Lima Vs. Bogota: A Gringo’s Go-To Guide

Heading to South American, but unsure what big city to visit? Curious which metropolis is best for gringos? You’ve come to the right place. In this post, I compare Lima vs. Bogota.

We’ll dive deep and find out which city is best geared towards your wants and needs. Both these cities are massive South American metropolises, but Lima and Bogota couldn’t be more different.

In this post, we’ll look at:

  • City Size
  • Cost of Living
  • Weather
  • Safety
  • English & Education Levels
  • Nightlife
  • Girls & Dating
  • Food
  • Gringo Fatigue
  • Tourism & Stuff to Do

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and see which city suits your needs.


~ Lima Vs. Bogota ~

City Size

Bogota is a giant city of over 8 million people in the city proper. Lima has a population of nearly 10 million (Source).

If you like big cities, both Lima and Bogota will treat you right. Personally, I found Bogota felt a bit larger and had more areas to explore. But, it really doesn’t matter. Lima and Bogota are two of the five biggest cities in all of Latin America.

  • Winner: Tie

Cost of Living

Bogota is Colombia’s most expensive city. While Bogota is cheap for Western standards, it’s not cheap for Latin America.

Surprisingly, Lima is more expensive than Bogota. In fact, I’d say it’s at least 10-15% more expensive – when comparing the neighborhoods of Zona T in Bogota to Miraflores in Lima.

For example, a studio apartment can be found in Zona T for around $550-700. For something similar in Miraflores, you’re looking at $700-800.

  • Winner: Bogota

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The reason Bogota doesn’t get nearly as many tourists as Medellin, Colombia? The weather!

Bogota weather isn’t great. Its kind of cold, rainy, and grey skies are pretty damn common. If it was sunny all the time in Bogota, I’d probably never leave.

Lima weather pulls a “Jekyll & Hyde” on travelers. During certain months, the weather in Lima is absolutely lovely. The rest of the time? It’s worst than Bogota.

Honestly, if you’re torn on where to go, use the weather as your guiding factor. Lima weather is amazing mid-November through early May. Go to Lima during these months.

The rest of the year? Go to Bogota.

Oh, and remember…Lima has stunning Pacific Ocean views. Bogota doesn’t.

  • Winner: Lima by a little

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This category isn’t even close. While I haven’t had any issues in Colombia and think the dangers are a bit hyped up, there’s no denying that Bogota isn’t a completely safe city.

Even Zona T and the north of Bogota have significant crime, including tourists getting mugged in broad daylight. While you shouldn’t be scared traveling to Colombia, you shouldn’t whip your new iPhone X out on the street, either.

In Lima, you don’t have much to worry about, especially if you’re staying in Miraflores.

In fact, Miraflores may be the safest neighborhood in all of Latin America. Hell, they even have signs saying cops will fine people who honk their horns in Miraflores! That’s absolutely insane – even by Western standards.

Overall, Lima is significantly safer than Bogota, especially when comparing popular neighborhoods like Miraflores and Barranco versus Zona T and Chapinero.

  • Winner: Lima

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English & Education Levels

Honestly, this is a tough one.

I found education and English levels were pretty high in Bogota. I was impressed by the number of people who spoke English in the city. Plus, nearly everyone I spoke with either had a job, was studying in college, or both. Bogota is where Colombians go to work and study.

Lima, on the other hand, is where most upper-class Peruvians live. Nearly all the wealthy in Peru congregate in Lima. That means high levels of education and decent English, especially in the expensive neighborhoods like Miraflores and San Isidro.

English levels and education are fairly similar when you compare Miraflores to Zona T and Chapinero. However, once you get outside these areas, I found the education levels of people in Bogota to be much higher than in Lima.

  • Winner: Bogota by a little

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Now we’re getting to the good stuff. If you like a little rumba while you travel, which who doesn’t, then you’ve come to the right place. Just be prepared for a hangover or three!

Both Lima and Bogota have great nightlife, especially by Latin American standards. You won’t be disappointed.

But, what city offers better nightlife? Lima vs. Bogota? Well, that all depends on what you like.

Lima nightlife is exceptionally gringo-friendly. You’ll find dozens of clubs and bars in Miraflores – all within walking distance. You can walk around safely at night and the scene is fairly international.

Bogota nightlife is a whole different animal. If you like partying, drugs, and exceptionally attractive women with occasionally lax morals – well, Zona T is where you want to be.

Overall, Bogota nightlife is better, especially if you speak Spanish, and a whole lot crazier. Lima nightlife is still a great time and a whole lot safer.

  • Winner: Bogota by a little

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Bogota Nightlife. Peep the handsome gringo in the middle.

Girls & Dating

If you’re a red-blooded male, this is probably the most important section for you. And that’s fine by me! I’m no stranger to a little dating and mating on the road.

The good news? Unless you’re coming from Miami or NYC, you shouldn’t have any issue with the quality of women in either city.

Lots of guys hate on the Lima because of the Peruvian girls. But, guess what? Those guys also spend all their vacation swiping Tinder.

There’s plenty of really attractive girls in Lima once you get off Tinder and start using your words in-person. Just go to Lima Bar in Larcomar on a Saturday night and tell me what you think about the girls in Lima.

That being said – the women in Bogota are going to be more attractive on average than the girls in Lima. Colombian girls are renowned for their looks. Peruvian girls are not. There’s a reason for that.

Overall, the girls in Bogota will be hotter than the girls in Lima. However, Peruvian girls tend to make better girlfriends, as the culture in Peru is a bit more conservative than in Colombia.

  • Winner: Bogota


I’m no foodie. Nor do I claim to be. But, you don’t have to be a foodie to clearly see that Peruvian food is better than Colombia food.

It’s not even close. Colombian food is a bit bland, while Peruvian food is filled with flavor and chalk full of exotic dishes to test out.

In Peru, you can try food like Ceviche, Lomo Saltado, Aji de Gallina, and more. In Colombia, they have Bandeja Paisa and soups. While Colombian food isn’t that bad, there’s no contest here.

  • Winner: Peru

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Not Colombian Food.

Gringo Fatigue

Surprisingly, neither of these cities are “played out” yet. While both Lima and Bogota see some tourists, things aren’t on the scale of Medellin, Cartagena, or Cusco.

One reason? Lima and Bogota are both too big. In cities of 8-10+ million people, you’d need tons of tourists to overwhelm the city. Sure, Miraflores is a bit touristy in Lima, but it doesn’t ruin the vibe.

Plus, half the gringos in Lima stay a few days in a hostel before taking a bus down to Cusco. So, they really don’t hurt the city.

Most travelers view Bogota as either having horrible weather or being too dangerous. So many gringos skip it completely when visiting Colombia.

Overall, you’ll see more gringos in Lima, but neither Bogota nor Lima is suffering from much gringo fatigue. Both cities are happy to welcome travelers.

  • Winner: Tie

Tourism & Stuff to Do

This one isn’t too tough. In Lima, you can:

  • Surf
  • Paraglide
  • Swim with sea lions
  • Visit ancient ruins
  • Go to the beach
  • …And more!

In Bogota, you can look at some graffiti and then take a cable car to Monseratte. Well, that’s outside the drugs and women.

Ok, maybe there’s a little more to do in Bogota. But, overall – Lima has so much more to offer from a tourism standpoint. If you need a lot of stuff to keep you entertained, Lima is a better bet.

  • Winner: Lima

Summertime in Lima.

P.S: My buddy Vance wrote a similar article and it’s fantastic. Check it out here.

Lima Vs. Bogota: A Gringo’s Go-To Guide

So, where does that leave us in? Let’s take a look at the Lima vs. Bogota scorecard:

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

Got damn! After 1,500 words, we’re still tied. Why? Because both Lima and Bogota are truly great cities for gringo travelers. Luckily, there’s an easy way to know what city is best for you. In my opinion…

If you’re new to traveling in Latin America and/or don’t speak good Spanish – Lima, Peru is the better choice.
If you’ve traveled in Latin America and/or speak some Spanish – Bogota, Colombia is the better option.


If you’re traveling between November to May – Lima, Peru is the better option.
If you’re traveling May through October – Bogota, Colombia wins. 

Either way, make sure you speak some Spanish before you go. The best way to start? Just click here!

3/5 (2 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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Daniel - October 5, 2019

Great post. Exactly what I was looking for. Which city would you recommend for someone wanting to work remotely online?

    Jake Nomada - October 7, 2019

    Both are absolutely idea for working online these days, as Internet speeds are solid and there are safe areas in both cities.

    I’d recommend staying in Miraflores in Lima, Peru from December through May.

    And find Bogota preferable for online work from the end of May until December.

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