Guadalajara is the capital of the central state of Jalisco in Mexico, and the second-largest city in the country, with about a million and a half citizens (known as "Tapatíos"). It is considered a colonial city, though much of its architecture dates from the independence period. Although it has a far more relaxed feel than Mexico City, the city center can still seem a bit stuffy and dusty, especially during rush hour when the sun is out. All in all, however, it is a lovely city and contains many nice areas for walking, not just in the center.
Guadalajara is Mexico's second largest city, and one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. This growth has been driven in part by the booming electronics industry in the industrial outskirts of the city. Other important and growing industries are pharmaceuticals, food processing, and fashion.
Guadalajara proper is divided into four districts corresponding approximately to the northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast quarters of the city. At the center of everything is the main area of interest to tourists, the Centro Histórico, or the historic downtown. Most of your time will probably be spent here. It is filled with colonial-era buildings and, famously, also boasts several important mural paintings by Jalisco-born José Clemente Orozco, one of Mexico's most important artists.
Outside the Centro Histórico are:
- Sector Hidalgo— in northwest of the Centro Histórico, Hidalgo is a largely residential sector encompassing the financial district and the Country Club Guadalajara.
- Sector Libertad— northeast of the Centro Histórico, Sector Libertad is mostly given over to industrial use. However, the southwest part of the sector, close to the Centro Histórico, boasts a traditional market (Mercado Libertad) and the Plaza de los Mariachis.
- Sector Juárez— southwest of the Centro Histórico, Sector Juárez is a shoppers' paradise: it boasts two shopping malls (Centro Magno and Galerias), as well as the popular Minerva, Chapultepec, and Zona Rosa shopping areas.
- Sector Reforma— southeast of the Centro Histórico, Reforma is also a mostly industrial sector, but visitors will no doubt be interested in the pleasant, tree-filled Parque Agua Azul, as well as the Tianguis Cultural de Guadalajara, a street market where alternative clothing and articles such as spiked belts, black trenchcoats, military uniforms, used books and trading cards are for sale at good prices.
Still further from central Guadalajara are several suburbs (municipios) that are cities in their own right. Several of these are also of interest to visitors, including:
- Tlaquepaque—about 30 minutes by car southeast of the Centro Histórico, downtown Tlaquepaque is a charming streetscape redolent of old Mexico. An important arts and crafts center, Tlaquepaque has a vibrant shopping district where you can buy local pottery and handicrafts, as well as many lovely restaurants, art galleries, and a regional ceramics museum.
- Tonalá— immediately east of Tlaquepaque, Tonalá contains Guadalajara's main bus station, handicraft shops and markets, and the large Parque Solidaridad.
- Zapopan, a large, busy suburb southwest of Guadalajara, is famous for the old-fashioned charm of its downtown, its active nightlife fueled by the three large private universities within the city limits (Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Tecnológico de Monterrey and Universidad del Valle de Atemajac), its proliferation of modern shopping malls that will make American suburbanites feel right at home, and—by contrast—also large expanses of pristine nature, such as the Bosque de Colomos and the gargantuan Bosque La Primavera.
The 275-diagonal bus route runs from Tlaquepaque through the Centro to Zapopan, providing convenient access to all of these outer districts.
The co-founders of Guadalajara were Doña Beatriz de Hernández and Governor Cristobal de Oñate. In the Plaza de los Fundadores there is a monument in honor of both of them.
Guadalajara, and Jalisco in general, were the epicenter of the Cristero Wars (1926-1929)—a rebellion by Catholic guerrillas against the secularizing reforms of President Plutarco Calles. One of the first armed conflicts of the rebellion took place in Guadalajara in the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe on August 3, 1926, where a group of several hundred Cristeros engaged in a shootout with federal troops. Guadalajara was attacked (unsuccessfully) by the Cristero armies in March of 1929.
In the 1950s, Avenida Juárez was widened to create today's arterial road of Juárez-Vallarta which you see today. A famous part of that work was the moving of the central telephone exchange without the disruption of service. Pictures of this feat of engineering can be seen in the City Museum (Museo de la Ciudad).
In April 1992, Sector Reforma was rocked by a huge explosion of gasoline, when a gasoline pipeline leaked into the sewers over a period of days until the fumes finally detonated. Some 200 Tapatíos were killed and several thousand injured. The explosion affected mostly the working-class and industrial areas on the south side of the city.
In May 1993, Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo of Guadalajara was killed at the Guadalajara airport. Though at the time the murder was thought to have been some sort of politically motivated assassination, subsequent investigations favor the theory that the cardinal was caught by mistake in drug-related violence, his motorcade having been mistaken for that of a drug lord. Cardinal Ocampo is buried beneath the high altar of the Catedral de Guadalajara, probably because it was first suspected that the motives for his murder were political, rather than accidental.
Aeropuerto Internacional de Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo y CostillaAirlines serving GDL include AeroMexico, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Copa Airlines, Delta, Interjet, United, VivaAerobus, and Volaris. A taxi from the airport to anywhere will cost M$220 (pesos), but many hotels offer airport pickups that can be cheaper. There is also a bus that stops at the bottom of Terminal 1 which goes to the Old Bus Station (Central Camionera Vieja) close to the Centro Histórico and costs M$7. To get to the bus station, take a right upon exiting the airport and follow the signs to the "Terminal Terrestre." Walk past the police station and FedEx building. Pay when getting on the bus. A taxi down to the Laguna de Chapala area, around Ajijic or Chapala, will cost about M$380. At the airport, always buy the taxi chit from the booth before exiting the terminal, then present it to the licensed driver.
The new main bus station, , is in the suburb of Tonalá, which serves all long-distance routes (generally those which leave the state of Jalisco). The old bus station just south of downtown is served by bus lines to nearby pueblos such as Tequila and Chapala. Bus rides can sometimes be a bit bumpy because of the state of the roads, but the buses themselves are very comfortable. A taxi from the new bus station to the Centro Histórico should cost around M$60; other options include the municipal bus (M$6) and the TUR bus (M$10, ask for "Centro").
- Federal Highway 15 (Carretera Federal 15) connects Guadalajara with Mexico City to the east.
By busThere is an android app called Rutas GDL that contains almost all the bus routes for the city, but is not 100% accurate as of November 2014. Also there is a web site Buscaturuta.com with bus routes throughout Mexico, but it is less accurate and harder to use.
Dozens of bus routes provide transportation around the city. As of February 2011, regular buses cost M$6; there are also luxury buses (Turquesa, Tour and Cardenal) for M$11. Look on the front window of the bus to determine its destination, and ask the driver if you're uncertain. You can also try to purchase a route map (the Guia Roja Red Vial Ciudad de Guadalajara is one option, or ask at any magazine stand or one of the tourism kiosks downtown for a book with bus routes), although as of early 2008 they are no longer being published and are therefore almost impossible to find. This means planning your route ahead—or asking the locals, provided you know some Spanish. Riding the bus also provides a good chance to see different parts of the city and get your bearings. Bus drivers will give you change within limits, though after even a day in Guadalajara you might find more 10-peso pieces in your pocket than you can dispose of.
Metropolitan Area Mass Transit System (Sistema de Transporte Colectivo de la Zona Metropolitana). Alternatively, try Busca Tu Ruta (Search for Your Route).
There is also an open-top double-decker tourist bus (TuriBus) that leaves from the Rotunda and will take you past all the main sites in Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque and Zapopan. Riders can get on and off the bus at will all day long, for a flat rate.
Taxis are another option if you don't want to try to figure out the buses. You can either agree on a price with the cab driver or ask him to turn the meter on. Using the latter option, there is a risk that the driver won't the take the shortest possible route if he thinks you don't know it yourself. The meter will normally be a better price than the price the hotel will tell you to pay if they call you a cab. As always, be sure to ask the fare before you get in. Cabs cost more at night or when they have to cross the outer ring (Anillo Periférico) of the city. Daytime fares within the city are rarely more than M$50, and should never exceed 100. At night, the prices are doubled. As a rule of thumb, during the daytime the fare is M$3-4/km and at night M$8-9, but if the driver is using a meter, there's also a starting price of M$5-10.
Fares to and from the airport are set at M$260. If arriving at the Guadalajara airport, a taxi monopoly provides the service from the airport. Pay for your taxi ride at the booths outside of the arrival halls. You can take a normal taxi to the airport, though.
There is a small light-rail subway system (the Tren Ligero) that can be useful for travelers who happen to be headed where the trains go. There are two lines that meet at the western edge of the Centro Histórico. One runs north-to-south beneath Avenida Federalismo to the edges of the city in both directions. The other runs west-to-east through the Centro Histórico to the eastern suburbs. Fares cost M$6. The subway closes at 23:00.
A new bus service named Pre-Tren ("Pre-Train") extends from the main subway station (Juárez) through the Zona Rosa to the west Anillo Periférico at a 50% discounted fare for subway card users. Pre-Trenes provide a good service with new, air-conditioned, red-colored units. The service is better than the smaller buses (camiones).
By carYou may also rent a car from airport, most major car rental companies such Avis, National Car Rental, Hertz and Europcar have booths at the baggage claim area. There are also some local car rentals such Veico Car Rental just outside the airport that also have good cars and often lower prices.
Centro Histórico and nearby
Belén Cemeteryphone: +52 33 3613 7786address: Belén 684, El RetiroThis old cemetery dates back to 1786. It has been converted into a museum that is full of interesting stories of cemetery hauntings and Tapatío culture in general. There are also night tours Th-Sa that many people are afraid to take!
phone: +52 33 3942 1200address: Cabañas 8, San Juan de DiosThis UNESCO World Heritage Site east of Plaza de la Liberación is a cultural and art center where the fresco paintings of Jose Clemente Orozco are exhibited.
phone: +52 33 1201 8712address: Independencia 684, Zona CentroExploring Guadalajara's over 450 years of history, the Museo de la Ciudad is situated in a former convent in the Centro Histórico that dates to the 18th Century. The museum's permanent collection is housed in six exhibition halls arranged chronologically according to century (16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st) and comprises artifacts and explanatory tests related to the history of Guadalajara in terms of art and architecture, ethnography, urban development, and the everyday life of Tapatíos. Temporary exhibits are also displayed, and lectures, workshops and symposia often take place in the auditorium and outdoor courtyard.
Cross of PlazasThese four plazas are laid out in the form of a cross, with the Catedral at the center. Any of them offer a nice spot to walk through or rest in for a few minutes, and most have plenty of food vendors nearby. The plazas that make up the Cross are:
Plaza GuadalajaraLocated directly in front of the cathedral, Plaza Guadalajara contains a circular fountain and an outdoor restaurant. Under the fountain there is an underground commercial center which offers all kinds of goods for sale including fruit, beverages and even jewelry.
Plaza de ArmasPlaza de Armas offers one of the best views of the cathedral, as well as the Government Palace. It features a French ironwork bandstand that was purchased by former Mexican president Porfirio Díaz in 1885, and four statues on the corners of the place symbolizing the four seasons. The bandstand serves as the performing arena for marching bands, but due to its recent use for all kinds of political protests, it's guarded by the police 24/7.
Plaza de la LiberaciónThis plaza features two large cup-shaped fountains and a gigantic sculpture of Miguel Hidalgo, the man who signed the Mexican Declaration of Independence in the current Governor's Office. It also serves as an atrium for the oldest surviving theater in the city, the Teatro Degollado, and it's the usual spot for massive free concerts.
Rotunda of Illustrious JaliscansThis lovely circular monument of fluted columns is a mausoleum containing the ashes of 98 important men and women born in Jalisco. The bright and busy atmosphere of the park around it contrasts with the serious aspect of the Rotunda. On the southern side (across the street from the cathedral) is the bus stop for the TuriBus.
Plaza de los Mariachis
Minerva, Chapultepec, Zapopan and west of the Centro Histórico
address: Av. Guadalupe at Av. de las Rosas, Chapalita, ZapopanA verdant gathering place in a lovely neighborhood (colonia) in the suburb of Zapopan, this "garden of art" sees local artists showing off their creations every Sunday while local residents show off their dogs. Raucous celebrations take place here on national holidays.
phone: +52 33 3641 3804address: El Chaco 3200, Colomos Providencia, ZapopanThis lovely, family-friendly green space is a 92-hectare urban forest that boasts 30,000 trees of diverse species. Its mission is to conserve a beautiful example of a native woodland in an urban environment and educate visitors on ways for humans to better coexist with nature. In terms of visitor amenities, Colomos boasts lovely gardens including a Japanese garden and a cactus garden, goldfish ponds where children enjoy feeding the fish, and horseback riding. Smoking is strictly prohibited.
phone: +52 33 3825 3410address: López Cotilla 935, Zona CentroThis finely detailed Gothic Revival cathedral was built over decades starting in the late 19th century. There is a mechanical clock in the bell tower that features a procession of the Twelve Apostles at 09:00, 12:00 and 18:00. The interior of the church features a lovely collection of stained glass windows.
Minerva Roundaboutaddress: Av. Ignacio Vallarta at Av. Adolfo López Mateos, Zona CentroThis glorieta (traffic circle) showcases a giant statue of the Roman goddess Minerva (one of the most important symbols of Guadalajara), surrounded by a fountain. It's sometimes shut down to traffic and opened to pedestrians when there's a major city celebration—such as when the Chivas football team wins a major game.
Monument of the Child Heroesphone: +52 33 3825 1340address: Av. Niños Héroes at Av. Chapultepec Sur, ModernaA massive stone spire that memorializes six teenage military cadets who died defending Mexico City's military academy from U.S. forces during the Mexican-American War.
Vallarta Archaddress: Av. Ignacio Vallarta just east of Glorieta Minerva, Zona CentroThis Romanesque double arch stands at what was once the western edge of the city. There are nice views to be had from the top, and interesting murals to view on the way up.
Huentitán and east of the Centro Histórico
Blue Water Parkphone: +52 33 3619 0328address: Calz. Independencia Sur 973, ReformaOpen air concerts, a butterfly enclosure, an aviary and plenty of greenery are some of the things that can be enjoyed at Agua Azul. This is a good place to take a break from the often dry, dusty and crowded environment of the city. The park houses a museum of paleontology, and there is a museum of regional archaeology just across Calzada Independencia. The 1.5 km from the Centro Histórico to the park is quite walkable, but it is also accessible via the 62A and 62D buses along Calzada Independencia.
Huentitán-Oblatos Canyonphone: +52 33 3674 0238address: North end of Calz. Independencia Norte, Huentitán el AltoThis is the forested gorge of the Río Lerma-Santiago, accessible via buses #62A and #62D which run along Calzada Independencia. There are two locations with fine views of the gorge:
phone: +52 33 3674 4488address: Paseo del Zoológico 600, Huentitán el AltoThe modern Guadalajara Zoo is next to the Barranca de Huentitán-Oblatos. It's worth visiting for its view of the canyon, and for its collection of animals, its safari ride and its panoramic train. Other highlights include a reptile house, a nocturnal environment exhibit and a tropical forest simulated environment.
Independencia Overlook ParkThis lovely park is at the northern terminus of Calzada Independencia adjacent to the Barranca de Huentitán-Oblatos, with beautiful views of the canyon. Pretty gardens and benches are peppered around the park, allowing visitors to sit and enjoy the different views the park has to offer. This is also the starting point for many of the hiking trails that traverse the canyon.
Guadalajara's sports culture is one of the most vibrant in Mexico, with a well-developed infrastructure of stadiums and facilities, achievements under its belt such as its successful turn as the host of the 2011 Pan-American Games, world-class athletes such as professional golfer Lorena Ochoa calling the city home, and big plans for the future. Guadalajara is also home to many ballet schools surrounding the metropolitan area.
Of course, one would be remiss in talking about Guadalajara sports without mentioning the three professional football (futbol, i.e. what Americans call soccer) teams based there: Estudiantes, Atlas, and of course, Chivas. Chivas, more properly known as Club Deportivo Guadalajara, is, according to FIFA, the most popular football team in Mexico. Chivas has won 11 first-division titles and holds the longest-ever season-opening winning streak: 8 back-to-back wins. Chivas is also the only football team in Mexico with exclusively Mexican players, whereas other teams have players of varying nationalities. The team colors are red, white, and blue, signifying "Fraternity, Union, and Sports". The new stadium, Estadio Akron, with a capacity of 49,850, was inaugurated in 2010.
phone: +52 33 3777 5700address: Circuito JVC 2800, Ayamonte, ZapopanThis is the stadium where most of the outdoor events for the 2011 Pan-American Games were held, and—more importantly—where the most popular football team in the city and the whole country, Club Deportivo Guadalajara (Chivas), has played since 2010. Chivas plays here every other Saturday at 19:00, unless otherwise specified. If you happen to be in Guadalajara on a Saturday, you are most likely to find either a Chivas football game in this stadium, or an Atlas game at Estadio Jalisco (below). Big games to watch out are Chivas vs. Atlas (which can be held in either stadiums depending on which one is scheduled as the home team) and Chivas vs. América—the "National Superclassic" (superclásico nacional)—as these teams are bitter rivals. Either of these match-ups are sure to sell out the stadium and treat those lucky enough to get tickets to an intense atmosphere. Estadio Akron is a difficult place to reach by public transport. It is close to the Periférico Oriente, so taking a taxi is the best option. Alternatively, use any bus that will go around Periférico and you'll eventually get there, just ask the driver to let you know when you are there, since the stadium's visibility from Periférico is very limited.
phone: +52 33 3637 0563address: Siete Colinas 1772, IndependenciaIt's in Colonia Independencia, and can be reached by taking any bus along the Calzada Independencia and asking for the Estadio Jalisco. You will almost definitely see it if you look out, it will be on your left as you come from the center. Here the football team Atlas plays. Chivas used to play on this stadium until 2010, when Estadio Omnilife was completed. During the season there are league games every other Saturday. If Atlas is playing as a visitor, then you can look for a Chivas game at Estadio Omnilife. A big game to watch out for is Atlas vs. Chivas, which has an incredible atmosphere, though most games are worth experiencing. If you are of a nervous disposition, perhaps avoid the upper stands when there is a large crowd as it's known to shake when the crowds begin to jump.
phone: +52 33 3610 1834address: Patria 1201, Villa Universitaria, ZapopanThe Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara's football stadium in the north of the city, where "Los Estudiantes" play, is named for the date of the founding of the university in 1935. The Estudiantes play in the Primera Liga along with the other Guadalajara teams, Atlas and Chivas.
BaseballThe Pacific Mexican League is hosted by Charros de Jalisco on its home grounds, the Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco y Atletismo.
phone: +52 33 3651 8378address: Montes Pirineos 1930, MonumentalIt's right across the road from the Estadio Jalisco, just off Calzada Independencia. Bullfights take place at the Plaza Nuevo Progreso every Sunday at 16:30. Those arriving by bus might not be able to see the bullring from the street, as it's hidden behind some trees, so get off when you see the Estadio Jalisco and go in the opposite direction.
Holidays and events
Spring and summer
phone: +52 33 3121 7461address: Nebulosa 2916, Jardines del BosqueThe biggest film festival in Latin America and one of the most important showcases for Mexican and Latin American cinema on the world stage, the Festival Internacional del Cine de Guadalajara takes place annually in early March. A bevy of awards are given in all categories of film, and it also serves as a forum for education and creative interchange among Latin American cineasts.
International Mariachi and Charrería ConferenceMariachi bands from all over Mexico and the world meet the last week of August and the first week of September, usually at Teatro Degollado and the surrounding area, to play and compete for the delight of fans. You won't witness anything like this unique event anywhere else.
Independence DayVisitors who find themselves in Guadalajara on 16 September are in for a festive and patriotic treat. One traditional way that Tapatíos enjoy celebrating this holiday is with a reenactment of the "Cry of Pain" (Grito de Dolores), the incident that, in 1810, kicked off the war that ended with Mexico's independence from Spain. At the stroke of midnight, locals go to the main square and shout out in unison: half yell "Viva" and the other half "México", going on to the names of important heroes of Mexican history: "Viva Hidalgo", "Viva Morelos", and so on.
Pilgrimage of Our Lady of ZapopanCelebrated in Guadalajara on 12 October, this event honors the local Virgin Mary figure of the Guadalajara area, the Virgen de Zapopan. On this day, over a million people parade the famous statuette from the downtown cathedral to its home in the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan. This festival is only celebrated in the Guadalajara area, and is one of the largest examples of a romería outside Spain.
International Book FairThe "FIL" takes place every November in Guadalajara. Companies and delegations come from all over the world to exhibit their books and see books from other places. Every year a country or region serves as the guest of honor, presenting books that represent its particular literary tradition.
ChristmasA Tapatío Christmas tradition that you may witness if you're in Guadalajara over the holidays is known as "Las Posadas" (The Inns). Children parade through the neighborhood recreating the passage of Joseph and Mary through Bethlehem, asking for shelter and being refused. Generally nowadays this is a celebration for family and friends, but if you know a Mexican, it's a great way to experience Mexican culture firsthand. Regular appearances include piñatas, mariachi bands, Mexican beer, tequila and general merriment.
Foundation of GuadalajaraHeld on February 14th, this is a celebration to commemorate the foundation of the city of Guadalajara on that day in 1542.
The Universidad de Guadalajara, often referred to simply as "U de G", is the most important institution of higher learning in western Mexico, and the second most important in the country after Mexico City's mammoth UNAM. The University also serves as a center of cultural activity enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, such as the Ballet Folclórico and the Cineforo Universidad.
Guadalajara offers many language schools for the fast growing need for learning Spanish.
The shopping scene in Guadalajara is centered around two opposing faces of Latin American culture: traditional open-air markets (tianguis) and the modern shopping plazas and malls that, more and more, are sprouting up around the outskirts of town. The latter can be found in particular proliferation southwest of the Centro Histórico in Sector Juárez, as well as in suburban municipios such as Zapopan.
A refreshing exception to this rule is the historic downtown district of Tlaquepaque, southeast of Guadalajara proper. This area is characterized by a lively collection of shops centered on the pedestrian-only streets, Calle Independencia and Avenida Juárez. Emphasized in these charming shops are arts and handicrafts of all kinds: one-of-a-kind handmade furniture, textiles, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, glassware, home decor, and even chocolate.
These temporary open-air street markets or bazaars are a Mexican tradition dating back to the Aztec days, and are a great way to get up close and personal with local culture at its most real—and score some bargains in the process. Some of the biggest tianguis in Guadalajara include:
Guadalajara Cultural Tianguisaddress: Plaza Benito Juárez, corner Av. Wáshington and Av. 16 de Septiembre, Zona CentroPopular especially with young people, the Tianguis Cultural is not only a great place to buy clothes and music, but also to catch free open-air concerts, mingle, see and be seen.
Liberty Marketphone: +52 33 3618 0506address: Javier Mina 52, San Juan de DiosKnown by locals as Mercado San Juan de Dios because of the river that used to pass through the area, the Mercado Libertad is a very busy, multi-story enclosed market; with hundreds of vendors, it's the largest market in Latin America. The market also houses a very popular and very good food court featuring everything from seafood to local favorites like birria (goat stew) and pozole (hominy and pork stew). It's a great place to get souvenirs. Unfortunately, it isn't the safest place in town, so make sure to always keep on the lookout for purse-snatchers.
Tianguis el Baratilloaddress: Corner of Calle Puerto Melaque and Calle Porfirio Díaz, Santa MaríaThe largest tianguis in Guadalajara, this market sells anything and everything—tools, furniture, food, clothes and accessories, kitchenware, toys, and all manner of other articles—with an emphasis on used items sold at great bargains (hence its name El Baratillo, which roughly translates as "The Flea Market").
Malls and shopping centers
Centro Magnophone: +52 33 3630 1113address: Vallarta 2425, Arcos VallartaLocated between Avenidas Vallarta and López Cotilla, the Centro Magno has a big, wide, closed space in the middle, surrounded mostly by restaurants, fashion, electronics and bazaar stores, with a cinema on the top floor. It's served directly by bus routes 629A and 629B, and routes 626, 622, 24, 258 and 101 are also nearby.
phone: +52 33 3647 6422address: Avenida México 3225, Vallarta San JorgeThis is an entire mall that contains over 60 shoe stores, great for the dedicated footwear obsessive. As you can imagine, all prices and styles can be found here.
phone: +52 33 3110 1142address: Rafael Sanzio 150, Residencial La Estancia, ZapopanGuadalajara's biggest mall is at the intersection of Avenidas Vallarta and Rafael Sanzio. It houses Guadalajara's biggest multiplex cinema, with 20 THX projection rooms and 4 VIP rooms. Has multi-level parking ramps as well as more than 1 km² of open parking space shared with a Wal-Mart and a Sam's Club. Served by bus routes 25, 47 and 629.
phone: +52 33 3648 2298address: Puerta de Hierro 4965, Fraccionamiento Plaza Andares, ZapopanAt the corner of Avenidas Patria and Puerta de Hierro. Designer stores abound here: DKNY, Cartier, Hugo Boss, Mont Blanc, Helmut Lang, Fendi, Alexander McQueen, Versace, Armani, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Valentino, Diesel, Cavalli, Calvin Klein, Channel and Dior.
phone: +52 33 3121 5950address: López Mateos Sur 2375, Ciudad del Sol, ZapopanThis mall, Guadalajara's second-largest, is near the corner of Avenidas López Mateos and Mariano Otero. The mall boasts a multi-story car park and an open layout, with big, open spaces in the middle, surrounded by hallways. Served by bus routes 357, 101, 24, 258, 626, 629, 645 and 701, as well as the longer-distance buses that connect the nearby town of Santa Anita with the metropolitan area. The Torrena Tower, measuring 336.5 m in height, is under construction next to both Plaza del Sol and Plaza Torrena, a smaller, underground mall nearby that can be recognized by its white concrete dome.
address: Patria 45160, Altamira, ZapopanBounded by Avenidas Patria, Ávila Camacho and Américas, this two-story mall, smaller than many of the others on this list, nonetheless has a sizable assortment of stores. Clothes and electronics can be bought here, and there are also convenience stores and a supermarket. Served by bus routes 24, 25, 604, 622, 632, 634 and 701.
Food vendors in Guadalajara seem to like to rip off foreign tourists. For example, when trying to get some tacos or a burger or something from a street food vendor, the vendor will tell you not to worry about the price, and when it's time to pay you will get an inflated bill. Be sure to ask for the price before you order. If the vendor tells you not to worry about the price, say "necesito saber" (I need to know). Of course, do this with a smile and you will not be ripped off.
Birria, tortas ahogadas, and chilaquiles are some of the most traditional Tapatío dishes. The food court in the Mercado Libertad is a good place to sample the variety of local specialties.
- Birria is a savory stew made of roast chiles, spices and traditionally goat meat, though you will usually be given other meat options like mutton or beef depending on the restaurant. For birria, the restaurants in the Nueve Esquinas area (a few blocks south of Templo San Francisco) are popular and reliably good.
- Tortas ahogadas (literally "drowned sandwiches") are elongated sandwiches on birote bread, akin to submarines or po' boys, smothered in a savory chile and tomato sauce. Numerous restaurants in the Centro Histórico specialize in these.
- Pozole is a hearty soup of pork and hominy topped with fresh cabbage, radish, onion and cilantro. There are some very good pozole stands in the food court of the Mercado Libertad.
- Mollete. Popular for breakfast among locals, this is a French-style roll split and covered with refried beans, then topped with ham or chorizo and cheese and toasted.
- Tamales consist of pockets of masa (a starchy dough of corn flour) filled with mole (a sauce or gravy made from any of an infinite combination of chili peppers, spices, and chocolate) and the choice of chicken or pork. Most people make tamales for holidays such as Christmas, the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Independence Day, or New Year's Day.
- Enchiladas are a corn or flour tortilla rolled around and filled with meat, cheese, vegetables and/or potatoes and covered with spicy chile sauce, dressed variously in sour cream and/or cheese.
In addition to traditional Mexican specialties, Tapatíos seem to be especially fond of Italian food—a considerable number of restaurants of that type can be found around Guadalajara. If you miss American fast food, worry not: in addition to the restaurants listed here, Guadalajara has 14 McDonald's outlets.
Centro Histórico and nearby
phone: +52 33 3613 6260address: Cristóbal Colón 384, Zona CentroWell known for its lamb birria, a specialty of Jalisco, this popular place is in an old part of the Centro Histórico called "Las Nueve Esquinas" (Nine Corners), for its unusual street layout.
phone: +52 33 3613 1315address: Corona 126, Zona CentroVery popular and very crowded. Traditional food the way mom used to make it, or so they say. Needless to say the prices are higher here than in other places serving the same fare—but still pretty reasonable.
phone: +52 33 3613 9925address: Morelos 86, Zona CentroIt's on the Calle de Morelos pedestrian mall in the Centro Histórico, in a restored 19th-century mansion. Traditional Mexican fare (including breakfast) is served to the tourist crowd, with serenades by strolling mariachis in the evening.
Chapultepec, Minerva, Zapopan, and west of the Centro Histórico
phone: +52 33 3611 2668address: Plaza Andares 4965, Puerta de Hierro, Zapopan"Beer and wine, our passion" (in translation) is the motto of this Argentinian restaurant in Plaza Andares. In addition, a wide selection of chicken dishes, pastas and a daily seafood special are offered.
phone: +52 33 3630 3557address: México 2328, Ladrón de GuevaraLovely deli midway between Chapultepec and Minerva and owned by a local chain of coffeehouses. Salads, sandwiches and wraps, paninis, calzone and pizza are on the menu, as well as a large selection of breakfasts served daily. Kids' menu.
phone: +52 33 3615 6173address: López Cotilla 1520, AmericanaA restaurant specializing in North Indian cuisine served in a lovely and exotic environment.
phone: +52 33 3825 5447address: Pedro Moreno 1398, AmericanaThe food here is traditional Mexican served a little more artfully for a more well-off clientele. Subdued, violin-centered mariachis play here in the early afternoon.
Il Duomophone: +52 33 3615 4952address: de las Américas 302, Ladrón de GuevaraCreative Italian cuisine at reasonable prices including pastas, meat dishes and fine wines, served by polite and attentive (but not over-attentive) waitstaff.
phone: +52 33 3825 7869address: José Clemente Orozco 333, Santa TeresitaUnpretentious, traditional Mexican fare reigns supreme here—Kamilos' menu goes heavy on meat dishes, which are juicy and delicious. Breakfast served daily. Those who don't speak Spanish well may have trouble with the (intentionally) misspelled words on the menu—"camarones" becomes "kamaronez", "quesadilla" is rendered "kezadya", etc.
phone: +52 33 3826 0094address: La Paz 1701, AmericanaLaid-back Japanese restaurant whose gargantuan menu encompasses excellently prepared cuisine in the teppanyaki, nabemono, and tempura cooking styles, as well as a huge selection of sushi and sashimi. Quality and service are beyond compare. Outside is a beautifully landscaped garden complete with koi pond.
Tacos Providenciaphone: +52 33 3641 6049address: Rubén Darío 534, Lomas de GuevaraThe tacos this place serves up—particularly the tacos al pastor, the specialty here—have been described as the best in Guadalajara. Quesadillas are also served.
phone: +52 33 3642 7242address: México 2916, Residencial Juan ManuelElegant and mouth-watering—and surprisingly reasonably priced—Italo-Argentinian fare featuring a mind-boggling selection of steaks and chops, carpaccios, wood-fired pizzas, salads, pasta dishes, desserts, and fine wines.
phone: +52 33 3639 6481address: Independencia 224, Tlaquepaque Centro, TlaquepaqueAn artful and upscale, yet faithful, take on traditional Mexican cuisine served up in an elegant old mansion in historic downtown Tlaquepaque.
address: Corner of Calles Juárez and Progreso, Tlaquepaque Centro, TlaquepaqueThis central square of Tlaquepaque's historic downtown boasts several restaurants with a bandstand in the center. It's a nice place to sit and have a drink or enjoy a meal, with numerous mariachis who will play for you for a small fee and also public performances that begin at 21:30.
phone: +52 33 3635 7522address: Reforma 139, Tlaquepaque Centro, TlaquepaqueIt's in the Quinta Don José Boutique Hotel, and offers a nice mix of cuisines, with traditional Tapatío dishes rubbing shoulders on the menu with the only Italian specialties available in Tlaquepaque. Great tasting food, attractive setting, and reasonable prices.
Guadalajara has a vibrant nightlife that's spread out all over the city, from the touristy places in the Centro Histórico (Plaza de la Liberación is a good place to start your search) to the college bars in Zapopan. However, perhaps the most active bar district in Guadalajara is centered along Avenida Chapultepec between Hidalgo and Niños Héroes, about 2km west of the Centro Histórico. This is the place where GDL's hipster crowd makes the scene, with bar after bar lining the sides of the streets. Many of these places double as popular live music venues.
A good suggestion is to search out a bar with a large collection of tequilas and taste a great blanca, reposada and añejo. If you ask for a traditional tequila from Los Altos, you will almost certainly get something good. Los Altos is the region northeast of Guadalajara where the best tequila in the world is made, bringing up images of tradition, patriotism and individualism.
Centro Histórico and around the Universidad de Guadalajara
Los Famosos Equipalesphone: +52 33 3614 1500address: Juan Álvarez 704, Zona CentroOne of its famous drinks here is named "Las Nalgas Alegres" (Happy Buttocks), which is a delicious pink-colored but deceptively strong concoction. A jukebox plays music constantly, and snacks are available too.
Impala Barphone: +52 33 3827 3266address: Enrique Díaz de León Sur 132, AmericanaDirectly in front of the Expiatorio, this place is very popular with the college hipster crowd and occasionally hosts live music acts.
phone: +52 33 3825 7085address: Pedro Moreno 947, AmericanaA lively and fun jazz bar with good music, good food and a red upholstered ceiling are trademarks.
Chapultepec, Zona Rosa and Minerva
phone: +52 33 3630 5478address: López Cotilla 1449, AmericanaAt the center of the gay nightlife district, the Zona Rosa, the biggest LGBT bar in Guadalajara also attracts a healthy-size straight female crowd with its thumping music and smart decor.
Anime Barphone: +52 33 3827 5990address: Chapultepec Sur 193, AmericanaWell-known to the locals known for its lit up bottles on the shelves, the Anime Bar has low-key lighting and plays contemporary music.
phone: +52 33 3585 8463address: de las Américas 959, Ladrón de GuevaraPopular with fans of electronic music, this lively bar and concert venue features DJs spinning house, trance, and techno tunes and ladies' night every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Barba Negraphone: +52 33 3673 3802address: Justo Sierra 2194, Ladrón de GuevaraFeatures live rock music.
La Incondicionalphone: +52 33 3640 1592address: México 2916, Ladrón de GuevaraEvery drink you can imagine, and DJs every night.
Salón del Bosquephone: +52 33 3616 4297address: José Guadalupe Zuno 2200, AmericanaUpscale, laid-back atmosphere featuring live jazz and bossa nova.
phone: +52 33 3121 9110address: Lázaro Cárdenas 3475, Chapalita, ZapopanBeer and snacks with a side order of live alternative rock (no cover).
La Jijurriaphone: +52 33 3365 0051address: 20 de Noviembre 351, Zapopan Centro, ZapopanThis laid-back place in downtown Zapopan features food, drink and occasional live music.
El Palco Sports Barphone: +52 33 1140 9481address: 20 de Noviembre 351 Int. 28 y 35, Zapopan Centro, ZapopanSports bar in the heart of historic downtown Zapopan featuring beer, snacks, and many large-screen TVs showing sports.
There are many inexpensive hotels available in the city center, especially around the old bus station (Central Camionera Vieja). If you plan to spend much time downtown, don't get a hotel farther away—it's much more convenient to be within walking distance of your daytime activities than to navigate the bus system back to a less central location (e.g. the Minerva area), and walking long distances through the streets of Guadalajara late at night is not a terribly good idea.
Centro Histórico and around
phone: +52 33 3614 6230address: Nueva Galicia 924, Zona CentroA great place with a bohemian vibe in the historic neighborhood of Nueve Esquinas. Hostel has dormitories with shared baths as well as private rooms with private baths, and a common dining area perfect for lounging.
phone: +52 33 3562 7520address: Maestranza 147, Zona CentroThis youth hostel is situated in a stately National Heritage building from the 19th century. Reading room, common area with TV, free wireless Internet. Organized tours to Tequila leave regularly from the hostel, including two distilleries.
Hostel Tequila Backpackerphone: +52 33 3825 1326address: Hidalgo 1160, Zona CentroFree breakfast, hot showers, very clean, excellent reviews. Restaurant on ground floor that serves traditional Mexican food. Promotions are available (buy 3 nights get a 4th free, student discounts, etc.)
phone: +52 33 3942 5151address: Venustiano Carranza 16, Zona CentroAt the Hotel de Mendoza, guests can stay in a peaceful, airy ambience within walking distance of all Centro Histórico destinations. Rooms (including suites) include free WiFi, 32-inch flat screen TVs, and charming colonial decor; the hotel also has a business center, gym, restaurant and outdoor pool.
phone: +52 33 3613 3256address: Degollado 267, Zona CentroIn operation since 1986, this colonial-style hotel is a few blocks from the storied Teatro Degollado and is centered on two covered courtyards. There are some awful rooms, so it's worth talking to the person you reserve with to see what it will cost to get a room on one of the courtyards, on an upper floor, and away from the north side of the building where there is quite a bit of traffic. Merced is a good guy to talk with about this or anything else. Although he denies being "el jefe", he seems to be in charge. Air conditioning, full baths, free WiFi. Suites available. Personal laundry available for a small fee. Breakfasts at the hotel restaurant ("Don Quijote") are very good. Beatriz, the usual morning waitress, is a bundle of sunshine.
Minerva, Chapultepec, Zapopan and west of the Centro Histórico
phone: +52 33 3825 3801address: Morelos 1281, AmericanaIt's a short walk from the bars, nightclubs and restaurants of Chapultepec, 15 minutes by foot from the Centro Histórico. The hostel has twin size beds in all the rooms, WiFi, hot showers, roof terrace, roof garden, free breakfast, and helpful staff. For an extra fee, walking tours of Guadalajara are offered as well as longer bus excursions to regional destinations such as Chapala and Tequila.
phone: +52 33 3818 1400address: Aurelio Aceves 225, Vallarte PonienteThe Fiesta Americana is in a quiet yet hip residential area in the shadow of the Glorieta de la Minerva monument. Its lively nightclub attracts its share of hip young locals. It's a business hotel, minutes from the World Trade Center Guadalajara and has the city's second-largest convention center. Each room has a coffeemaker, minibar, and cable television, with deluxe rooms also have individual sofas with footrests and phones. Business center and room service operate 24 hours a day. The hotel offers a fitness center, laundry, dry cleaning and ironing service, gift shop, currency exchange, concierge, restaurant, airport shuttle.. There's free high-speed wireless Internet all over the property. Parking costs M$50/day, but it comes with complimentary valet service.
phone: +52 33 3648 9500address: Sao Paulo 2334, ProvidenciaA luxury business hotel next to Country Club Guadalajara in the heart of one of the city's financial districts, this high-rise hotel has 137 guest rooms with contemporary decor, amenities, and, in many cases, views over the city. Free WiFi, fitness center, restaurant ("Nhube") and garden bar, conference center, concierge services and complimentary shoeshine. Suites available.
phone: +52 33 3134 3230address: Mariano Otero 3235, Fraccionamiento Valle VerdeDecent prices here, but you get what you pay for. For a large business hotel—one directly next to the Expo Guadalajara convention center, no less—this place skimps on the amenities. Still, the rooms are clean and all the basics are covered: color television, air conditioning, telephone, free wireless Internet, laundry and dry cleaning. Adequate if unimpressive food is served in the cafeteria. Private covered parking lot.
phone: +52 33 3647 4762address: Moctezuma 1596, Ciudad del Sol, Zapopan"Modern yet unmistakably Mexican" is a good way to describe the decor of this luxury boutique hotel in Zapopan. Manicured exterior with sitting areas, a fountain, palm trees and ubiquitous hummingbirds surround this lovely property whose airy rooms boast all the modern amenities: 32" LCD flat-screen TV's, CD stereo system, alarm clock, hair dryer, workspace, free wireless Internet, ironing board, and dessert minibars. Other amenities include an on-site bar and restaurant ("Los Colibríes"), laundry and dry-cleaning service, sauna and steam room, business center, gym, complimentary continental breakfast, and room service.
phone: +52 33 3630 3206address: Victoriano Salado Álvarez 72, Ladrón de GuevaraAn all-suite property near the charming Minerva district. The living areas, kitchenettes, and work areas all have modern decor and amenities such as air conditioning and free WiFi. Some suites also have full kitchens. There's also a fitness center, an outdoor pool, and complimentary breakfast.
phone: +52 33 3120 1416address: López Cotilla 1739, LafayetteIn the heart of the Zona Rosa. A 1930s mansion-turned-boutique hotel. Villa Ganz's ten suites are named after Jalisciense author Juan Rolfo's literary creations. Amenities include air conditioning, cable TV, hair dryers, and free WiFi, antique furnishings and decor, custom-designed toiletries, designer bathrobes and slippers, bedding and duvets containing imported goose, bookcases containing a wide-ranging selection of literature, and elegant French doors looking out either onto the peaceful garden or lively Avenida López Cotilla. A concierge is on staff. Guests at Villa Ganz also receive complimentary access to the Kristal Century gym, one block away from the hotel—this includes yoga, Pilates, and dance classes. Complimentary breakfast is served, as well as wine and appetizers in the evening.
phone: +52 33 3826 6590address: Venezuela 459, AmericanaThis charming B&B a few blocks off hip Avenida Chapultepec has three rooms decorated in Old Mexico style. Guest rooms have hair dryers, and TVs with DVD player. The breakfast offers American and Mexican specialties served on locally-produced crockery. Complimentary cocktails are served on the terrace each evening. The American-born owner, George, has an encyclopedic knowledge about everything Guadalajara and the surrounding vicinity have to offer.
Tlaquepaque and east of the Centro Histórico
Hotel La Calandriaphone: +52 33 3619 6579address: Estadio 100, Las ConchasWhat this hotel lacks in luxury, it more than makes up for in old-Mexico charm. A very clean and generally very nice property for very reasonable prices. Bilingual staff, WiFi available in public areas. It's a short distance south of the Centro Histórico, near Parque Agua Azul and the old bus station, where buses leave regularly for popular regional destinations such as Cocula and Tequila. On-street parking, but there are many free parking lots available (including Walmart, which is also nearby).
phone: +52 33 3635 7522address: Reforma 139, Tlaquepaque Centro, TlaquepaqueCharming 19-room boutique hotel in the heart of Old Tlaquepaque. Amenities include high-speed WiFi, cable TV, air conditioning, complimentary continental breakfast (a full breakfast featuring traditional Mexican favorites is also available for an extra fee), an onsite tequila bar and restaurant (TlaquePasta). Landscaped exterior, tiled pool, manicured gardens, and a leafy terrace. Airy, sun-drenched rooms decorated with Old Mexican traditionalism and contemporary simplicity. The hotel organizes group tours of the artisan workshops that have made Tlaquepaque famous, and excursions to the Laguna de Chapala, Guachimontones, Tequila, and downtown Guadalajara (20 minutes away by car).
Guadalajara is known as one of the safest cities in Mexico. Nonetheless, as in any large city, the usual precautions should be taken. Crimes against tourists and foreign students are quite infrequent and mostly take the form of purse-snatching. Criminals usually work in teams and target travelers in outdoor restaurants, bars and other busy places. Should anyone spill something on you, be alert to your surroundings and step away—accidental spills are a common method of distracting their marks.
Never carry illegal substances with you; Mexican police are very strict regarding these cases.
- Emergency: 066
- Police: +52 (33) 3668 0800
- Fire: +52 (33) 3619 5155 or +52 (33) 3691 0510
- Air and Land Ambulance: +52 (33) 3616 9616
- Green Angels (road assistance): +52 (33) 3668-1800 ext. 31489
In an emergency, it's also a good idea to get in contact with the embassy or consulate of your country of origin.
- phone: +52 33 3268 2100address: Progreso 175, Americana
- Situated in a picturesque countryside setting, Tequila is perhaps the quintessential Guadalajara side trip and, needless to say, is the best place to sample Mexico's favorite liquor. The Jose Cuervo distillery has a packaged tour that will pick you up from your hotel, take you to an agave farm, then to the distillery for a tour with free samples and a gift shop, then gift you with vouchers for a free margarita and 10% off at a local restaurant. The city itself is also quaint and worth exploring. Tequila is easily accessible by bus (about 90 minutes one-way; about M$120-150), and many hotels organize excursions there for their guests. However, perhaps the most charming way of getting to Tequila is the Tequila Express, a charming tourist railroad complete with tequila shots and roving mariachis. The train leaves Guadalajara's train station Sa & Su 10:00, returning the same evening.
- The Laguna de Chapala is the main regional vacation spot, a lovely lake surrounded by picturesque towns such as Chapala and Ajijic (the latter of which has a sizeable gringo expat community).
GuachimontonesA pre-Columbian archaeological site near the town of Teuchitlán, about an hour west of Guadalajara, that dates to the period between 300 BC and 900 AD and is known for its unique circular stepped pyramids. This complex of more than 40 hectares was only discovered in the 1970s
- Mazamitla is a picturesque town in Los Altos south of Laguna de Chapala.
- Tapalpa is a great mountain town near Ciudad Guzmán that serves as a weekend retreat for Tapatíos.
- San Juan de los Lagos is the second-most visited pilgrimage site in Mexico (after the Basílica de Guadalupe in Mexico City).