So you’re looking for a new travel destination with the same vibes as Mexico but a different culture?
So you wonder, “Where to go instead of Mexico?” Let me share the best locations for any holiday-maker based on what Mexico is famous for.
I hope you enjoy the ride! But let me share a disclaimer here.
While these countries may share certain similarities with Mexico, they each have their own unique experiences to offer. And no place in the world exactly compares to Mexico! With that disclaimer, let’s dive in!
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Places Like Mexico in the US or Near It
There are simply no places that closely resemble Mexico in the United States. But, if you’re looking for a vibrant Hispanic culture and cuisine like Mexico, you may consider exploring regions with a significant Mexican-American population.
Such American cities include Antonio, Texas, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hawaii is the best alternative to any beachy place. San Diego and Tucson offer a vibrant Mexican-American culture.
Let’s explore them.
Hawaii is the best American alternative to any beachy place. There are also many Hawaii alternatives – in case you have already visited this popular tourist destination in the United States.
With its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush forests, Hawaii offers you the natural beauty that rivals that of Mexico’s coastal resorts.
Like Mexico, Hawaii boasts a vibrant culture with a unique blend of indigenous traditions, American influences, and Asian flavors.
You should go to Hawaii if you love Mexican swim-up bars. You’ll find plenty of them there. Also, you can indulge in a range of cultural experiences, such as:
- Attending a traditional luau,
- Hiking to ancient temples.
- Or learning about the island’s rich history at museums and heritage sites.
Hawaii has a diverse culinary scene, offering you a variety of delicious local dishes and fresh seafood that rivals the best of Mexican cuisine.
2/ San Diego
San Deigo is among the best Mexican alternatives because of its vibrant Mexican-American culture. The city’s proximity to the Mexican border has created a rich blend of cultural influences.
One of the most striking similarities between San Diego and Mexico is the city’s abundance of colorful street art and murals.
The vibrant colors and intricate designs are reminiscent of Mexico’s famous murals. They often depict social and political themes.
Another similarity is the local cuisine, with many Mexican dishes and flavors in San Diego. From street tacos to churros, San Diego offers visitors a range of delicious Mexican foods that rival the authenticity of those found south of the border.
Also, the city’s frequent festivals and events celebrating Mexican holidays, such as Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos, provide visitors with an immersive cultural experience.
Located just a stone’s throw from the US-Mexico border, Tucson also offers a blend of Mexican and American cultures.
The city’s rich history is a testament to its diverse influences, with Native American, Spanish, and Mexican traditions.
You can explore the historic Old Pueblo district to see some of the city’s most significant cultural landmarks, including the Mission San Xavier del Bac, a beautifully preserved Spanish mission.
Tucson’s proximity to Mexico also means visitors can enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine without crossing the border. The city boasts various restaurants serving everything from street tacos to chiles rellenos.
And if you love outdoor adventures, you’ll find many opportunities for hiking, biking, and rock climbing in Tucson.
4/ New Mexico
New Mexico’s rich cultural history is heavily influenced by its proximity to Mexico. The state’s architecture, cuisine, and art reflect its long-standing ties to Mexico, with many old adobe buildings and traditional dishes.
You can explore Santa Fe, the state’s capital, to see some of the city’s most significant cultural landmarks, including the Palace of the Governors and the San Miguel Mission.
For outdoor enthusiasts, New Mexico’s diverse landscape offers a range of activities, such as skiing, hiking, and whitewater rafting.
The state also has national parks, including Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Park, offering you natural scenery.
4 Best Mexico Alternatives in Europe
Let’s talk about the places like Mexico in Europe now that share culture, history, beaches, and cuisine.
Discover the timeless treasures of Spain’s historical past, with ancient ruins like the Roman ruins of Tarragona and Mérida and the Moorish ruins of Granada.
But Spain offers more than just its splendid past as you immerse yourself in the dynamic and exciting cities of Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville.
Sharing the same language and many traditions due to a common colonial past, Spain will feel familiar to anyone who knows Mexico.
For example, Flamenco performances sometimes feel like watching a folkloric dance in Oaxaca.
You can also discover Spain’s stunning coastline with over 16,000 kilometers of beautiful beaches. And experience the breathtaking beauty of Mallorca, Ibiza, and Tenerife, some of the country’s most popular beach destinations.
And finally, Spanish cuisine is worth-mentioning because it’s famous for its vibrant tastes and incorporation of locally sourced ingredients. Some of the most popular dishes in Spanish cooking are paella, tapas, and churros.
The strong sense of community, fresh local cuisines, and white-blue architecture in Greece can remind one of some regions in Mexico.
Marvel at ancient ruins like the Acropolis of Athens and Temple of Delphi, and explore cities bursting with life, like Athens, Thessaloniki, and Crete. Greece awaits your epic adventure!
Furthermore, you can discover Greece’s stunning coastline, the idyllic white sands of Santorini, the unique black sands of Crete, and more.
And Greek food is also renowned for its uncomplicated taste and preference for using fresh and natural ingredients, just like in Mexico. The widely popular Greek delicacies include moussaka, souvlaki, and baklava.
Family, a common trait in Mexican culture, is paramount in Italy. Both countries share a love for good food, wine, and lively conversation around the dinner table.
While there, you must explore ancient ruins like Pompeii and Herculaneum. Also, marvel at the stunning Renaissance architecture in Florence and Rome.
And immerse yourself in vibrant cities like Milan, Venice, and Rome. Italy has it all.
Just like the Mexican coastline, Italy boasts a coastline that stretches over 7,600 kilometers. Notable beaches in Italy that you must visit are those on Sardinia, Sicily, and the Amalfi Coast.
And when you are up for food, you can enjoy the mouthwatering and vibrant flavors of Italian cuisine! Savor the richness of fresh ingredients in every bite and satisfy your cravings with the most beloved dishes, such as pasta, pizza, and gelato.
Portugal shares a lot of similarities with Mexico. For example, Portuguese buildings are often covered in blue and white tiles, much like Mexico’s use of colorful tiles in their architecture.
Also, Portugal’s favorite sweet treat, the custard tart, is similar to Mexico’s famous dessert, ‘flan.’ These small connections show how food and design can link different places.
Not only this but Portugal and Mexico also share a love for their traditional music and sports. ‘Fado’ music from Portugal and Ranchera music from Mexico both tell stories of their people, while football is a passion shared by both nations.
And just as Mexico is famous for its tequila, Portugal is known worldwide for its sweet Port wine. These cultural touchpoints help us understand the shared human experiences in different parts of the world.
13 Places Like Mexico but Cheaper in the Rest of the World
Not all of these Mexican alternatives are cheaper.
Guatemala, similar to Mexico, is steeped in a rich Mayan history. Both countries have great archaeological sites, such as the Tikal National Park in Guatemala and Chichen Itza in Mexico.
Another commonality between these two countries is celebrating the “Day of the Dead,” where they honor their departed loved ones with altars, traditional foods, and bright marigold flowers.
Also, Guatemala and Mexico love spicy food, and traditional recipes often have overlapping ingredients.
Both countries are known for their textile industry. Weaving techniques passed down through generations result in vibrant, beautifully patterned fabrics.
Let me talk about the similarities between Colombia and Mexico now.
Colombians and Mexicans share a love for soccer, a sport that brings their communities together and ignites national pride. From local to international tournaments, enthusiasm for the sport is evident in both nations.
Colombia is also one of the best places, similar to Mexico, because of its hospitality. Visitors often praise the warmth and friendliness they experience in both countries, making travel there a cherished experience.
Also, both Colombia and Mexico boast rich coffee cultures, each unique to their regions. Colombian coffee is known for its mild, well-balanced flavor, whereas Mexican coffee often leans towards solid and unique flavors with a hint of cocoa.
And the list goes on!
The influence of indigenous populations on Peruvian culture and traditions is strong, similar to Mexico. Both nations hold corn in high regard, using it in various traditional dishes.
Also, Peru’s Machu Picchu and Mexico’s Chichen Itza are popular tourist destinations, showcasing the grandeur of their ancient civilizations to the world.
Peru and Mexico produce colorful textiles and traditional crafts, displaying a shared appreciation for artisanal skills and vibrant colors.
They also have traditional dances and festivals deeply rooted in indigenous customs. These cultural touchpoints, linking Peru and Mexico, demonstrate the shared human experiences across different geographies.
For those seeking a tropical getaway with clear blue waters, Belize offers an excellent alternative to Mexican coastal resorts.
Nestled between Mexico and Guatemala, this small Central American country has some of the most stunning beaches and reefs.
You can explore the famous Great Blue Hole, a massive underwater sinkhole, or relax on the beaches of Ambergris Caye.
Belize also boasts diverse cultural influences, with Mayan, African, and European traditions all present throughout the country. And just like in Mexico, you can explore the country’s rich history at archaeological sites such as Altun Ha.
Jamaica is one of the best places like Mexico if you want to enjoy the similar luxuries of all-inclusive resorts. Also, you’ll find stunning beaches, and vibrant culture, making it an excellent alternative to Mexico’s coastal resorts.
Visitors to Jamaica can enjoy delicious Jamaican cuisines like jerk chicken, ackee, and saltfish while enjoying live reggae music and dancing.
And you can also enjoy outdoor activities in Jamaica, like zip-lining, river tubing, and waterfall climbing. For those seeking relaxation, the island’s luxurious all-inclusive resorts offer private beaches and endless pampering at their spas.
14/ Costa Rica
To enjoy a ziplining experience similar to Mexico, you must visit Costa Rica. It’s a great alternative to Mexico for those seeking an adrenaline-filled adventure vacation.
With its lush jungle landscapes and towering volcanoes, Costa Rica offers countless outdoor activities, such as ziplining, bungee jumping, and whitewater rafting.
The country also has several national parks, offering you natural scenery and a chance to spot some wildlife.
And For those seeking culture, the country offers beautiful colonial architecture and rich local cuisine, with traditional dishes such as gallo pinto and empanadas widely available throughout the country.
And if you’ve visited this country already, you might love these alternatives to Costa Rica here.
If you want to dance your night away like in Mexico, you bet on Curacao. The island offers visitors lively bars and nightclubs, with live music often played in the streets late into the night.
During the day, you can explore Willemstad’s colorful Dutch colonial architecture or relax on one of the island’s stunning beaches. And just like Mexico, Curacao also boasts a vibrant culinary scene.
And not to mention, Curacao’s rugged landscape offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and diving.
The vibrant music, colonial history, and beach culture in Curacao and Aruba are reminiscent of Mexico’s coastal regions.
Aruba is a small Caribbean island that offers travelers a unique vacation experience similar to that found in Mexico.
Aruba’s stunning beaches, vibrant local culture, and delicious cuisine make it an excellent alternative to Mexico for those seeking a tropical getaway.
Like Mexico, Aruba has a rich history reflected in its architecture and cultural traditions. The island’s diverse population also means that cultural events and festivals are abundant throughout the year.
Aruba, like Mexico, is known for its beautiful beaches with white sand and clear water, perfect for activities like snorkeling, windsurfing, and parasailing.
The island’s food, blending Caribbean and Dutch flavors, gives competition to Mexico’s diverse cuisine. You can enjoy local delicacies like the cheese dish, keshi yena, or fresh seafood at various dining places, from beach eateries to fancy restaurants.
Although geographically distant from Mexico, Tanzania shares similarities in terms of natural beauty. Tanzania’s impressive wildlife and outdoor adventures can be compared to the biodiversity in Mexico’s eco-tourism hotspots.
Kilimanjaro’s hiking routes in Tanzania resemble the trails found in Mexico’s Copper Canyon.
In terms of culture, both countries have diverse populations contributing to their unique blend of traditions and customs.
They share a love for music and dance, with Tanzania’s Bongo Flava music and traditional Ngoma dance finding parallels in Mexico’s Mariachi music and folk dances.
Morocco and Mexico are both known for their vibrant marketplaces. Marrakech’s souks filled with spices, ceramics, and textiles echo the bustling markets of Mexico City.
Moroccan tagines and Mexican stews use slow-cooking techniques to create flavorful, hearty dishes.
Their architecture also has similarities. Morocco’s traditional Riads, with their central courtyards, share architectural elements with Mexico’s colonial-era homes.
Also, both countries have arid desert landscapes – the Sahara Desert in Morocco and the Sonoran Desert in Mexico – attracting adventurers and explorers.
Cuba, like Mexico, is renowned for its vibrant music and dance culture. Cuban salsa is world-famous, just as Mexico’s traditional folk dances are enjoyed worldwide.
Both countries also have a history of revolution and display a strong sense of national pride.
In terms of cuisine, Cuban sandwiches, and Mexican tortas show a shared love for hearty, flavorful sandwiches.
The countries also share a love for strong, flavorful coffee. Cuba’s white sandy beaches and clear blue waters are akin to the beauty of Mexico’s coastline.
Vietnam and Mexico have rich histories and ancient traditions that significantly influence modern cultures.
Both nations love street food, with Vietnam’s bustling night markets similar to Mexico’s vibrant street food culture.
Additionally, Vietnam and Mexico are known for their handicrafts. While Vietnam is famous for its silk and lacquerware, Mexico is known for its ceramics and textiles.
Both countries also have breathtaking landscapes, with Vietnam’s Halong Bay and Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula drawing nature lovers from around the globe.
Thailand and Mexico share a fervor for spicy food. Thai cuisine’s flavorful curries and stir-fries can be compared to Mexico’s love for hot salsas and spicy dishes.
Thailand and Mexico have bustling street food scenes, offering delicious and affordable food. They also have a strong focus on family and community.
Traditional Thai dances and Mexican folk dances show a shared appreciation for expressive art forms. Thailand also has beaches that attract tourists worldwide, with Thailand’s Phuket as a major tourist destination.
FAQs for the Affordable & Safer Alternatives to Mexico
Let me answer a few questions about affordable places like Mexico now.
What is similar to Cancun, Mexico?
Many places are similar to Cancun, such as Hawaii, Mykonos, Aruba, Boracay Island, Belize, Gili Trawangan, Ensenada, Algarve, Jamaica, Acapulco, and more. Again, remember that no place on Earth exactly compares to Cancun.
Where is it similar to Tulum?
There are many places similar to Tulum based on what Tulum is famous for, such as Zihuatanejo, Bacalar, Cancun, Boca del Cielo, Bacalar, and more. Places like Tulum in the US may include Sanibel Island, Cannon Beach, and Big Sur. And European Tulum alternatives are Kekova, Liguria Region, Zakynthos Island, and more.
Where to go instead of Mexico?
Guatemala, Colombia, and Peru share similar Latin American cultures. Tucson, San Diego, and New Mexico reflect Mexican influence in the US. Belize, Costa Rica, and Cuba share elements of the Caribbean lifestyle, while Spain has linguistic and historical ties.
Discover more places like Mexico here.
Why is Mexico the best place to visit?
Mexico’s vibrant culture, rich history, delicious cuisine, stunning beaches, and ancient ruins make it one of the best places to visit in the world. With all these things combined, you’ll not find Mexico alternatives in the US, Europe, or anywhere in the world.