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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

Guadalajara Cathedral

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The heart of every Mexican city is its cathedral, and Guadalajara is no exception. Officially known as the Basílica de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora de la Santísima Virgen María, the Guadalajara Cathedral towers over the city’s central plazas. A mishmash of Gothic, baroque, Moorish, and neoclassical styles, the building is atypical for a Mexican cathedral, and its unusual design has made it an emblem of the city. Since 1561, the massive cathedral has weathered eight earthquakes, two of which did serious damage. An 1818 quake demolished the central dome and towers. The distinctive tiled towers you see today date back to1854. The interior is awesome in the original sense of the word; the stained glass windows are reminiscent of Notre Dame, and 11 silver and gold altars were gifts from Spain’s King Fernando VII. But it’s not all just finery --- the cathedral also has its share of macabre relics.More
#2

Jose Cuervo Distillery (Fábrica La Rojeña)

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As the world’s oldest and largest Tequila distillery, the Jose Cuervo brand is renowned around the globe - and the family-run distillery is the top attraction of the town of Tequila, the birthplace of Mexico’s National drink. Established in 1795, the legendary distillery forms part of the UNESCO-listed landscape of Jalisco and produces up to 20,000 gallons of mixto and 100% agave tequilas per day. Today, the Jose Cuervo Distillery is open to the public via guided tour, offering visitors the chance to learn how the juice is extracted from blue agave plants and distilled to produce a range of traditional blanco (white), añejo (aged) and mixto (diluted) tequilas. Guests can also sample a selection of fine tequilas, sip premium tequila straight from the barrel or visit the private cellars of the Cuervo family. It’s even possible to create your own customized bottle of tequila, selecting your choice of spirit and designing your own personalized label.More
#3

Guachimontones

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#4

Hospicio Cabañas

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Past the eastern end of the Plaza Tapatía, you’ll find the Hospicio Cabañas Cultural Institute. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the massive stone building was constructed in 1805, but its fortress-like appearance gives it a more ancient air. Bishop Juan Cruz Ruiz de Cabañas y Crespo founded the institute as an orphanage and home for the elderly and homeless. He called it la Casa de la Misericordia, or The House of Mercy. Interrupted occasionally by major wars and revolutions, the building functioned as an orphanage for nearly two hundred years until 1980, when the children were moved to a more modern location. Today the gracious old building hosts art exhibits, art and music classes, and an art cinema.More
#5

Degollado Theater (Teatro Degollado)

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Across from the Guadalajara Cathedral, the Teatro Degollado looms in stony, neoclassical glory. Corinthian columns form a massive portico topped with a marble relief of Apollo and the nine muses. The length of the building’s rear wall is adorned with a stylish sculptural depiction of Guadalajara’s history; a fountain runs along the base. The inside is even more over-the- top, with five tiers of gilded balconies and a ceiling frescoed with scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy. A red-and-gold color scheme is augmented with frippery, including a fearsome golden eagle above the stage. The eagle holds a chain in its beak: as legend has it, the theater will stand until the day the golden eagle drops its chain.More
#6

Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento

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Spiked with spindly spires and decorated with fine stonework, the Templo Expiatorio is one of Guadalajara’s iconic churches and a striking example of neogothic style. The first stone was laid in 1897 and construction was completed in the 1930s. Inside, the ambiance is dreamy. Graceful multilayered arches frame an altar backlit by massive stained glass windows and crowned with a giant yet simple gold chandelier. Beams of colored light cast by the stained glass cut through smoke and dust motes, and the air smells of incense, candles, and flowers.More
#7

Plaza de Armas

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The culture of the plaza, or town square, is central to Mexican life: the plaza is a community gathering place where school kids flirt, couples promenade, and everyone catches up on the latest gossip. Guadalajara contains many plazas, but the heart of Guadalajara’s historic downtown is the Plaza de Armas. The Plaza de Armas has all the trappings of a classic Mexican jardin: wrought iron benches, prim topiary, strolling vendors, and the requisite Sunday social scene. Classical statues that represent the seasons of the year preside over the four corners of the square, which is ringed with historic buildings, including the Palacio de Gobierno, a baroque monster that houses two famous murals by the social realist artist Jose Clemente Orozco. The centerpiece of the scene is a belle époque bandstand. A gift to the city from the dictator Porfirio Diaz, the gazebo was built in Paris in 1909, and features a hardwood ceiling that enhances sound quality.More
#8

Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres

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On the north side of the Guadalajara Cathedral, you’ll find a little park that contains the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, or the Rotunda of the Illustrious Jaliscans. Ringed by bronze statues and flowering trees, the neoclassical rotunda houses the remains of the state’s luminaries. Inside the rotunda, the coffin of Enrique Díaz de León, the first rector of the University of Guadalajara, sits in state. You’ll also see urns containing the ashes of Jalisco’s honored dead; additional empty urns await their occupants. A crypt below the floor contains the mummified remains of General Ramón Corona, who defended Mexico during the French invasion, served as a popular reform governor, and was murdered in 1889.More
#9

Governor's Palace (Palacio de Gobierno)

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Just south of the cathedral and facing the pretty Plaza de Armas, you’ll find the imposing governor’s palace. The two-story building is massive, baroque, and beset with snarling gargoyles, but the façade is far less interesting than the building’s illustrious history and unique interior. The palace was completed in 1790. Father Miguel Hidalgo occupied the building in 1810, during the Mexican War of Independence. A radical priest with a taste for wine and women, Hidalgo crusaded for human rights; it was here in the governor’s palace that he issued his famous proclamation to abolish slavery. Later, during one of Mexico’s numerous small civil wars, Benito Juarez, “Mexico’s Abraham Lincoln,” also occupied the building. When opposing forces entered the city, Juarez was captured outside the palace and very nearly executed. The guns of a firing squad were lined upon him when the novelist Guillermo Prieto jumped forth to shield Juarez.More
#10

Tlaquepaque

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Once a quaint outlying village, Tlaquepaque has been swallowed whole by Guadalajara. That said, the “town” retains its identity and feels more laid-back than Guadalajara proper. Tlaquepaque was originally known as a shopping Mecca for traditional ceramics and glass, and the town still boasts some of the best high-fire ceramics in the country. In addition, the area now abounds with galleries and boutiques selling Oaxacan rugs, Guerrero masks, fine leather purses, high end jewelry, antiques, traditional clothing, and all manner of rustic furniture. Tlaquepaque is touristy but pleasant. Many shops and galleries are housed in Colonial mansions, and the pretty town plaza is worth a stroll. If shopping gets old, check out El Parian, an enclosed plaza ringed in bars and eateries where you can order local specialties like birria, a spicy beef or goat stew. El Parian is also a good place to hear mariachis, especially on Sundays when the locals flock and sing along.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

Top activities in Guadalajara

Escape from Prison

Escape from Prison

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US$30.77
Private Sedan: Guadalajara Airport

Private Sedan: Guadalajara Airport

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US$26.67
per group
Chapala Experience

Chapala Experience

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US$56.42
Street Art Tour of Guadalajara

Street Art Tour of Guadalajara

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US$29.00
Guadalajara City Tour

Guadalajara City Tour

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US$56.42
Trekking Magic Canyon Tour

Trekking Magic Canyon Tour

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US$19.00
Street Art Guadalajara tour

Street Art Guadalajara tour

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US$12.00
Airport - Hotel transfer

Airport - Hotel transfer

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US$48.00
per group
Tequila Tour Route

Tequila Tour Route

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US$55.00
Full experience Entre Charros

Full experience Entre Charros

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US$35.00

Recent reviews from experiences in Guadalajara

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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.
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An Awesome Authentic Experience
Timothy_T, Dec. 2020
Tequila Day Experience Including Hacienda San Jose del Refugio
We also got to see the Sauza property and town of tequila.
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An Awesome and Authentic Experience
Timothy_T, Dec. 2020
Tequila Day Experience Including Hacienda San Jose del Refugio
We also were able to see the Sauza factory and eat a delicious lunch on their premises before wandering the streets of Tequila.
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EXCELLENT TOUR GUIDE OF GUADALAJARA & TEQUILA MX.
barry_g, Dec. 2020
Tequila Tour
BTW he speaks excellent English.
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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.
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Guadalajara was a beautiful visit...
DeeJay, Jul. 2018
Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque City Sightseeing Tour
Filled with local families on summer vacation.
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Great pub crawl, particularly loved...
Michael D, Sep. 2015
Pub Crawl Guadalajara
The guide spoke wonderful English/French and Spanish.
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.
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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.
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Guachimontones is a very pleasant place to visit
Elizabeth T, Oct. 2019
Best of Tequila and Guachimont Pyramids in One Day!!
Tequila is a pretty town, with interesting things to see (especially related to the production of tequila).
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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
Agave 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.
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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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A very enjoyable tour!!! I had...
Kenneth S, Aug. 2016
Agave 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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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.
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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.
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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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