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Are you planning a trip to Guadalajara soon, and you’re searching for ideas to fill your Guadalajara itinerary?
If so, you’re on the right post, as I will be sharing the best things to do and experience on your 6-day trip to Guadalajara.
Known as Mexico’s 2nd largest city, the homeland of tequila and mariachi, the home of the beloved soccer team, Las Chivas, as well as the other well-known national sport Charrería, and its delicious array of foods unique to the state of Jalisco – the city of Guadalajara is a place to add to your list of cities to visit in Mexico at least once in your lifetime.
Also known as the most “Mexican State in Mexico” you’ll have an absolute blast exploring the cultural gems within the historic center, all the way to the natural abundance and scenery on the varied day trips within reach from the city.
If this all got you excited to explore all the possibilities you can adventure on a week-long itinerary, then stick around to read the complete and best 6-day Guadalajara itinerary to get some inspiration going.
Let’s get started!
What is Guadalajara best known for?
Situated in what is nationally known as the “Most Mexican State in the Mexican Republic”, Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, located within Central Mexico.
Jalisco borders the states of Nayarit to its north, Guanajuato to its east, Michoacan to its south, and the Pacific Ocean to its west.
Known as the 2nd most important city in Mexico, Guadalajara is Mexico’s 2nd largest economy after Mexico City, and it’s also the 2nd most populous city in the country.
Both nationally and internationally, Guadalajara is known as the cradle of tequila, Mariachi music, Charrería (a national Mexican sport), and its savory gastronomy that enriches Mexican cooking as a whole, just to name a few.
The state currently holds 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and UNESCO Intangible Cultural Items, many of which are within Guadalajara and include those 4 mentioned above, as well as the emblematic and downright magical natural scenery of the blue agave fields dotting the countryside just outside of the city center of Guadalajara, and the cultural center Hospicio Cabañas – the oldest and largest orphanage and hospital in Latin America.
Foods like tortas ahogadas, birria, carne en su jugo, are just some of the common and staple dishes that put Guadalajara’s cuisine on the world’s gastronomic radar, for its exquisite flavor combinations, ingenuity, simplicity, and representation of the state. This is the only place in Mexico where you should try these dishes.
Aside from the sites and foods that hail from Guadalajara, maybe you recognize some of the famous people making international waves in their own fields that are also from Guadalajara:
- Ranchero and Mariachi music superstars Vicente Fernandez and his son Alejandro Fernandez
- Ranchero music superstar Pedro Fernandez
- The beloved Mexican rock band Maná
- Oscar-award-winning director Guillermo del Toro
- Oscar-award-winning actor and director Gael Garcia Bernal
- International soccer superstar Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez
- Global top-ranking female golfer Lorena Ochoa
- The first Mexican-born American woman to fly to outer space, Katya Echazarreta
sports saintrecord-breaking goalie on the national soccer team Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa
- International boxing champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
- …and so many more.
If there’s one thing you’ll learn about Guadalajara on the first day is that where there is tequila, there is Mariachi and vice versa. I genuinely loved that so much about this city and its people, to see that combination so alive in the streets and restaurants of the city.
It certainly influences the mood/vibe, hospitality, and warmth of the people of Guadalajara.
Where to stay in Guadalajara
When it comes to neighborhoods and places to stay in Guadalajara, it will all come down to the type of experience you want to have.
Let’s break some of the most popular neighborhoods down.
Historic Center (Centro Historico): In my opinion, this is one of the best areas to stay in, as you’ll be within walking distance of all the major sites, monuments, cathedrals, museums, and markets. It’s a great area in the city to stay in especially if you’re a first-time visitor seeking to explore those city landmarks.
Hotel Santiago de Compostela: This is the hotel where I stayed on this trip to Guadalajara, and what I really liked about it was how centric the location was, the extremely helpful and kind staff, its closeness to a few local restaurants, room cleanliness, and overall attention. The only “downside” is that the rooms don’t have outside light, the windows in each lead to the hallways on what I imagine used to be a convent with a courtyard. So your windows will lead to the “courtyard” but it has a roof so you don’t get that extra outside light, but that’s it really. The picture to the right that I share above is what I mean by windows to the “courtyard”.
Doubletree By Hilton Guadalajara Centro Historico: Enjoy incredible views of the historic center from your window, you might even get views of the beautiful Cathedral of Guadalajara. Have dinner at Piso 7 Restaurant and Bar, located on floor 7 of the hotel giving impressive and sweeping views of the cathedral and cathedral square.
Hotel Dali Plaza: Enjoy the closeness to Mercado de San Juan de Dios, the Cathedral of Guadalajara, the Teatro Degollado, and much more when you stay at Hotel Dali Plaza.
Colonia Americana: If you’d like to enjoy the proximity of staying near some of the best restaurants in the city, from classic Jalicience cuisine to a variety of world-renown restaurants and a selection of different cuisines of the world, then check out Colonia Americana.
The Hilton Guadalajara Midtown: Enjoy top amenities like an onsite restaurant, bar, rooftop terrace, fitness center, and 24-hour front desk, as well as an incredible continental breakfast to wake up to.
Riu Plaza Guadalajara: Enjoy the comfort and services at the Riu Plaza Guadalajara, rated high for its comfortable beds, accessibility to activities, and sleek interior decor. Not to mention the beautiful views of the city from your room.
Zapopan: Zapopan is considered Guadalajara’s wealthy and affluent neighborhood and is around a 30-40 minute drive outside the historic city center. This is a great option if you would like to stay in a bit of a residential area, with some of the top luxuries and commodities centrally located to you.
Zapopan is known for its premier Plaza Andares shopping mall, which offers locals and travelers a variety of Mexican, European, and USA brands within a new, and stunningly designed mall.
Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara: Stay close to some of the best shopping in Guadalajara and the cremé de la cremé of the city. Located right in the mall, you’ll surely enjoy the beauty and luxury of staying at the ultra-modern Hyatt Regency Andares hotel. Enjoy the designer interior designs, beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows, gym, and great dining options in the hotel, and a few steps away from your hotel.
Grand Fiesta Americana Guadalajara: Consider checking into this hotel, offering all meal services in their onsite restaurants and different cuisines. Top off the night by grabbing a drink inside the hotel’s premiere Bargüero bar, while getting some of the nicest views of the area.
Tlaquepaque: If you’ve been to Coyoacan in Mexico City, then that is what I would consider Tlaquepaque to be to Guadalajara.
Although Tlaquepaque is NOT a neighborhood of Guadalajara, but an actual city, I still want to include it as a possible “neighborhood” of sorts to stay in because it’s not too far from the city center.
It’s a cute, quaint neighborhood in Guadalajara with tons of Mexican food restaurants that have live mariachi playing, Mexican street food options, and little shops and boutique shops where you can buy the cutest artisan pottery, jewelry, art, tapestry, clothing, and much more.
La Villa del Ensueno Boutique Hotel: Overflowing with beautiful interior decorations that make you feel as if you’ve jumped into one of Diego Rivera’s famous paintings, is just the vibe of this hotel. Only 4 blocks away from the city center, you’ll be at a perfect distance to some of the sites not to miss in this beautiful part of the city.
Casa Tlaquepaque Hotel Galeria: Stay in the classic and historic building that has now been converted into a beautiful hotel that oozes Mexican charm and decor. Walk through the beautiful courtyards, sit on the traditional furniture as you take in your morning coffee, or wait to wind down your evenings. The hotel comes with great reviews and is located in the heart of the lively and fun Tlaquepaque zone.
Where to eat in Guadalajara
Birreria las 9 Esquinas: Translated into birria (stewed meat) of the 9 corners, this lively restaurant is located in a little pocket in the city that has around 2-4 different other Mexican restaurants all serving Guadalajara classic dishes. On the weekends, you can and on some days enjoy live Mariachi music playing. The arrachera dish and the quesobrirria were delicious, and get come with salad, a little bowl of beans, freshly made tortillas, and a great variety of salsas. It’s a fun vibe, great and authentic food, and really nice hospitality.
Address: C/ Galeana 379, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Cafe San Pedro: Although it’s a local chain restaurant with a few locations throughout the city, this is a great spot if you’re staying in the historic center for any meal of the day, especially for breakfast. Get some delicious Migas Norteñas (scrambled eggs with crispy tortillas squares in a red sauce with beans), or order the delicious cream cheese stuffed french toast called Tlaquepanque.
Address: Av Juárez 348, Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Taqueria los Faroles: Situated also in the historic center is this little hole-in-the-wall taqueria that also serves tortas ahogadas, sopes, birria, and tacos just to name a few. It’s nothing fancy, very inexpensive, and oh so delicious and worth the trip if you find yourself near the historic center. They are open late too.
Address: Av. Ramón Corona 250, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Yunaites – Menjurjes Pueblerinos: For a bit of an upscale Mexican breakfast/brunch experience, check out Yunaites, located in the neighborhood of Colonia Americana. Order a fresh cup of hot Mexican cafe de olla – a cinnamon-infused coffee, with some delectable green or red (or both) chilaquiles.
Address: Calle Garibaldi 824, Jesús, 44200 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Tikuun Comedor Local: Also situated in Colonia Americana is the beautiful restaurant Tikuun Comedor, offering lunch and dinner options from classic Mexican and Guadalajara dishes with a contemporary twist. Ask for the perfect wine paring based on your dish to the knowledgeable and kind staff.
Address: E. Robles Gil 50 44160 Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
El Terrible Juan Cafe: Enjoy the relaxed ambiance of the cafe restaurant El Terrible Juan Cafe, located in Colonia Americana, serving incredible selections of bread, amazing coffee, and warm and cozy Mexican traditional dishes. The ambiance is lovely to sit in for hours, and people watch or meet up with friends. Relish it while you’re there.
Address: C. Colonias 440, Col Americana, Americana, 44160 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Hueso Restaurante: Have you ever been to a restaurant whose theme is bones? Well, that is precisely what Hueso means in Spanish. Step inside Hueso Restaurant, and take in the award-winning interiors and ambiance of white colors and shades, with wall decor of cracked bones, craniums, animal heads, and more. I promise it’s not as morbid as it sounds. Inside, enjoy an elevated take on classic Mexican dishes, as well as some of the best craft cocktails in the city.
Address: Calle Efraín González Luna 2061, Col Americana, Obrera, 44140 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
El Gallo Altanero: Speaking of where to get the best craft cocktails in the city, I couldn’t go on without mentioning El Gallo Altanero in the Colonia Americana. Utilizing a spectacular variety of tequilas with classic and innovative drink recipes, you can expect the unexpected at El Gallo Altanero, in a very good way. Stick around for the evening as the night of drinks turns into the night of party and live music. A scene not to miss out on.
Address: Calle Marsella 126, Col Americana, Lafayette, 44160 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Cafe PalReal: Take a seat on the outdoor terrace of Cafe PalReal, and take in the stunning architecture and design of the restaurant, as you sip on your latte and order your green salsa torta ahogada or delectable encacahuatadas which are essentially like quesadillas with your choice of a meat filling or a mushroom filling, drenched in a savory and spicy peanut sauce and decked out with onion, cilantro, and Mexican cheese on top – divine!
Address: C. Lope de Vega 113, Arcos Vallarta, 44130 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Boulangerie: This beautiful restaurant located in Colonia Americana serves food all day, and has live music every 2 weeks on Fridays, ranging from jazz, Bossa Nova, or Mariachi. I went for breakfast on my birthday, and I have to say that the hospitality is absolutely wonderful, the food is great, and the ambiance is also amazing. All you horchata lovers get the iced horchata coffee – thank me later. Although the dishes may look small, they are very filling. I recommend the chilaquiles verdes (green), and the pistachio croissant that they offer tableside.
Address: C. Morelos 1984, Ladrón de Guevara, Ladron De Guevara, 44600 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Restaurante Alcalde: A perfect place to enjoy a nice dinner is at Restaurante Alcade, located in the Vallarta Norte neighborhood, northwest of Colonia Americana. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful fusion of French and Mexican cuisine of top level. Led by head kitchen manager and chef Zayr, check out exquisite dishes like the wild mushroom on buttered toast with white mole sauce. Don’t forget to check out their extensive wine list and excellent cocktail drink menu, perfectly elevating the dining experience.
Address: Av. México 2903, Vallarta Nte., 44690 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Cafe San Benito Sala Juárez: Located in the historic center of Guadalajara, this restaurant and library is a great quick breakfast spot, especially great if you’re staying in the area, and you need to eat something before heading out for a day trip early. The service is great, the food is wonderful, and the staff is very kind of considerate. Don’t hesitate to stop by.
Address: Av Juárez 451, Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
How to get around Guadalajara
What I saw with the city layout was that the city was definitely walkable only within its neighborhoods. If you wanted to travel from for instance the historic center to Tlaquepaque, I personally wouldn’t recommend walking because it’s over a 1-hour walk, and you have to walk through major avenues, some of which do and don’t have sidewalks.
Long story short, I didn’t find Guadalajara to be extremely pedestrian friendly in comparison to Mexico City for instance.
Unless you’re looking to explore the neighborhoods on foot, that’s do-able on foot, but if you want to move through the neighborhoods, I recommend you either travel via Uber or you purchase a day pass on the local hop-on-hop-off tourist bus “Tapatio Tours”.
I did both, and I recommend them!
How many days do you need in Guadalajara?
I chose to spend 6 days in Guadalajara and was able to explore the historic center, as well as explore other famous sites and day trips near the city.
Having said that, I think that given the fact that Guadalajara has a lot to offer visitors to the point of filling up 6 days’ worth of activities and things to see, you have to understand and research (using this post as guidance) what are the things and experiences that you want to have while visiting Guadalajara?
Is it visiting the tequila factories and taste-testing tequila? Maybe it’s visiting Lake Chapala and Ajijic?
Depending on what you want to include in your Guadalajara itinerary, you’ll be able to add those activities to your list of things to do in Guadalajara, and then you’ll be able to better determine how many days YOU would like to spend in the city.
Also, consider what your travel style is like.
I always say that as long as you’re being respectful to the culture, people, and place that you’re visiting, there is no wrong way to travel or a less impressive way.
If you want to have a 3-day Guadalajara itinerary jam-packed with back-to-back activities, that’s great! If you want to spend more days, leisurely walking the streets of the city, exploring and hunting down authentic restaurants, and trying to immerse yourself in the culture to have a transformative travel experience, then that’s great too.
Anything more than 6 days however I would probably not recommend, or if you do stay longer, I’d change neighborhoods to explore other sides of the city more in-depth.
So, bottom line yes you could do 3 days in Guadalajara or plan for a one-week itinerary. Just make sure that you know exactly what you’d like to see, and don’t be afraid of leaving free space in your Guadalajara itinerary for those spontaneous moments you cannot plan ahead of time.
Is Guadalajara worth visiting?
Just kidding, but really, yes it’s a city that does have a lot to offer its visitors from culture, gastronomy, music, and fiesta, and genuinely the kindness of people there.
As I said, it’s not exactly the most walkable city in terms of moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, but Uber is king when it comes to moving around, and super reliable and safe.
I also think that due to its popularity on the national and international level, it’s a city that deserves a trip to see for yourself, especially after visiting other parts of Mexico. You’ll definitely see differences from accents to city layout, food, and more.
As a Mexican-American myself, I loved getting the opportunity to travel to Guadalajara, a city that I had only ever visited once before this trip for a family member’s wedding like 11 years ago. I don’t remember it at all, so I knew I had to discover it for myself and for a few days.
It can be emotional and an experience that brings a wave of feelings about being a first-generation American and being able to travel throughout the homeland like this, so I absolutely recommend it especially for my fellow Mexican Americans to get to know their Mexican roots.
What is the best month to visit Guadalajara?
I visited Guadalajara in late September, and the weather was still reaching the 80s F and on a couple of days up to the 90s F.
I should also mention that a week prior to my visit, Mexico, especially the neighboring state of Michoacan experienced an earthquake that caused damage all the way in Guadalajara.
There were no after-effect earthquakes the next few days when I was there thankfully, and there weren’t really a lot of visible damages on the buildings from what I saw.
However, locals did share with me that they definitely felt it in the city.
I also asked locals when the rainy season was, and they said it was usually between September and October, it isn’t super normal but it has been happening more in the past few years they shared.
There was rain forecasted for the days I would be there as there was a hurricane that was threatening the coast of Jalisco, with potential rain towards the end of September.
And although the weather did say it would rain every day I was there the days thankfully cleared up and there was really no rain at all. I went from September 23rd-28th for reference.
Typically speaking, however, October-December is a magical time to visit Guadalajara for its clear days, beautiful, temperate weather, and not to mention the abundance of festivals and cultural events from Dia de los Muertos, to the Fiestas de Octubre (October Festival), the International Literature Festival, the Mexican Wine Festival, the Christmas Posadas, and so much more.
Ideas and Things to do in Guadalajara to add to your 6-Day Guadalajara Itinerary
Day 1 – Exploring Centro Historico (the Historic Center of Guadalajara) + Tlaquepaque
El Mercado Libertad – San Juan de Dios (the largest covered market in Latin America)
Want to visit Latin America’s largest indoor market? Well, when you’re in Guadalajara, it’s a must-see!
Other than the extraordinary amount of things to see inside, from souvenirs, clothes, shoes, jewelry, tech devices, accessories, a food market, and SO MUCH MORE – it’s no wonder that the 40,000 square meters of this place are often frequented by locals as much as travelers.
I didn’t explore the whole market because can you imagine how long that would take?? I think I walked like a 1/4 of it, but it was so unique to walk through and see just what could be inside a market of that magnitude.
Everyone inside is so kind, usually, you may imagine a bunch of people trying to get your attention to come to their stall to sell you something, but in my experience, people kept telling us “para servirle” which means, “to serve you” – which, as a Spanish speaker, and Mexican myself, I am always amazed and reminded at how kind and hospitable Mexicans are when I travel back to Mexico.
When you go in, make sure to pack some cash as that is the most common way to pay inside.
Address: C. Dionisio Rodríguez 52, San Juan de Dios, 44360 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
The Cathedral of Guadalajara
The crown jewel of the city and historic center, the Cathedral of Guadalajara, surely cannot be missed while planning your Guadalajara itinerary.
Located right in the historic center, you won’t miss it. It’s a beautiful cathedral that dates back to 1618, during the Spanish colonial era, and dons a pretty Spanish Renaissance architecture style.
Though portions of the cathedral have been torn down due to various earthquakes, the towers that are seen today still date back to the middle of the 19th century, so it’s still pretty historic.
When you visit not only this cathedral, but many others, just remember to be mindful of your attire. There is a sign at the door that reminds people, especially women to go in dressed as modestly as they can. If you’re wearing shorts, you’ll still be let inside, but just as a guideline I will mention it.
Also around the cathedral is where you’ll find tons of tourism resources, from tourism boards ready to help you out with any questions you have or hand you a map of the city and things to do, and tours to consider joining.
Likewise on one of the sides of the cathedral is where you’ll find the pickup and drop off location for the Tapatio Tours company, on the street called Avenida 16 de Septiembre. Right beside another iconic landmark in Guadalajara, the Rotonda de los Jaliciences Ilustres.
Address: C. Dionisio Rodríguez 52, San Juan de Dios, 44360 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Plaza de los Mariachis
Even though mariachi music is pretty much heard throughout the city, and more if there is a celebration happening, you could also head directly to the cradle of mariachi music in the city, Plaza de los Mariachis (Plaza of the Mariachis).
Mariachi groups have been meeting up at this plaza in the historic center, a few streets away from the cathedral for more than 120 years. For a lively and fun evening plan, make sure to head over around 9:30 pm every night, when they have mariachi bands playing, singers stepping up from the crowds to belt their favorite tunes, and folkloric dances – such a fun time!
Also if you’re hungry, know that there are restaurants nearby, and food stands serving the best of Mexican foods as well as Jalicience foods.
Address: C. Álvaro Obregón 23, San Juan de Dios, 44360 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
👉🏽 Want to explore ways to enjoy Guadalajara deeper with a local knowledgeable guide? Check out some of the best historic center tours here!
The Hospicio Cabañas
Though I didn’t get to go inside the Hospicio Cabañas, I am going to share it as a place to reserve a spot on your Guadalajara one-week itinerary because of its fascinating history.
The Hospicio Cabañas was a children’s orphanage, a home for the elderly who didn’t have a family to take care of them, people who were experiencing chronic illness or mental illness, and people in need, created by Juan Cruz Ruiz de Cabañas y Crespo.
Considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this beautiful architectural gem is beautiful on the outside, as well as the inside, decked out in various murals painted by Mexican renowned muralist of the time, José Clemente Orozco, that you have to see for yourself.
Walk through the one-story building, crossing through the various courtyards, learning about the history of this place, the person who started the center, and much more.
Today it is known as the Cabañas Cultural Institute and the Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
It’s one of the places I am re-adding to my personal Guadalajara itinerary that I didn’t get to see this time around.
Address: Cabañas Cultural Institute and the Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Sitting on the other side of the Cathedral of Guadalajara is the beautiful Neoclassical theater and opera house, Teatro Degollado.
Dating back to 1866, the Teatro Degollado has been an emblem of the city, captivating and intriguing people in their tracks, with the imagery of marble statues of Apollos and his three muses, as well as the beautiful murals on the inside, some of which were painted by Jalicience local artists.
Music, food, tequila, and a lively Mexican vibe are a few words that I would describe Tlaquepaque, which is officially known as San Pedro Tlaquepaque.
Tlaquepaque is considered a municipality of Guadalajara, only an 11-minute Uber ride from the historic city center.
Getting to Tlaquepaque from the historic center can either be done via Uber or Tapatio Tours which has routes that can take you to Tlaquepaque throughout the day. Your ticket with them includes roundtrip rides all day, and you can choose how long you want to stay there.
This is the place that offers some of the most beautiful shops to buy Mexican and Jaliciense artisan crafts, dine at some of the best Mexican restaurants with the best ambiance and overall vibe with live mariachi music and folkloric dances, and cute little town squares and markets.
Like I said before, Tlaquepaque reminded me of a similar vibe to Coyoacan (where Frida’s Casa Azul is located) where it feels like a provincial town when it’s actually not far from a bustling city.
Because of the colorful architecture, and its artisanal popularity, Tlaquepaque is a photographer’s dream with iconic photo spots to get your snaps like the iconic street covered by the colorful umbrellas.
Step inside for an authentic market lunch at Mercado Libertad or Mercado Benito Juarez while observing how the food stall workers prepare your food and other people’s food as soon as you place your order.
El Parían is another amazing place to eat to the sound of live Mariachi and beautiful folkloric dance, which is also bursting with life, no matter the hour.
Next up, walk through the emblematic Calle Independencia to walk through the life of the city, brimming with music and dance from the restaurants, artisan shops, jewelry shops, and more.
Because artisanal work is big in Tlaquepaque, be sure to check out Regional Ceramic Museum, and stop by some of the ceramic shops to find some beautiful souvenirs to take back home.
The best thing to do in my opinion is to buy a snack or drink, and take a walk exploring the streets of the city, taking in the colors, architecture, music, vibe, and all to really feel the spirit of Mexico.
Day 2 – Charros Day Activity + eat some birria and tortas ahogadas
We decided to add the Charrería Tour to our Guadalajara one-week itinerary because it seemed like an interesting experience, and I personally had an interest in experiencing traditional activities that could give me more insight into Guadajalara’s rich culture.
I really enjoyed this specific Charrería Tour (I think there might be one as of now, but if more pop up I wanted to share the specific tour I chose) for a few reasons, which I will share.
- They include pick-up from your hotel
- The Charrería ranch is located centrally in the center of Guadalajara
- Our Charrería expert, Jorge Torres was really passionate about Charrería and was very informative – he’s also bilingual so if you’re worried about the language barrier, it’s all good.
- The activities were fun (I won’t spoil the activities)
- You get to see other charros depending on the day you visit, see examples of different dress for female and male Charros, learn about the purpose of each accessory and piece of the Charro outfit, as well as the history of Charrería.
- Water and Tequila are offered, and a bonus surprise at the end.
We truly had a great time, and I would very much recommend booking this experience while in Guadalajara.
It not only is informative about a traditional component of this Mexican state, but also, it’s very entertaining, interactive, hands-on, and educational.
Also, I love booking tours with locals because then afterward, you can ask for restaurant recommendations, and just local insight into what else to see and experience that isn’t always talked about in the guidebooks.
I will say, I am not sure I remember reading about this part in the description of the tour, but the return back to your hotel or the historic city center is not included.
So after the experience, you have to take care of your own return.
We booked an Uber and were back in the historic center within 10 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend walking per se, especially if you’re staying in the historic center just because you’ll be crossing big avenues and some of the streets were under construction, so the sidewalks are pretty much gone.
The tour lasts from 10 am to around 2 pm.
Day 3 – Tequila Tour + a visit to the town of Tequila
On the 3rd day, we decided to book an all-day tour to explore the blue agave fields of Tequila as well as the Magical Town (Pueblo Magico) of Tequila.
Being one of the most popular things to do in Guadalajara, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore tequila in its homeland. We booked a tour that took around 6 hours and included pick-up and drop-off from your hotel, which was really convenient, but here are a few reasons why we enjoyed this tour.
- Convenient pick-up/drop-off from your hotel, or nearby.
- The food options were great, they had a buffet layout with everything from pozole, to grilled meat, salsas, tortillas, pasta salads, salads, and so much more.
- Music from a live mariachi for 2 hours + dancing (it felt like a Mexican wedding 😂)
- The VIBE. I know this depends on who is on your tour that day, but a tour where you’re taste-testing tequila all day, with live mariachi music, will definitely make for a fun and memorable experience.
- Experiencing the fields of blue agave, and going inside the distillery.
- The stop in the magical town of Tequila.
The Tequila experience is one to have, whether you go with the tour that I went on or a different one.
Be aware that depending on your tour, food may or may not be included in your tour package. So read the fine details and make sure you know what is included and what’s not.
On some tours, if the food is not included, sometimes the tour leader will go around on the bus and explain the food options, including the possibility to pay ahead to dine at the place where they will take the whole group for lunch.
So make sure to bring cash as sometimes they may not be able to accept cards.
Day 4 – Ajijic + Lake Chapala day tour (+ more tequila)
Lake Chapala + Ajijic Tour
The town of Ajijic, Lake Chapala, and the town of Chapala are around 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Guadalajara, and it is a popular day trip from the city for its beauty and magical natural landscapes.
The town of Ajijic touches with Lake Chapala and is known for being a common expat community amongst U.S./ Canadian/ European retired expats, so you’ll definitely see that influence along with classic Mexican charm as you walk through the streets.
Though today the majority of its residents are foreigners, Lake Chapala remains one of the most beloved day trips for locals who live out in the city.
Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest lake, and it measures around 50 miles going east/ west and around 7.8 miles going north/south and has a max depth of 34 ft. It has a lining of green plants called water hyacinth or Lirio in Spanish but disappears a bit when you get out onto a boat and tour the lake.
We did the day tour to Ajijic and Chapala, and some of the reasons why we enjoyed it are the following.
- The tour includes roundtrip transportation from your hotel, so it’s really convenient.
- The tour also includes a tequila tasting + tequila distillery tour where you get to see the giant vats, ovens, and agaves being processed to make tequila.
- You get to hop on a boat (included) and see the beauty of the lake while also seeing the town of Ajijic and the beautiful homes there from the water.
- You get to view Lake Chapala just in time for sunset hour, which makes for a truly magical experience.
- Our group was small, which made for a personable group experience for the price of a group experience.
Similar to the Tequila experience, the price you pay ahead of time when you book may or may not include food, so double-check that.
Due to our small group, we were transported via a smaller bus, but we still rode comfortably and even sang Spanish songs on the way back like friends.
My experience was all in Spanish just because we chose it in Spanish, but you can choose an experience in English or any other language that the tours offer.
You may be offered to pay additionally on the way there if you want to eat lunch where they are going to take the group to eat, if not, you would just go elsewhere to eat.
The tour lasts around 6-8 hours, we got picked up around 11 am and were back at our hotel at 7 pm.
Day 5 – Day Trip to Mazamitla
Mazamitla is another beautiful town located not too far from Guadalajara city center, around 2 hours and 6 minutes to be exact, and it’s another popular place to visit and jot down on your list of things to do in Guadalajara.
From the picturesque streets of Mazamitla, the white and red houses with red-tiled roofs, the cobblestone streets, surrounded by dense nature, and the buzzing life of the little mountain town will surely capture you. This little town is also considered a Magical Town (Pueblo Magico) so you know she’s extra cute.
Aside from wandering the pretty streets, another popular thing to partake in while in Mazamtila is eco-tourism and adventurous sports. Everything from Mundo Aventura Ecological Park which is the main attraction full of fun nature activities like the 150-meter high suspension bridge through the wilderness, to rappelling, rock climbing, zip lining, or just hiking, and more are activities to take part in, so pack your comfy travel athletic outfit and shoes for that day.
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I’ll be honest, I didn’t know about Mazamitla until I was in Guadalajara, when I kept seeing tours for it posted at our hotel and a few other tour offices around the city.
We had a free day during our trip and asked about getting on the next tour, however, they didn’t have tours until beginning Wednesday-Sunday. It was a Tuesday when I asked and also the last day that we were there for the full day.
BUMMED I was, but this is definitely a place I plan to visit because, from the images and videos I’ve seen, it’s a gorgeous little town with so much adventure tourism. Right up my alley.
So I just want to make you aware of this awesome day trip experience if you haven’t heard about it at this point of researching things to do in Guadalajara for your own trip.
Don’t be like me and completely miss this gem of a city.
Day 6 – Explore Zapopan – Guadalajara’s Affluent Neighborhood + Akron Stadium Tour
Andares Plaza has to be one of the fanciest malls I’ve ever visited, along with a few in Mexico City, which is located in the town of Zapopan, a 40-minute drive from the historic center of Guadalajara.
Known as the wealthy neighborhood, you’ll notice differences as your leaving the historic center to Zapopan, from the homes to the open spaces, parks, and recreation centers appearing. I
it’s definitely an interesting, and unique side of Guadalajara to experience and see for yourself if you’re interested in seeing how the wealthy people of Guadalajara live.
No where in Zapopan is that most apparent than going to Andares Mall, a multi-story, high-end, open-air mall that has a wide selection of shopping options from European brands specifically fashion brands you’d see in Spain, to U.S brands, and Mexican.
The shopping area is pretty big, and also has some great dining options from cute cafes, bakeries, seafood, steakhouses, and different world cuisines.
It’s a very pretty shopping area, and whether you’re in the mood to shop or not, it’s still an interesting place to visit and do some people-watching and take in the scene around you as you enjoy a crepe.
Address: Blvrd Puerta de Hierro 4965, Puerta de Hierro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Akron Stadium Tour
Also located in Zapopan is the home stadium for the famous Chivas soccer team of Guadalajara. As you may know, soccer is a big deal in Mexico, and one of the most popular soccer teams in the country is Las Chivas from Guadalajara.
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, I think it’s always an interesting experience to partake in activities that allow you to further explore a part of a culture deeper.
In this case, in Mexico, going on a tour of the home stadium of this beloved soccer team could be one to add to your Guadalajara Itinerary.
I had planned on going to tour the Akron Stadium and had even purchased my guided tour entry.
However the day of the tour, our tour provider said they had to cancel it because of growing concern about a potential protest that was going to happen that day, which was going to block off the roads from the historic center of Guadalajara to Zapopan.
We were bummed, but that was that. Guess I’ll have to experience that on another visit!
Regardless, I just wanted to share that with you, and still share this experience. If you do decide to go, you could go through Tapatio Tours (the local hop-on hop-off tour company), which was who I was going through, in which you can buy your tickets directly in cash from the people hanging by the tour buses.
You could also arrange your own visit by taking an Uber to the stadium, and going on the tour once you’re there. The times of their guided tours are as follows:
- 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30
All you have to do is show up at one of these times, buy your ticket, and you will be guided around various parts of the stadium, including the museum.
I’m not a huge soccer fan like my sister, who I went with on this trip, so she was really excited about going, but I’m all about experiences and activities that allow me a window into the local culture.
if you want to go with the local hop-on, hop-off tour, you can also just inquire in person by visiting them (Tapatio Tours). Their buses are located right by the Cathedral of Guadalajara.
Akron Stadium Address: Cto. J.V.C. 2800, El Bajío, 45019 Zapopan, Jal., Mexico
How to get to Guadalajara City Center from the Airport
First off, the main airport where you’ll fly is called Guadalajara Miguel Hidal Airport (GDL), it is the main national and international airport in Guadalajara. It’s one of the busiest airports in the country, after all, Guadalajara is the 2nd largest city in Mexico.
However, I found it pretty easy to navigate, and at the point of writing this post, they are currently expanding it. The food options are surprisingly varied, and they have good coffee, which is a good mark in my book.
There are a few ways that you can travel from the airport to your hotel, whether it’s in the historic center, Tlaquepaque, Zapopan, Colonia Americana, or any other point.
Uber works in Guadalajara, including the airport, and is a very common way of transporting between the airport and anywhere in the city, so this is a good option!
You can either take the bus, which the stop is not very far away from the airport exits that go onto where the taxis pick you up.
You can also take a taxi from the official taxi stands inside the airport, where you can prepay your ticket based on where you’re going, and then you just line up to wait for your taxi.
You can also book a private airport transfer ahead of time, which I know is a popular option for those traveling especially with big groups or families, and I can see why.
You book it beforehand and know that you have someone waiting for you when you arrive at the airport, no matter the time, which is super helpful.
Depending on where you’re flying from, you can end up arriving extremely early, I can say at least that is the case with those flying from Chicago to Guadalajara. You’ll arrive at 4:40-5 am.
Speaking of, if you have a crazy flight like that where you fly all night, and arrive before sunrise in Guadalajara, I recommend booking a hotel room at the closest airport hotel to get some shut-eye for a few hours and feel like a human before heading out to explore the city.
If you arrive too early in the day, where you can’t check into your hotel yet, and you’re feeling exhausted from traveling all night, not even being able to sleep, I recommend getting a hotel even if it’s to sleep a few hours. Considering they are not that expensive anyways, it’s obviously a personal choice, but one that I recommend.
I’ve never done that until this trip to Guadalajara, and it’s a GAME CHANGER. Plus, many of them because they are airport hotels, they offer airport shuttles pretty much 24 hours a day, so that is what I did. The next day I took an Uber to my actual hotel where I would be staying the whole time, and that was that.
The airport hotel that I stayed in, which also included breakfast on top of the airport shuttle was the Hampton Inn by Hilton Guadalajara-Aeropuerto.
Should you do an Airbnb or stay in a hotel in Guadalajara?
There is obviously no right or wrong answer to this, as I think it depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for.
Do you want to feel integrated into the community, observe, learn, and live like a local, or as close as you can to a local? Then an Airbnb is your choice, and there are many great options to choose from, all over the city.
A hotel is obviously a great option and considering that hotels are about the same price as Airbnb’s, you could consider paying around the same, or maybe a bit more, but also receive room service, additional guests services, no surprise up-charges (ahem Airbnb), and even free breakfast on some occasions.
I decided to stay at a hotel this time around, though I usually prefer an Airbnb, I saw that the prices were about the same in Guadalajara, so I just opted for a hotel this time.
But both a great, so make sure to compare, and see what works best for you and your experience.
Other places in Mexico to check out
If you’re already exploring Mexico in Guadalajara, how about considering popping over to Mexico City? Only a 1 hour and 35-minute flight, and around $40 USD (at least when I checked because you know I had to).
Explore the beauty of Mexico’s largest city, brimming with culture, museums, and restaurants from trendy and fine dining to incredible street food, a literal world of people condensed in one city. The thrill and excitement are palpable in Mexico City, and if you haven’t been, it’s definitely a must-see Mexican city.
How to see Guadalajara on a budget?
Mexico City is brimming with an abundance of things to do, and even though the city is very affordable to explore, you can take advantage of some of the popular free activities to do in the city.
I will always PREACH to anyone willing to listen the beauty of FREE Walking Tours in any city, and given that Guadalajara is a popular city in Mexico, the city also offers a free walking tour to take advantage of and book.
You can do a quick Google search, or go with this one, in which they offer both English and Spanish tours.
Get a lay of the land, ask questions to the local guide, make friends with other travelers, and acquaint yourself with the vibe of the city.
Another way to maximize your budget while exploring the city is considering getting the Guadalajara card.
The Guadalajara Card, like many other city cards, offers access to some of the city’s most visited museums, monuments, and landmarks, while also offering special discounts and rates for dining options throughout the city, and even guided tours.
I confess that I’ve never bought one, but I do mention it in case this might be something you’re interested in.
It looks like a no-fuss option to explore the city pretty openly, which if that fits your travel style, you can learn more about it here and learn about where you can get your hands on one.
The Wrap-Up – The Complete 6-Day Guadalajara Itinerary
I hope these ideas served as an inspiration to add to your now-growing Guadalajara Itinerary.
Let me know if you’ve explored Guadalajara before, and what your favorite parts of the city were.
One of my favorite parts of visiting Guadalajara was definitely visiting Lake Chapala and Ajijic – the vibes, the food, the scenery, and music everywhere was incredible, as well as trying the authentic foods of this region. Tequila was awesome too.
Ok, now tell me, what are you looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comments below!
To more travel moments like these ✨