Medellín and Bogotá are the two most important cities in Colombia in all aspects. They are the economic epicenter of the country, they are the two largest cities in terms of population. But in reality they are two very different cities.

If you are thinking about which one should you visit, this is the guide you have to read to make a decision.

I am from Medellín and have lived here most of my life. But Bogotá is the city that I visit the most for my work and I actually lived there for two and a half years.

I don’t think there is one city that is better than another, as this depends a lot on the preferences of each person and what you are looking for when traveling.

But there are undoubtedly aspects in which each city takes the lead. Here I’ll tell you which city is better in each one of them so that you can make your decision.

Extension

Winner: Bogota

Bogotá and Medellín are two cities that make up large metropolitan areas. But without a doubt, when it comes to extension, both in terms of geographic extension and population, Bogotá has the advantage.

The capital of Colombia has more than 10 million residents and has the typical components of a large capital: large avenues, business areas, buildings and a wide range of shops.

In general, if you travel to Bogotá you will have a larger offer of everything: more hotels, more restaurants, more companies, more people, more shopping centers. And obviously more chaos (LOL).

Medellín is a city with 4 million residents. It has a sufficient supply of all of the above, but is clearly inferior in terms of quantity compared to Bogotá.

Weather

Winner: Medellin

In Colombia there are no seasons. Each city has its own weather, and it is more or less the same for each city throughout the whole year. Most of the travelers agree that the city in Colombia with the best climate is Medellín.

Medellín is known as the “City of Eternal Spring”, because throughout the year its average temperature is around 75 Fahrenheit degrees. This is so true, that locals consider that the city is getting cold when  temperature reaches 65 degrees, which is the minimum for Medellin’s climate. 

This means that you can wear light and comfortable clothes every day: shorts, t-shirts, skirts, tennis shoes, etc. For sure, you won’t need to bring multiple layers with you. 

Bogotá, due to its height, is the coldest city in Colombia. And although it does not compare to the cold of the winter seasons in any other region of the world, it is very likely that you will have to go with a good coat, since temperatures can drop as low as 50 Fahrenheit degrees.

Cost of traveling

Winner: Medellin

Like most world capitals, Bogotá is one of the most expensive cities in Colombia. Although Medellín is not the cheapest city in the country, if you compare it with tourist destinations like Cartagena, San Andrés or other cities like Bogotá, it is a more affordable city.

Overall, when you compare products and services of the same level of quality between Bogotá and Medellín, in Medellín you end up paying 20% less. This applies to accommodation, restaurants, nightlife or everyday products that you can buy in supermarkets.

Perhaps the only aspect in which both cities are equal is in the cost of transportation. Taking a taxi in Bogotá is usually cheaper, although the distances are longer. And taking a Transmilenio bus system in Bogota can be as cheap as taking the Medellin Metro.

Art and culture

Winner: Bogota

Bogotá has a very rich and diverse cultural, historical and artistic offer. On the one hand, it has a wide range of museums that summarize the history of all of Colombia (such as Museo del Oro).

On the other hand, it has a wide range of theaters where you can see the main Colombian actors live. And finally, the center of Bogotá gathers not only the most important political institutions in the country, but also historical buildings that were part of very relevant milestones for Colombians.

Medellín, for its part, has a good range of museums, especially the Antioquia Museum and Plaza Botero (which houses one of the largest Botero collections in the world), Casa de la Memoria Museum or the Modern Art Museum. However, Medellín is a city that lives more in the present and has a slightly more limited historical offer.

Nightlife

Winner: Medellin

I’ve hear many times people saying: “I had the best party of my life in Medellín”. In fact, Provenza, the street where the main bars and nightclubs of the city are located, was listed as one of the 33 coolest streets in the world, by TimeOut magazine.

This is due to several factors. The first is the strong hype of urban rhythms that has taken place in the city in the last decade. Medellín is considered one of the reggaeton capitals in the world, and it is the city where important artists such as Karol G, Maluma, J Balvin, Feid, Ryan Castro, among others, were born.

The second factor is that being the second city with the most arrivals of foreigners, the party in Medellín has become very diverse and multicultural. In the same place you can find people from different parts of Colombia, lifelong Medellinians and travelers from all over the world.

Finally, the weather lends itself to recreating outdoor party atmospheres, such as rooftops where all you have to do is worry about having a good time.

Transportation

Winner: Medellin

There is no discussion here. Medellin is one of the Latin American cities with the best public transportation system. In fact, without much to envy to European cities that are characterized by convenience when it comes to moving and getting from one place to another.

The Medellín Metro system is the only one in Colombia and is made up of two train lines, a tram line, 5 cable-car lines and a complete bus network. And best of all, you can visit them by paying a single ticket.

In fact, this system allows you to reach the main tourist destinations in the city: such as Comuna 13, the center of Medellín or El Poblado.

Food

Winner: No winner

Colombian gastronomy is delicious anywhere you go. And each city has a special touch. If we only talk about the number of restaurants, Bogotá is undoubtedly a city with an unbeatable offer, especially for its international food.

Medellín has a great offer too, with world-class quality and a super affordable price. In Medellin the best food offers a mixture of typical local food (such as the bandeja paisa) and really good street food all over the place.

Although I can’t give you a winner here, I can tell you which is my favorite restaurant that you will find in one city and not in the other. In the case of Bogotá, there is a chain of restaurants called Wok, with spectacular Asian food.

In Medellín there is a fusion food restaurant that melts me, called Alambique. There you will be able to try mixtures of the most typical Colombian flavors and dishes, brought to a delicious gourmet expression.

Nearby towns

Winner: Medellin

This opinion can be a bit controversial. Because the truth is that Bogotá is close to some wonderful towns, such as Zipaquirá (where there is a cathedral made in a salt mine) and Villa de Leyva.

But to my taste, the towns near Medellín bring a much more attractive experience to complement your stay in the main city. For example, Guatapé, where you find the Piedra del Peñol and a reservoir full of small islets. A landscape without comparison anywhere in the world.

There is also Santa Fe de Antioquia, a summer town that is less than an hour away from Medellín and where you can enjoy a hot climate, good pools, beer and partying.

The combination of diversity, closeness and experience make Medellín take this point.