5 Bucket List Places to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month takes place every year from September 15th to October 15th. It begins mid-month to mark the independence of several Latin American countries but I always preferred to think it’s because, as Hispanics, we like our celebrations to have a little something extra.
Many people are unsure which term to use when referring to the Hispanic community so let’s do a quick review. Hispanic refers to people from a Spanish speaking country, of which there are 20, from Argentina to the Dominican Republic. Latino/a or Latinx refers to people from countries in Latin America, which could include Brazil even though they speak Portuguese. For our purposes, we’ll use these terms interchangeably.
As a travel blogger, I’ve had the privilege of visiting more than 35 countries in the last 3 years. I love discovering unknown places but there’s something about being in a Hispanic country that always feels familiar. I was born in Puerto Rico and moved back to the island as an adult, where I now live full-time. I am proud of my culture and eager to share it with others.
If you want to taste pure flavor, live life in the moment and get a glimpse of ancient civilizations, these destinations are the perfect place to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
Trip to Spain? Yes please! Hop aboard a cheap flight with TAP Portugal or Norwegian and head to Madrid or Barcelona, the two most popular cities.
Both have distinct identities. Madrid is inland and is the capital city. It’s filled with posh Spaniards that stay out till 2am eating tapas and drinking sangria, only to be back at work by 10am looking impossibly fresh. There are many things to do in Madrid, from admiring art in the Prado Museum to watching a live flamenco show.. It is a metropolitan experience unlike any other!
Barcelona, on the other hand, is located on the coast. There’s a mix of people and influences as it borders France. It’s here that you’ll find the works of Antoni Gaudí, legendary architect that made fairy tale buildings come to life. Don’t miss the Sagrada Familia and reserve your tickets ahead of time.
Finally, those wanting to experience the Spanish countryside should head to Andalusia. Here you’ll find Moorish remnants, from Turkish baths to the famous Alhambra.
Ready to dance? You’ll salsa the night away in Havana, Cuba, at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano specifically. Everyone makes use of things instead of throwing them away in Cuba so you’ll find repurposed art is very common. For a sight, visit Fusterlandia, one artist’s home that has been covered in mosaic tile and showcases grandiose installations, transforming an entire neighborhood into a piece of art.
Fans of Ernest Hemingway, rent a car with a private driver who can take you to his estate and show you his frequent haunts. Although once at the bar (where you’ll inevitably end up) I recommend that you skip the daiquiri and stick to the mojitos. The fresh mint used — stem and all — makes this version of the drink sweeter than most and a temptation you won’t be able to resist.
3. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is easy to discover since it’s part of the United States — no passport needed! It’s also home to a tropical rainforest, three bioluminescent bays, one of the busiest cruise ports in the Caribbean and countless golden sand beaches.
Most people begin their visit in San Juan. Stroll the cobblestone streets and take in the ocean air while visiting one of two fortresses in the area. For lunch, try the mofongo, a mashed plantain dish filled with your topping of choice, from lobster to veggies.
Those wanting to explore beyond San Juan should head to the Southwest Coast. Ponce is a beautiful city with historic walking tours. You’ll find the Serralles estate here, heirs to the Don Q. fortune. You can also head to Yaucromatic, an outdoor art museum in Yauco where a residential neighborhood is painted vibrant colors.
Ecuador has so many once in a lifetime experiences that it’s surprising it doesn’t get more attention. Located on the equator line, it is the only place in the world with a museum and monument on the line, allowing you to conduct experiments with gravity and stand in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere at the same time.
It’s also a little-known adventure capital of the world, offering whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, ziplining and more for a fraction of the price of other operators in the mountain city of Banos. While there, make your way to the Casa del Arbol and swing off the end of the world.
Mexico is a dream for digital nomads and young professionals. You can find luxurious spas and lodging along the Riviera Maya and in Tulum. In the summer months, you can go swimming with whale sharks, an experience many people travel to the Philippines for.
The food scene is top notch and I recommend indulging in street tacos whenever you get the chance. Since they cost less than $.50/each you’re practically obligated to buy more than one! No one likes to carry change.
Up for a road trip? Visit one of the new World Wonders at Chitchen Itza. There are also smaller sites nearby that you can explore more freely, like Ek Balam where you can still climb on the ruins. There’s also pink lakes at Las Coloradas.
You’ll need more than a month to visit all the Hispanic countries in the world but this list is a great place to start.