Colombia Vs. Peru. Two great South American countries for traveling gringos to visit. But, which country is better? Well, that’s what we’re about to find out.
After spending a decent amount of time in both these countries, I’m qualified to compare and contrast. But, I’m just one dude with a laptop. This is just my opinion.
If you’re looking for unique Latin cultures, world-class tourism, crazy nightlife, and fun-loving locals – both Colombia and Peru fit the bill. Suffice to say, adventures abound in both places.
But, what spot is best for you? Well, there’s only one way to find out…
Colombia Vs. Peru
You’re better off just booking a ticket and exploring. I’m thrilled you’re here reading this post, but seriously – just get the fuck off the Internet and live your life.
Anyway, I’ll break it down to the best of my abilities. While there’s no clear winner in my opinion, I’ll try to point you in the right direction if you’re struggling to decide where to go.
Mano a mano. Head to head. Colombia Vs. Peru:
Colombia has nearly 50 million people (Source). Peru has a little over 30 million people (Source).
While Colombia has a much larger population, it’s not really going to affect the average traveling gringo. The difference between 30 and 50 million people means a few more cities to explore, but isn’t noticeable during day-to-day traveling.
Colombia has five cities nearing one million people or more. Peru has one, maybe two, if you include Arequipa. Suffice to say, you have a lot more cities to explore in Colombia compared to Peru.
For example, in Colombia, you could base up in these cities for a month or two:
In every one of these cities, you will find modern conveniences, solid Airbnb options, decent Wi-Fi, and enough creature comforts to ensure you forget you’re in the developing world.
In Peru, you simply don’t have many options. I’ve found these cities in Peru offer enough creature comforts for a month or two stay:
Outside of those three cities, I would not spend more than a week or two in any Peruvian city. After spending some time in Piura and Trujillo, I didn’t find the small cities had enough modern conveniences to keep me happy.
So, Colombia wins by a far margin. That being said – Lima, Peru is a fantastic city filled with modern conveniences and I’m a huge fan.
Ya tu sabes.
Cost of Living
Overall, Colombia is cheaper than Peru. Bogota is cheaper than Lima. Cali is cheaper than Arequipa. The comparisons could go on and on.
Now, I’m sure you can do Peru for cheaper than Colombia. But, the cities most people visit in Peru will usually be a little pricier than those in Colombia. Others may disagree, but I spend more in Peru than in Colombia – for a similar lifestyle.
Check out some of my cost of living content from Colombia:
You’ll definitely want to speak some Spanish if you’re traveling around either country. In fact, you’ll have a far better experience if you speak a little Spanish than none. English levels just aren’t great in either country.
That being said – you can find enough English speakers in Bogota, Colombia or Lima, Peru to get by. In fact, around neighborhoods like Miraflores and Zona T, I’d say 25% of locals can understand a little English.
Overall, there’s decent English levels in Bogota and Medellin. There’s also decent English in Lima and Cusco.
Outside those four cities, you’ll want to have some Spanish speaking abilities while traveling around Peru or Colombia.
When looking at how people speak, I’ve found Rolos speak the clearest Spanish in Colombia or Peru. Many Limeños speak a slower Spanish, as they’re used to speaking with gringos.
Either way, you’ll want to learn some Spanish before you arrive. The best way to learn Spanish? Just click here!
Ease of Travel – Inside Country
Do not Google “Peru bus crashes” after reading this article. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
In fact, bus travel sucks in both countries. Both Peru and Colombia are mountainous countries that make traveling by bus a pain in the ass.
Sure, a 3-6 hour ride here or there shouldn’t be an issue. But, I can’t recommend taking overnight bus journeys in either spot.
In Peru, the bus could fall off a cliff and kill half the passengers. In Colombia, you might wind through mountain roads until you’re about to throw up. Neither situation is pleasant.
Flying is a much better option in both countries. Avianca offers solid flights throughout Peru an Colombia. Plus, both countries have local, budget airlines that do a solid job. In Colombia, you have:
All four of these carriers offer in-country roundtrips for under $100 USD! Hell, some flights can be $40-50 roundtrip. That’s a freaking steal.
Why take a 14-hour bus ride for $40 when you can take a 2-hour flight for $70 or less?! If you have a flexible schedule, you’ll save yourself a ton of time and headaches by flying. And it won’t cost much more.
Outside of Lima, the infrastructure is simply better in Colombian cities. Colombian cities are just more developed than similar sized cities in Peru.
While Colombia’s infrastructure isn’t amazing in every city, a place like Pereira blows somewhere like Trujillo out of the water – in terms of infrastructure and modern conveniences.
Lima and Bogota offer similar infrastructure, but Medellin and Cali blow any other Peruvian city out of the water in this regard.
While Colombia has some fantastic tourism, I’m not sure the country competes with Peru.
Peru attracts nearly 3.5 million visitors each year. Colombia attracts 3 million tourists each year (Source).
While these numbers are similar, visitors are much more spread out in Colombia. In Peru, nearly all of those 3.5 million people fly into Lima, spend a little time, and then head to Cusco for a Machu Pichu trip.
In Colombia, gringos fly into Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena regularly – as there are cheap flights to all three airports. This means no one Colombian city sees nearly as many tourists as Lima and Cusco.
But, enough with the stats – which country has better stuff to do, bro? Well, I’d say Peru.
In Colombia, you have fantastic tourism like:
Castillo San Felipe
Valle de Cocora
These are some world-class attractions, especially Parque Tayrona. Yet, there’s nothing in Colombia that can compete with Machu Picchu. Nothing!
Machu Picchu is one of the finest tourist attractions in the world. People come from every continent to check it out. If you go to Peru, it’s an absolute must visit. Every Peru trip should include a trip to Machu Pichu.
Still, Peru has much more to offer than ancient Incan ruins. Throughout the country, you can find great tourism, like:
Sandboarding in Huacachina
Exploring Iquitos & the Amazon rainforest
Surfing in Huanchaco & Mancora
You could spend months in Peru and not see all the amazing sites. Peru is just blessed in the tourism department. It’s just a fantastic country to explore and enjoy some of the unique sites and activities.
Peru has a few beaches. There’s beaches in Lima. Punta Hermosa is a fun place to go in the summers. Mancora has a couple pretty playas. Huanchaco is a great place to surf for cheap.
That being said – Peru’s beaches are all Pacific coastline. Colombia has beaches on the Pacific coast, too. But, Colombia also has stunning beaches in the Caribbean.
Caribbean beaches tend to be far prettier than Pacific ones. And in this case, there’s no contest. Colombia has way better beaches than Peru.
The beaches in Peru simply cannot compete with the likes of Parque Tayrona, Punta Gallinas, or Costeno beach. Hell, even Rodadero in Santa Marta is nicer than any beach I’ve seen in Peru.
This one is surprisingly tough. After taking a solid sample of nightlife options throughout both countries and suffering many a hangover, it’s hard to pick a winner.
I believe Bogota has the best nightlife in Latin America – but Lima is pretty damn close. The high-end options are much better in Bogota, but Lima nightlife is still a ton of fun, especially when you get away from the over-touristy spots.
Outside Bogota, the nightlife in Colombia falls off. I wouldn’t recommend spending too many big nights out in a city like Cali or Medellin. I just never liked the nightlife in those spots.
In Peru, I had an amazing time partying in Cusco. One of my best buddies loved the nightlife in Arequipa.
So, I’m torn. While Bogota is still unbeatable in my mind, Peru has solid nightlife in three major cities.
If you have any great Peruvian songs, feel free to link them up in the comments. I couldn’t find any I liked.
Interactions with Locals
Colombians are incredibly friendly, helpful, and fairly outgoing. Peruvians are a little more reserved, but certainly just as friendly. Overall, I find the locals in both countries quite pleasant to be around.
I’m no culinary expert. I won’t front and act like I am. However, you don’t need to be an expert to see that Peruvian food is some of the best in Latin America.
Colombia food is fine and all. I enjoyed testing out some of the popular dishes throughout the country. But, Colombian food simply isn’t as tasty as the food in Peru. Peruvian foods, like ceviche, lomo saltado, and anticucho, are simply fantastic.
Well, I won’t sugarcoat this one. Colombian girls are some of, if not THE, sexiest in all of Latin America. Go to Medellin and tell me the girls aren’t some of the best looking you’ve ever seen.
However, Colombian girls aren’t perfect. Many men have gone to Colombia, got drugged by a pretty girl, and then robbed. Others have gotten Colombian girlfriends that haven’t been loyal.
Colombian girls can be amazing looking, but they may also only be interested in cash, be hard to trust, or worse.
Don’t get me wrong. There are tons of Colombian girls that are simply fantastic and I’ve dated a few during my time in the country. Overall, I’m a huge fan of the women in Colombia. Just saying they’re not perfect…
Peruvian girls are a little different. On average, you won’t see as many stunners in Peru as you would in Colombia. However, don’t get it twisted. Lima, Peru has nearly 10 million people living in the city. There’s a ton of hot chicks in Lima.
Plus, Peruvian girls are, on average, a little more down to earth than the average Colombiana. Peruvian chicks are a bit more conservative and honest.
If all things were equal in the looks department, I’d venture that a Peruvian girl would make a better girlfriend than a Colombiana. Again, on average.
Just my opinion. That being said – if women are you main concern, Colombia is tough to beat.
Winner: Colombia, by a small margin.
Not even close. Peru is much safer than Colombia. While I’ve yet to have any issues in Colombia, I’ve met many people who have been drugged, robbed, or both.
I’ve yet to hear anyone have a major issue in Peru. Plus, the statistics mirror what my anecdotal evidence has found. Just check out these articles:
If you’re concerned about safety or don’t speak decent Spanish, Peru may be the better country for you. It’s just safer than Colombia by all accounts.
It’s pretty easy to get to Peru and Colombia. You can find cheap flights to Lima when visiting Peru. In Colombia, it’s easy to get to Bogota or Medellin.
I can’t say there’s much of a difference in price for airline tickets from the United States to either country. It takes an extra hour or two in the air to get to Lima compared to Medellin or Cartagena, but that’s minor.
Coffee Region, Colombia.
Colombia Vs. Peru: A Gringo’s Go-To Guide
So, Colombia Vs. Peru? Who is the winner? Well, if we look at the results, we see Colombia won six categories – while Peru only won three. There was also six tied categories. All my opinion…
So, Colombia is the better bet overall. That being said – I’d say Lima, Peru is better than any Colombian city from mid-December through mid-April. When the weather is good, Lima is one of the absolute best cities in Latin America.
Overall, Colombia vs. Peru is a tough call. Lima is a great options for many travelers, but Colombia is just tough to top due to a number of factors.
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.