Travel insights from Visit Guadalajara

The Travel Agent’s Ultimate Guide to Guadalajara

Guadalajara is an incredibly important city to Mexico. Not only is it considered the cultural center of Mexico as the birthplace of tequila, mariachi music and charrería (traditional livestock herding practice, similar to rodeo), it’s also known as the Silicon Valley of Latin America because Intel, IBM, HP and more tech companies have campuses there.

Guadalajara’s duality makes it an exciting destination, whether it’s for leisure or business.

Guadalajara Basics

  • Getting there – Visitors to Guadalajara can fly to Miguel Hidalgo International Airport (GDL), located 24 miles from the city center. There are daily direct flights available from major cities across the United States and Canada.
  • Location – Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco and is 350 miles west of Mexico City and 200 miles east of Puerto Vallarta.
  • Climate – The temperature in Guadalajara ranges from 55 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The warm season runs from April to June with an average daily high temperature above 85 degrees Fahrenheit and the cold season runs from November to February with an average daily high temperature below 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Currency – When it comes to currency, travelers have a variety of options. The peso is the official currency of Mexico, however, most hotels and large stores are happy to accept U.S. credit cards. It’s recommended to carry cash when visiting local shops.
  • Language – Spanish is the official language of Mexico and Guadalajara. Limited English is available at major hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.

Lodging

There are more than 23,000 hotel rooms in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara offering visitors a wide variety of options from budget to luxury. Accommodation options include local independent hotels; haciendas; and international brands, such as Hyatt, Holiday Inn, The Westin, and Intercontinental. Hacienda del Carmen is steeped in Mexican history as a hacienda, located just outside the city and very close to the famed Guachimontones pyramids. Here are some stand-out accommodation options in the city:

  • Casa Habita – An original house from the Lafayette neighborhood, Casa Habita incorporates a high rise with 37 suites. The 40’s designed house portion with the lobby, bar and restaurant blend in seamlessly with the high rise. The pool area is one of the most relaxing places.
  • Hotel Demetria and Demetria Bungalows – The 14-story glass building houses a permanent art collection and rotating art collections that have a dominate presence within the hotel.
  • Villa Ganz Boutique Hotel – Housed in a 1930s mansion, it has 10 beautifully restored rooms in the two-story villa.
  • Hotel 1970 Posada Guadalajara, Curio Collection by Hilton – With a combination of colonial and modern style, the 160-room hotel is also host to an outdoor pool and beautiful rooftop bar complete with outdoor firepit. It’s five minutes from Expos Guadalajara.
  • AC Hotel Guadalajara by Marriott – Reflecting the city’s mix of modern and classical style in the heart of the Financial district, this is the first Mexican hotel in the AC Hotels chain. The infinity pool and gym at the top are fantastic.
  • Baruk Guadalajara Hotel de Autor – The luxe 117-room hotel opened in 2018 in the Chapalita neighborhood near the main avenue, showcasing avant-garde modern architecture.
  • Hard Rock Hotel Guadalajara – With 348 rooms and suites, the Hard Rock Hotel Guadalajara opened September 2018, becoming the first city hotel in Mexico to enter the Hard Rock Hotel portfolio. Property highlights include a rooftop skybar with infinity pool, 12 movie theaters, seven meeting rooms, and The Sound of Your Stay music program where guests are able to organize a jam session.
  • Quinta Real Guadalajara, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ LVX Collection – The Quinta Real Guadalajara is a secluded oasis in the heart of a cultural metropolis. Upon entering the colonial-style hacienda, visitors are transported to another era by way of the luxury hotel’s towering ceilings, stone archways and wrought-iron balconies. The hotel’s 75 suites are decorated with antiques and works of art passed down through the generations. The hotel features a restaurant serving traditional Jalisco dishes, a gym, outdoor pool and jacuzzi, and business center.

Food

Guadalajara boasts cuisine that is synonymous with Mexican culture that cannot be found anywhere else. Key staples in the local cuisine include the classic corn tortilla (salty or sweet), chili peppers and beans. The city’s signature dish is the torta ahogada, a “drowned sandwich” stuffed with fried pork, chicken or shrimp before being drenched in a spicy tomato chili sauce and served with avocado, onions and radishes. The dense roll used in this dish (called birote) can only be found in Guadalajara due to the type of wheat used to make the bread and the city’s altitude. It can be found throughout the city at various food stands and restaurants.

For those wanting an immersive culinary experience in the city, here are some top picks:

  • Hueso – Known for thousands of bleached white animal bones lining its walls, the food here is phenomenal and mainly served in shareable portions at long dining tables that extend the length or the room. The tasting menu is also incredible. A reservation is recommended.
  • Alcalde – Named to one of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2018, the Mexican ingredients combine to make unique and delicious food.
  • Magno Brasserie – An art world hangout that serves French and Italian dishes.
  • Tortas Toños – This is a chain where you can find Guadalajara’s signature torta ahogada. The sandwiches are $3.00-$5.00 U.S. and are considered a hangover food.
  • La Postrería – This place is known for the beautiful aesthetic of its dishes, particularly its desserts. The tangerine cheesecake is unbelievably creamy, and the breakfast yogurt is lighter than air. The macaroons are also great.
  • Palreal – This is a café known for its coffee from all across Mexico and spectacular menu and is a local favorite.
  • Fitzroy Espresso Bar – An Australian-Mexican style café with amazing coffee, Mexican eats and Tim Tams.

Fun

Adventure – There’s no better place to experience charreada, the national sport of Mexico. This competitive sport is similar to rodeo and its origins date back to the 19th century when Mexico's haciendas were widespread throughout the country. Live charreada shows are popular in Guadalajara and can be found throughout the city year-round. Guadalajara hosts the Mexican National Charro Championship, held as part of the International Mariachi and Charreria Festival each September.

Entertainment – Guadalajara offers a wide variety of nightlife options including restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, with entertainment ranging from live concerts and shows at the Telmex concert hall to lucha libre wrestling at Arena Coliseo and national soccer games at Estadio Omnilife and Estadio Jalisco. Nightlife in the neighborhood of Chapultapec is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Mariachi performances can be found every evening in Tlaquepaque.

Shopping – As one of Mexico’s top artisanal hubs, travelers to Guadalajara can find pottery, glassware, leather goods, silver jewelry, regional clothing, and more at excellent prices. Mercado Libertad, also known as San Juan De Dios, is one of the largest markets in Latin America and offers shoppers a wide variety of artisan goods, food, and day-to-day household items. Across the street from the San Juan de Dios Mercado is a large marketplace for jewelry – the top provider of gold and silver in all of Mexico. Guadalajara is known for its shoe industry, and travelers in the market for a pair should try the Galería del Calzado, a shopping center made up exclusively of shoe stores. In the district of Zapopan, the Andares Mall offers shoppers top of the line luxury brands and high-end restaurants.

History and Culture

The city of Guadalajara moved four times before coming to its present location in February 14, 1542 after a group of young Spanish families settled in the area. Guadalajara prospered in 1560 when it was declared the capital of Nueva Galicia province. At the heart of a rich agricultural region, the city quickly grew into one of colonial Mexico’s most important population centers and became the launch pad for Spanish expeditions. Miguel Hidalgo, a leader in the fight for Mexican independence, set up a revolutionary government in Guadalajara in 1810, but was defeated near the city in 1811, not long before his capture and execution in Chihuahua. The city was also the object of heavy fighting during the War of the Reform (1858−1861) and between Constitutionalist and Villista armies in 1915.

By the late 19th century, Guadalajara had overtaken Puebla as Mexico’s second-biggest city after Mexico City. With a population of more than 4 million, the city is a huge commercial, industrial and cultural center and has developed into the hi-tech and communications hub for the northern half of Mexico.

Business

Guadalajara has the largest convention center in Mexico and is one of the strongest meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) destinations in Latin America. Expo Guadalajara, the city’s convention center, has hosted events for more than 30 years. With more than 1.1 million square feet of meeting space, 57 interchangeable rooms and two levels, Expo Guadalajara can accommodate 60,000 people, offering 1,900 parking spaces. The Wi-Fi can accommodate 28,000 simultaneous connections and the 11,000-square-foot kitchen can serve up to 20,000 people simultaneously.

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