Guadalajara Tourist Attractions: BEST Things to Do in Guadalajara

Posted 19/03/2024 | 19th March, 2024

Of all the places I visited in Mexico, Guadalajara surprised me the most. In fact, it exceeded my expectations in every way possible. It has a safe, welcoming feel, the city is extremely walkable, and the food is exceptional! 

There is enough to keep even the itchiest of feet occupied, and here are 15 of the best things to do in Guadalajara. 

Don’t have time to read the full article? Here are my five favourite Guadalajara tourist attractions:

🚣 Ajijic & Lake Chapala

⭐ Wander Around Tlaquepaque 

🍸 Visit Tequila Town

🥑 Enjoy the chaos of Mercado Libertad – San Juan de Dios

🪩 Party on Avenue Chapultepec

A Little About Guadalajara

Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico (after the capital – Mexico City) and has a population of over five million. It is the capital city of Jalisco state and sits at an elevation of around 1,550 metres. 

Guadalajara has an international airport and is connected to other major cities by highway. It is around 350 miles from Mexico City and 204 miles from Puerto Vallarta (the popular coastal city).

15 of the Best Things to Do in Guadalajara

Ajijic & Lake Chapala

Ajijic - Things to do in Guadalajara
Ajijic - Things to do in Guadalajara

When looking for the best things to do in Guadalajara, a visit to Lake Chapala simply has to be on your list!

Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, and Ajijic (pronounced ah-hee-heek) is a beautiful town sitting on its northern shore. Ajijic is one of the best and most popular day trips from Guadalajara.

It’s very easy to access from the central bus station, taking just over one hour. 

The town itself is made up of cobblestoned streets with bright, colourful buildings. The main plaza is filled with craft stalls, coffee shops and places to buy handmade art. There are also heaps of fantastic places to eat in Ajijic – we had incredible fish tacos at Lobo de Mar. 

For me, the highlight was sitting by the water on the tranquil promenade, taking advantage of the beautiful warm climate. 

Ajijic has become a haven for expats, especially those from the US and Canada. As such, don’t expect a traditional Mexican town as you might know it. Many restaurants and cafes have become more Americanised here, and you will hear a lot more English spoken. 

Nevertheless, Ajijic is one of the best attractions in Guadalajara and was one of my favourite days during the two weeks I spent in the fantastic city.

Tlaquepaque (Beautiful Guadalajara Tourist Attractions)


Tlaquapaque is probably the most famous thing to do in Guadalajara – and for good reason! It is a Pueblo Magico located just 10km south of central Guadajalaja. 

It’s a beautiful, picturesque area of the city filled with gorgeous, brightly painted buildings. It is best known for its handmade crafts, including pottery, textiles and glass. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough space in my backpack to indulge, but if you’re an art lover with enough suitcase space, you will love it here!

Tlaquapaque is one of those places that you should just wander around and enjoy at your own pace. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend taking a tour.

We were a little apprehensive about taking public transportation, but it couldn’t have been easier (or cheaper!). Simply jump on the metro line three and exit at Tlaquapaque (a couple of stops before the central bus station). The metro is clean and modern and costs just $9.50 MXN per ride.

Note: We found that in some smaller towns in Mexico, it was difficult to pay by card. However, there were no problems at all in Tlaquepaque, and debit card was widely accepted.

Visit Tequila Town (Most Popular Guadalajara Tourist Attraction)

Tequila Day Trip
Tequila Day Trip

If you’re looking for things to do in Guadalajara, visiting Tequila Town must be at the top of your list! 

Just an hour northwest of Guadalajara is the birthplace of the famous drink. Here, you can visit the fields where the agave plant is grown, take tours of the factories, and, most importantly, sample the produce. 

You can visit Tequila from Guadalajara in many ways, including the famous Tequila train, self-drive, or on a tour day trip. I personally think the latter is the best option, allowing you to see the best of Tequila without all the fuss. 

Read the full article: Visiting Tequila Town – Best Tour in Guadalajara.

Birria at Birriería las 9 Esquinas

Birriería las 9 Esquinas
Birriería las 9 Esquinas

Birria is a meat stew or soup typically made from goat, lamb or sheep. It is extremely popular all over Mexico, but particularly in Jalisco (where it originated). You simply cannot travel to Guadalajara Jalisco and not try this incredible dish!

You won’t struggle to find a place to enjoy Birria in Guadalajara. In fact, it feels like there is somewhere on every street. However, we opted for Birriería las 9 Esquinas and were not disappointed! We arrived in the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday, and the restaurant was full of locals and tourists alike. 

Between two, we opted for the large order of Birria (which arrived with six additional tortillas), three tacos, a queso fundito, and two soft drinks. This was served with a complimentary order of tortillas and frijoles.

Take my advice: this was too much food

However, we had an excellent time attempting to make our way through this mountain of delicious food. In total (with a tip), the total here was $580 MXN (£27 / $34 USD at the time of writing).

Mercado Libertad – San Juan de Dios

This place is pure chaos but absolutely has to be on your list of the best things to do in Guadalajara

Mercado San Juan de Dois is easily walkable from the central historical district. You have to cross over a large main road, but two bridges make this a little less stressful. 

I had heard a range of reviews about this market and its questionable safety. The area itself is extremely busy, and I probably would not be comfortable heading there alone or at night. However, as a couple or a group in the daytime, it felt perfectly safe and welcoming.

When reviews say that this market sells everything, they mean it! Fake luxury goods (watches, handbags, shoes, etc.), traditional boots and belts, fresh fruit and vegetables, live birds, leather, sheep’s heads?! Just to name a small selection. 

I recommend an hour wandering the market and browsing the various goods on offer. Then you have to try out one of the many food vendors.

If you’re not a local, it’s almost impossible to choose a place to eat, so we opted for a small taco spot, which was relatively busy. The staff were very friendly, and the food was delicious and super cheap ($120 MXN for eight tacos and two drinks).

TIP: Remember which way you have walked! The market is very crowded, and many stalls are selling the same items, making navigating around extremely challenging.

Enjoy Drinks on Avenida Chapultepec (Best Night Out in Guadalajara Jalisco)

Avenida Chapultepec is the place to go for a night out in Guadalajara. The street is lined with bars and restaurants, and the area becomes more crazy as the night goes on!

There are plenty of bars that suit almost every taste, ranging from a traditional English pub to a rock bar and an underground nightclub. Expect to pay slightly higher prices around this popular area, but it’s worth it for the atmosphere. 

I wouldn’t particularly recommend any of the restaurants there, although they may be OK for lining your stomach before an evening of drinking. 

If you want a night out but don’t want to be right in the chaos, I recommend heading from Avenue Chapultepec towards the Colonia Americana district. After walking for just a few minutes, you will find plenty of nice bars with a slightly more tame atmosphere.

Drink in Guadalajara’s Coffee Culture

Guadalajara Main Square
Coffee in Guadalajara

Guadalajara is a city of young hipsters packed with vintage markets, vinyl stores and even a handful of vegan restaurants (unheard of in Mexico!).

With this comes a range of excellent coffee shops to spend a few hours in. In fact, enjoying the fantastic leisurely coffee culture is one of the best things to do in Guadalajara. Café Rozita in Col Americana was one of our favourites – the cakes here are also gorgeous!

Los Dos Templos (Best Attractions in Guadalajara)

Los Dos Templos is one of the must-see Guadalajara tourist attractions. Located right in the heart of the city, it is easy to combine your visit with other fantastic things to do in Guadalajara.

Los Dos Templos
Los Dos Templos

Plaza de los Mariachis

Enjoying Mariachi music is a must-do in Mexico, particularly in Guadalajara. (Mariachi originated from the state of Jalisco).

In the day, this area is relatively nondescript. However, at night, the area comes to life with Mariachi bands and crowds of locals and tourists. 

I have to be honest; the Plaza de los Mariachis slightly underwhelmed me. However, it is very close to the Mercado Libertad – San Juan de Dios, so I recommend visiting both of these attractions together.

Take A Walking Tour

A walking tour is the perfect way to get yourself acquainted with any new city, and Guadalajara is no different. 

There are plenty of free walking tours in the city, available in English and Spanish. These not only give you a glimpse into the city but also allow you to meet other like-minded travellers. 

Although you can always take self-guided walks around the city, taking a guided tour with local experts will allow you to see all the best tourist attractions in Guadalajara as well as some lesser-known gems.

Catedral de Guadalajara (Basílica de la Asunción de María Santísima)

Catedral de Guadalajara

Guadalajara Cathedral has been a spiritual focal point since the 16th century, embodying Guadalajara’s enduring cultural and religious significance. Now, although a working cathedral for people to worship, it is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Guadalajara.

This cathedral has two amazing large yellow spires, stunning brickwork, and details that could keep you occupied for hours. There is a water feature outside with lots of benches and places to relax. It’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere of the city. 

Guadalajara Cathedral is truly one of the most magnificent sights in the city.

Guachimontones (Unique Tourist Attractions in Guadalajara)


I have to be honest; I hadn’t heard about Guachimontones before visiting Guadalajara. However, these pyramids are fantastic and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before

Rather than the traditional pyramids most of us are familiar with, these are distinct circular step structures. The 52 steps correspond to the Mayan calendar, although most of these steps are now buried deep underground.

This site is still relatively newly discovered, so its history is even more fascinating. An excellent on-site museum provides plenty of information and an excellent range of artefacts. 

This is one of the more tricky day trips from Guadalajara, as it involves a bus from the central station to the town of Teuchitlán, followed by a taxi, and then a hike up to the pyramids. Laura at A Piece of Travel has an excellent comprehensive travel guide to Guachimontones. 

Aside from a few small shops, there isn’t much else going on in Teuchitlán, so I wouldn’t allocate more than a couple of hours for Guachimontones. 

I would reserve a visit to Guachimontones for those who have ample time in Guadalajara. Although the site is fascinating, the journey is very long (we had a driver who treated the bus like a motorbike on the return journey – literally driving off-road), and the journey back still took nearly three hours!

Teatro Degollado

Teatro Degollado
Teatro Degollado

Built in the mid-19th century, Teatro Degollado’s neoclassical architecture is a testament to the city’s rich heritage. Hosting various performances, the theatre remains a prominent symbol of artistic expression in the heart of Guadalajara’s vibrant cultural scene.

What’s great about Teatro Degollada is that if there isn’t an event on, you can simply walk inside and admire the magnificent building. Its one of the best free Guadalajara tourist attractions, and a great insight into the culture of the city.

Lucha Libre! (Fun Guadalajara Tourist Attractions)

To fully immerse yourself in Mexican culture, you simply must attend the Lucha Libre! The Lucha Libre is such a unique experience that it cannot be replicated anywhere else. 

The Lucha Libre is held twice per week in Guadalajara – Sunday and Tuesday night at the Arena Coliseo. Tickets can be purchased either online via Ticketmaster or on the door before the event begins. 

It’s crucial that you take a little time before you attend to read up on the history of Lucha Libre. The event is very lively, and the crowds are insane, so it will hugely help you appreciate what is going on.

Attend an Incredible Annual Festival

In addition to the regular events mentioned above, Guadalajara has a range of annual festivals that draw visitors from around the globe. 

If you’re lucky enough to fit one of these into your visit to Guadalajara, here are some of the best:

⭐Tequila Festival (March)

🎥 Guadalajara Film Festival (June)

⭐ International Mariachi Festival (September)

📚 Guadalajara International Book Fair (October)

Frequently Asked Questions – Things to Do in Guadalajara

Is Guadalajara Worth Visiting?

Yes, Guadalajara is 100% worth visiting. It is a bustling city with so much history and plenty of amazing things to do. It’s also a great base for day trips, including Ajijic, Tequila and Tlaquepaque. 

What to Do in Guadalajara in One Day?

If I only had one day in Guadalajara, I would head into central and explore the state of Jalisco Government Building, Catedral de Guadalajara and Los Dos Templos. In the evening I would eat Birria, and enjoy drinks on Avenue Chapultapec. 

What are the Best Tours in Guadalajara?

The great thing about Guadalajara is that it is very easy to get around. There is an efficient transport system, and taxis are very reasonably priced. Therefore, tours aren’t necessary for most of the attractions. However, I can thoroughly recommend the Tequila Tour, which is one of the best tours in Guadalajara. 

Is Guadalajara Safe?

In the daytime, Guadalajara felt comfortable and safe. It is a city that I would happily explore on my own. However, at nighttime, there are some areas that are not well-lit and feel a little more unsafe. I wouldn’t recommend walking around on your own after dark or carrying any valuables (the same advice I would give for any city).

How Do I Travel to Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has an international airport just half an hour’s drive from the city centre. Uber is extremely affordable here, so that is the best option. If you’re travelling from Mexico City, the bus takes around 6 hours 30 minutes, and the flight around 1 hour 30 minutes. 

Do I Need to Speak Spanish in Guadalajara?

You do not need to be fluent in Spanish to travel around Guadalajara. However, a little Spanish will get you a long way. Of course, learn the pleasantries (hello, how are you, please, thank you). I also recommend brushing up on numbers (this will help massively when paying in shops and restaurants). 

Cash or Card in Guadalajara

Debit cards are accepted almost everywhere in Guadalajara, so I recommend using them wherever possible. As you would expect, most smaller bars, restaurants, and shops are cash-only.


Top Tips For Mexico City

How to See The Lucha Libre in Mexico City Without A Tour

13 Fantastic Things to Do in Puebla 

How to Get to Teotihuacan Pyramids from Mexico City

How to Get to Hierve El Agua From Oaxaca


Things to do in Guadalajara
Things to do in Guadalajara
Things to do in Guadalajara

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