Your Ultimate Guadalajara Travel Guide 2023
Are you planning a trip to Mexico? If so, don’t overlook Guadalajara, one of the most beautiful and culturally-rich cities in the country located west of Guanajuato. Located in the western part of Mexico, Guadalajara offers visitors a blend of colonial and modern architecture, delicious food, and a vibrant nightlife. In this ultimate Guadalajara travel guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to make the most out of your trip, including what to see, where to stay, and what to eat. So let’s get started!
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Guadalajara
- Visit the Historic Downtown: Guadalajara’s historic downtown is the heart of the city and home to some of the most beautiful colonial architecture in Mexico. Visit the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral of Guadalajara, the Teatro Degollado, and the Hospicio Cabañas.
- Explore Tlaquepaque: Tlaquepaque is a charming town located on the outskirts of Guadalajara, famous for its traditional pottery and art galleries. Stroll through the cobblestone streets, visit the markets, and try some of the delicious local food.
- Taste The Tequila: Tequila is one of the most famous spirits in the world, and Guadalajara is the birthplace of this iconic drink. Visit the nearby town of Tequila, tour the distilleries, and taste the different varieties of tequila.
- Watch A Lucha Libre Match: Lucha Libre is a unique Mexican style of wrestling, with colorful masks, acrobatic moves, and a lively crowd. Watch a match at the Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara, and enjoy the excitement and spectacle of this popular sport.
- Visit The Bosque Los Colomos: The Bosque Los Colomos is a beautiful park located in the heart of Guadalajara, with lush gardens, walking trails, and a lake. Escape the city’s hustle and bustle, and enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty of this urban oasis.
Best Guadalajara Tours
Tours in Guadalajara are an excellent way to explore the sights and nearby areas. Unless you intend to rent a car in Guadalajara (which we don’t recommend), tours offer the most convenient means of transportation while keeping costs in check. The expenses for getting around can accumulate rapidly, making tours a wise choice for navigating the country.
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Where To Stay In Guadalajara
- Centro Historico: As the heart of Guadalajara, the Centro Historico neighborhood is where you’ll find many of the city’s top attractions, including the Cathedral of Guadalajara and the Teatro Degollado. This neighborhood offers a mix of historic and modern accommodations, with many budget-friendly options available.
- Zona Minerva: For a more upscale experience, consider staying in Zona Minerva. This neighborhood is home to many high-end hotels and restaurants, as well as the famous Minerva fountain. It’s also conveniently located near the Expo
- Guadalajara Convention Center: Located just outside of Guadalajara’s city center, Tlaquepaque is a charming neighborhood known for its artisan markets and traditional Mexican architecture. This is a great choice if you’re looking for a quieter, more authentic experience.
- Chapultepec: If you’re interested in the city’s nightlife scene, Chapultepec is the neighborhood for you. This area is home to many bars and clubs, as well as trendy cafes and boutiques. It’s also a popular spot for street art and live music performances.
- Providencia: For a more residential experience, check out the Providencia neighborhood. This area is known for its tree-lined streets, spacious parks, and trendy restaurants. It’s a great option if you’re traveling with a family or looking for a quieter place to stay.
Top Guadalajara Hotels
- Hotel Morales: Hotel Morales is a historic hotel located in the heart of downtown Guadalajara. The hotel was originally built in 1888 and has been renovated to offer modern amenities without losing its classic charm. Hotel Morales features 99 rooms and suites, a restaurant, bar, and rooftop pool with stunning city views.
- NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Histórico: The NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Histórico is a modern hotel located in the heart of the historic district. The hotel offers 137 rooms and suites with contemporary decor and state-of-the-art amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant, bar, and fitness center.
- Quinta Real Guadalajara: The Quinta Real Guadalajara is a luxury hotel located in a restored 19th-century hacienda. The hotel features 76 rooms and suites, each decorated with unique Mexican decor. The hotel also has a restaurant, bar, spa, and outdoor pool.
- Casa Fayette: Casa Fayette is a stylish boutique hotel located in the trendy Lafayette neighborhood. The hotel features 37 rooms and suites, each with unique decor and modern amenities. Casa Fayette also has a rooftop pool, restaurant, and bar.
- Hotel Demetria: Hotel Demetria is a contemporary boutique hotel located in the artsy Zona Minerva neighborhood. The hotel features 37 rooms and suites with minimalist decor and state-of-the-art amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant, bar, and rooftop terrace with stunning city views.
Where To Eat In Guadalajara
Guadalajara is known for its amazing culinary scene that offers traditional Mexican dishes as well as innovative international cuisine. If you’re a foodie looking for the best places to eat in Guadalajara, check out our top five picks:
- La Tequila Cocina Mexicana: Located in the heart of Guadalajara, this restaurant offers authentic Mexican dishes with a modern twist. Their menu includes classics like chiles en nogada and mole as well as creative options like cochinita pibil tacos and huitlacoche risotto. Make sure to try their impressive tequila and mezcal collection!
- Mercado San Juan de Dios: If you’re looking for a more casual and authentic dining experience, head to this local market where you can find food stands and small restaurants serving everything from tacos and tortas to ceviche and seafood cocktails. Don’t miss the opportunity to try birria, a savory meat stew that is a must-try in Guadalajara.
- Hueso: This restaurant’s unique décor will catch your eye right away, as it is adorned with over 10,000 animal bones. But the food is what truly makes it a standout. Hueso offers a set tasting menu that changes daily, featuring locally sourced ingredients and creative dishes that will tantalize your taste buds.
- El Sacromonte: If you’re looking for a romantic and elegant atmosphere, this upscale restaurant is a great option. It serves a fusion of Mexican and European cuisine, with dishes like salmon carpaccio, duck confit, and stuffed chiles with cheese and mole.
- La Docena Oyster Bar & Grill: As the name suggests, this seafood-focused restaurant is a great choice for lovers of oysters and seafood. They offer fresh and delicious oysters from various regions, as well as ceviches, grilled fish, and seafood pastas. The cozy atmosphere and attentive service make it a great spot for a special night out.
No matter which of these places you choose, you’re sure to have a delicious and memorable meal in Guadalajara!
How To Get Around Guadalajara
Getting around Guadalajara is relatively easy thanks to its modern public transportation system. Visitors can choose from a variety of transportation options, including buses, taxis, and ride-hailing services.
- Buses: The city’s public bus system is the most affordable way to get around Guadalajara. These buses have designated routes and stops, making it easy to navigate the city. The cost of a bus ride is usually under 10 pesos (about $0.50 USD) and can be paid directly to the driver.
- Taxis: Taxis are readily available in Guadalajara, and most drivers use a meter to determine the fare. However, it is always a good idea to agree on a price before starting the journey. Be aware that taxis are not the cheapest way to get around and can be subject to traffic delays during rush hour.
- Ride-Hailing Services: Ride-hailing services such as Uber and DiDi have become popular options in Guadalajara. These services offer competitive prices and provide a convenient way to navigate the city. To use these services, you will need to have a smartphone and download the relevant app.
- Walking: Walking is a great way to explore Guadalajara, particularly in the city center where many of the popular attractions are located. Just be aware that sidewalks can be uneven and some areas can be congested during peak times.
- Biking: Biking is becoming more popular in Guadalajara, with dedicated bike lanes appearing throughout the city. There are a number of bike rental services available, and some hotels even offer free bikes to guests.
Overall, Guadalajara is an easy city to get around. Depending on your preferences and budget, there are a range of transportation options to choose from.
The weather in Guadalajara is generally pleasant throughout the year. The city has a humid subtropical climate, which means it is warm and humid most of the time. However, the weather can vary depending on the season.
- Spring (March – May): The weather in Guadalajara during spring is mild, with average temperatures ranging between 59°F and 86°F. It can get slightly humid during this time, but rainfall is not very common.
- Summer (June – September): Summer in Guadalajara is hot and humid, with average temperatures ranging between 68°F and 90°F. This is the rainy season, and the city experiences frequent thunderstorms and heavy rain showers. It is also the peak tourist season, so expect large crowds and high hotel prices.
- Fall (October – November): The weather in Guadalajara during fall is pleasant, with average temperatures ranging between 59°F and 86°F. This is the ideal time to visit the city as the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds.
- Winter (December – February): Winter in Guadalajara is cool, with average temperatures ranging between 48°F and 77°F. It can get quite chilly at night, so it’s a good idea to bring a jacket. While there is little rain during this time, there is occasional fog that can cause flight cancellations and delays.
Overall, the best time to visit Guadalajara is during the fall and winter when the weather is pleasant, and there are fewer crowds. However, if you don’t mind the heat and rain, summer is also a good time to visit. Just be prepared for high hotel prices and large crowds.
Best Time To Visit Guadalajara
The best time to visit Guadalajara is from October to December when the weather is mild and comfortable. The temperatures are pleasant, and there are fewer crowds during this time of the year, making it the perfect time to explore the city without having to fight your way through hordes of tourists.
However, if you’re looking to enjoy the city’s festivals and celebrations, the best time to visit Guadalajara is during the summer months, particularly in late July or early August, when the annual Fiestas de Julio takes place. The city comes alive during this time with parades, music, food, and dancing, making it an exciting time to be in Guadalajara. During the rainy season, which runs from June to September, the city experiences heavy downpours, which can put a damper on your plans if you’re not prepared. It’s important to bring an umbrella or raincoat and plan indoor activities during this time of year.
Overall, the best time to visit Guadalajara depends on your personal preferences and what you’re looking to experience during your trip. But if you’re looking for comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds, plan your trip during the fall months.
How To Stay Safe In Guadalajara
Guadalajara is a relatively safe city, but it’s always important to take precautions when traveling to a new destination. Here are some tips for staying safe in Guadalajara:
- Be Aware Of Your Surroundings: Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of any suspicious activity.
- Avoid Certain Areas: Certain areas of the city, such as the Zona Roja, are known to be more dangerous than others. Avoid these areas, especially at night.
- Use A Trusted Taxi Service: Use a trusted taxi service, such as Uber or EasyTaxi, and avoid hailing a taxi on the street.
- Keep Your Valuables Safe: Keep your valuables, such as your passport and money, in a safe place. Use a money belt or hidden pouch to keep your belongings secure.
- Be Cautious With ATMs: Use ATMs located in secure locations, such as inside a bank or shopping mall. Be cautious of anyone standing too close to you while you withdraw money.
- Learn Some Spanish: Knowing some Spanish can be helpful when communicating with locals and navigating the city.
- Dress Appropriately: Dress appropriately for the weather and avoid wearing flashy jewelry or clothing that may attract unwanted attention.
By taking these precautions, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Guadalajara.
Guadalajara Customs and Etiquette
When traveling to Guadalajara, it is important to respect the local customs and etiquette. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Greetings: When greeting someone, it is customary to shake hands or give a light hug or kiss on the cheek. Address people by their titles (e.g. Senor or Senora) until you are given permission to use their first names.
- Dress Code: Guadalajara is a conservative city, so it is best to dress modestly. Avoid wearing revealing clothing or shorts and flip flops when visiting churches or other religious sites.
- Time: In Guadalajara, time is considered flexible and punctuality is not always a priority. Don’t be surprised if meetings or appointments start a little late.
- Dining: When dining out, it is customary to wait until the host or hostess invites you to start eating. It is also polite to leave a small amount of food on your plate to show that you are satisfied.
- Gift Giving: If invited to someone’s home, it is customary to bring a small gift such as flowers or a bottle of wine. Avoid giving gifts that are too expensive or too personal.
By following these customs and etiquette guidelines, you can show respect to the people of Guadalajara and enhance your travel experience.
Other Things To Know About Guadalajara
Aside from the top attractions and travel essentials, there are a few other things you should know about Guadalajara before embarking on your trip. Firstly, Guadalajara is located in Mexico, which means that the official currency is the Mexican Peso (MXN). You can exchange currency at the airport, banks or exchange houses, but it’s recommended to do so at a bank to avoid counterfeit bills. ATMs are also widely available throughout the city.
The official language spoken in Guadalajara is Spanish, but you may encounter locals who also speak English. It’s a good idea to learn some basic Spanish phrases to help you navigate the city, especially if you plan on venturing outside tourist areas.
Guadalajara falls within the Central Time Zone, which is 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-6). Make sure to adjust your watch accordingly to avoid missing any planned activities.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that Guadalajara is known for its traditional customs and etiquette. Mexicans place a great emphasis on being polite, courteous and respectful. For instance, it’s considered polite to greet someone with a handshake or a hug, especially when meeting them for the first time. It’s also customary to address people using their title or honorific, such as “señor” or “señora”. Dressing appropriately and modestly is also highly recommended, especially when visiting religious sites.
By being aware of these details, you can have a smoother and more enjoyable trip to Guadalajara. So pack your bags, learn some Spanish and get ready to immerse yourself in this vibrant and welcoming city!
Guadalajara Travel Costs
When it comes to traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico, you can expect to have an affordable trip without sacrificing comfort or adventure. Here are some of the costs you should keep in mind:
- Accommodation: Guadalajara offers a range of accommodation options, including budget hostels, mid-range hotels, and luxury resorts. On average, you can expect to pay around $30-$40 per night for a decent hostel, while a mid-range hotel may cost around $70-$80 per night. Luxury accommodations can cost upwards of $150 per night.
- Food And Drink: Mexican cuisine is renowned for its bold flavors and spices, and Guadalajara is no exception. The city offers plenty of affordable street food options and budget-friendly restaurants, with meals starting at around $5-$10 per person. If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, you can expect to pay around $20-$30 per person.
- Transportation: Getting around Guadalajara is fairly affordable. The city has a reliable bus system that costs around $0.50 per ride, and taxis are also available at reasonable prices. If you plan on renting a car, prices can range from $30-$50 per day.
- Activities: One of the great things about Guadalajara is that many of the city’s top attractions are free or low-cost. You can visit historic sites such as the Catedral de Guadalajara or the Instituto Cultural Cabanas for just a few dollars, or take a walking tour of the city for around $15 per person.
Overall, you can expect to spend around $50-$70 per day in Guadalajara, not including airfare or other travel expenses. However, with careful planning and budgeting, you can enjoy a wonderful trip without breaking the bank.
Finding Affordable Flights To Guadalajara
Looking for affordable flights to Guadalajara can seem like a daunting task, but with a little bit of research and planning, it’s definitely achievable. Here are a few tips to help you save on your next flight:
- Book Your Flight In Advance: The earlier you book, the more chances you have of finding affordable flights. Try to book at least a few months in advance to secure the best deals.
- Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates: Flights prices can vary greatly depending on the time of the year and even the day of the week. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can save quite a bit of money.
- Compare Prices Across Multiple Airlines And Travel Websites: It’s always a good idea to compare prices across different airlines and travel websites to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Websites like Expedia, Skyscanner, and Kayak can help you find the cheapest flights.
- Sign Up For Alerts: Many airlines, such as Frontier, and travel websites offer email alerts that notify you of sales and discounts. Sign up for these alerts to stay up-to-date on the latest deals.
- Consider Connecting Flights: Direct flights to Guadalajara can be quite expensive, so consider connecting flights. While this might add a little bit of travel time, it can save you a lot of money.
Overall, finding affordable flights to Guadalajara requires a little bit of effort, but the savings are well worth it. With a little bit of research and planning, you can find a great deal on your next flight to this vibrant Mexican city.
Backpacking Guadalajara Suggested Budgets
Guadalajara is an affordable destination for backpackers. Here are some suggested budgets to help you plan your trip:
Low Budget: $25-30 per day
If you’re on a tight budget, you can survive in Guadalajara with around $25-30 per day. You can stay in a hostel dorm room, eat at street food stalls, and take public transportation to get around. You’ll have to be frugal, but you can still have a great time exploring the city.
Mid-Range Budget: $50-70 per day
With a mid-range budget, you’ll be able to stay in a private room in a budget hotel or Airbnb, eat at mid-range restaurants, and take taxis or Uber when public transportation isn’t available. You’ll have more freedom to explore the city without worrying too much about your spending.
Luxury Budget: $100+ per day
If you have a bigger budget, you can splurge on luxury accommodations, dine at fancy restaurants, and take private tours. You’ll have the opportunity to see more of the city’s cultural attractions and enjoy a more upscale experience in Guadalajara.
Remember, these budgets are just guidelines, and your actual expenses will depend on your travel style and preferences. It’s always a good idea to have some extra cash on hand in case of unexpected expenses or emergencies.
Guadalajara Money Saving Tips
Traveling to Guadalajara doesn’t have to break the bank! Here are some tips to help you save money on your trip:
- Travel During Low Season: Visiting Guadalajara during the low season, which is typically from June to September, can save you a lot of money on accommodations, tours, and attractions.
- Book In Advance: Booking your flights, accommodations, and tours in advance can help you get better deals and save money.
- Eat Like A Local: Eating at local markets, street food stalls, and taquerias can save you a lot of money compared to dining at fancy restaurants.
- Use Public Transportation: Guadalajara has an extensive public transportation system, including buses and light rail, that is affordable and easy to use.
- Walk Or Bike: Exploring Guadalajara on foot or by bike is a great way to save money while seeing the city at a slower pace.
- Use Free Attractions: Guadalajara has plenty of free attractions, such as parks, museums, and art galleries, that you can visit without spending a dime.
- Negotiate Prices: In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate prices with street vendors and tour operators to get a better deal.
By following these money-saving tips, you can have an amazing time in Guadalajara without breaking the bank.
What To Pack For Guadalajara
Packing for any trip can be stressful, but with a little bit of preparation, you can make sure that you have everything you need for your trip to Guadalajara. The weather in Guadalajara can vary throughout the year, so make sure to check the forecast for the time of your visit. Here are some things to consider packing for your trip to Guadalajara:
- Light Clothing: Guadalajara can get quite warm, so make sure to pack lightweight clothing that will keep you comfortable in the heat. Bring shorts, t-shirts, and sandals, but also consider packing some long-sleeved clothing for the cooler evenings.
- Sun Protection: With so much sun, it’s important to pack sun protection. Make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to keep yourself protected from the sun.
- Comfortable Shoes: Guadalajara is a city with a lot of walking, so be sure to pack comfortable shoes. Consider packing a pair of sneakers or comfortable sandals for your explorations.
- A Light Jacket Or Sweater: Even in the warmer months, it can get chilly at night. Be sure to pack a light jacket or sweater to keep you warm.
- Insect Repellent: There are mosquitoes in Guadalajara, so pack some insect repellent to keep the bugs away.
- Cash: While credit cards are widely accepted in Guadalajara, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand. Be sure to exchange your money before arriving in Guadalajara to avoid any exchange fees.
- Camera: Guadalajara is a city filled with history and beauty, so make sure to bring a camera or laptop to capture all the amazing sights.
With these packing tips, you can feel confident and ready for your trip to Guadalajara. Just remember to pack light, and enjoy all that the city has to offer!
Can You Drink Tap Water In Guadalajara?
When traveling to a new place, one of the most important things to consider is access to clean drinking water. In Guadalajara, it is not recommended to drink tap water. The tap water in Guadalajara may contain bacteria, parasites, or other harmful substances that can cause illness, particularly in travelers who are not accustomed to it.
Fortunately, clean drinking water is easily available in Guadalajara. Many hotels provide bottled water, and it is also widely available in stores and markets. If you plan on cooking or preparing food, it is recommended to use bottled water or boil tap water before use.
While you should avoid drinking tap water in Guadalajara, it is still safe to use it for washing and brushing your teeth. However, it is always best to err on the side of caution and stick to bottled water to avoid any potential health risks. Overall, staying hydrated and healthy while traveling in Guadalajara is easy as long as you follow a few simple guidelines. Make sure to stay well hydrated, avoid tap water, and use common sense when it comes to food and beverage choices. With a little bit of preparation and planning, you can enjoy your trip to Guadalajara without any health-related issues.
Other Things To See And Do In Guadalajara
Aside from the top attractions and activities in Guadalajara, there are still plenty of other things to see and do in this vibrant Mexican city. Here are some suggestions:
- Visit The Cabañas Cultural Institute: This former orphanage turned cultural center features impressive murals by renowned artist Jose Clemente Orozco. It also hosts temporary exhibitions, workshops, and concerts.
- Explore The Historic Center: Take a stroll through Guadalajara’s colonial center and admire the architecture of its numerous churches, plazas, and mansions. Highlights include the Cathedral, the Teatro Degollado, and the Plaza Tapatía.
- Go Shopping At The Markets: Guadalajara is known for its handicrafts and traditional souvenirs. Browse through the bustling markets like San Juan de Dios or Mercado Libertad and haggle for bargains.
- Attend A Soccer Game: If you’re a sports fan, catching a game at the Estadio Akron can be a thrilling experience. Cheer for the local team, Chivas, and join in the lively chants and celebrations.
- Take A Day Trip To Tequila: Guadalajara is the birthplace of tequila, and the nearby town of Tequila is where the famous drink is made. Visit a distillery, learn about the production process, and sample some of the best tequila in the world.
No matter what your interests are, Guadalajara offers plenty of options for exploration and entertainment. Don’t hesitate to discover the city’s hidden gems and immerse yourself in its rich culture and traditions.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Guadalajara is a wonderful city to visit and experience the unique culture and history of Mexico. With a wide range of activities, accommodations, and dining options, there’s something for every traveler. To make the most of your trip, consider planning ahead and doing your research on the best places to visit and stay. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of customs and etiquette, stay safe, and pack appropriately. Whether you’re on a tight budget or looking for luxury accommodations, there are plenty of options to choose from. By following these tips and guidelines, you can have a truly memorable and enjoyable trip to Guadalajara. So what are you waiting for? Book your trip today!