Forget Mexico. That’s my advice to readers looking for advice on where to go this spring.
Granted, it’s probably unfair to paint the entire country as unsafe for visiting Americans. After all, visiting Cancun or Puerto Vallarta is no more dangerous than visiting Chicago or Portland given the rise in crime in many major US cities.
Besides, my labeling Mexico as unsafe for tourists has more to do with the country’s government under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
A left-wing president is, at best, unable to maintain Mexico’s internal control and security, and at worst, enabling cartels that not only control much of the country, but also threaten the US side of the border. I have little confidence that Americans in Mexico can count on Mexican state or federal authorities when things go wrong.
With Mexico off my bucket list for the foreseeable future, the following three places — listed in no particular order — are places readers should consider going this spring.
Panama, a country rather than a city in Florida, is both foreign and familiar.
Foreign because it’s outside the United States, but familiar because the former Panama Canal Zone was once a territory, English is widely spoken, and Panama is home to a large American and Canadian expat community.
Consider staying in Casco Viejo, as Panama City’s old town is called, at Hotel Central, which overlooks the square and the Spanish colonial-era Roman Catholic cathedral. The Panama Canal Museum is located nearby.
Outside the streets of Casco Vijeha, visitors can also pass through the canal of the same name, which owes its existence to President Theodore Roosevelt. Although the canal has obviously changed over the years, a boat trip across the Isthmus of Panama is still a bucket list trip.
San Juan Puerto Rico
San Juan is not only the capital of Puerto Rico, a US territory since the Spanish-American War. Having celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2021, it is by far the oldest city in the United States.
Old San Juan is a perfect fortified old town and mostly dates back to when Spain was a colonial power. This is also where several thousand cruise ship passengers disembark and explore the city each day.
Beyond the cobblestone streets is an oceanfront strip in Kondado, where visitors find a beach that rivals Miami Beach’s South Beach and Hawaii’s famed Waikiki Beach. Consider staying at Hotel El San Juan, an iconic resort under the Fairmont luxury brand.
The Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal, was largely undiscovered by Americans.
Most English-speaking tourists are British and rarely leave one of the 130 beaches, which means they miss out on rich history, vibrant culture, incredible food and under-appreciated wine.
Some of the must-see towns include Tavira on Portugal’s southeastern border with Spain, Moncarapacho, Olhão (pronounced “oll-yow”) and Silves with its Moorish-era cathedral and castle.
The Algarve’s only airport in Faro is served by major European low-cost airlines, offering connections from major European hubs. You can also fly into the Portuguese capital of Lisbon from several US airports and connect via TAP.
Dennis Lennox writes a travel column for The Christian Post.
Dennis Lennox writes about travel, politics and religious issues. He has published in the Financial Times, the Independent, The Detroit News, the Toronto Sun and other publications. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.
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