There are some rivalries in history that eclipse trifling matters such as War, Religion, Independence and History; where issues such as Right and Left, Suppression and Liberty, Governments and Control are forgotten. Mere incidentals in the face of the bigger picture; the bigger issues.
We’re talking important questions like:
Who is better dressed?!
Who has the warmer people?!
Who has the nicer food?!
Who has the better transportation system?!
Who has the better nightlife?!
Who has the richer culture?!
Who has Juanes?!
Yup, these are the kinds of things that keep Rolos (people from Bogota) and Paisas (people from Medellin) snarling at eachother from their respective sides of Colombia. Consult any internet forum with the question ‘should I vacation in Medellin or Bogota’ and you’re almost guaranteed to find a local or two joining in the debate, extolling their city as the best choice in the country. Paisas, they say, are much warmer than Rolos. Bogota, they say, has the best nightlife in the country.
So what’s the truth? If you have to visit one of the two, which do you go to?
Like most locational rivalries, the two parties involved here are far more similar than either side would care to admit. Both are rapidly cities with vibrant cultures that are spurred on by a restless, progressive youth keen to see their city take its rightful place on the world map. Both are rich in history, with a wealth of museums, galleries and churches for you to explore. Both boast an unforgettable nightlife that rocks the city at the weekend. Both suffer rain far more than you might like.
Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that each traveller will likely prefer one to the other. With that said, here’s a little about each city to help you make up your mind.
Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city and the country’s shining example of how it is making huge strides into a brighter future. Once the murder capital of the world, it now moves to a beat dictated by progressive industrialism and its hard-working, hard-partying locals.
Medellin, moreso than Bogota, is a green city with a modern look about it. There are green areas near to where you’re likely to spend your time (El Poblado), and thanks to the warmer weather you’re far more likely to be able to enjoy these spaces than in Bogota.
As far as your night out goes, going out in Medellin offers a good selection of restaurants, bars and clubs. They’re largely situated around the same area and aren’t generally ‘happening’ until the weekend, but still great fun.
Paisas are famous for their warmth and generosity and you’re unlikely to leave without agreeing that they’re some of the nicest people you’ve come across. The downside of the culture? Medellin is one of the plastic-surgery capitals of the world and, as you might expect from a city with that title, things can be a little superficial and people rarely dress in a way that diverts from the norm.
Still, Medellin’s weather and warm people make it an unforgettable experience. Any traveller coming to Colombia with a few days to spend in a city will love Medellin and see it as somewhat of a paradise. No doubt this is why so many of them end up living there.
Not as immediately beautiful as Medellin, Bogota still has areas of unexpected beauty, such as Usaquen, Parque Chico and La Candelaria. It’s in these areas that, unlike in modern Medellin, you get a real sense of the history of the city.
Bogota, as you might expect from a South American capital, is extremely busy and choked with traffic. The size of the city can seem overwhelming but, with a little patience, the city eventually unveils itself to be one of the most culturally rich cities in Latin America.
Moreso than in Medellin, in Bogota you can find hidden cafes, bars, restaurants, bookshops and much more throughout the entire city. Nights out are far more varied since there are various areas of the city to visit. The same can be said about the cuisine, which isn’t lacking in Medellin but can be found in abundance in Bogota. From the excellent international quality found at Zona G to the tucked-away bohemia of La Macarena, it’s really all here if you know where to look.
As far as the people go, while it’s true that Paisas are warmer, it’s still rare to find an unpleasant Rolo and they themselves are less concerned with looks and superficialities. Styles in Bogota vary greatly depending on where in the city you are.
If you travel to Bogota in just two or three days and you’ll find yourself with a great deal to do but, unlike Medellin, you probably won’t be thinking the place is a paradise. However, dig deeper, speak to locals, and you’ll find an endless amount of things to do and see. And one of the most exciting cities in South America.