Columbia and Peru are two South-American countries, famous for their tropical landscapes, iconic attractions, and incredibly rich cultural heritage. However, while Columbia and Peru occupy plenty of similarities, they each offer their own unique vibe and experience.
Choosing between Columbia or Peru is a tough decision for any traveller in South America, and ideally, we would recommend visiting both. But unfortunately, this isn’t always an option, which is why we’ve put together this guide to help you decide which destination may be better for you.
By the end of this comparison article you will have all of the information necessary to make an informed decision between visiting either Columbia or Peru.
Columbia vs Peru: Accommodation
When it comes to accommodation, Peru has considerably more options available. From inexpensive hostels to exclusive five-star resorts, there is something to satisfy all types of budgets and travellers. No matter if you’re a solo traveller looking for a cheap and friendly guesthouse, or a couple seeking a romantic beachside villa, you will be certain to find it in Peru’s abundance of incredible accommodation offerings.
Hostels start from as little as $3 per night, such as Peter’s hostel which is located in the heart of the city centre. For mid-range options, expect to pay anywhere between $30 – $40. We recommend checking out Susanna Inn Machu Picchu Hotel which is a 3-star hotel located only 3.7 miles from Huayna Picchu. For somewhere with a little more luxury, then expect to pay upwards of $150 per night. If you want to splash out, then the five-star Tambo del Inka is a great choice, featuring two swimming pools, a spa and wellness centre, breathtaking views, and a fitness centre.
Columbia is less touristic, meaning there are fewer accommodation options to choose from. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of places to stay, and for very affordable prices.
In Columbia, low-budget travellers should expect to pay around $10 per night for a shared hostel dorm room. Hotels and guesthouses start at $25 per night. For anything four-stars and above, you should prepare to spend upwards of $60.
To prove just how far your money can go, Radisson Cartagena Ocean Pavillion is a five-star hotel in Columbia, and prices start from as little as $70. The hotel features modern rooms, multiple swimming pools, beachfront bars, and a fully kitted out fitness centre.
Winner: Peru due to its abundant selection
Columbia vs Peru: Prices
Columbia is estimated to be roughly 10% cheaper than Peru, however overall there isn’t much of a difference in price. In both countries you will find high-end restaurants and hotels, and in stark comparison, cheap local eateries and low-budget hostels.
According to Numbeo, here are some figures comparing the costs between Columbia and Peru:
|Meal at inexpensive restaurant||$3.35||$2.71|
|Apartment (One bedroom)||$296||$392|
On the whole, Peru and Columbia are both very inexpensive holiday destinations. A beer from the local supermarket will set you back roughly $0.80, the average meal will cost $2.50, and the typical daily spend is somewhere around $40. A great way to eat for less is by heading off the beaten track and eating at local restaurants and avoiding modern and touristy places.
Activities are also something you need to consider, particularly if you plan on visiting Machu Picchu. A ticket to Machu Picchu will cost $60, or $80 if you also want access to Huayna Picchu. Online prices tend to be higher, so we would advise purchasing tickets in person.
In summary, both Columbia and Peru are great places to stretch your cash. Of course, how much you actually spend depends entirely on your own individual living needs and requirements.
Winner: Columbia, but only slightly
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Columbia vs Peru: Nightlife
In Columbia, the capital city Bogota excels at nightlife. As the largest city in Columbia, Bogota has one of the best party scenes in all of South America. Some of the wildest party venues include Armando Records, Theatron, and Octava.
Besides from Bogota, the nightlife in Columbia tends to fall short. There are still areas to party, such as Medellin and Cali, but they don’t come close to the nightlife you will experience in Bogota.
The nightlife in Peru is also a popular party destination, and there is certainly no shortage of clubs and bars. Lima is one of the favourite places for a good night out, which you would typically expect from a capital city.
Some of the best venues in Lima that you don’t want to miss are Nebula, ValeTodo DownTown, Blue Mint, and Dolce Vita. Miraflores and Barranco tend to be the hotspot areas in Lima, where you will find most of the action.
Columbia vs Peru: Beaches
When it comes to beaches, Columbia has way more to offer. There are two coastlines in Columbia on the Pacific and Caribbean coast, each offering a spectacular array of pristine beaches. The Caribbean side tends to be far more stunning, boasting turquoise blue waters and dreamy white-sand beaches.
Although there are fewer beaches in Peru, that doesn’t mean there’s a shortage of options. All of the beaches in Peru are found on the west coast bordering the pacific ocean – the largest body of water on the planet. Some of the most picturesque beaches in Peru include Las Pocitas, Playa Roja, Mancora, and Lobitos.
Of course, another deciding factor when choosing between beaches is the weather. Luckily, Columbia is generally hot all year round, making for an enjoyable beach visit no matter the season. The best time to visit Peru is during the dry season, between the months of May and October where the temperatures are hot and the skies are blue. January through to July tends to be colder, which of course is less than ideal for beach enthusiasts.
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Columbia vs Peru: Food
This is an easy one, as Peruvian food is some of the best in South America. In fact, it was recently voted as one of the worlds best cuisine. Peruvian cuisine has an abundance of different flavours, including 3,800 varieties of potatoes.
Peru’s most famous dishes include Ceviche, which is a mixture of raw fish marinated in fresh citrus juices, chilli peppers, chopped onions and coriander. Pachamanca, a word that when broken down means ‘Pacha’ for earth and ‘manca’ meaning pots, is a dish that uses hot stones as a way of baking the food. Ingredients include meat, vegetables, spices and herbs. And lastly, Anticuchos, which is one of Peru’s most renowned street food. Anticuchos are skewers made of marinated meat and usually served with vegetables or potatoes.
Conversely, Columbian cuisine is very simple and usually consists of meat, rice, vegetables, and potatoes. The food varies depending on the region, but you will find that most meals contain these main ingredients.
Columbia vs Peru: Weather
Columbia is generally hot all year round, although there are many cool days and nights. The average temperature is 27 degrees, with January being the coldest month (6 degrees) and July being the hottest month (33 degrees).
The best time to visit Columbia is during the dry season which is between December to March, where the weather is hot and there is the least chance of rain.
In Peru, the average temperature sits at around 25 degrees. In the northern region, the climate is hot and humid all year round. Conversely, the south has a tropical climate and rains a lot of the time.
We recommend visiting Peru throughout the dry season, between the months of May and October. During this time the skies are usually blue and the temperature is generally hot.
Of course, the weather much depends on the region and time of year that you visit; but here are the key points to remember.
November to April – Rainy season (Worst time to visit)
May to October – Dry season (Best time to visit)
October to November – Rainy season (Worst time to visit)
December to March – Dry season (Best time to visit)
Columbia vs Peru: Attractions
There is no shortage of activities in either Columbia or Peru. No matter if you’re a backpacker or travelling with a family, tourist activities are an important part of any vacation.
Peru tends to have more on offer, such as sandboarding and racing dune buggies in Huacachina, exploring the Peruvian Amazon, going deep into the Colca Canyon, embracing the serenity of Lake Sandoval, walking the streets of Arequipa, and of course visiting the famous Machu Pichu.
In Columbia, popular activities include trekking through the lost city, visiting a Columbian coffee farm, taking a stroll through the historic city centre of Cartagena, or visiting the Tayrona national park.
In general, you will find much more to see and do in Peru.
Columbia vs Peru: Shopping
From handmade art, popular handicrafts, and cheap giveaway souvenirs to designer clothing, local food, and favourite cosmetics, both Peru and Columbia have an array of shopping centres and local markets.
For high-end shopping malls and boutiques, we found that Columbia has a wider range of options; whereas Peru offers better local markets and smaller independent shops. The infrastructure is generally better in Columbia, which is reflected in the shops, roads, and supermarkets.
The best shopping regions in Peru are:
- Pueblo Libre
The best shopping regions in Columbia are:
Columbia vs Peru: Safety
Columbia and Peru are safe countries to visit, but there are certain areas that you will need to avoid. In Columbia, try avoiding Soacha, Cali and Medellin. In Peru, Plaza Dos de Mayo and Callao are considered unsafe areas. Large cities often have a reputation for being unsafe, as the crime and traffic accident rates are usually significantly higher.
The biggest crime is associated with petty theft such as pickpocketing, so it is important that you keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
Columbia or Peru? Our Destination Winner!
It’s a tough decision, but our winner has to be Peru. Besides that it’s home to one of the seventh wonders of the world, there are just overall more things to see and do. As Peru sees plenty of visitors, the country has a better infrastructure for tourists, making for a much easier trip than a country like Columbia.
For more of an adventure and a country less traveled, then Columbia still makes an excellent pick. Prices are cheap, and there are oodles of things to see and do. Just be prepared for a tougher time as it can be tricky to navigate around, especially as English is not widely spoken throughout the country.
Visiting either country would be an excellent decision, and ideally, we would recommend visiting both. However, if you have limited time and are stuck on where to go, we hope this comparison guide has helped make it easier to choose.