.

Food is insanely cheap in Mexico City. You can get protein-packed tacos from street vendors for around $2-3 a meal. I’m talking 3-5 decent sized tacos–enough to fill the belly of a ravenous gringo like me.

Airbnb rentals in Mexico City are a bit of an anomaly, too. Studios and one-bedrooms seem a bit overpriced to me, but two-bedrooms are only a little more expensive. For example, decent studios looked to be about $700-900 a month on Airbnb in Condesa, but similar two-bedroom apartments were going for $900-1,100.

Overall, I’d say Mexico City and Bogota are similarly priced, but Lima is a little more. At least if you live in Miraflores– if you live in the poorer suburbs, Lima is cheap as chips (but you really don’t want to do that).

However, I’ll give the win to Mexico City.

¿Porque?

Because it feels much safer here than in Bogota. You can’t skimp on location and expect to be safe in Bogota. I believe you could do that in CDMX, at least to some extent.

  • Winner: Mexico City.

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Weather

Bogota’s weather sucks ass.

Punto. Blanco. Periodo.

If Bogota had solid weather, it would be incredibly hard to leave the city. Heck, I’d probably still be there. But it doesn’t. Bogota is dreary most of the year and the sun usually only shines before noon–not ideal when you’re mid-bender and you’re trying to get rid of some sketchy folks. And trust me, you don’t want to miss out on Bogota nightlife.

On the other hand, Lima features incredible weather for 5-6 months a year and a horrific climate for the rest of the year. But from December through May, the weather in Lima is impossible to beat. During this time, Lima gets tons of sun. The temps sit in the mid/high 70s for most of the day. Couple that with those premium Pacific Ocean views on the Malecon, and you’re going to have yourself a wicked time.

But why is the climate so crappy from June through November? Because the city gets around one hour of sunshine a day as the entire Pacific Coast gets enveloped in a thick fog. And it’s kind of cold too.

I’ve been impressed with the weather here in Mexico City. It’s sunny as hell and in the balmy 70s seemingly every single day. However, CDMX has a rainy season that runs from June through September and I’m sure that wouldn’t be fun because no-one likes getting drenched all the time.

However, the weather in Mexico City is good for 8 months each year, so I’m inclined to say Mexico City wins. CDMX has a climate that’s pretty damn dope.

  • Winner: Mexico City.

Safety

I’m one of the few people I know that hasn’t had any safety issues in Colombia–touch wood. But there’s no denying both Lima and Mexico City are safer than Bogota. It’s not even close.

In Colombia, there’s always a sense of looming danger in the air. You legit never know when some deranged crackhead delinquent could whip out a knife and jack your smartphone.

I don’t think Colombia is dangerous, per se. However, I do have to admit that CDMX and Lima are much safer.

Here in Mexico City, I regularly see young white women snapping selfies with their smartphones while eating acai berry bowls in streetside cafes. So, I’m inclined to believe neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma Norte are pretty darn safe. No doubt, some of the outlying barrios in the city are going to get pretty sketchy.

In my experience, Lima is pretty safe too if you stick to the upmarket neighborhoods like Barranco and Miraflores.

  • Winner: Lima / Mexico City.

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Mexico City. Might get a little rough in this area at night.


English & Education Levels

Truth is you can get by without decent Spanish in every single one of these cities as the level of education is pretty decent in Lima, Bogota, and Mexico City. These cities are capitals of their respective countries and filled to the brim with astute businesspeople, hustlers, and students.

You’ll find most people living in these massive cities either works, studies, or both. Many also learn English as a way to boost their resume and potentially land a lucrative job in tourism or for a multinational corp.

I’d say the level of English and education is fairly similar in Bogota and Lima. But once you get out of Miraflores in Lima, English language skills plummet.

All that in mind, Bogota has the slightest edge here.

However, CDMX–especially in areas like Condesa and Roma Norte–comes packed to the rafters with English speakers and highly educated folk. Mexico is so close to the USA after all. And for many locals, learning English just makes good business sense. You’ll have no issue getting around with English in CDMX, but Spanish definitely helps

  • Winner: Mexico City.

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Nightlife

Ayyyyeeee, la rumba! Ya boy has a penchant for a little partying while on the road.

Ya tu sabes, maricon.

Even with Gringo Tuesday getting overly backpackery these days, there’s no denying the nightlife in Bogota is truly world-class. Zona T is the shit–the nightlife mecca of Latin America. Traveling party animals are spiritually obliged to visit the sacred site at least once in their hedonistic globetrotting pursuits.

Reggaeton blaring from dozens of discos in a tightly packed space? Check. Scores of stunning girls at every single bar and club? Check. Great booze prices, especially when splitting a bottle between mates? Check. A safe space for everyone to rumba the night away without a worry in the world? Ummm, not exactly, but it’s safe enough I guess.

Oh, and you can always head down south if you’re looking to get mad degenerate – which I’m confident some of you might enjoy.

Now, Lima nightlife is pretty solid, too. It’s a little less rough around the edges so you don’t have to worry about scopolamine, pre-pagos, and phone-stealing gipsies. If you’re new to Latin America, the nightlife in Miraflores will be enough to keep you drunk and ecstatic for months on end.

Mexico City? Well, I haven’t partied all that much here yet so there’s not a whole lot I can say. I can tell you the number of venues is virtually unlimited but they’re more spread out than Bogota or Lima so jumping between them is a chore.

My buddy Vance proclaims partying in CDMX is as good as it gets and I’m inclined to believe everything he says.

Nevertheless, I’ve still got to give it to Bogota–especially the insane Zona T that heaves almost every night of the week. If you like to party, Bogota won’t let you down. It’s wild!

  • Winner: Bogota.

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La rumba en Bogota.


Girls & Dating

Dios Mio…

Not sure I should even tackle this one as I’m no expert on dating in Mexico City. But I’ll do my best.

The girls are hottest in Bogota because…well…Colombian women are divine. Goddesses sent from heaven to tantalize the loins of pasty-faced horn dogs such as yourself. You’ll see more head-turners in Bogota than in CDMX and Lima combined. And I’m talking about enhanced assets and all. Assets that demand a second look. Or a drooling perverted kind of stare.

That said – the women in Lima and CDMX are still pretty damn attractive. Lima gets a bad rep, but you can find some stunners if you stop swiping on Tinder and get out in the real world (A.K.A, the upmarket bars and clubs of Miraflores and Barranco).

As for Mexico City, I can only comment on the women I’ve seeing cruising around Condesa and Roma Norte. At first, I was fairly uninspired. Then I went to the gym and after that, I took a walk through Parque Mexico around 5 pm, where I found some inspiration if you know what I mean. There’s no denying you’ll come across quite a few cute senoritas in CDMX. This is a mega-metropolis of some 23 million and counting, after all.

Personality-wise, I’d say the girls in Lima are more interested in foreigners than girls in Bogota or Mexico City. I’d also surmise they’d make the most loyal girlfriends, overall.

Girls in Mexico City come across as more westernized and liberal, but they’re also pretty chill and easy to get along with. A lot of these chicks have decent jobs and are often looking to have fun and date rather than get stuck straight into something serious.

For any ladies reading this: lo siento. I can’t help you much here. No soy un maricon. You’ll just have to visit and check out the dating scene for yourself.

  • Winner: Bogota, although that’s not 100%. Too many variables.

Food

This one will be tough. Both Mexican food and Peruvian food are pretty incredible.

Sorry, Bogota. You can’t compete here. Colombian food is pretty bland and despite having a smattering of gourmet offerings, the cuisine in the capital is nothing to write home about.

While I’m no foodie, it’s hard to imagine better places than Lima and Mexico City for gastronomy. The restaurants around Miraflores and San Ignacio in Lima as well as Condesa, Roma Norte, and Polanco in CDMX are to die for. Damned delicious.

As someone from the States, I’ve been in love with Mexican food since day one. And there’s no doubt the food here in CDMX is way better than the junky Tex-Mex crap back home.

But Peruvian food is unique and exquisite. I’d never tried dishes like ceviche or lomo saltado before I made my way to Lima, and I was super impressed. Peruvian food is damn good and Lima showcases the best of the best. If you’re a foody, then note the city tends to dominate the Top 50 Restaurants in Latin America awards.

So what’s best? Fresh seafood ceviche in Lima or tasty street stall tacos in CDMX? That’s a tough call. And it really comes down to your personal palate. In my opinion, Mexican food is richer and Peruvian cuisine is healthier.

  • Winner: Mexico City / Lima.

Gringo Fatigue

We’re not talking Cancun, Mexico. This isn’t Medellin, Colombia. None of these cities is jammed packed with tourists year-around like Cusco, Peru. Sure, there are a bunch of foreigners in Lima, Bogota, and Mexico City. I’d surmise Bogota less foreigners than the other two cities.

But it really doesn’t matter because these are massive cities, mate.

Think about how many gringos it would take to overrun a city of 23 million people. That’s just not going to happen. It’s not possible.

Overall, gringo fatigue simply isn’t an issue in these cities. I’ve found the locals in all three cities to be more than friendly and quite helpful.

Of course, foreigners tend to stick to certain areas of each city. Spend less time in Miraflores, La Candelaria, and Centro Historico and you’ll come across fewer foreign faces.

  • Winner: Tie.

Views in Lima, Peru.


Tourism and Stuff to Do

Bogota doesn’t have tons of stuff to do for the tourist. There’s some cool street art, a few museums, and you can take a cable car to Monseratte for stunning views. Of course, there’s the drugs and the women, too–but that’s not exactly the proper definition of tourism, is it?

On the other hand, Lima is filled with cool stuff. Some of my favorites include:

  • Surfing
  • Paragliding
  • Swimming with sea lions
  • Relaxing at the beach
  • Malecon workouts with ocean views
  • Street art in Barranco
  • The architecture and museums of the city center

And while I haven’t spent enough time in CDMX to give you a proper rundown, I’m inclined to believe Mexico City might have more stuff to do than Lima and Bogota combined.

Some folks reckon there are over 150 museums in Mexico City (Source) and I wouldn’t doubt it. Plus, you have places to visit like:

  • Zocalo
  • El Angel de la Independencia
  • Teotihuacan
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes
  • Palacio Nacional
  • Templo Mayor
  • Museo Frida Kahlo
  • Floating gardens at Xochimilco
  • Lucha Libre

And that’s just a sampler. Overall, Mexico City wins here. There’s just so much to see and explore here in this massive mega-metropolis.

  • Winner: Mexico City

Bogota, Colombia Vs. Lima, Peru Vs. Mexico City | Verdict?

So, where does that put us? Which city is the winner?

Well, there’s no real “winner” here because all three of these massive cities are pretty great. But let’s take a glance at the scorecard:

  • City Size: Tie.
  • Cost of Living: Mexico City.
  • Weather: Mexico City.
  • Safety: Lima / Mexico City.
  • English & Education Levels: Mexico City.
  • Nightlife: Bogota.
  • Girls & Dating: Bogota.
  • Food: Lima / Mexico City.
  • Gringo Fatigue: Tie.
  • Tourism & Stuff to Do: Mexico City.

After nearly 3,000+ words of sage advice, I can confidently conclude that Mexico City is the winner.

However, I reckon I probably gave Lima a lower rating than it deserves. From December until May when the weather’s sunny and warm, I’d choose to live in Lima over Bogota and Mexico City.

If women and parties are your raison d’être, then Bogota will be damn near impossible to beat.

For quality of life, I’d have to stay Mexico City is the winner. And the results reflect this. The city is simply nicer, more developed, and has more stuff to do than Bogota and Lima. Plus, Mexico City is close to the States and one of the easiest and cheapest places to fly to in Latin America.

Overall Winner: Mexico City

…Although, it definitely depends on when you go and what you’re looking for. These massive cities have a lot to offer every type of traveler. But my best advice? Just be yourself. Do what you do best.

Go to the city and country that intrigues you the most and experience the magic first hand.

Que te vaya bien,

Jake



4.3/5 (6 Reviews)
Jake Nomada

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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My Latin Life - October 6, 2018

Outstanding post, brother!

Since I’ve spent much more time in Mexico City than Bogota – the inverse of your experience (I think we’ve both done enough time in Lima) – I’ll throw down some thoughts.

Cost of Living: Can’t speak for Bogota b/c it’s been too long, but I recall it being cheaper than Mexico City. However, you’re right. Probably less neighbourhoods a foreigner would want to live, which might level costs out. Cover charges for nightclubs were also more common than in CDMX, but unless you’re going out every night, shouldn’t be much of a factor. Lima is slightly more expensive than both for everyday living.

Weather: Agreed. Mexico City is best. Unless you *really* hate rain. Then Lima wins.

Safety: A tough one. Agree that Bogota is most dangerous. Based on my own feeling there as well as tales from people I know who had shit happen to them. Nothing else I can judge it by, really. Between CDMX and Lima, tough call. I’d say safety in Lima’s best neighbourhoods beats safety in CDMX’s best neighbourhoods (police are more trustworthy in Lima, too). Outside those neighbourhoods, probably similar. I feel just as on-edge in La Victoria in Lima as I do in Doctores in Mexico City. Know foreigners who have been robbed in all three cities. Likely a tie.

English/Education: I’ve no idea haha.

Nightlife: Bogota. From what I saw, can’t beat the quality, logistics or options. I would say that CDMX beats Lima, though.

Girls/Dating: BOGOTA.

Food: I’d give it to Lima. More variety in base ingredients make for less repetitive dishes. Most food in Mexico City, aside from soups, is essentially a different interpretation of the taco. Both beat Bogota.

Gringo Fatigue: Agree. Impossible to call in such huge cities. I did notice fewer foreigners in Bogota – seems that hasn’t changed.

Tourism: Tough one. Depends what you’re into, I suppose. For cultural attractions, Lima comes up way short, but they make up for it with the activities you mention. Bogota I regrettably didn’t get too stuck into it apart from nightlife and randomly walking the streets. Heard they have an impressive cycling network, though. Mexico has incredible museums, but lacks in any sort of adventure-type stuff.

…so basically that’s all just a long-winded way to say that I agree with all the shit you said, but I had some time so I figured I’d unload it in your comment section.

Again, great post.

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Cynic In Chief - October 6, 2018

Mexico City is on my short list of places to visit overseas. The Six Flags there has some roller coasters that I really need to ride.

Thanks for the comparison. You should write up some recommendations for Mexico City when you experience it enough.

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