Three Days in Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest city and located in the state of Jalisco, where tequila is made. It’s a city that’s deep in tradition but also a modern metropolis. It is where mariachi music originated and is known as the Silicon Valley of Mexico. If you’re heading to Mexico and want to experience the culture, eat delicious food, and be in a walkable city, Guadalajara should make your list. Here is how I spent three days in Guadalajara, Mexico, and some tips to help you with your next trip!

This blog post shows my 3-day Guadalajara itinerary and for easier reading, I have bolded the places of interest and also food/drink items that are popular in the region. Each day is broken down with times and gives details into each thing I did or place I went to. At the bottom, I’ve included other suggestions on places that I didn’t personally go to or do but were either on my list and didn’t get a chance to do or were highly recommended to me. There’s plenty of things to do in Guadalajara and these are just some of the best!

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Day 1 – Head to Tequila for the day

You can get to Tequila by car, going by bus or train, or taking a guided tour. Depending on traffic, it’s about an hour drive from Guadalajara. I chose to take a guided tour since I was traveling solo and found a tour that also included tequila tastings. I booked my tour ahead of time through Airbnb Experiences. It included pick-up and drop-off from Guadalajara and the tequila tastings at two distilleries. I chose this tour since I also wanted to see the town of Tequila, we had two hours in the town to eat and explore.

Each tour will offer something a little different and there are plenty of variations of tours that go to Tequila. So if you want to go to a smaller distillery or a larger one, you can do that. Some tours may also include stops outside the city, for example, there are tours that also stop at Guachimontones, an archaeological site, for some outdoor exploration.

Depending on what you want to do, there’s a tour for you. Tours can be booked online or when you arrive in Guadalajara.

7 am – Land in Guadalajara

I arrived in Guadalajara at 7 am, so from the airport I got ready for my day and headed to the city for breakfast. Uber is available in Guadalajara and easy to take. My driver suggested breakfast at La Chata, a restaurant that often has a wait and is located in the Centro Historico.

9:30 am – Centro Historico

After breakfast, I had a little bit of time to walk around the Centro Historico. The meeting point for my tour was at the Teatro Degollado. I saw a music video being shot in front of the theatre which was fun to stumble upon. And just across the way was the Guadalajara Cathedral but I walked around the area closest to the Teatro Degollado so I wouldn’t be too far when the tour shuttle arrived.

10 am – Tequila Tour Begins 

Since I was coming straight from the airport I had messaged the tour company to ask if there was somewhere to leave my luggage and luckily there was plenty of room on the shuttle. We loaded everyone up and were on our way to our first stop, Tres Mujeres Tequila Distillery where we tried blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo tequila. We toured the distillery and the agave fields where we were shown how agave plants are harvested.

After that, we were off to La Cofradía Tequila. This isn’t where the tequila is made but we did have a tasting there and explored their agave field area. There are also hotel rooms on the fields that are shaped like giant tequila barrels where you can stay the night!

2 pm – Tequila Town

We then headed to the town of Tequila where we had two hours to explore. I grabbed a bite to eat then walked around the center. There were vendors selling souvenirs and handicrafts, stalls that sold cantaritos (a drink that’s very typical in Jalisco made of tequila, freshly squeezed fruit juices, and Squirt soda), and men that were doing the Danza de los Voladores.

What is Danza de los Voladores? It’s translated to the dance of the flyers and is a ceremonial dance where men climb a 30-meter pole and descend downward with a rope tied to them. It’s mesmerizing to watch and a small tip to the dancers is very appreciated.

Other than food and dance you can, of course, drink more tequila! There are buses that shaped like tequila barrels, guitars, and other fun objects that make stops throughout the town. You can pay to hop on and off one of those or explore by foot. You can also go on the “Ruta Tequila” (tequila route) by following the signs. While walking around you will see a few bigger tequila names like Jose Cuervo and Herradura. They’ll offer tastings, tours, have a gift shop and more.

5:30 pm – Time for Cantaritos and Live Music

When our time was up with then headed to Cantarito El Güero #1, a local spot that specialized in cantaritos and has a live band and dance floor. You can choose from a variety of different tequilas and there are a few size options including a jumbo that I’m pretty sure not even four adults would be able to finish in one sitting. And best of all, you can take your cantarito mug with you as a souvenir.

You can check out my Day Trip to Tequila video on IGTV here!

7 pm – Drop off at Centro Historico and checked into Airbnb

We headed back to the center of Guadalajara at our original pick-up point. Since it was already dark and I wasn’t hungry I jumped straight into a cab and headed to my Airbnb to check-in. I stayed in the night but if you want to keep the party going head to Chapultepec Avenue. There you’ll find many bars. Start at Pinta Negra and work your way down the street.

SIDE NOTE ON SAFETY: As a female traveler, I’m always extra cautious and when I travel solo I try to avoid being out at night. My exception is when it I’m in an area where there is a lot of walking traffic. Although I only have great things to say about Mexico, and I haven’t had any bad experiences I’m not familiar with the area and choose to avoid potentially being in a bad situation. I do the same at home and most the places I travel to. 

Day 2 – Explore Guadalajara’s City Center

10 am – Breakfast at La Gorda

I woke up with an appetite and was ready for a day out on the town. For breakfast, I walked over to La Gorda, located near the Centro Historico. I opted for some enchiladas instead of typical breakfast food. The sauce was amazing!

 

11:30 am – Explore the Centro Historico

After breakfast, it was time to explore so I checked out the Guadalajara Cathedral. The Plaza de Armas area was gated off and under construction but that was also on my list to check out so I headed to the Plaza de la Liberación. It’s a fairly populated area with a huge waterfall and located right in front of the cathedral.

While walking around I passed the Palacio Municipal de Guadalajara. There were some guards outside and I asked if I could enter. It’s open to the public but not many people were there. I was interested in the building itself (the archways and the open courtyard was really beautiful) and there also happened to be some murals by an artist named Gabriel Flores. Just outside was the Rotonda of Illustrious Jaliscienses. I thought this park would be bigger and more open but it is really pretty and good for some photos.

2 pm -In Search of Mariachis and Shopping

I wanted to head to the Plaza de los Mariachis to see some mariachis play but at the time I went, there weren’t many around. I saw one group but they were eating so I decided to just walk around the area and do some shopping.

The Mercado Libertad San Juan de Dios is close by and is the largest market in the city. If you’re looking for souvenirs with is a great place to get everything you need. You can easily shop for hours. There are also vendors just outside the market that sell similar items.

6 pm – Pulque Nightcap

I wanted to finish off the night at La Pulkata, a cozy bar that sells pulque. Pulque is an alcoholic drink made of fermented sap from the maguey plant. It is said to be the drink of the gods and was drank by the Aztecs.

Day 3 – Guadalajara City Center and Visit Tlaquepaque

9 am – Architecture, Street Art, and Breakfast

My day started with a walk to the Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento. It is a stunning, neo-gothic church from the late 1800s. I love architecture so when it comes to urban exploration, visiting older or iconic buildings is always on my list. It’s beautiful from the outside and in. The stained glass is beautiful and I would recommend seeing it from the inside when there is still daylight so you can see the colored glass.

After my church visit, I went hunting for some street art. I saw there was a cool Frida mural on a bar/restaurant called La Lupita. After some photos, I stopped for breakfast at El Sazon de la Comadre, which is only a few doors down. The alleyway is filled with restaurants, bars, and some nice street art.

11 am – Viewing the Famous Orozco Murals

One of the things I was told to do in Guadalajara was to see the murals of Jose Clemente Orozco. Orozco is one of Mexico’s most famous artists and some of his work can be found at the Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco. It’s free to enter and his artwork can be viewed on the ceiling as you go up the main staircase leading to the second floor and in the Ex Congreso room on the second floor.

From the Palacio de Gobierno, I headed to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas/Hospicio Cabañas to see more Orozco murals. Luckily I was there on a Tuesday because that’s the free entrance day. I believe the entrance is $70 pesos all other days. And if you’d like to use a professional/DSLR camera it’s an additional $30 pesos. You pay at the front and leave any larger bags or backpacks at check-in.

2 pm – Centro Guadalajara to Tlaquepaque via Uber

I took an Uber over to Tlaquepaque, a smaller town about a 15 to 20-minute car ride outside Guadalajara’s city center. The town is very walkable, colorful, and charming. There are lots of great places to eat, shop, and enjoy the art. There are many art galleries and handmade goods from talented artisans.

I started by exploring the Mercado Juárez, the local multi-level market that sells fresh produce, hot food, and local crafts. I walked around each level and grabbed a small snack on the basement floor where the food stalls serve up everything from tacos and birria to smoothies made of fresh fruit. I had bionicos, a snack made of cut-up fresh fruit, yogurt and/or sweet cream or “crema” in Spanish, and tops with your choice(s) of granola, shredded coconut, raisins.

After my energizing snack, it was time to walk around. The pedestrian street with the colorful flags is Calle Independencia. This is where made restaurants and art galleries are. You’ll also see some vendors selling handcrafted goods and other items. It’s a very lively street.

4 pm – Late Lunch and Mariachis

There are a few restaurants that have live mariachis and El Patio is one of them. So if you grab a table you’ll have an almost-free mariachi show but it is customary to tip and it’s mandatory to tip if you’re requesting a song. At El Patio I enjoyed birria, a beer, and an all-female mariachi.

Restaurante Casa Luna is also a good alternative for a nice meal and mariachi show. Both these restaurants may have a sign that says what time the mariachis start but you can always ask the hostess.

After dinner, I continue to walk down Calle Independencia and then turning the corner to head to the next parallel street, Calle Juárez. This street has many places to shop and explore. Here are some of my recommendations:

Fabrica De Ceramica – This is a great place if you’re into tiles or mosaics. It’s a store that specializes in tile and you’ll find many unique pieces.

Plaza de Artesanías – This is a larger space of handmade artisan goods and fun souvenirs.

Plaza Amantolli – A smaller co-op artisan space with many artisans selling their own goods. I purchased a handwoven leash for my dog here at a store called ArtZí.

Nuestros Dulces – A candy store that also has the widest tequila selection in the world.

7 pm – Drinks and Mariachis

After exploring the streets, the sun began to set to a took some photos at the Jardín Hidalgo and worked my way to El Parian de Tlaquepaque, an area in the city center that is made of restaurants/bars that all share a courtyard. It is typical to see multiple mariachi bands playing for a table of people. Unlike the mariachi show at El Patio, you would pay the mariachi band per song request and the band plays for your table.

I decided to sit down and have a drink at a restaurant called El Parian. There are many other restaurants but this is the one that kept coming up when I would search “El Parian Tlaquepaque,” so I decided to just go for it. I had a cazuela de tequila, which is typical in Tlaquepaque, a drink is similar to the cantarito but served in a cazuela, Spanish for “cooking pot.”

After my very large drink and listening to some mariachi music it was time to call it a night. I headed back to my Airbnb and waited for my friend who was flying in that night.

I had such a great time in Guadalajara, it definitely exceeded my exceptions. Tequila and mariachi music along with a super cheap flight from Los Angeles is what brought be there and I’m so glad I went because I’ll for sure be going back.

Here are some other things to do in Guadalajara:
Palacio de las Vacas
Tianguis Chapultepec (Market)
Los Colomos
Basílica de Zapopan

Other places to eat in Guadalajara:
Birriería las 9 Esquinas
Ahogadas Betos – Try tortas ahogadas which is a torta (similar to a sandwich) submerged in a spicy red sauce
La Fonda de la Noche
El Sacromonte

Other things to do in Tlaquepaque:
Museo Regional de la Cerámica
Cultural Center El Refugio

Other places to eat in Tlaquepaque:
Go on an organized gastronomic tour
Cervecería Chapultepec

Other Day Trips from Guadalajara:
Barranca de Huentitán National Park
Guachimontones
Chapala
Ajijic
Tonalá
Zapotlanejo
Take a guided train tour to Tequila (Jose Cuervo and Herradura each offer a tequila experience)

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