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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 10 attractions in Guadalajara

#1
Jose Cuervo Distillery (Fábrica La Rojeña)

Jose Cuervo Distillery (Fábrica La Rojeña)

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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
#2
Guadalajara Cathedral

Guadalajara Cathedral

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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
#3
Guachimontones

Guachimontones

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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
#4
Degollado Theater (Teatro Degollado)

Degollado Theater (Teatro Degollado)

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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
#5
Hospicio Cabañas

Hospicio Cabañas

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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
#6
Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

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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
#7
Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres

Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres

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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
#8
Governor's Palace (Palacio de Gobierno)

Governor's Palace (Palacio de Gobierno)

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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
#9
Guadalajara Historic Center (Centro Histórico)

Guadalajara Historic Center (Centro Histórico)

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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
#10
Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento

Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento

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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

Trip ideas

Where to Hear Mariachi Music in Guadalajara

Where to Hear Mariachi Music in Guadalajara

How to Spend 3 Days in Guadalajara

How to Spend 3 Days in Guadalajara

Tequila Tours from Guadalajara

Tequila Tours from Guadalajara

Recent reviews from experiences in Guadalajara

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Enjoyed every minute
JVV, Apr 2021
Guadalajara City Tour
Looking forward to visiting again soon.
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Best experience
Diana_T, Jun 2021
Private Tequila Tour from Guadalajara
We have already told all our friends and family to visit GDL and definitely book a tour with Diego :)
star-5
3 Hour Historic Walking Tour in Guadalajara
Bonnie_M, Feb 2020
3 Hours Private Tour Guide in Guadalajara, you choose!
I highly recommend Carlos as your tour guide for English or Spanish spoken languages for a historical tour of Guadalajara.
star-5
Guadalajara was a beautiful visit...
DeeJay, Jul 2018
Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque City Sightseeing Tour
Filled with local families on summer vacation.
star-4
The tour was good value for money...
Robert C, Feb 2015
Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque City Sightseeing Tour
Ricardo's English was very acceptable and his personal knowledge of Tlaquepaque, with visits to local artisans, made the tour most enjoyable.
star-5
Excellent!
Morgan_A, Jan 2021
Private Full-Day Tour to Tequila and Guachimontones
It was a lot to see in one day but worth it, especially with someone like Renzo to guide you along.
star-5
Tequila, nectar of the gods.
Patrick_N, Mar 2020
Full-Day Tequila Tour from Guadalajara
We were able to see and learn what a Jimador does to plant and prepare the agave for processing to make tequila.
star-5
Wonderful historic city walk with Diego Hannon
OnAir313136, Aug 2019
Private walking tour of Guadalajara
Our tour was in Spanish but Diego is bi-lingual in English.
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My two friends and I were visiting...
Arushi S, Jul 2017
Tequila experience: Jose Cuervo Distillery & Tequila Town Tour from Guadalajara
Our tour guide was absolutely awesome, spoke great English, and took care of us around separately from the Spanish-only tour group.
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We were overly pleased with our tour...
Patrick k, Feb 2018
Mexican Muralism Cultural Tour in Guadalajara
Louis has lived all over the world, speaks wonderful English as well as other languages and is more than willing to help all of us appreciate the wonderful city of Guadalajara, his home city.
star-5
A very enjoyable tour!!! I had...
Kenneth S, Aug 2016
Tequila experience: Jose Cuervo Distillery & Tequila Town Tour from Guadalajara
I had signed up for the English-speaking tour, but evidently this did not get passed on, as when I got to the distillery the guide and everybody in the group were not English-speakers, and was told that the tour would be in Spanish.
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I was very fortunate to have the...
Doug A, Apr 2017
Half-Day Guided Tour of Lake Chapala from Guadalajara
Paco's English was very good, and he was knowledgeable and friendly.
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Ricardo was wonderful. Very easy for...
tamarasloman, Apr 2015
Discover Tlaquepaque and Tonalá from Guadalajara in one day
His English was good and he recommended eating places and was very courteous.
star-4
We thoroughly enjoyed this...
Robert R, Feb 2014
Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque City Sightseeing Tour
Ricardo spoke English very well and was very knowledgeable about the city and its history.
star-5
Awesome tour of Guadalajara and...
Angel G, Jan 2018
Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque City Sightseeing Tour
Highly recommend to visit the art galleries, the Ceramic museum free and to dine in one restaurants located at the andador independencia pedestrian street.
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W felt very lucky to have Ron as our...
Barbara V, Nov 2017
Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque City Sightseeing Tour
Bonus: Ron's English is excellent.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions
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