Vibrant and diverse, Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest metropolis full of lively local cultures and rich history. It is a city displaying a perfect balance between its historical past and its movement into the future. Whether you are interested in mariachi music, making tequila or cooking some traditional Mexican fare, Guadalajara will surely give you more reasons to explore further. Our 3-day suggested itinerary is designed to show you the best the city has to offer and what are the things you can accomplish in less than a week. Depending on your interests and travel priorities, you can certainly mix and match destinations, activities, and attractions.
Things to remember before traveling in Guadalajara:
Language – Being a Spanish colony for three centuries, Spanish have become the nation’s language which is widely spoken by majority of the people in the country. However, it is important to note that the people also use Mexican Spanish, a manipulation of the Spanish language which has its own distinct pronunciation, grammar, and slang. Ergo, tourists who speak Spanish might have a hard time understanding when the locals speak Mexican Spanish.
Currency exchange – The official Mexican currency is the Mexican Peso. Exchanging money in Mexico City is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in America. Most major establishments like hotels and restaurants in major tourist and business destinations accept credit cards. The best way to get local currency is to use the ATMs, which are widely available in Guadalajara and other major cities, and withdraw in Mexican Peso to get the best rate.
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for Guadalajara. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Keep your guard up at all times and avoid any streets that are not crowded. Do not carry debit or credit cards with you, or hide it in your bra or shoes. There were incidences of robbery when offenders will escort you to an ATM and make you take out as much as you can. Leave your passport in the hotel’s safety deposit box and just carry a photocopy.
Getting there – Guadalajara International Airport, officially known as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport, is the main airport of Mexico’s second-largest city Guadalajara. It is well connected to Mexico City and flights are very affordable (about 82 USD for a round-trip airfare), and from Cancun – 140 USD, which makes Guadalajara a great extension to any trip to Mexico. If you travel to Guadalajara from New York, be prepared to pay 480 USD and up for a round-trip ticket; from Miami – high 200s USD; from outside the Americas – prices are high – 1000 and up but don’t miss Guadalajara if you are in the area or you don’t have a budget.
Where to stay – There’s a great variety of accommodation in Guadalajara, ranging from small family-run pensions to five-star luxury hotels. In almost any neighborhood, there’s something for every level of comfort and budget. There are also plenty of apartment rentals if you prefer the comfort and convenience of having your own place with cooking facilities. For first time visitors, we would recommend the Centro Historic area because it is centrally located and close to restaurants, tourist attractions and nightlife.
Hotels to consider in Guadalajara:
NH Collection Guadalajara Providencia (Sao Paulo 2334, Col. Providencia | Financial District, Guadalajara 44630, Mexico)
Hotel Morales Historical & Colonial Downtown Core (Avenida Ramon Corona 243, Guadalajara 44100, Mexico)
Hotel Riu Plaza Guadalajara (Av. Lopez Mateos, 830 – Fracc. Chapalita | Guadalajara – Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico)
Fiesta Americana Guadalajara (Aurelio Aceves 225, Glorieta Minerva Colonia | Vallarta Poniente, Guadalajara 44110, Mexico)
Presidente InterContinental Guadalajara (Av Lopez Mateos and Moctezuma | crossing the street you will find Mall Plaza del Sol, Guadalajara 45050, Mexico)
Detailed Itinerary 3 Days in Guadalajara, Mexico
Day 1: Guadalajara
Take an international flight to Guadalajara International Airport. Try to schedule it so that an overnight flight gets you there very early in the morning. If coming from other parts of Mexico like Mexico City, you can travel to Guadalajara by air (round-trip airfare starts at 82 USD), bus (33 USD and up for a one-way ticket), or rental car. After check in at your preferred accommodation, minimize your jet lag by spending a lot of time out in the sunlight so your body can adapt to its new surroundings. Wear comfortable shoes as you will do a lot of walking today.
Come to grips with Guadalajara’s history by taking a stroll through Centro Historico (Historic Center). Make your way to Palacio del Gobierno (Governor’s office) and see the two series of murals created by the Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco. Then, head to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas (Calle Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, 44360 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. End the day at Mercado Libertad (Mercado San Juan de Dios), one of Mexico’s largest indoor shopping centers. You can do a little shopping here, or if you are not in the mood to shop, then you can visit some food stalls instead.
After your historic tour, make your way back to your hotel and get a good night sleep so you have energy for a whole day of adventure the next day.
Day 2: Tequila Express
On day 2, embark on one of the most scenic train journeys in Mexico, by boarding the Tequila Express to the Town of Tequila, the Tequila-producing region of Mexico. Visit La Rojeña, the oldest distillery in Mexico, and learn how Tequila is made. Aside from Tequila tasting and witnessing how this famous drink is processed, tours include delicious buffet food and a fantastic folklore show before boarding the train back to Guadalajara. Back in the city, be ready for a big city nightlife hit in Providencia, home to upscale bars and restaurants. Another option is Avenida Chapultepec, popular among hipster crowd.
Day 3: Guadalajara
Taking into consideration that you most likely stayed out rather late the other night, you can start your third and last day in Guadalajara at around 10 to 11 in the morning. After having a filling breakfast, join one of the food tours offered in the city. A food tour is probably one of the best ways to open the door to Mexico’s culinary secrets. With the help of a knowledgeable tour guide, you will be able to learn about authentic Mexican cuisine. You can also do this tour on your own and make your way to Tlaquepaque (a taxi ride from Guadalajara town center costs about 6 USD or you can get on one of the many public buses that cost between 0.35 and 0.70 USD) . Some of the iconic Mexican food you shouldn’t miss are Enchiladas, Guacamole, Tacos al pastor and Chilaquiles.
After your gastronomic adventure, make your way back to your hotel to prepare for departure. You can also squeeze in some souvenir shopping before you travel to the airport or other parts of Mexico.
This is the end of our 3-day suggested itinerary. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form the only way to travel the city. There are several alternative routes of travel within the country and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy Guadalajara!
Have you been to Guadalajara or anywhere else in Mexico? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.