Things to do in Guadalajara

Things to do in  Guadalajara

Welcome to Guadalajara

Woven into the rich cultural tapestry of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, are tequila distilleries, colonial architecture, Maya ruins, and world-class museums. The lively metropolis—which is actually comprised of three separate cities: Tlaquepaque, Zapopan, and official Guadalajara—serves as an equally dazzling and less daunting alternative to Mexico City’s overwhelming sprawl. Guadalajara Historic Center (Centro Historico) is crowned by Plaza Tapatia and studded with fountains and sculptures, and serves as an excellent people-watching spot—venture inside the Instituto Cultural Cabanas, and you’ll find world-famous frescoes by Jose Clemente Orozco. A tour is an ideal way to see Guadalajara’s many dispersed monuments, including the must-visit Guadalajara Cathedral and the Governor's Palace, as well as Tlaquepaque’s market of traditional Mexican handicrafts. For something even more intoxicating, take a ride on the Jose Cuervo Express train, destined for tequila distilleries and abundant samples of Mexico’s national drink; or watch a lucha libre (Mexican wrestling match) over tacos and beer. When you’re finally ready for a city break, take a day trip to Lake Chapala (Lago de Chapala), Mexico’s largest natural lake; the conical pyramids of Guachimontones, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; or the artisan villages of Jalisco, where the surrounding landscape offers stunning fields full of blue agave.

Top 15 attractions in Guadalajara


Amatitán—a prolific tequila-producing town just outside Guadalajara—often goes overlooked in favor of nearby Tequila. However, this charming destination is a key stop on Jalisco’s famous Tequila Trail, one which travelers hoping to fully explore the UNESCO-listed Tequila Country shouldn’t miss. As well as picture-perfect agave fields, Amatitán is also home to several high-profile distilleries, such as Casa Herradura.More

Jose Cuervo Distillery (Fábrica La Rojeña)

Head to the Jose Cuervo Distillery (Fábrica La Rojeña), and discover one of Mexico’s most famous traditional drinks. From the agave to the bottle, learn about the process of making (and tasting) tequila. A popular attraction in a tiny town, the terracotta-colored distillery is busy but accommodating, and the shop is the place to stock up on factory-priced tequila.More

Guadalajara Cathedral

The atypical architecture of Guadalajara’s stunning 16th-century cathedral—formally known as the Basílica de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora de la Santísima Virgen María—looms large over the city’s historic center. Built predominantly in the Spanish Renaissance style, with several stained-glass windows, the most emblematic features of all are the two yellow, neo-Gothic spires which sit atop the building.More


Ancient structures can be found throughout the country, but the tiered, circular pyramids of Guachimontones (meaning “place of the gods”) stand as one of the most important prehistoric settlements of western Mexico. An easy day trip from Guadalajara, this UNESCO World Heritage Site isn’t as well-known as others, yet it’s a unique place that transports you back in time.More

Degollado Theater (Teatro Degollado)

Designed by architect Jacobo Gálvez during Mexico’s theatrical heyday, the neoclassical Degollado Theater (Teatro Degollado) remains one of downtown Guadalajara’s most popular concert halls, tourist attractions, and landmarks. While the facade is fronted by a marble relief of Apollo and the nine muses—as well as 16 magisterial Corinthian columns—the gilded interior is even more opulent.More

Hospicio Cabañas

Home to some of Mexico’s most impressive José Clemente Orozco murals, the 19th-century Hospicio Cabañas Cultural Institute (Instituto Cultural Cabañas) is a former orphanage-turned-arts center. This UNESCO-recognized building is also notable for its imposing neoclassical architecture, among the best of its kind in Mexico.More

Lake Chapala (Lago de Chapala)

Surrounded by charming provincial towns in Mexico’s picturesque state of Jalisco, Lake Chapala is a fun, easy day trip from Guadalajara. Stroll the cobblestone streets, browse the quaint boutiques, and chat with the locals and many expats.More

Guadalajara Historic Center (Centro Histórico)

The country’s second-largest metropolis and capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, Guadalajara retains a vibrant historical center (centro histórico) filled with colonial plazas, churches, and stately buildings. This downtown area includes some of the city’s top tourist attractions, such as the Palacio del Gobierno, Teatro Degollado, and the Instituto Cultural Cabañas.More

Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres

Pay homage to distinguished artists, writers, and politicians from Jalisco at Guadalajara’s neoclassical Rotunda of the Illustrious Jaliscans (Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses Ilustres). Close to 100 urns are contained within the rotunda, which is encircled by leafy trees and 22 bronze statues depicting other famous Jalisco-born figures.More

Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento

With spindly, cross-topped spires and intricate stonework, the 20th-century Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento is one of Mexico’s most striking examples of neo-Gothic architecture. Stick around for the march of 12 miniature Apostles when the German church clock strikes the hour and admire the impressive stained-glass windows both inside and out.More

Governor's Palace (Palacio de Gobierno)

The 18th-century Governor’s Palace in downtown Guadalajara is an essential destination for visitors interested in the politics and history of one of Mexico’s most important cities. While appealing from the outside—the imposing baroque building is decorated with a number of carved gargoyles—the draw of the building for most travelers comes from the José Clemente Orozco murals which decorate the interior.More

Plaza de Armas

Centered on an ornate art nouveau bandstand, threaded with leafy walkways, and backed by the 19th-century Palacio de Gobierno, Guadalajara Plaza de Armas is the historic downtown’s oldest public square. Here, admire the neighboring 16th-century cathedral, people-watch from wrought-iron benches, and catch a free musical performance after dark.More


Escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Guadalajara for the peace and quiet of colorful Tlaquepaque. An arts and crafts town, known in Mexico for being one of the country’s foremost ceramics regions, Tlaquepaque has a timeless appeal, plenty of shopping options for all budgets, and several important ceramics museums. Charming and laidback by day, it comes alive with mariachi music and lively bars by night.More

Mariachi Plaza (Plaza de los Mariachis)

In the heart of downtown Guadalajara, Mariachi Plaza (Plaza de los Mariachis) is one of the most local spots to enjoy live mariachi music performances in the birthplace of the genre. Grab a beer at one of the streetside bars and listen from afar, or hire the musicians to play a few tableside tracks for an authentic experience.More

Pantaleón Panduro Museum (Museo Pantaleón Panduro)

Three decades worth of award-winning, contemporary Mexican ceramics are housed at the Pantaleón Panduro Museum in the town of Tlaquepaque. Almost every one of the country’s most prolific pottery-producing regions—from Oaxaca to Puebla—is represented. Quality is a guaranteed too: practically every piece at the Pantaleón Panduro Museum was once a winning entry of the prestigious National Ceramics Prize.More

Top activities in Guadalajara

Tequila Day Trip from Guadalajara with Jose Cuervo Express Train
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Full-Day Jose Cuervo Express Guadalajara /Bus Tren Tequila
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Guachimontones Archaeological Tour
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Airport Transfer to Guadalajara Hotels

Airport Transfer to Guadalajara Hotels

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Guadalajara & Tlaquepaque City Tour
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Monte Alban, Coyotepec and Villages Full-day
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Tequila and Distillery Tour from Guadalajara
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All about Guadalajara

When to visit

Fall in Guadalajara is when locals come together under sunny skies for the Day of the Virgin of Zapopan and the October Parties, which run for 31 days straight. For lower prices, but also lower temperatures, visit in winter—just be sure to order a warming bowl of pozole corn soup, a regional specialty.


A local’s pocket guide to Guadalajara

Lauren Cocking

Before moving to Mexico City, Yorkshire-born Lauren spent a year living and working in Guadalajara, where she fell in love with tequila, tortas ahogadas, and regular sunshine.

The first thing you should do in Guadalajara is...

get breakfast in the Santa Tere Market. The sauce-doused quesadillas stuffed with the fillings of your choice are the best way to start the day.

A perfect Saturday in Guadalajara...

includes breakfast at Neretta in the Americana neighborhood, people-watching by the cathedral, and craft beers on Chapultepec Avenue as the sun goes down.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Tlaquepaque, an artsy district just 30 minutes outside of the city center. Go at the weekend for cute stores, street food, and, after dark, tequila and mariachi at El Parián.

To discover the "real" Guadalajara...

branch out from Chapultepec Avenue. Look for a local tianguis (street market) and sample fresh juice, coconut water, and birria tacos.

For the best view of the city...

go to the Parque Mirador Independencia viewpoint on the fringes of the Barranca de Huentitán (Huentitán Canyon) for sweeping views of a very different side to Guadalajara.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Guadalajara is a mini-Mexico City. It is Mexico’s second city, but Guadalajara is far less chaotic (in some ways), cramped, and earthquake-prone than the capital.

People Also Ask

What is Guadalajara known for?

Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, is best known for the murals of José Clemente Orozco and for its historical architecture—including the Gothic Guadalajara Cathedral and neoclassical Degollado Theater. It’s also famous as the birthplace of mariachi music and is a popular launchpad for day trips to the town of Tequila.

How do you spend a day in Guadalajara?

Spend the morning exploring the historic center, where you’ll find landmarks such as Guadalajara Cathedral. Then relax in La Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses park. In the afternoon, sample the eponymous liquor in the town of Tequila, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or explore Chapala, home to Mexico’s largest lake.

Why do tourists go to Guadalajara?

Tourists go to Guadalajara to listen to mariachi music, drink tequila, experience the vibrant nightlife and dining scene on Chapultepec Avenue, and explore the city’s historic center. The city is near the town of Tequila, home to the Jose Cuervo Distillery, and the small villages of Ajijic and Chapala.

Does Guadalajara have good nightlife?

Yes, Guadalajara is known for its nightlife. The city’s top spot is undoubtedly Chapultepec, a six-avenue stretch that’s popular with travelers and international students. On this street that never sleeps, you can find everything from chic cocktail bars and craft beer bars to nightclubs and traditional Mexican cantinas.

What are the nice areas in Guadalajara?

The nice areas in Guadalajara are the historic center (El Centro)—home to Guadalajara Cathedral, Degollado Theater, and Hospicio Cabañas—and Tlaquepaque, a bohemian neighborhood that emanates small-town charm. If you’re looking for fine dining and high-end cocktail bars, Colonia Americana is a hipster hot spot.

Is Guadalajara worth visiting?

Yes, Guadalajara is worth visiting. It’s the birthplace of mariachi music and some traditional foods, such as birria (stewed meat) and torta ahogadas (stuffed baguettes), and offers exceptional historic architecture. Plus, the city is within driving distance of the town of Tequila and Lake Chapala, the largest lake in Mexico.

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