Mexico

Guadalajara Vs Mexico City: Where Should You Choose in 2024?

Guadalajara Vs Mexico City. Which one should you choose? 

The two west-central Mexican cities are the largest in the country. Mexico City (aka CDMX) is the country’s capital while Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco. 

Both cities make excellent city breaks if you are based in the Americas. You could also quite easily spend a week in either city using it as a base to explore the wider region. 

For instance, from Mexico City, you can take day trips out to the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan, the canals of Xochimilco, and the cultured city of Puebla de Zaragoza . From Guadalajara, you can visit Tlaquepaque, the birthplace of mariachi , and Tequila , the birthplace of Mexico’s most famous tipple. 

In an ideal world, you would have the chance to visit both cities. But our vacation time and travel schedules don’t always allow that! 

Table of Contents

Mexico City vs Guadalajara City Highlights 

Guadalajara vs Mexico City

Mexico City (CDMX) is having a moment lately. It is fast emerging as one of the best Digital Nomad hotspots in Latin America and one of the hottest travel destinations in Mexico overall. 

Mexico City is such a sprawling megalopolis. Even four or five days here doesn’t feel anywhere near enough time.

Each of Mexico city’s various neighborhoods is like a different village in itself. 

Each has its own unique personality. Guadalajara, on the other hand, feels a lot more compact. 

The Zocalo, flanked by the Guadalajara cathedral marks the center of town. From there, you can easily get to all neighborhoods and points of interest on foot. 

The Jalisco capital is often overshadowed and fewer travelers take the time to venture here. Those that do, often rave about it and comment on how they wish they knew about Guadalajara sooner!

Which is Safer? Mexico City vs Guadalajara 

CDMX

Safety may be a concern when planning a trip to Mexico City or Guadalajara. However, provided that you take precautions and use the same common sense as you would anywhere else in the world, you can safely enjoy both destinations. 

Both destinations are relatively safe as far as Latin American cities go. You won’t have to spend your days constantly looking over your shoulder or worrying about getting your phone out as you do in certain countries and cities in South America.

Still, traveling in Mexican cities is much different from traveling in cities in Europe or the UK for instance. There are many neighborhoods that you should not venture to. 

You cannot just blindly walk around following Google maps. Sketchy areas can be just a short walk away from places of tourist interest.  

For instance, in Mexico City, the Tepito marketplace, one of the most dangerous markets in the world, is just 5 minutes away from Mariachi Square. Similarly, the leafy Chapala district in Guadalajara is filled with incredible restaurants and coffee shops. 

But venture 10 minutes down the road and you are in one of the most dangerous parts of town. Both cities necessitate having your wits about you. But street-smart travelers will be fine. 

Crime rates in Guadalajara vs Mexico City 

Guadalajara

Numbeo safety index gives Mexico City a crime rating of 77.85 which is high. Guadalajara’s is similar at 73.74. 

Most violent crime is restricted to instances between criminal organizations. However, you could absolutely find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time which is why it is important to heed the above advice about watching where you go. 

The Jalisco New Generation cartel operates in Guadalajara while cartel activity has also been reported in Mexico City. It can be terrifying to read about cartel activity in Mexico but the reality is, that this not going to affect you as a tourist. 

Do be smart about where you choose to base yourself in each city. In Mexico City, upscale Polanco, expat favorites Roma Norte and Roma South, and leafy Coyoacan are great, safe areas to base yourself. 

In Guadalajara, opt to stay in the city, in leafy Chapala, or in the hipster district of Colonia Americana. (Colonia Americana was voted “best neighborhood in the world” by Time Out in 2022!) 

Winner: Tie. Guadalajara is safe for tourists . So too is Mexico City.  

Which City is Better for Museums? 

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Both Mexico City and Guadalajara have their share of museums. However, Mexico City wins on the museum-front hands down. 

The Mexican capital has over 150 museums and is in competition with London UK for the title of the city with the largest number of museums in the world. Meanwhile, Guadalajara has just 22.

It’s not just a matter of quantity either. Some of the best museums in Mexico and Latin America on the whole are found in CDMX. 

Best Mexico City Museums 

The best of the best is the National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec park. The museum is the largest and most visited in the country and contains a vast array of artifacts that have been recovered from across the country from various civilizations. 

You need to dedicate at least several hours to the museum and truthfully, you need a second visit to take it all in! The National Museum of Anthropology also has a great Pueblos Indios de Mexico exhibit which teaches you about the traditional clothing, culture, and beliefs of each of Mexico’s indigenous groups. 

You will also find the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City – the former home and birthplace of one of Mexico’s most beloved artists. The nearby Museo Anahuacalli is also well worth a visit and contains more than 40,000 art and sculpture pieces from Diego Riviera’s personal collection. 

Basically, whether you are interested in art, history, culture, or specific aspects of national history, you will find a museum that interests you in Mexico City. 

Best Guadalajara Museums 

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

There are some excellent museums in Guadalajara but the city just doesn’t have the same variety as Mexico’s capital. The Government Palace Museum tells the history of Guadalajara through the centuries and the stories of the indigenous groups that once inhabited this land. 

Its “El Agave Azul” exhibit explains the history and production process of tequila – one of the things that Mexico is most famous for. Guadalajara’s museums are particularly appealing to art lovers as there are a lot of independent art galleries and museums in the city. 

The MUSA (Museum of the Arts Guadalajara) is one of the best Guadalajara art museums to have on your radar. It is set inside a former University of Guadalajara building and contains more than 100 art pieces created by international and local artists. 

Most notably, you will find pieces by Carlos Vargas Pons, José Clemente Orozco, and Javier Campos Cabello. Meanwhile, the Museum of Sacred Art of Guadalajara is interesting even if you do not consider yourself to be particularly religious. 

It sits behind the cathedral of Guadalajara and contains various religious icons, tapestries, paintings, and offerings. Some have been made from precious metals and are hundreds of years old or have particularly intricate designs. 

Winner: Mexico City

Which City is Cheaper?

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

If you are traveling to Mexico on a budget, you’re going to be interested in knowing which city gives you more bang for your buck. The reality is that travel costs in both Mexico City and Guadalajara are reasonable.

Both cities are much cheaper than many places in the US, Europe, the UK, etc. 

Neither one of the other is excessively expensive. Because these two destinations don’t see the same amount of mass tourism as seen in places like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta , and Riviera Maya, it is very easy to do both of them on a budget.

In both cities, you can secure a hostel bed for less than $15 US a night and a hotel room for less than $50 a night. You can easily enjoy street food eats for a couple of dollars and dine out at restaurants for reasonable prices. 

But Guadalajara just narrowly wins in terms of affordability. Various online sources state that Guadalajara is, on the whole, 12-15% cheaper than Mexico City. 

$50 for a hotel room in Mexico City may have you based in a part of the city center that is a little rough around the edges or in basic accommodation. Meanwhile, you can stay in a very decent, central three-star property with breakfast in Guadalajara for that. 

Winner: Guadalajara

Which City is Better for Day Trips Elsewhere?

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Both Mexico City and Guadalajara can be used as a base to explore the wider region that encompasses them. 

Mexico City day trips 

From Mexico City, you can take a day trip out to the pyramids of Teotihuacan. 

The UNESCO-protected ancient Aztec settlement sits 48km north of Mexico’s capital. It was built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D. and was at one point one of the most important cultural centers in Mesoamerica. 

Equally wonderful are the canals of Xochimilco. This waterway, set in a very working-class neighborhood, is where Mexicans and tourists alike love to come at weekends to take boat rides in colorful gondolas, sail past floating markets and share ice-cold cervezas with friends and strangers. 

You will also find the Isla de las Munecas in this area. (Island of the dolls.) 

This eerie place is said to be one of the most haunted places in Mexico. It can be a great place to visit if you are interested in the spooky or the macabre. 

As you sail along the canals of Xochimilco, you will reach an area where all of the trees and waterways have been decorated with spooky dolls. 

According to local legend, a young girl drowned in these waters. A local man named Julian kept seeing her ghost running through the trees. 

To calm her spirit, he would purchase dolls and scatter them around the area. After 50 years of buying dolls for the girl’s ghost, Julian was found dead in the exact same place where the girl had died. 

Guadalajara day trips 

There are many charming towns, villages, and pueblo magicos that you can see on a day trip from Guadalajara. one of the most popular choices is to take the bus or a taxi to Tlaquepaque.

Tlaquepaque is a city just 10 km east of Guadalajara. Urban expansion has made it tricky to see where Tlaquepaque ends and where Guadalajara begins.

The city is known for its handicrafts and ceramics. It is also credited for its role in popularizing mariachi music. 

The El Parian Square in the center of the city is home to a bandstand that was built in 1878. 

100 years ago, local bands and musicians would perform at this bandstand. The organizers allowed Mariachi to participate which was a controversial move as mariachi music was not widely accepted at that time

It would turn out to be a smart move, however as attendees loved watching the mariachi perform. As word got out about the mariachi at El Parian, people would travel from far and wide to see them. 

As such, this square is credited for being the reason that Mariachi is so famous around the world today.

Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake and is another great place to visit on a day trip from Guadalajara. Many retired expats choose to move here and a plethora of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and walking trails can be found along the beautiful lake.

Heading a little further afield, you can take tours out to Tequila, Mascota, Talpa de Allende, and San Sebastian del Oeste from Guadalajara. In that sense, Guadalajara may be better for day trips if you want to explore real, authentic Mexican settlements that give valuable insight into Jalisco culture. 

Which is Better for Nightlife? Mexico City vs Guadalajara?

Being major cities, it should come as no surprise that Mexico City and Guadalajara both boast a vibrant, varied nightlife scene that offers something for every taste. 

Mexico City Nightlife

Mexico City offers everything from salsa and bachata parties, live music venues, elegant rooftop cocktail bars, speakeasies and craft breweries, and upscale clubs.

You could also essentially party in a different neighborhood here every night or every weekend. Polanco is the most highbrow place in town, while Roma and Condesa are home to an abundance of hipster hangouts. 

Hanky Panky (Turín 52, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc) is a fun hidden bar in Colonia Juarez that you would never stumble across unless you specifically knew it was there. Entrance is made via the kitchen of a super colorful restaurant.

Once you step inside the restaurant, walk through to the kitchen, past the chef’s cooking station, and down a secret passageway. A staff member will push open an artificial wall to reveal one of the chicest cocktail and whiskey bars in town.

When it comes to rooftop bars in Mexico City, there are simply too many incredible places to count. Many are day-to-night spots that serve brunch, lunch, and dinner and are home to some of the best mixologists in town. 

Others host international DJs and host all-night parties. Add Malaquita Rooftop (República de Uruguay 45), 191 Rooftop (Monterrey 191, Roma Nte), and Terraza Catedral (República de Guatemala 4) to your radar. 

Guadalajara Nightlife

Guadalajara is a smaller city but it is still home to a population of 5 million people and shouldn’t be written off as a lesser CDMX. The nightlife scene here is just as wonderful – just more compact. 

You will find excellent wine bars, cantinas, restaurants, and cocktail bars scattered around the various neighborhoods in the city. If you want to go somewhere safe and fun where you can easily wander from one bar to the next, to the next, the best place to do that is perhaps Avenue Chapultepec near Colonia Americana. 

There are some great bars in the streets that veer off from the zocalo in the city center too, while leafy Chapala is home to exquisite restaurants that will delight foodie travelers. The eateries here serve everything from mouthwatering Argentine steaks to authentic Italian pasta.

For the best cocktails in Colonia Americana (and arguably, Guadalajara on the whole), head to Pigalle (Calle Emeterio Robles Gil), or Guilty (Calle Gral Coronado 75-A). If you want to head to an old-fashioned cantina, stop by Cantina La Fuente (Pino Suárez 78). 

Winner: Mexico City (marginally!) 

Guadalajara Vs Mexico City: Final thoughts 

Guadalajara vs Mexico City

This article has assessed various aspects of the Mexico City vs Guadalajara debate. But a lot of it still comes down to personal preference. It is a very subjective decision.

Guadalajara is a smaller city that is more manageable to explore in three or four days. With a long weekend in Guadalajara, you can feel that you have really started to scratch beneath the surface of what the city has to offer. 

There is definitely a lot more to see and do in Mexico City. However, the capital can be overwhelming. 

Do you have any further questions or concerns about whether you should visit Guadalajara or Mexico City? Feel free to reach out to me. 

I will do my best to get back to you ASAP. I live in the Yucatan capital of Merida and have spent a lot of time in both Guadalajara and Mexico City. 

If you are visiting Mexico for the first time, you might also enjoy browsing through this guide on staying safe in Mexico on the whole . Have a wonderful trip!

Buen Viaje! Melissa xo

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Melissa Douglas

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A Travel Price Comparison for Mexico Mexico City vs. Guadalajara for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

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  • Which is Cheaper, Mexico City or Guadalajara? (Travel Cost Comparison)

Which is Bigger, Mexico City or Guadalajara?

Should you visit mexico city or guadalajara, which is cheaper to visit which is more expensive for vacation.

Should I visit Mexico City or Guadalajara? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Where Should I go: Mexico City or Guadalajara?

Mexico city.

Mexico City is one of the largest and most populated cities in the world. There are an estimated 26 million people living in the greater Mexico City metropolitan area. The area is about 60 kilometers by 40 kilometers and is surrounded by tall mountains and volcanoes on three sides. Mexico City proper has about 8.8 million people and is the capital of the country. More than a third of the country's economy is based here, making it the wealthiest city in all of Latin America.

Guadalajara

Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco in western Mexico, as well as one of the country's largest cities. It is best known for tequila and mariachi music, which both originate in Jalisco, as well as a thriving historic center with colonial architecture and landmarks.

Which place is cheaper, Guadalajara or Mexico City?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

  • Mexico City Prices Mexico Prices Guadalajara Prices Mexico Prices
  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day Mexico City $ 209 Guadalajara $ 114

The average daily cost (per person) in Mexico City is $209, while the average daily cost in Guadalajara is $114. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Mexico City and Guadalajara in more detail.

Accommodation

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person Mexico City $ 41 Guadalajara $ 41
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room Mexico City $ 82 Guadalajara $ 82

Compare Hotels in Mexico City and Guadalajara

Looking for a hotel in Mexico City or Guadalajara? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Kayak

Hotels in Mexico City

Hotels in Guadalajara

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Local Transportation

  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc. Mexico City $ 13 Guadalajara $ 38

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Mexico City

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Mexico City:

  • Metro $ 1.18
  • Uber Ride $ 4.11

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Mexico City

Also for Mexico City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Mexico City → San Miguel de Allende - Private Transfer with Optional Sightseeing: $292
  • Mexico City to Guanajuato - Private Transfer with Optional Sightseeing: $273
  • Mexico City International Airport to Mexico City - Private Round-trip Transfer: $256
  • Transfer from Mexico City Airport to Puebla: $245
  • Mexico City to Guanajuato - Private transfer, 2 Sightseeing hours, local driver: $240
  • Mexico City Private Transfer to or from Airport: $199
  • Roundtrip Transfer Private Minivan Mexico City Airport (MEX) - Mexico City: $187
  • RoundTrip Transfer Private Minivan Mexico City Airport (MEX) -Tlalnepantla: $167
  • Mexico City - Intl Airport Felipe Angeles (NLU) Private Round trip transfer: $165
  • Mexico City to Puebla - Private Transfer with Optional Sightseeing: $155
  • One-way transfer + City Tour: $147
  • Mexico City Airport MEX Tecozautla Thermal Round-Trip Transfer: $144

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Guadalajara

Also for Guadalajara, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Transfer by car to or from Guadalajara Airport: $29
  • Transfer Guadalajara Airport Metropolitan Area And More: $45
  • Tequila to Guadalajara Airport (GDL): Departure Private Transfer: $39
  • Tequila to Guadalajara - Private Transfer with English-speaking driver: $99
  • Shared Departure Transfer: Hotels to Guadalajara Airport: $26
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Guadalajara Airport to Hotels: $26
  • Private transfer: Guadalajara to Guadalajara Airport (GDL): $74
  • Private transfer: Guadalajara Airport (GDL) to Guadalajara: $74
  • Private transfer from Guadalajara to Sayulita: $243
  • Private Transfer from Guadalajara to Tequila: $189
  • Private Transfer from Guadalajara to Morelia: $228
  • Private Transfer from Guadalajara city hotels to Manzanillo Port: $77

Is it cheaper to fly into Mexico City or Guadalajara?

Prices for flights to both Guadalajara and Mexico City change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day Mexico City $ 27 Guadalajara $ 47

Typical Food Prices in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:

  • Lunch for Two $ 13
  • Coffee and Snacks $ 4.58
  • Dinner for 2 $ 27

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Traveling Spoon Mexican Tacos and Tortillas Private Online Cooking Class: $40
  • Local Markets & Food Tour in Mexico City: $50
  • Virtual Mexican Cooking Class (private and personalized): $50
  • Veracruz and Boca del Rio Food Tour with Mangroves Boat Trip: $50
  • Tortilla Crawl: Food Tour in Mexico City: $55
  • Private Half-Day Traditional Markets Street Food Tour in Mexico City: $57
  • Uruapan Food Tour: $60
  • 3 Hours Food Tour Best Vegan Tacos in Mexico City: $66
  • Muchos moles: Multi-variety mole cooking class and feast: $71
  • Tamales 101: Multi-variety tamal cooking class and feast: $71
  • La Roma Authentic Downtown Food Tour: Tacos and Local Flavors: $73
  • Street Food Tour with Friends: $75

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Guadalajara

For Guadalajara, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Guadalajara private food tour: $70
  • Authentic Mexican Cooking & Tequila tasting experience-Casa Humo: $111
  • Mexican Cooking Classes and Market Visit in Guadalajara: $150

Entertainment

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc. Mexico City $ 15 Guadalajara $ 27

Tours and Activities in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • City Tour/español-ingles: $68
  • Frida Kahlo Tour with Admission Tickets: $76
  • Mexico City Tour and Visit Chapultepec Castle. Private service: $119
  • Mixology, Food, Wine and Beer Experience in Xochimilco: $99
  • Monarch Butterfly Tour from Mexico City: $220
  • Private City Tour Downtown Mexico City: $35
  • Private Tour Teotihuacan Essentials: $129
  • Private Walking Tour Historic Center of Mexico City: $128
  • Romantic Walking tour in Mexico City: $150
  • Romantic tour in San Andrés Mixquic: $150
  • Teotihuacan Early Access tour with Tequila Tasting: $42
  • Teotihuacan Private Tour: $135

Tours and Activities in Guadalajara

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Guadalajara.

  • Romantic tour in Zapopan: $186
  • 3 Hours Private Tour Guide in Guadalajara, you choose!: $77
  • 3-Hour Guadalajara Bike and Food Guided Tour: $65
  • 6 Hours Private Tour Guide in Guadalajara, you choose!: $144
  • Adventure tour Between Charros, Mariachi and Parián de Tlaquepaque: $150
  • Air Adventure Paraglide over Incredible Landscapes: $156
  • Bike Tour in Guadalajara and Zapopan: $54
  • Canopy Experience Panoramic Flight in Zip Lines: $43
  • Cantaritos and Tequila Factory Tour: $87
  • Chapala Ajijic Area Tour from Guadalajara: $78
  • Chapala Lake and Ajijic Tour from Guadalajara: $77
  • Chapala and Ajijic Private Tour: $120
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day Mexico City $ 20 Guadalajara $ 17

Sample the Local Flavors in Mexico City

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Mexico City:

  • CDMX Pub Crawl: Mexico City Bar Crawl: $11
  • Mexico City Pub Crawl: $30
  • Mexico City Bar Crawl: $39
  • Best Bar Crawl at Downtown: $49
  • Private Mexican Wine Tasting & Food Tasting: $78
  • Nightly Historic Center From Above© Rooftop Bar Crawl +Taco Snack: $129
  • 2 Hours Private Mexican Wine Tasting in Polanco: $155
  • Private Tacos & Wine Tour in Polanco : $159
  • Third Largest Monolith in the World:Bernal with wine tasting: $235
  • Cavas Freixenet Wine Tour from Mexico City: $255

Sample the Local Flavors in Guadalajara

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Guadalajara:

  • Friday Night Bar Crawl in Guadalajara: $25
  • Cultural tour, city fields and distillery: $32
  • Guadalajara Arquitecture and Brewery Tour: $57
  • Tequila distillery experience, Jose Cuervo & Tequila Magic Town: $77
  • full day Tequila tour visiting artisanal distillery and downtown.: $79
  • Private One Day Adventure Tour in Tequila and La Fortaleza Distillery: $175
  • Sip & Savor Tequila Experience Distillery w/ Lunch fr Guadalajara: $180
  • Private Tour La Fortaleza Distillery and visit to Tequila: $190
  • Private Tour Cascahuin Distillery and visit to Tequila: $190
  • Private Tour to El Tequileño Distillery and visit to Tequila: $190
  • Private Tour to Distillery Tequila Ocho and Arandas : $200
  • Private Tour one day in Guachimontones and La Fortaleza Distillery: $211

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Mexico City and Guadalajara, we can see that Mexico City is more expensive. And not only is Guadalajara much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Guadalajara would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Guadalajara and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Mexico City would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Mexico City than you might in Guadalajara.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Mexico City Expensive? and Is Guadalajara Expensive? .

Mexico City has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Guadalajara. When comparing the sizes of Mexico City and Guadalajara, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.

Related Articles for Mexico City

Related articles for guadalajara.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

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An Insider’s Guide: Mexico City or Guadalajara?

mexico city or guadalajara

Guadalajara or Mexico City? Tapatíos or chilangos ? It’s an age-old question for the big-city lover planning to visit Mexico , as these are the two biggest urban areas in the country. Fun fact: I’ve lived in both of them. In fact, I still live in one of them   (update: not any more!) . So, I thought it was about time I gave you some more of my unsolicited insider opinions on topics no one asked about and, in this post, I’ll be definitively (although most definitely not exhaustively) answering the question ‘which is the best city in Mexico?’ once and for all – Mexico City or Guadalajara?

THINGS TO DO / WHERE & WHAT TO EAT / WHERE TO DRINK / NEARBY ATTRACTIONS / SAFETY RATING

THINGS TO DO

In terms of things to do and see, there’s not much I can tell you about Guadalajara. I know that it’s a city rich in museums, galleries, city centre parks and traditional markets, but how much of that did I truly explore when I lived there? Not that much. In fact, I wouldn’t even claim to have scratched the surface of the attractions Guadalajara has to offer, given that all I did was get high and dive head first into the wonderful world of beer drinking and/or gallivanting around the country.

So, objectively, there’s more to see in Mexico City. However, it depends if you like to be utterly overwhelmed with options or suitably satisfied with equally exceptional offerings. Either way, let me narrow down the options to just three for each city, obviously excluding the classic ‘ explore the historic centre ’, because if you’re not planning on doing that already I really can’t help you.

Related Post: Moving to Mexico? Here’s What to Pack + What to Leave Behind

Top 3 Things To Do in Guadalajara

  • Go out on Chapu | Avenida Chapultepec, Guadalajara

Chapu is short for Chapultepec, and I’m talking about the Guadalajara avenida, not the Mexico City bosque. You have great nightlife in the historic centre in Guadalajara, from traditional cantinas to gay bars, but my favourite nightlife spot was always Chapultepec. The whole avenue is lined with bars, cafés and restaurants and on Saturday’s they set up a market in the central reservation which makes for great pre- or post-drink browsing. Plus, there’s always some kind of weird performance art or dance show going on. Basically, there’s never a dull moment on Avenida Chapultepec. The only crying shame is that my favourite taco stand is no longer there. RIP taquiquesos , I’ll never forget you.

  • Bosque Colomos | Avenida Patria, Providencia, Zapopan

A short bus ride from the centre of the city (it’s technically in nearby Zapopan), Bosque Colomos is essentially Guadalajara’s answer to the Bosque de Chapultepec and is a great place to run, wander and explore. They also have these mini peanut vending machines that you can invest a few pesos into if you want to feed the squirrels.

  • Visit the traditional mercados

Guadalajara is full of great markets to wander around, from the roaming street tianguis that descend on the city on different days of the week, to the famous indoor market San Juan de Dios ( Javier Mina 52, San Juan de Dios ). It’s a bit touristy, sure, but it’s also got plenty of products to check out, from leather to tequila. I also recommend the Mercado de Santa Tere ( Andrés Terán 524, Santa Teresita ) if you’re looking for some of the best food in Guadalajara . No, seriously, I love it.  

Related Post: Things To Do in Guadalajara, Mexico: A Former Resident’s Guadalajara Travel Guide

Top 3 Things To Do in Mexico City

  • Explore the barrios

This sounds like a cop out answer, that’s just acting as a catch all option. Kind of, yeah. But also, in many ways, no. Nothing makes me sadder than when travellers come to Mexico City and exclusively hang around in Roma and Condesa , perhaps leaving to take a quick look at the historic centre. Sure, those neighbourhoods are quirky, cool and have a lot to offer, especially in terms of food, art and literature, but they also provide a skewed representation of what Mexico City truly is. Instead, dip into as many neighbourhoods as you have time for and get a balanced perspective on life in the capital. I recommend Santa María la Ribera for unexpected surprises, Narvarte if you want to step back in time and Ciudad Universitaria if you want to relive campus life.

Related Post: A Quick + Dirty Insider Guide to the Best Neighbourhoods in Mexico City
  • Get coffee in Coyoacán

If you leave Mexico City without drinking coffee at Coyoacán’s Café El Jarocho ( Cuauhtémoc 134, Coyoacán ) you have failed. Order a moka . Alternatively, Café Negro ( Centenario 16, Coyoacán ) has one of the best cappuccino frappes I’ve ever tasted.

  • Check out the museums

I’m not a huge museum fan to be perfectly honest, but even Mexico City has museums that suit my tastes. I really enjoyed, and even wrote about , my visit to the Museo Memoria y Tolerancia ( Avenida Juárez 8, Centro ), and I’ve heard the interactive economy museum, a.k.a. the MIDE ( Calle de Tacuba 17, Centro Histórico ), is supposed to be really good fun. Honestly.

WHERE & WHAT TO EAT

Both Mexico City and Guadalajara are two of the country’s top spots for both street food and fine dining. Sure, not many places can come close to the weird, wonderful and delicious dishes of Oaxaca, but in my opinion, the food in Guadalajara just edges out the food in Mexico City. The latter might have some typically chilango creations, like tortas de tamales (carbs on carbs on caaaarbs, son) and they definitely have better gorditas, but Guadalajara has crispy lonches served on the typical birote bread and hangover busting tortas ahogadas.

Here are my top three places and foods to eat in Guadalajara and Mexico City, in no particular order. Bear in mind that this list is nowhere near exhaustive, and that it basically just includes my own subjective faves.

Top 4 Places to Eat in Guadalajara & What to Order

  • Mercado de Santa Tere | Andrés Terán 524, Santa Teresita

I’ve already mentioned it. THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE IT. You have to eat in this local indoor food market, because the deep-fried quesadillas at the Fonda Mariquita stall hold a special place in my heart, and honestly? I’ve still not had better. Get a chicken and mushroom combo or go for the flor de calabaza (squash blossom) if you don’t eat meat.  

  • Karne Garibaldi | Garibaldi 1306, Santa Teresita

This Santa Tere restaurant (can you tell I used to live in that neighbourhood?) holds the record for the fastest serving time in the world, so if you’re starving and in a rush, there’s really no better place to go, because my god will you leave feeling full. The staple dish of Karne Garibaldi is carne en su jugo, or ‘meat in its juice’. It sounds repulsive, but it’s basically a delicious, liquid-y broth full of meat to which you add fresh onion, salsa and coriander. Go all out and order frijoles and guacamole too.

  • La Minería | Avenida de las Américas 1361, Ladrón de Guevara

Hidalgo state supposedly has the best pasties in the country but my paste eating experiences at Guadalajara’s La Minería throws that claim into doubt. These are THE BEST pasties I’ve ever eaten, and I’m British. You can’t go wrong with the flaky pastry and fresh-out-of-the-oven fillings of the tuna or mushroom pastes .

  • Polo Norte | Avenida México 2200, Ladrón de Guevara

OK, OK, you may have noticed that this is entry number four but the food in Guadalajara is great and this is my blog, so I can do what I want. You have to go to this ice cream shop/ restaurant and, no messing around, order a limonada con agua mineral and a sopa Azteca. Essentially a tortilla soup, it comes in a lightly spicy, tomatoey broth, with crispy strips of tortilla, cheese, cream, avocado and cubes of panela cheese. IT’S. SO. GOOD. (Fun fact: I once took an Uber straight from the airport to Polo Norte , just for this soup).

Related Post:  Eating Guadalajara: What + Where to Eat + Drink in Guadalajara, Mexico

Top 3 Places to Eat in Mexico City & What to Order

  • Tamale stand | Calles Marsella y Dinamarca, Juárez

I would go as far as to say that my favourite Mexican food is the humble tamale . Regularly translated as ‘stuffed corn parcels’, English doesn’t really do justice to the delicious-ness of this food. My favourite tamale stand in the city is located in Colonia Juárez on the corner of Calles Marsella and Dinamarca and I highly recommend the salsa verde Oaxaqueño version. They also sell some really great, spicy chicken chilaquiles there too.

  • Comida corrida | Various citywide locations

Translating to ‘fast food’, comida corrida is far better than any McDonald’s rubbish and is cheaper to boot. You can usually find comida corrida, which typically consists of a three-course meal (soup, main accompanied by rice, spaghetti or salad, and pudding, plus agua fresca ) for way under MXN$100 in fondas across the country. In fact, if I pay more than MXN$70 for great comida corrida I’m surprised. If you want to read some more about fast food in Mexico, click here .

  • Mercado de la Merced | Calle Rosario, Merced Balbuena, Venustiano Carranza

Known for being one of the best places to buy fresh food in Mexico City , Mercado de la Merced also great for pre-cooked offerings. Choose the stall that tempts you most and go nuts. I had quesadillas when I went (don’t forget to order them with cheese in Mexico City, because it doesn’t come as standard), but you can get anything from gorditas to pambazos and everything in between. Top tip: if there’s no-one that looks like a local eating there, steer well clear.

Related Post: A Meat Eater’s Guide to Vegan Mexico City

WHERE TO DRINK

If you like nightlife, you’ll love both Mexico City and Guadalajara . Honestly though, I’m far more au fait with the bars and clubs in the latter than the former, because…I’m old and prefer to stay at home now, rather than go to bars. Also, the size of Mexico City sometimes puts me off travelling for an hour just to get drunk, when I could be home in my pyjamas with a beer. But enough about my old soul tendencies, here are my completely subjective recommendations for nightlife in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

Top 3 Places to Drink in Guadalajara

  • El Rey/ Chacal/ Salmon | Bernardo de Balbuena, Ladrón de Guevara

This is a bit of a cheat entry, but all these bars are literally right next to each other on Calle Balbuena. Open-air Chacal is the place to be if you want to dance, but be warned that it gets crowded fast. There is usually no cover and beers cost MXN$30. Salmon is the place to go for live music, as they often have live bands and DJ sets. It’s bigger than Chacal and has more seating options but can be a bit pricier and sometimes charges cover. El Rey is the skinny sibling sandwiched between the other two and is the bar you want to start the night in, as they have reasonably priced beer and mezcal combos you can take advantage of. Don’t miss the pizza stand ( Pizza Rila ) opposite.

  • El Parián | Calle Juárez, San Pedro Tlaquepaque

Technically located in Tlaquepaque, El Parián is actually a cluster of restaurants all centred around a bandstand where mariachis often perform. This is a great drinking destination in Guadalajara because you can try out cazuelas, huge clay bowls that are basically a mixture of tequila, grapefruit, orange and lime juice, plus heaps of fresh fruit.

Related Post:  How to Spend an Artsy Weekend in San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
  • Unplugged Whisky Bar | López Cotilla 2233, Arcos Vallarta

One of my favourites when I lived in Guadalajara, not least because I lived down the road from it, Unplugged was always a reliable option that usually had a live band playing classic pop and rock. If my memory serves, women used to have an open bar on Thursdays, but you now have to pay around MXN$100 in exchange for an iconic red solo cup, which allows you open bar access all night. Totally worth it.

Top 3 Places to Drink in Mexico City

  • Traspatio | Córdoba 150, Roma Norte

Traspatio is one of those typically hipster Roma watering holes, that’s located in what looks to have once been someone’s backyard, but it has a nice atmosphere, isn’t wildly overpriced for the area and also serves food. I think I had a choripan when I went, but really, you want to go here for atmospheric evening drinks, bathed in the glow of a thousand fairy lights.  

  • Cultural Roots Reggae Bar | Calle de Tacuba 64, Centro Histórico

I’m not big on the historic centre of Mexico City, but one of the best bars in the city has to be Cultural Roots Reggae Bar , a three-level behemoth tucked away on one of the most well-known streets in the capital. Filled with dreadlocked Mexicans, suitably edgy outfits and a hell of a lot of weed, it’s also incredibly cheap considering where you are. I think a caguama (either Indio or Carta Blanca) costs around MXN$60. Do what we did, and spend your night on the terrace, where it’s quiet enough to actually speak to one another. Oh, and the artwork that litters pretty much every wall is impressive too.

  • Pulquería Insurgentes | Insurgentes Sur 226, Roma Norte

Pulquería Insurgentes is one of Mexico City’s best spots to drink pulque but they also offer beers if you’re not a fan of the often off-puttingly viscous Mesoamerican drink. I’ve only been on a Sunday afternoon (and stumbled across a great two for one offer on pulques and curados ), but I’ve heard it really comes alive at night.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Neither Mexico City nor Guadalajara is short on appealing nearby attractions that make for ideal day trips, whether you like quaint pueblos mágicos , outdoor activities or archaeological ruins. Here are what I consider to be the top three attractions close to Mexico City and Guadalajara, easily reachable for a speedy visit.

Top 3 Attractions Close to Guadalajara

  • Tequila | Tequila, Jalisco

Perhaps Mexico’s most iconic pueblo mágico, Tequila is located just an hour and a half long bus ride away from Guadalajara (although you can also take the much more all-inclusive and expensive train), and is easily one of the area’s best day trips. There is plenty of hidden art tucked away in the centre, the church is drop dead beautiful and, of course, the place is rammed with tequila distilleries of which you can take guided tours. I’ve been there twice (in fact, you can read my guide to Tequila here) , my tour of the Orendain factory was excellent, and a quick browse of the José Cuervo shop is obligatory.

  • Guachimontones | Carretera Estatal 604 Guadalajara-San Marcos KM 56, Teuchitlán

Visitors rarely think to go to Guachimontones , if they’ve even heard of it in the first place, which is odd considering it’s one of the country’s most unique archaeological sites. Dominated by round pyramids, there’s also an on-site museum and some great panoramic views to be had. About a three-hour bus ride from Guadalajara, it’s totally underrated and well worth the visit.

  • La Barranca de Huentitán | Belisario Domínguez 4446, Dr Atl

If you like hiking, go north to the Barranca de Huentitán. I’ll be honest, I’ve only ever gone in a car, with people who know where they’re going, but the metro system will also drop you off at the entrance point. There are steep cobbled paths and even hot springs, if you know where to look. Plus, the views from the top are Instagram worthy.

Top 3 Attractions Close to Mexico City

  • Teotihuacán | Ecatepec Pirámides KM 22 600, San Juan Teotihuacan de Arist a

You can’t leave Mexico City without going to Teotihuacán’s Pyramids. Literally iconic, they’re super close (around an hour by bus) and are something everyone should see in their lifetime. Don’t be like me and go on an empty stomach and without water though, because if the altitude doesn’t get you, then your own idiocy will. Eat well, take water and wear suncream. Oh, and go early obviously or you’ll be surrounded by tourists in day-glo t-shirts ruining your photos.

  • Peña de Bernal | Peña de Bernal, Bernal, Querétaro

Easily up there in one of my top five pueblos mágicos, Bernal is home to the world’s tallest monolith, the Peña de Bernal. While I didn’t climb to the top, I did pay someone to drive me up to get a cracking view of it and that was more than enough. The actual town is really lively and wholly picturesque too.

  • Toluca | Toluca, Estado de México

The underrated state capital of the State of Mexico, Toluca was actually a surprising destination for me. Only about an hour or two’s drive from Mexico City, it’s known for chorizo, the multicoloured houses and the honestly jaw-dropping Cosmovitral ( Avenida Sebastián Lerdo de Tejada, Toluca ), as well as for being home to the Nevado de Toluca . My advice is go early in the morning to climb to the top of the Nevado and wander round the lakes, before heading to the city to try some chorizo and wander round the historic centre. A visit to the Cosmovitral is obviously a must.

SAFETY RATING

One thing people frequently freak about when it comes to Mexico is the perceived danger. Is Mexico City safe? Can I travel to Mexico City as a solo female traveller? Is Guadalajara run by cartels? Is it even worth going to Mexico City or Guadalajara? Why don’t I just go to Cancún or Puerto Vallarta ?

Well, even though I’ve written before about not feeling entirely safe in Mexico City , that has a lot to do with the area I work in. In the well-trodden tourist zones and central spots, you’ll be absolutely fine. The main safety issues to watch out for are basically the problems you’ll find in any big city – pickpocketing, theft and tourist scams. Keep your valuables hidden (or leave them behind) and be aware of your surroundings.

As for Guadalajara, the same advice applies. Weirdly enough, even though I’ve (touch wood) been fine in Mexico City thus far and mugged in Guadalajara , I still feel safer in the latter. Even so, you want to stick to the main areas, keep an eye on your surroundings at all times and exercise common sense. After all, while there is definitely a skewed perception about the dangers lurking in Guadalajara and Mexico City, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

So, Mexico City or Guadalajara?

Honestly? Guadalajara will always have my heart, even though every time I return to the place I used to call home, it seems like a seismic shift has taken place. By that I mean, it feels so overwhelmingly familiar and yet entirely unrecognisable at times. There are some new bars and a restaurant or two that I hadn’t seen before dotted around, and the places I used to hang out aren’t as popular as they used to be.

Plus, many of the people I used to hang around with in Guadalajara have, for the most part, moved on. In fact, rather ironically, quite a few of them live in Mexico City.

That’s not to say that Guadalajara won’t forever be my fave though (it was once my home) and maybe everything would be different if my visits weren’t flash in the pan, hit-all-my-favourite-food-stand affairs. (Seriously, all I do when I go back is eat and I will forever maintain that Mexico’s best food is contained within Jalisco).

Mexico City, on the other hand, is the place I currently call home and, let me tell you, I hated it at first. I felt unsafe, out of place and friendless, although I’m certain that feeling lingered longer than was necessary because of my absolutely ridiculous work schedule the first few months I was here. I’m still not a total convert, and I don’t see myself living here forever. Life in the city (or, perhaps, this city) is just too stressful, too messy, too…everything. There are no half measures in Mexico City. Having said that, I like it far more now. I feel like I know the lay of the land a bit better, I have friends, I do feel more (dare I say?) at home here in recent months.

I’d still move back to Guadalajara in a heartbeat though.

But which do you think is Mexico’s best city – Mexico City or Guadalajara? Let me know in the comments!

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21 comments.

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Well, I certainly love Mexico City but I have not been to Guadalajara. You point out some great ideas for both cities but I don\’t think any traveler could go wrong visiting either city. Enjoyed reading and seeing your awesome photos about both places. I guess I vote…..either one!

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I would certainly visit Mexico and any other places in Latin America. Mexico has a very interesting place and culture that someone should experience and visit. Latin America is a must visit place in my list. Great details tips and pointers here.

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The greedy traveler that I am I would love to visit both Mexico City and Guadalajara. I got interested in Mexico as a destination after reading a book by Paul Theroux, the eminent travel writer.

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If you like to read about Mexico, then you should definitely check out my post on Mexican books – http://northernlauren.com/mexico/books-about-mexican-culture-mexico/

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There are so many wonderful things to see after reading your post! I think the answer to the question, Mexico City or Guadalajara needs to be: BOTH!

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I live in Mexico City but go to Guadalajara every year to stay for 2 weeks to a month delivering CELTA courses. This means that I’ve had precious little time to get to know the city in so much depth but from the parts I’ve seen, the places I’ve hung out, the food and plus I’ve made some friends means that it is my second favourite city in Mexico. I really like the fact that it is not overrun with tourists and there doesn’t seem to be many immigrants (as I see myself) so I get treated the same as everyone else. I’m here right now on my last day of the course and am totally ready to go home tomorrow but am also happy that I had a lovely time here as well! (despite that damn work). Oh yes, about the food in GDL.I’m vegan and the number of vegan restaurants is really good and varied plus with high quality and creative food at a reasonable price as well.

Awesome! I have the same experience in Guadalajara, of being treated ‘normally’ (more or less). I’m so glad you enjoy Guadalajara! I’m not vegan, so I can’t say I’ve sought out vegan places in GDL but it’s interesting to hear that they do exist!

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[…] is no blanket answer to the question ‘where should I go in Mexico?’. Except there is, and it’s Guadalajara. Just kidding. Kind […]

[…] the flaw in this plan is that it’s far easier to get there from Guadalajara than it is from Vallarta, so you might need to suck it up and (like I forced my mum and sister to […]

[…] can really prepare you for being robbed in the dark in a foreign country. You think, oh, I’d definitely run away. I wouldn’t just stand there like an idiot before […]

[…] Guadalajara, Mexico City could swallow you up whole if you gave it half a chance; it’s chaotic, bursting with life, energy […]

[…] aforementioned Clásico Jóven which saw down-on-their-luck Cruz Azul face off against their fellow Mexico City based team, and perhaps one of the most hated clubs in the country, Club América. While I wanted […]

[…] (or DF, if you will), is enormous. No, really. One week is never enough for visiting Mexico City. A lifetime is barely enough to explore one of the biggest cities in Mexico and in a year, I feel like I’ve only scratched the […]

[…] Mexican drinks, tejuino is fucking gross. It’s a cold drink that looks deceptively refreshing on a hot Guadalajara day, but don’t be fooled, because it’s essentially made from fermented corn dough, mixed with a bit […]

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Lauren the next time you are passing through GDL a must see is the old hospital created from a convent. The public art, murals and frescoes are GREAT, and you will really appreciate them. You wander through the hospital and find them, but dont miss the area with the arched ceilings bc those were some of the coolest!

Yes, I love that place! I have a GDL guide coming very soon 🙂

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Can you tell me if Guadalajara or Mexico City has more rain in the rainy season (specifically the month of July). I am getting married in the month of July and can’t decide which city would be best for the wedding.

Both are VERY rainy. I would hesitantly say that Mexico City is worse though.

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I lived in Guadalajara from 2009 to about 2016 with a lot of traveling and beach time mixed in. Now live in Mex City as I thought it would have a lot more to offer in terms of culture, restaurants, etc. It definitely does and GDL is lacking a bit in those areas but I will honestly say, I really miss GDL after being away. People in CDMX view it as a ranch but that is where the charm is. It’s still hectic but for me, easier to meet your neighbors, and socializing doesn’t seem as formulaic if that makes sense. Almost more European. With GDL, also seems easier to get out of the city for a break, the beach, Ajijic, Tequila, even Talaquepaque. Thank you for post Lauren.

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Great post! What is the best way to get to Mexico city to Guadalajara in your experience?

I take the bus. Primera Plus may well be the best option 🙂 Or you can fly! But I think it’s only a 6hr bus journey, so it’s not too bad.

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Eternal Expat

Mexico City vs. Guadalajara: Where Should You Go?

By: Author Laura Bronner

Posted on Last updated: January 28, 2020

Mexico City vs. Guadalajara: Where Should You Go?

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I’ve never been to Guadalajara and it’s been on my must-visit list since I got here almost two years ago. So, when Robert from Leave Your Daily Hell reached out to me about writing a guest post comparing my #1 girl Mexico City with Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, I figured you guys would enjoy reading it! I also think it’s important to share other people’s opinions about Mexico City and other parts of Mexico! Without further ado, here’s Robert’s post for you.

Historically, most Mexico travelers have headed directly for the beach. These days, however, many travelers also make stops in one of Mexico’s fabulous cities—namely, Guadalajara and Ciudad de México (which is more commonly known as “Mexico City”).

what to do in mexico city

Things to Do in Mexico City vs. Guadalajara

Mexico City is replete with traditional tourist attractions but also has a countless number of interesting neighborhoods to explore.

For example, you could just as easily spend an entire day hopping between hot spots like the Palacio de Bellas Artes and Frido Kahlo Museum as you could diving into districts like La Condesa, La Zona Rosa, and La Roma, each of which are like small cities in and of themselves.

Guadalajara is likewise filled with exciting attractions and illuminating neighborhoods but exists on a more manageable scale than Mexico City.

And a more centralized one: Much of what you’ll want to enjoy on a trip to Guadalajara, with the possible exception of the Zapopan area, sits within walking distance of the city’s Cathedral, its most prominent landmark.

what to do in guadalajara

Mexico City Day Trips vs. Guadalajara Day Trips

The excitement of Mexico City doesn’t end at its city limits. Some of Mexico’s best destinations sit within day-trip distance of the capital, from the pyramids of Teotihuacan to the world’s largest monarch butterfly colony  in nearby Michoacan State, to the so-called “Floating Gardens” of Xochimilco , located just 90 minutes from the city center.

Guadalajara doesn’t have as many day trip destinations as Mexico City, but the main one it does have is pretty impressive.

The town of Tequila, as its name suggests, is the birthplace of Mexico’s most famous spirit, and in addition to distilleries and rolling fields of agave plants, boasts a charming, colonial town center.

where to stay in guadalajara

Mexico City’s Reputation vs. Guadalajara’s

The phrase “Mexico City” seems to be on every traveler’s lips these days, certainly among Americans.

I’ve personally heard dozens of people refer to it as the best city in the world, as well as uniform praise for its culture, cuisine and diverse neighborhoods.

In fact, I heard so much praise about Mexico City (much of it non-specific) that I couldn’t help but feel disappointed during the entire time I spent there.

Guadalajara, for its part, doesn’t enjoy much of a reputation at all.

Many people I spoke to after returning from my latest trip there didn’t even know where it was, including some very well-traveled individuals.

Not knowing what to expect when I landed in Guadalajara the first time allowed me to step into a delightful world of mystery and surprise, and the discoveries this facilitated made for a very enjoyable visit.

what to do in mexico city

Practical Matters in Mexico City and Guadalajara

Mexico City’s Metro system is one of the world’s largest and most highly utilized, but since the city covers nearly 600 square miles, it still takes forever to get anywhere here.

The diversity of Mexico City’s residents and neighborhoods, meanwhile, means you can eat any type of food you’d like here; the same can be said for different types of accommodation, which range from historical boutique hotels to affordable, authentic Airbnb apartments.

The underground railway of Guadalajara only has two lines, but the city is also a lot smaller, especially the part of it you’re likely to explore.

Likewise, while you won’t find as many different types of food in Guadalajara as you do in Mexico City, the Jalisco state to which it belongs originated many Mexican dishes that have become famous internationally, such as flauta rolled tacos, pozole corn-hominy soup and torta agohada sandwiches.

Like its delicious food, Guadalajara’s energy is laid-back and un-pretentious.

what to do in Guadalajara

And the Winner Is…

For me, Guadalajara beats Mexico City.

While Mexico City has a larger and more impressive variety of day trip options, Guadalajara’s small size, iconic food, laid-back vibe and the lack of expectations that exist about it give it the edge.

Of course, if you’ve got time on your next trip to Mexico, visiting both Guadalajara and Mexico City is the best course of action.

What do you guys think? Have you been to both cities? Which do you prefer?

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A Week in Guadalajara: Everything to Know

· everything to know about visiting guadalajara, one of mexico’s most cultural and vibrant cities. ·.

couple embracing near green pavillion and grand church in guadalajara city central

As the second-biggest city in Mexico, Guadalajara has a lot to offer anyone who makes the trip. Due to its size of over 5 million people, the city is a sprawling metropolis filled with endless things to do. A week in Guadalajara isn’t enough time to see it all, but this guide will highlight the best things to do in Guadalajara, the best day trips from Guadalajara, and general tips for planning your trip.

This post may contain affiliate links through which we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own.

The Best Things to Do in Guadalajara

Due to its size, Guadalajara is jam-packed with things to do. Guadalajara is sometimes referred to as the birthplace of Mexican culture, due to the fact that it is the home of tequila, mariachi, and the traditional sombrero! This list of the best things to do in Guadalajara is by no means exhaustive, but it will give you a good idea of can’t-miss experiences for during your trip.

1. Go on a Free Walking Tour

Guadalajara has a lot going on. There is so much history and beauty in this city, and there’s no better way to be immersed into it than with a walking tour! Camina GDL is a great company that offers free walking tours in the heart of Guadalajara. The tours meet every day of the week at 10:30am in the Plaza Liberacion. Our tour guide, Valeria, was fantastic and extremely knowledgeable.

I recommend going on a walking tour as early as possible when visiting Guadalajara, because you’ll learn about several cool things to do while on the tour. Additionally, Camina GDL offers excursions and events all over the city and region, and going on a walking tour is the best way to learn about what all they have to offer! Visit their website to ask any questions or book your tour.

pregnant couple embracing in mexican square underneath greenery

2. Spend an Evening on the Avenida Chapultepec

The Avenida Chapultepec is one of the main strips of Guadalajara, and it’s a can’t miss spot – especially in the evening. The Avenida Chapultepec, or Chapu as the locals say, is a two way road divided by a central walkway with a lot of greenery and benches to hang out. Very often vendors will set up their stands to sell all kinds of goods, and people hang out here every hour of the day.

When the evening hits, however, is when this place really picks up. The Avenida Chapultepec is lined with great restaurants serving up every type of international cuisines as well as endless bars and craft breweries.

drone shot of guadalajara mexico lit at night

An evening at Chapu is easily one of the best things to do in Guadalajara, and you can find great options for any budget.

3. Attend an Atlas or Chivas Soccer Game

In Mexico, soccer is life. Well, futbol is, as far as they’re concerned! Guadalajara is one of the best places in Mexico to catch a soccer game (or football match) as they have two teams and both tend to be above average. On the north side of the city you can catch an Atlas game at Estadio Jalisco, or you can head out to the west side of the city to catch a Chivas games at the Estadio Akron. Attending a soccer game is a great way to experience a local event, as you’ll rarely see Mexican people more passionate than they are at a soccer game!

aerial view of a soccer stadium

We went to see Atlas play against Monterrey, and it was a really cool experience.

That is why I can testify first hand that attending a soccer game is one of the best things to do in Guadalajara! Even though the stadium was at reduced capacity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was still absolutely worth the time and money. Tickets and concessions are also very cheap by American standards, meaning that you don’t need to break the bank for this one, either!

We paid about $15 USD per ticket, and beers were two for $5. A very cheap, fun activity indeed!

4. Head to a Night of Lucha Libre – Mexican Wrestling

You know that Jack Black movie, Nacho Libre? Well, this is the real thing. Lucha Libre is a really cool cultural experience in certain cities, and Guadalajara is one of the best places to go for it. There are two wrestling nights per week; Tuesday and Sunday. While the experience is worth going to in any circumstance, it’s even better if you can go with locals who can teach you all about what’s going on! For this reason, I’d advise finding a tour group that is heading to the wrestling to make sure that you get the most out of your experience.

I should warn that this is not the most family-friendly event in Guadalajara. The evenings are filled with swearing, yelling, drinking, and vulgarity, and that is what gives it its charm! Unlike the WWE, the whole thing is actually real and is not pre-scripted. While definitely a colorful event, it is absolutely one of the best things to do in Guadalajara.

assorted-color of mexican wrestling masks hangeing on a wall

5. Drink a Cazuela and Explore in Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque is a Pueblo Magico that has been absorbed by the sprawling metropolis of Guadalajara. While it has now been pulled into the metropolis, it still retains its quaint, quiet atmosphere that gives it its fame. Tlaquepaque is one of the most adorable places we’ve been to in all of Mexico, and it deserves at least an evening of your time while in Guadalajara.

colorful pueblo magico sign reading Tlaquepaque

There are a few things that we recommend you check out in Tlaquepaque. Firstly, head to El Parian, the largest cantina of its kind in the world! This is an incredible place to catch some Mariachi music and grab a cazuela, which is a local tequila-based drink. Then I’d advise wandering the streets until you get to Calle Independencia, which is an absolutely adorable place lined with great restaurants and shops. Whether you’re looking to shop or not, odds are you’ll be drawn into at least one of the boutiques!

iron statue of mexican man and woman in Tlaquepaque

5. Hang Out in the Expiatorio Park at Night

The Templo Expiatorio is an absolutely beautiful church located in the Colonia Americana, and apparently even celebrities need to get on a waiting list to get married there. I actually believe that, too, because on the Saturday that we were there we saw three weddings, including on starting at 7:00pm. Crazy, right?

mexican street food vendor with a cart of food at night

There’s more to this area than just a beautiful church, though! The park in front of the Templo Expiatorio is really alive at night, and especially on the weekends. For great food, entertainment, and drinks, you should head here at night if you have the chance. It’s pretty close to the Avenida Chapultepec, so you can head out there after grabbing a snack here. We saw a really talented guy juggling fire on a tightrope, and there are so many more crazy possibilities. Totally worth checking out.

huge colonial cathedral in mexico at night

The Templo Expiatorio church is so popular for weddings that we witnessed THREE weddings being celebrated back-to-back on a Saturday night.

The Best Day Trips from Guadalajara

While the city limits alone contain enough to fill up a week in Guadalajara, there are some really enticing day trips that you need to at least consider making! The first two of these places are much closer than the third, but all of them are worth a visit if you’re able to find the time! Guadalajara is really well located, and I advise taking advantage of it. One place that won’t make the cut on this list because it’s simply too far is Puerto Vallarta , but I absolutely recommend heading there if you have a few days to spare!

1. Go to Tequila to Visit Distilleries

In case you didn’t know, there actually is a town named Tequila, and yes, there is a lot of tequila there. Visiting Tequila is by far the best day trip from Guadalajara, whether you’re looking to party or sip on fine tequila. We weren’t sure what to expect, and when we got off the bus in Tequila we were definitely shocked by the sheer amount of tequila in this town. It’s EVERYWHERE. Tequila is one of my favorite Pueblos Magicos in all of Mexico, honestly. For more information, be sure to read my post on visiting Tequila as a day trip from Guadalajara . Tequila can be reached in about an hour and a half from downtown Guadalajara.

man holding clay cup by a gondala with decorative mexican flags

Also, in case you’ve never been partying in Mexico before, it might be good to have a little understanding of what some of the most common alcoholic drinks in Mexico are. If you’re wondering about things like Palomas and Micheladas, I’ve got you covered in my post on the best alcoholic drinks in Mexico.

2. Lake Chapala

If you’re not in a party mood or aren’t a big fan of tequila, you should consider heading to Lake Chapala. Lake Chapala is the biggest lake in Mexico, and it is a really calm, relaxing place to spend a day! In fact, the Chapala area has one of the largest communities of American and Canadian expats in all of Mexico. The boardwalk areas in the towns around the lake are really fun and filled with food and vendors, making a great evening activity.

We recommend visiting either the town of Chapala or Ajijic, as those are the two most-traveled and tourist-friendly towns on the Guadalajara side of the lake. Both of them are a ton of fun, and you’ll see pretty quickly why people love to retire here. If you visit Ajijic and are looking for a sweet snack, we recommend checking out Donas Donuts Ajijic , located on the east edge of the town. They have some of the best donuts we’ve ever had in Mexico.

Mexico Pueblo Magico sign of Chapala with moody vibe

Morelia is the furthest and biggest of all of the day trips on this list, making it the least opportune one for sure. However, it is just such a beautiful and charming city that it deserves to be on this list. Morelia is a stunning colonial city, and is best recognized for its beautiful pink cathedral. Located about 3 hours away from Guadalajara in the state of Michoacan, Morelia is definitely a long haul, but once you get there you’ll feel like it was absolutely worth it.

Walking through the streets of Morelia feels like Europe in just about every way, and I highly recommend making the trip if you have the time. There are direct buses heading to Morelia from Guadalajara, and you can also opt to take a BlaBlaCar which will get you there even faster. If you’ve never used BlaBlaCar and want to learn more, check out my Beginner’s Guide to BlaBlaCar.

Puddle with reflection of pink cathedral in Morelia Mexico

How to Get to Guadalajara

Fly to guadalajara.

If you’re planning to get to Guadalajara from another country, you really only have one airport option, which is Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport (GDL) . This is the only international airport in the area, and you don’t have another choice. The good news is that this is one of the best connected airports in all of Mexico , and there are plenty of great flight options coming from the United States, Mexico, and Central America. While you don’t have any other airport options, that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck paying high airfare! To find out how to save hundreds of dollars on your flights, check out my guide to finding cheap flights.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

READ OUR CHEAT SHEET

How to Get From The Airport to The Center of Guadalajara

From the airport to the center of Guadalajara you have three options; you can either take a taxi, a bus, or an Uber or Didi. Like I say in just about every Mexico travel guide, don’t take a taxi unless you absolutely must. They’re usually more expensive and less reliable than ridesharing apps like Uber, plus there is no GPS tracking feature like there is on Uber. I’d say that taking a taxi is your last resort option.

Take a Bus to The Center of Guadalajara

Your most budget friendly option is to take a bus from the airport to Guadalajara, but this option is much more complicated than it needs to be. The bus station at the Guadalajara airport is way outside of the airport – like a 15-20 minute walk. Now, we ourselves don’t mind a long walk, and yet we still didn’t take the bus. Why?

Well, the bus station is extremely hard to find, whether you speak Spanish or not.

We asked a crossing guard where it was and she kindly told us to walk down the street until the red and white building. Uh, there were lots of red and white buildings. But don’t worry! The Present Perspective is here to save the day. Here is a screenshot of the map and where you need to walk to get to the bus.

Map detailing how to get from the Guadalajara Airport to the bus station to get to the city

It is a fairly far walk and definitely isn’t optimal if you have a lot of luggage, but if you are able to make this walk of about a mile, it can save you from $10-25. The bus costs $9.50MX which is about 50 cents, and you’ll make it to Guadalajara in about 45 minutes to an hour. Keep in mind that you’ll need to take the pedestrian bridge over the highway, as you’ll want to get on the bus heading north. You want to take the T13A bus which runs every 10 minutes. After 21 stops, this bus will drop you off at the Niños Heroes stop, which is walkable to the center of the city. If you’d prefer not to walk, you can switch buses here or call a much cheaper Uber.

Call an Uber or a Didi Ride to The Center of Guadalajara

Finally, your last, most expensive, but most convenient option is to call a ride on a ridesharing app like Uber or Didi. For anyone who doesn’t know, Didi is basically Chinese Uber. The ride from the Guadalajara airport to the city center takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes and will cost anywhere from $7USD to $30USD depending on how busy things are. If you check Uber and it is very expensive, I’d advise checking Didi. We wanted to Uber from the center to the Airport on our last day and Uber told us it would be $27USD. On Didi, at the exact same moment, it was $8USD.

Many times, Didi is significantly cheaper than Uber in Mexico.

How to Get Around Guadalajara

SUBWAY | BUS | UBER | DIDI

Getting around Guadalajara is really, really easy. Guadalajara is one of the few Mexican cities that has a subway system, and the 3 lines of the subway are a cheap and effective way to get between certain places in the city. It is not a perfect system and can be inconvenient due to the lack of lines and stations, but it can be a good option depending on your origin and destination.

Each subway ride costs $9.50MX ($0.50USD) just like the bus. Tickets can be bought at any station in cash.

The bus network is the best connected public transportation system in Guadalajara, and it can get you just about anywhere you want to go. Whether it is urban buses to get you around the city or buses that are designed to take you a bit further out to places like Chapala and Tequila, the bus network is definitely expansive and cheap. If you’re looking for the cheapest possible way to get around, the bus is the best way.

While we love public transportation and it tends to be our go-to, I actually have a different recommendation in Guadalajara – Uber and Didi. While for money reasons I almost never recommend ridesharing apps over public transportation, Uber and Didi are just so cheap in Mexico that you’re getting private transportation for just a fraction more. You might pay $3USD for a 20 minute ride, for example. This was our go-to in Guadalajara, as it is just too convenient.

Our number one recommendation for tansportation in Guadalajara is Uber or Didi.

I never recommend renting a car in Mexico because of sometimes poor driving conditions and corrupt police . Neither of these factors make for a fun trip, and for this reason I tend to stick to other means of transportation. However, if you do plan to rent a car despite my warnings, I implore you to at least check out my tips for driving in Mexico .

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

– R E A D –

Is Guadalajara Safe to Visit?

Many travelers are weary about safety in Mexico. This is a fair concern, as the country has a bad reputation for gang violence in certain areas. Guadalajara is a major city, and crime rates in major cities are usually higher than crime rates in rural areas, regardless of what country you are in. While this is true, we personally never felt in danger while visiting Guadalajara.

We both went out late at night and early in the morning, and there was very little cause for concern.

As with everywhere, it is crucial that you take general precautions to stay out of trouble. Don’t carry large amounts of money, keep your valuables concealed, don’t wander out late at night if you aren’t familiar with where you are going, and stay out of dangerous areas as much as possible. On top of that, never engage in any illegal activity in Mexico, as many crimes (like drug consumption, for example) expose you to both the justice system and the cartels.

pregnany woman in black shirt and orange skirt holding her belly

Is Guadalajara Worth Visiting?

As Mexico’s cultural capital and its second biggest city, Guadalajara is loaded with things to do. From tequila and mariachi to outstanding museums and architecture, There are a lot of draws to Jalisco’s capital. With that being said, Mexico is packed with incredible destinations, and it can often be hard to decide which ones to visit.

For example, many people wonder: should you visit Guadalajara or Mexico City? Personally, I think that there are incredible draws to both, and you can’t go wrong with either one. However, if I’m being honest, I am partial to Mexico City over Guadalajara. While Guadalajara is absolutely worth visiting, I would recommend exploring Mexico City first. If you have already been to Mexico City, Guadalajara is a must-visit.

If you have already been to Mexico City, Guadalajara is a must-visit.

couple in black embracing and kissing underneath soft sunlight of colonial cathedral

That’s all we have for you! If you’re planning a trip to Guadalajara, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Also, if you have any other recommendations for Guadalajara or Jalisco comment them below!

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.

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should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Let's Travel To Mexico

Is Mexico City Worth Visiting? Tips from A Local

Mexico city skyline at night

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of those links, I may earn a commission at zero cost for you. Please see my disclaimer policy here, and my privacy policy here.

Is Mexico City Worth Visiting? The short answer is yes! But I may be biased. Keep reading these 26 Pros and Cons of visiting Mexico City.

This post will cover everything you need to know about traveling to one of the biggest cities in the world so you can make the decision for yourself!

I was born and bred in Mexico City and to be quite honest, I never really thought of the city as much growing up.

It wasn’t until I decided to travel the world and live in different cities across different continents that I concluded that CDMX, as it’s locally called now, is one of the most thrilling capitals in the entire world.

After almost ten years of traveling all over and finding home bases in places like New York City, Miami, Bangkok, London, and Dusseldorf, I decided to move back to Mexico City because what this city has is pretty unique.

You can’t ever really get bored here because there is something going on every second of every day!

Of course, like any big city in the world, Mexico City has a lot of pros and a lot of cons.

For that reason, I put together a comprehensive guide with everything you need to know about this humongous metropolis so you can decide if Mexico City is worth seeing on your own.

Monumento a La Patria CDMX under a pink sky

Why should you visit Mexico City?

👉🏼 is mexico city safe.

Like any big city, Mexico City has safe and unsafe areas. Generally, Mexico City is a very safe destination to visit.

Safe areas to stay for tourists include Roma Norte, Roma Sur, Condesa, Polanco, Lomas de Chapultepec, Cuauhtemoc, and Santa Fe. When staying in any of these areas, you will rarely encounter problems.

With that said, I still recommend practicing any safety precautions you would in any big city. 

👉🏼 Is Mexico City tourist friendly?

Mexico City doesn’t have the tourism infrastructure other cities in Mexico like Cancun or Los Cabos have, but it is generally very tourist friendly as long as you don’t expect locals to cater for you.

While this is rapidly changing due to a high influx of digital nomads, most people working at shops, restaurants, and cafés don’t speak English.

Neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma are changing this, but you should still expect to have to translate often.

Moreover, one thing to note about traveling to Mexico City is that due to plenty of digital nomads and remote workers coming to live here for extended periods of time since 2020, locals are beginning to resent gentrification.

While you shouldn’t encounter problems, there is definitely a rise in xenophobia among Mexico City locals as many have been displaced from their homes.

The issue is mostly targeted toward long-term stayers rather than visitors, but it is still something you should keep in mind when visiting.

Madre - restaurant cafe Roma building Mexico city

Reasons why you should visit Mexico City: Pros

1. rich history & attractions: historic center.

Also known as the Plaza de la Constitución, the Zócalo is the main square and the historical heart of Mexico City.

This place is a must-visit on anyone’s Mexico City itinerary as it holds immense cultural and historical significance.

For centuries now, the Zocalo has been the main gathering place for political, cultural, and social events in the city.

These days, the Zócalo is a magnificent space to look at, but it also acts as a cultural center of sorts where food, crafts, and souvenirs are sold.

Occasionally, events and concerts are held here as well.

As a tip, the Zócal still continues to be an important gathering spot in the city.

Protests happen here often as do plenty of political events. My advice is to make sure to check what’s going on during your visit as it can sometimes get incredibly crowded.

✨ Templo Mayor

You wouldn’t expect to find Mesoamerican ruins in the middle of a huge metropolis, but in Mexico City, everything is possible!

Templo Mayor was once the center of Tenochtitlan (the former Aztec capital). The Spanish largely destroyed it during the conquest and replaced it with a cathedral. 

There are still some ruins to explore and consider the splendor this significant capital once held, despite the fact that few of the temples were spared.

overview of Mexico city from the torre latina

✨ Palacio Nacional

Located in the historical center of the city, Palacio Nacional serves as the official seat of the executive branch of the Mexican government.

While some parts of it are out of reach for visitors for that very reason, you can still enter the place and check out its interior.

The building itself is magnificent work of art and a testament to colonial architecture in Mexico.

A favorite feature is the Diego Rivera mural series, “The History of Mexico”.

His works of art cover the walls of the main staircase and tell the story of Mexico as a country, covering pre-Columbian times all the way to the Mexican Revolution.

2. Amazing Architecture

One of my favorite things about Mexico City is its blend of amazing architecture.

One second, you can be looking at humongous skyscrapers, and the next, you can be admiring ancient Aztec ruins or colonial buildings.

The city has plenty of well-preserved ruins and buildings from prehispanic and Colonial times.

As the city grew and modernized, new buildings showcasing beautiful Art Nouveau and Neoclassical styles also popped up.

Seriously, walking around the city feels like you’re strolling through an architecture museum that reflects Mexico’s Citys ever-evolving identity.

The front of the cathedral in the Zocalo Mexico with a giant Mexican flag

3. Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Mexico City has been inhabited by several ancient civilizations, each of which has left a significant mark on the city’s culture and history. 

The most famous of these civilizations were the Aztecs, who founded their capital city of Tenochtitlan (modern-day Mexico City). 

Before the Aztecs, though, the area in and around Mexico City was home to several other civilizations.

These include the Toltecs (10 century) and the Teotihuacan (1st and 8th centuries).

4. Pyramids of Teotihuacan

One of the most significant archeological complexes in the world is Teotihuacan, which is about an hour’s drive from the center of Mexico City.

Teotihuacan was once the biggest city in all of North America, and the Aztecs later used it as a place of pilgrimage.

Today, tourists can explore a sizable portion of the ruins and take in Teotihuacan’s two impressive pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, which are connected by a broad avenue with many still-standing structures and murals.

In addition, hot-air balloon rides are available here ! If you have the time and resources, I really recommend taking one because it will help you understand the true grandeur of the site.

monument in mexico city aerial view

5. Authentic Mexican culture

Mexico City has its own unique identity, history, and culture, making it very different from the rest of Mexico.

Even if you’ve visited other destinations in Mexico, you’ll feel as though you’re getting to know an entirely different side of the country. 

6. Awesome Foods & Restaurants

Mexico City has one of the most interesting food scenes in the entire world.

Not only will you find incredible street food on every single corner of the city, but you will also find tons of cozy hole-in-the-wall restaurants as well as plenty of high-end dining establishments.

As if that weren’t enough, Mexico City is also home to some of the best restaurants in the world, including Pujol, Sud 777, and Quintonil, to name just a few.

7. Buzzing Bars and Nightlife

If you’re into glitzy outings, you’ll fall head over heels in love with Mexico City’s nightlife . 

The city is home to some of the best bars in the world as well as some of the coolest clubs you’ll ever visit (think Salon Solin, Looloo, Republika, and Montana to name just a few!).

zocalo CDMX from a roof top view

8. Xochimilco Floating Gardens

Located in the south of Mexico City, Xochimilco Floating Gardens are a set of canals and artificial islands that were created by the Aztecs for agricultural purposes.

These days, the canals are a popular tourist attraction, with plenty of tours available on colorful boats called “ trajineras ” that can take you to several of the islands (if you’re into creepy stuff, make sure to book a tour that includes a visit to the Island of the Dolls – you can thank me later!)

Xochimilco is also a popular drinking spot in Mexico City. You can head over there with your friends, rent a trajinera , and party the day away as you ride the canals!

There are several tours available as well where you can join a shared trajinera and meet people (great if you’re traveling solo and want to make friends).

9. Fantastic Art Scenes & Museums

🎨 national anthropology museum.

The National Anthropology Museum is one of the most wonderful museums I’ve ever visited. This place alone makes Mexico City worth visiting.

This enormous museum is dedicated to preserving and exhibiting the cultural heritage of Mexico’s indigenous peoples.

Here, you’ll find a vast collection of artifacts, including the Aztec Calendar Stone and a replica of the tomb of Mayan ruler Pakal the Great as well as exhibits spanning thousands of years of history, representing various indigenous communities from different regions of the country.

Roma Norte neighborhood - view of buidling on a corner with many trees

🎨 Frida Kahlo Museum

The Frida Kahlo Museum , also known as the Casa Azul (Blue House), is a must-visit attraction in Mexico City. 

This museum is located in the actual house where Mexican artist Frida Kahlo was born, lived, and created much of her artwork. 

During your visit, you can explore the rooms that have been preserved to reflect Kahlo’s life as well as a collection of her paintings, personal belongings, and tools. 

You will get a pretty intimate insight into her artistic vision, struggles, and legacy (I highly recommend watching the 2002 Frida movie before visiting!).

🎨 Palacio de Bellas Artes

The Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) is an iconic cultural landmark in Mexico City and a magnificent building that combines neoclassical and Art Nouveau architectural styles.

These days, it acts as one of the most important centers for performing arts in the country, not to mention it also contains collections of Mexican art, including murals by renowned artists such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros. 

As if that weren’t enough, its rooftop offers panoramic views of the city , allowing visitors to appreciate the architectural splendor of Mexico City’s historic center.

Whether attending a performance or exploring art exhibitions, a visit to the Palacio de Bellas Artes is a must on your itinerary.

Mexico city street with two big trees in front

10. Beautiful Churches and Cathedral

⛪ metropolitan cathedral.

Located in the heart of Mexico City, the Metropolitan Cathedral is a magnificent religious and architectural masterpiece, not to mention it is also the largest cathedral on the American continent!

Even though religion isn’t as important for a large percentage of locals in Mexico City anymore, the cathedral is still a symbol of the city’s cultural heritage and history. 

Its construction began during the 16th century and took over 250 years to complete.

Its elaborate details and gorgeous architecture are reason enough to visit this Mexico City attraction, but also the fact that stepping inside will take you back centuries of Mexican history.

⛪ Basilica of Santa Maria Guadalupe

Another important religious site in Mexico City is the Basilica of Santa Maria Guadalupe, which is one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in the entire world.

It was built in order to honor Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The complex is made up of several buildings, with the main basilica dating all the way back to the 16th century (it wasn’t completed until 1976, so it actually looks quite modern!).

Mexico City panoramic view - asking yourself if is Mexico City worth visiting?

11. Amazing green space and parks

🌳 parque mexico.

Located in the Condesa Neighborhood, Parque Mexico is one of the city’s lungs and one of the most iconic parks in Mexico City.

The park features plenty of natural beauty, a wide array of trees, and lanes that will make you feel like you’re in a mini jungle.

In addition to that, this park has become a favorite for ex-pats and visitors because of the beautiful Art Deco buildings surrounding it, many of which harbor cafés, boutique shops, and trendy restaurants.

Something else you’ll love about Parque Mexico is the fact that it is a sort of artistic hub in Condesa.

Dance classes, exhibitions, outdoor concerts, and live performances are all held here any day of the week, especially during the afternoons and early evenings. 

During the weekends, Parque Mexico gets pretty crowded, so I would recommend visiting on a weekday if possible.

🌳 Bosque de Chapultepec

Bosque de Chapultepec is four times the size of Central Park and almost the size of Singapore, making it one of the largest urban parks in the world.

Being here always makes me feel as though I’ve left the city entirely. Because the park is absolutely humongous, it is divided into different sections.

The first one is the most popular one and one where you’ll find some of the biggest attractions in Mexico City such as the Chapultepec Castle, the zoo, and the Museum of Anthropology.

This part can get pretty crowded and feel a bit more commercialized for that reason, but you will still be able to find a quiet spot either way.

The second section also has lots of attractions as well as plenty of hidden gems.

This part of the park is pretty developed but has a much more local feel to it.

You’ll find restaurants, locals hosting picnics, joggers, and dogs running around.

The third section feels more like an actual forest you can get lost in for hours!

Most people never really visit this area of the park, so you will feel like you have it all to yourself.

Street in La Roma with trees

🌳 Parque Alameda Central

Ever since it opened during the 16th century, Parque Alameda Central has been a popular hangout spot for Mexico City locals.

This historical park is known for its beautiful monuments, fountains, and landscaping as well as for being home to several important buildings in the city like the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

🌳 Jardin Allende

Jardin Allende is a small yet incredibly charming park located in the Centro Historico.

The park boasts a fountain, benches, and a pretty tranquil ambiance where you can observe the local life in Centro. 

12. Cheapest capital city in North America

While Mexico City isn’t the cheapest place to visit in the country, it is still the most inexpensive city on the North American continent.

Soumaya museum with straircase with people sitting and  others walking

13. Perfect for solo travelers

Mexico City has a pretty young and open-minded atmosphere, which makes it perfect for solo travelers.

With so many museums, attractions, parks, and events you can attend on your own, the city is perfect if you’re traveling alone.

Making friends is also very easy, as the city has become a popular place for solo travelers, remote workers, and digital nomads.

14. Enormous marketplaces

One of the best things to do in Mexico City if you want to get to know a more local side of it is to check out a few of its markets.

Markets in Mexico City sell everything you can think of, ranging from fresh fruits and produce to prepared food, groceries, clothes, home supplies, and just about everything in between.

Some of the top markets to visit include the Central de Abastos (this is where most restaurants in Mexico City get their supplies and ingredients!), Mercado Medellin, Mercado San Juan, and Mercado Sonora.

Mexico city UNAM mural painting

15. Vibrant musical scene

Mexico City is a hub for music, with plenty of concerts and festivals being held here for those who enjoy modern music.

Mariachi and jazz are also a big part of Mexico City’s culture.

One of the best places to listen to live mariachi music is at Plaza Garibaldi, a lively square lined with bars and restaurants where you can enjoy traditional Mexican food and drinks while listening to live mariachi music.

As a local tip, I recommend visiting Garibaldi on a tour. While the area is pretty guarded because of tourism, it’s not exactly the safest place in Mexico City.

Jazz is also popular here, with plenty of bars offering live jazz every evening.

Musak, Jules Basement, Tokyo Music Bar, Jazzatlán Capita, Parker & Lenox, and Zinco Jazz Club are all popular spots for jazz lovers.

16. Largest Butterfly Migration (Monarch Butterfly Reserve)

Mexico City is located close to the Monarch Butterfly Reserve , where you can witness one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world.

Every year, millions of Monarch butterflies travel to Mexico to escape the cold climate of Canada and the United States. 

The butterflies arrive in Mexico in November and spend the winter in the reserve’s forests before heading back north in March.

If you’re visiting Mexico City during this time of the year, I highly recommend visiting the reserve to experience one of the coolest natural sights the country has to offer!

sunset from a rooftop in CDMX

17. Excellent location for day-trips

Thanks to Mexico City’s centric location amid many states, the city is a wonderful hub for day trips .

It would be impossible for me to list them all in one post, but some of my favorite day trips to take from Mexico City include Malinalco, Valle de Bravo , Taxco, Queretaro , Puebla, Cholula, and Tepoztlan, to name just a few.

18. Nearby Volcanoes to hike

Mexico City is surrounded by impressive volcanoes you can hike!

Nevado de Toluca and La Malinche are two of the “easiest” hikes around Mexico City and perfect to get acclimatized (although I still found these hikes pretty tough!).

If you’re looking for a challenge, you can also choose to hike the Popocatepelt, Iztaccihuatl, and Pico the Orizaba, all of which are some of the highest peaks in North America.

19. Day of the Dead Festival

Day of the Dead is huge all over Mexico and in Mexico City, it is mainly celebrated with a vibrant parade featuring elaborate puppets, costumed performers, and lots of other things that depict the story behind the date.

The parade usually begins at the Zocalo and travels all the way through Paseo de la Reforma (the city’s most important avenue).

Aside from the parade, there are plenty of other festivals and events that take place in the city between October and November.

Zocalo - aerial view of zocalo with main square

Visiting Mexico City: Cons

20. unsafe neighborhoods.

There are plenty of safe neighborhoods in Mexico City, but like any large city in the world, there are some unsafe ones as well.

As long as you keep about your wits and know which areas to avoid, this should not be a huge con when deciding to visit Mexico City.

Unsafe neighborhoods include Tepito, parts of Centro Historico, Neza, Iztapalapa, and Doctores.

The city has made improvements in terms of safety in many of these places, but it’s still best to avoid them for the time being.

21. Air Pollution

Mexico City faces significant challenges when it comes to air pollution.

Its large population, car emissions, industrial activities, and humongous urbanization rates coupled with the city’s geography and location in a high-altitude valley all contribute to the problem.

Prolonged exposure to air pollution can lead to respiratory problems, cardiovascular issues, and plenty of health complications.

With that said, if you’re visiting Mexico City for a short period of time, this should not affect you greatly, although I’ve had friends with sensitive bodies and lungs struggle while visiting the city, especially in May when the weather is very dry.

22. Poor Water Quality

Water quality in Mexico City isn’t great in some areas due to population growth, pollution, and industrial activities. 

This, however, does not really affect tourists staying in nicer neighborhoods like Roma Norte, Condesa, Polanco, Lomas de Chapultepec, and others.

As long as you don’t attempt to drink tap water , you will be fine!

23. Too much crowd

With 8 million inhabitants, Mexico City can get pretty crowded. Add to that the fact that 13 million people also live in Greater Mexico City (many of which work in the metropolitan area), and you’ve got yourself a pretty packed place!

24. Traffic can be a challenge

Traffic can be an issue in Mexico City, especially during the weekdays. This can make moving around pretty time-consuming, especially if you don’t want to walk or take public transportation.

polanco mural

25. Earthquake hotspot 

Earthquakes are a big issue in Mexico City. I kid you not, while I was writing this post, there was a big quake with an epicenter in the city!

Mexico City is located in a seismically active region, making it prone to earthquakes.

The city has experienced devastating earthquakes throughout its history, with notable events including the 1985 earthquake and the 2017 earthquake.

These earthquakes caused widespread destruction, loss of life, and significant damage to infrastructure.

In recent years, I’ve felt more earthquakes in Mexico City than I ever had.

While none of them have been fatal since the 2017 one, they can be a pretty terrifying experience no matter how used to them I get.

This is definitely a huge con of visiting Mexico City. 

Alarms usually ring a few minutes before an incoming earthquake happens, giving you time to evacuate the building and find a safe spot.

Make sure you read about earthquake safety before visiting the city so you know what to expect, how to react, and how to stay safe during one.

26. Red light district & prostitution

Even though prostitution is illegal in Mexico, Mexico City still has several red-light districts. This, however, does not affect tourists at all.

Mexico city zocalo By night

Getting around Mexico City

✔ walking around mexico city.

Mexico City is humongous, so walking all over the city isn’t possible, but plenty of neighborhoods such as Condesa, Roma, Cuauhtemoc, Polanco, and others are very walker-friendly, so you can easily explore these areas on foot if you wish to.

✔ Renting a car

While renting a car is pretty easy and inexpensive in Mexico City, I personally would recommend against doing so unless you plan on taking lots of day trips out from the city and want to have the ease of doing so indifferently.

For one, traffic in Mexico City can be a nightmare, not to mention driving can get pretty hectic.

You may just wind up spending half of your visit to Mexico City stuck in traffic and getting stressed!

You will also end up spending a lot more money and time than expected finding parking spots and figuring out the parking rules where you are.

Entrance of Museo Jumex, written on the building in big black letters

✔ Ubers and Taxi

One of my favorite ways to get around Mexico City is by Uber .

The app works well and is usually inexpensive, although prices can vary depending on traffic, time of the day, and whether or not it’s raining.

Additionally, there are other ride-sharing apps available you may want to download to compare prices.

These include Cabify, DiDi, and InDriver (InDriver is usually much cheaper, but cars can sometimes not be of that great quality. Keep in mind this app is cash only).

Taxis are another way to get around, but they aren’t usually recommended even by locals for safety reasons.

If you must take a taxi, make sure you only take one from an official agency.

✔ Public Transportation

👉🏼 Subway: The subway has stations all over the city (with the exception of Santa Fe). Locals in CDMX refer to it as the “metro”.

There are 12 metro lines in total, and they are distinguished by different colors and numbers. The cost of a one-way metro ticket, including transfers, is 5 pesos.

👉🏼 Metrobus: The Metrobus is another great, affordable, and efficient way to get around Mexico City.

The Metrobus runs over the ground, unlike the metro, but it still has its own lane on the road, so traffic has no bearing on how quickly it travels.

The Metrobus is 6 pesos in price. You must obtain a city card in order to use it because cash payments are not accepted (you can buy one directly at the machines at any station).

Aerial view of Mexico City with skyscrapers during the day

✔ Bike Share (Eco Bicis)

I love using bike sharing (eco bicis) to move around the neighborhood like Condesa, Polanco, and Roma Norte which have great infrastructure for cycling.

Using eco bicis is very easy. It usually takes less than 45 minutes to get from point A to point B and the first 45 minutes are free.

After 45 minutes, you must pay $50 MXN per hour to continue riding (or drop your bike off at a station, wait five minutes, and then pick up another one).

Is Mexico City expensive?

Mexico City is not the most affordable place in Mexico, but you can easily visit the city on a budget if you stick to street food and smaller restaurants.

Accommodation prices have increased in recent years, but it is still possible to find apartment rentals and hotel rooms for prices that won’t break the bank.

Tour prices are generally very pocket-friendly, too!

All in all, visiting Mexico City can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be as there are options for every budget.

Jumex. museum statue

Where to stay in Mexico City 

🛌🏻 budget: hotel pf.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Hotel PF is conveniently located in the trendy Condesa neighborhood and offers comfortable rooms, modern amenities, and complimentary breakfast for an affordable price. 

Awesome stay, I highly recommend it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Jaime, may 2023

👉 Check rates and availability at Booking.com | Expedia | Hotels.com

🛌🏻 Mid-range: Nima Local House

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Nima Local House is set in the stunning Roma neighborhood inside a stunning turn-of-the-century casona . This stunning boutique hotel features cozy rooms, intimate spaces, and incredibly stylish decor.

Immaculately clean and fantastic service. Perfect location and amenities. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Matthew, november 2021

🛌🏻 Luxury: The Four Seasons Hotel

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

The Four Seasons Hotel is a 5-star hotel located in the lively Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main avenue.

Its beautiful and modern rooms provide plenty of comfort and the hotel features lots of amenities like a spa, upscale restaurants, and a stunning outdoor courtyard (make sure you schedule at least one Sunday brunch here during your time in Mexico City!).

The beds and linens are amazing and the staff is the best. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Alejandro, march 2022

The best time to visit Mexico City

👍🏻 cheapest time to visit mexico city.

Mexico City is generally a year-round destination so prices don’t change much throughout the year. 

The cheapest time to visit would be between May and September, when the rainy season is going on and hotel rates and flights may lower down a little bit.

With that said, prices don’t really change much unless you’re visiting during a major festival or event such as Day of the Dead, Christmas, or Formula 1.

the angel statue in Mexico city at night

👍🏻 Best time to visit for lesser crowds

In general, Mexico City does not have a high or low travel season. There isn’t much of a difference in terms of crowdedness in a city with more than 20 million inhabitants.

Consider traveling during Mexico’s Semana Santa (Spring Break) and the Christmas Holidays if you want to visit when the city is less crowded.

During these times, a large number of residents of Mexico City depart the city for vacation, making the city appear noticeably more empty.

👎🏻 Worst time to visit Mexico City

The worst month of the rainy season in Mexico City is usually July, which typically lasts from June to October.

Even during these months, I’ve noticed rain hasn’t been as bad in recent years, but from June through September in particular, be prepared for torrential downpours that typically begin in the afternoon and last well into the evening.

Additionally, the driest months of the year are April and May.

Although this shouldn’t stop you from going to Mexico City, if your body has previously had trouble with high altitudes, I would recommend avoiding visiting at this time.

Many visitors to Mexico City at this time of year have complained of heavy headaches and even nosebleeds because of the combination of altitude and dryness, though not everyone experiences it. 

Soumaya Museum front of the building with people in front

Mexico City travel tips

📌 Credit and debit cards are widely accepted all over the city, including small establishments and street food stalls . You should carry a bit of cash in case you need it, but your card will get you a long way.

📌 Learn some basic Spanish phrases . Many people in Mexico City speak English, but it is not the norm. Knowing a few Spanish phrases can be very helpful.

📌 If you want to try street food, I recommend doing so on the stalls that have lots of locals purchasing food as well. This means the place is clean, offers fair prices, and has delicious food.

La Roma Church with trees

Frequently Asked Question s

Is it worth visiting mexico city.

Yes! No matter your travel style, Mexico City has something for everyone and is definitely worth visiting.

From great food to incredible architecture, culture, and history, you’re guaranteed to find something to pique your interest in this huge metropolis.

Why do tourists visit Mexico City?

Tourists love Mexico City for plenty of reasons. One of the main draws for visitors is the city’s rich cultural heritage, which you can explore through its museums, galleries, and architecture.

Its cuisine is another reason people visit the city. With delicious street food on every corner and some of the best restaurants in the world, Mexico City definitely knows how to do food right.

Aside from that, Mexico City has a vibrant nightlife, world-class shopping, and lots of entertainment options. Getting bored here is simply impossible because there’s always something going on!

Close up of Colonial Building

Is Mexico City a walkable city?

Mexico City is absolutely humongous so at first glance, it may not look like a very walkable city.

However, most of the main things to see are pretty centered and the neighborhoods you’ll likely stay at (Condesa, Roma, Polanco, etc) are all incredibly walkable.

You may need to grab an Uber at times due to distances, but in general, if you have a decent fitness level, you can easily walk from A to B easily.

Most of these neighborhoods are pretty flat, safe, and their streets were designed with pedestrians in mind, so you shouldn’t encounter any problems when walking!

Can you get around Mexico City without a car?

Yes, getting around Mexico City without a car is possible.

Transportation options abound in the city and range from multiple public transportation methods to ride-sharing apps, e-bikes, e-scooters, and more.

Colonia Roma Murals - the best restaurants in Roma Condesa

How many days is enough for Mexico City?

Three days should be enough to get a taste of Mexico City and see many of the main attractions.

If you want to get to know the city better and beyond its touristy side, at least a week is recommended.

Is Mexico City a foodie destination?

Yes. Mexico City is considered one of the best destinations for food in Mexico.

Not only will you find a wide variety of authentic Mexican dishes and street food stalls in the city, but also some of the best restaurants and fine dining spots on the continent.

Park in La Condesa

Can I drink tap water in Mexico City?

Tap water in Mexico is not considered safe to drink.

Is Mexico City a cheap city to visit?

Depending on your interests, Mexico City can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. 

Street food and local restaurants are very inexpensive, but there are also tons of high-end dining establishments.

Hotels range from mid-range Airbnbs and hostels to ultra-luxury rooms.

More often than not, visiting the main sights and museums is pretty cheap.

Mexico city at night main square

Wrapping Up: Is Mexico City worth visiting?

Mexico City is an incredibly exciting city and a place you will fall head over heels in love with if you enjoy visiting big metropolises.

From its cultural heritage, rich history, modern ambiance, and incredible food scene, there’s pretty much nothing Mexico City lacks.

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Dani is a travel write and blogger from Mexico City who traveled all over the world for 5 years before returning to Mexico. After visiting and living in so many different countries, she realized how lucky she is to call Mexico her home.

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  • Destination Cheat Sheets

Where to Go in Mexico: A Cheat Sheet to the Top Destinations

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See recent posts by Neil Gladstone

There's no denying it: Mexico remains one of the most popular international destinations for U.S. travelers year after year. Over 10.5 million U.S. tourists visited Mexico in 2019 alone, according to the Mexican government , and that number shows no signs of slowing. But Mexico is a huge place, and there's a lot more to the country than just its top destinations — like Cancun , Playa del Carmen , and Puerto Vallarta . Mexico has countless fascinating cities and towns, amazing natural sights, and thriving indigenous communities that all merit exploring, if spending a week on the beach isn't your speed. So where should you go when planning a trip to Mexico? Read on — we broke down Mexico's top destinations, from hidden gems and under-the-radar towns to its biggest cities and best beaches.

Looking for something that's not on the tourist radar? Check out our 10 favorite underrated destinations in Mexico . 

Beach at the Paradisus Cancun

Beach at the Paradisus Cancun/Oyster

Located along the Caribbean Sea on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun is known for its white-sand beaches and one of the world’s longest coral reefs. Cancun International Airport makes it relatively easy to fly directly into the resort town, which is really more of a city (one of Mexico’s largest). Warm year-round, the average temperature is just about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and kept mild by trade winds. Most tourists stick to Cancun’s Hotel Zone — the isthmus that juts out into the sea, separate from the bustling city on the mainland. There, you’ll find all of the rowdy bars and nightclubs for which Cancun is famous. Resorts here vary (some are for singles, others for families) and there’s a wide range of quality — from party crash pads to truly luxurious options. For example, Beloved Playa Mujeres is an all-inclusive, adult-only property with 109 rooms that have private balconies and ocean views, plus activities such as ocean kayaking and bike tours. Grand Oasis Cancun , on the other hand, is a family-friendly mega-resort with 1,800 rooms, 18 restaurants, and entertainment geared toward all ages. There are also plenty of hotels that aren’t resorts, plus activities beyond the all-inclusive walls such as El Rey Ruins, Interactive Aquarium, and Xcaret Eco Theme Park.

Our Cancun Hotel Pick: Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun

Aerial Photography at the Le Blanc Spa Resort

Pool at the Le Blanc Spa Resort/Oyster

If you’re after truly luxurious amenities, a prime location right on the beach, and excellent food and drinks, Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun is for you. This adults-only property is flush with pools, wellness offerings, spacious rooms, and sea views, and is one of the most popular resorts in all of Mexico.

Pricing for Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun

Chichen Itza and the Mayan Ruins of the Yucatan

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins

Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins/Oyster

The temple city of Chichen Itza not only has some of the best Mayan architecture in the world, but comes with a boatload of fascinating history. Its cenotes were considered an opening to the Mayan underworld, where offerings could be made to gods. Excavations of these sinkholes has yielded gold and jade artifacts — as well as human skeletons. The area is best known for El Castillo, a pyramid with 365 steps representing the days of the year. The village has several other notable structures, including the Temple of Chac Mool, also known as the Hall of the Thousand Prisoners. Located a little more 75 miles west of Cancun, a visit to the Chichen Itza UNESCO World Heritage is one of the most popular day trips from Cancun and the Riviera Maya . Other popular regional ruins include those at Coba and in Tulum. If you’d prefer not to bed down in the beach towns, we suggest an overnight in vastly underrated Valladolid, which is packed with charm.

Our Valladolid Hotel Pick: Casa Tia Micha

The Carmita at the Casa Tía Micha

The Carmita at the Casa Tía Micha/Oyster

When staying is a city as charming as Valladolid, it’s crucial to find a hotel to match. We love the antique style at Casa Tía Micha and little perks like the amazing Mexican breakfast. It also has a prime location right in the center of town for easy access to great dinners after a day at the pyramids of Chichen Itza.

Pricing for Casa Tía Micha

Tulum, Riviera Maya

Beach at Mi Amor Colibri Boutique Hotel

Beach at Mi Amor Colibri Boutique Hotel/Oyster

For travelers who want to steer clear of Mexico’s booze-guzzling spring breakers and rowdy all-inclusive resorts, Tulum is the place to be. This bohemian destination in the Riviera Maya is well-known for its delicious food, jungle parties, eco-conscious establishments, and artisanal boutiques. When you’re in Tulum it’s also worth a trip to the well-preserved Tulum Ruins , which were originally built in the waning days of Mayan civilization. It’s best to visit them before 9:30 A.M., when the sun is still rising and the crowds have yet to arrive. The entire Tulum area is lined by some of the most beautiful beaches in the Riviera Maya. Tulum also offers a range of hotels, from eco-friendly luxury spots to more modest comforts. While in the area, many visitors opt for a day trip tour of the Coba ruins to climb the 120 steps up Nohoch Mul, the tallest temple pyramid on the Yucatan peninsula. You can also head to Sian Ka’an Nature Preserve to see the wildlife and birds.

Our Tulum Hotel Pick: Be Tulum Hotel

The Arena Suite at the Be Tulum Hotel

The Arena Suite at the Be Tulum Hotel/Oyster

Year after year, Be Tulum is one of the most popular options in Tulum. The vibe here is lively, and the style is beach-chic. We love little extras like private pools or whirlpools and the great spa with a traditional temazcal for a healing ceremony.

Pricing for Be Tulum Hotel

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas/Oyster

Los Cabos has several different sides, from the party-hard reputation of downtown Cabo San Lucas to the charm of San Jose del Cabo and the region’s stunning natural beauty. Los Cabos is composed of three different districts: San Jose del Cabo , Cabo San Lucas , and the long stretch of coast in between, referred to as The Corridor. San Jose del Cabo has more of a historic and cultural focus, while Cabo San Lucas is home to more bars and nightclubs. In between are countless luxury resorts and a variety of all-inclusive resorts. The area is also known for its rugged oceanfront cliffs and desert hills. Many golf courses, restaurants, bars, and resorts can be found throughout Los Cabos. Note that swimmable beaches in Los Cabos are few and far between . In Cabo San Lucas, lie on Playa Médano with views of Lands’ End and its famous Arco. Up the coast, Playa Chileno is a bit calmer (you won’t hear any booze cruises off shore). For those who want to worship the sun with a golf club in hand, there are many world-class courses, including Punta Sur, which has views of the Sea of Cortez and Sierra de la Laguna mountains.

Our Los Cabos Hotel Pick: Chileno Bay Resort & Residences

Pools at the Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection

Pools at the Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection/Oyster

Situated right next to one of the few swimmable beaches in the Cabo region, Chileno Bay Resort & Residences is a perfectly low-key, but stylish hideaway. The vibe is bohemian cool, but with sophisticated flare, and everything from wellness amenities to locavore dining and rooms delight.

Pricing for Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection

Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya

Beach at Royal Hideaway Playacar

Beach at Royal Hideaway Playacar/Oyster

Playa del Carmen , like big sister Cancun up the coast, has multiple personalities. There’s the raucous downtown area that includes touristy La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) as well as bars and nightclubs, but there are also quieter luxury developments to the north and south of town: Mayakoba and Playacar. You can come here to tie one on and party at the numerous beach clubs, or relax in peace and quiet with a butler at your beck and call. Nature lovers will want to check out the nearby Rio Secreto to climb and swim through caverns punctuated with stalactites and stalagmites. Other highlights include Xcaret Eco Theme Park , which is one of the most popular adventure parks in Mexico, and snorkeling at Xel-Ha . Playa del Carmen is only about an hour south of the Cancun International Airport, making it easy to reach. You can also opt for day trips to Cozumel from here by using the ferry.

Our Playa del Carmen Hotel Pick: Royal Hideaway Playacar

The Main Pool at Royal Hideaway Playacar

The Main Pool at Royal Hideaway Playacar/Oyster

From six pools and a beautiful stretch of beach to great dining options and luxe services, the adults-only Royal Hideaway Playacar is one of the most appealing all-inclusive resorts around Playa del Carmen. It’s only a short drive from the center of Playa del Carmen, but the peace and quiet feels worlds away.

Pricing for Royal Hideaway Playacar

San Miguel de Allende

View of San Miguel de Allende from Mansion San Miguel

View of San Miguel de Allende from Mansion San Miguel/Oyster

During the Mexican War of Independence, San Miguel de Allende was the first town to be officially free of Spanish rule. These days, many expats and artists flock here to be a part of the flourishing creative community. A road that passed from Mexico City (Mexico’s capital) through San Miguel de Allende helped it grow, particularly during the 17th and 18th centuries. The well-preserved buildings from that period, such as the iconically pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, bring curious travelers who want to bask in the colonial culture. The inventiveness of the current community can be seen on the walls of cafes and in the main plaza where mariachis play and craftspeople sell their wares. It’s an incredibly atmospheric town that draws tourists in droves, making it one of the easiest places to explore outside of the main cities and beach regions.

Our San Miguel de Allende Hotel Pick: Hotel Matilda

The Pool at the Hotel Matilda

The Pool at the Hotel Matilda/Oyster

No visit to San Miguel de Allende is complete without bedding down in one of its charming boutique hotels. Hotel Matilda perfectly fits the bill and offers a great array of high-end extras, including a pool, an incredibly popular restaurant, and sharp rooms.

Pricing for Hotel Matilda

Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya

Beach at the Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

Beach at the Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa/Oyster

Puerto Morelos is a former fishing village located halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. It’s a little quieter (read: no packs of drunk spring breakers) than Cancun, but has the same enchanting mix of sun, sand, and waves. The beautiful waters are shallow enough for wading and snorkeling. The impressive reefs just offshore attract a fair share of divers, and many come to take a dip in the inland cenotes (massive sinkholes filled with crystal-clear groundwater). Plus, there are several beachfront restaurants to keep you fueled up when you’re not exploring the big blue playground.

Our Puerto Morelos Hotel Pick: Desire Riviera Maya Resort

The Desire Suites at the Desire Riviera Maya Resort

The Desire Suites at the Desire Riviera Maya Resort/Oyster

A favorite of Oyster.com readers, Desire Riviera Maya Resort is the perfect pick for travelers who are a little more adventurous. This couples-only, clothing optional all-inclusive lets you get in touch with your hedonistic side, and matches that with contemporary decor and a lively vibe.

Pricing for Desire Riviera Maya Resort

Akumal, Riviera Maya

Beach at Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya

Beach at Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya/Oyster

About 20 minutes north of Tulum, Akumal is known for its protected waters filled with sea turtles (its name even translates to “Land of the Turtles”). Dive and snorkel through the clear, calm waters to peep the coral reef, tropical fish, and docile, hard-shell creatures. Want to speed up your scuba training? Akumal Dive Shop is one of the most popular training centers in the region and offers classes. And swimmers and sunbathers who like to fuel up away from the beach can choose from one of the numerous fresh seafood restaurants joints inland.

Our Akumal Hotel Pick: TRS Yucatan

Pool at the TRS Yucatan Hotel

Pool at the TRS Yucatan Hotel/Oyster

With free dinners and shows at the wildly popular Chic Cabaret on-site, along with excellent dining options and one of the prettiest pools in the Riviera Maya, the TRS Yucatan is one of the nicest luxury all-inclusives in the region. The vibe is upbeat during the day, yet peaceful at night, making it a perfect adults-only escape.

Pricing for TRS Yucatan Hotel

Isla Mujeres

Beach at the Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun

 Beach at the Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun/Oyster

Isla Mujeres is a former fishing village located about 10 miles by ferry from Cancun. The Spanish named this “Island of Women” — the English translation of the name — after finding many carved statues and structures devoted to the Mayan goddess Ixchel. These days, it’s a fine choice those who want to snorkel, swim, sunbathe, and kayak in a more low-key destination than some of the more frantic tourist spots on the Mexican mainland. But it’s not all about amazing beaches and water sports — Isla Mujeres also has delicious seafood, a turtle farm, and ruins. If you’re here during the winter months, you’d be smart to book a whale shark diving tour , as this part of the Caribbean Sea is one of the few places that reliably host these gentle swimming giants.

Our Isla Mujeres Hotel Pick: Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun

The Main Pool at the Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun

The Main Pool at the Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun/Oyster

This all-inclusive resort is one of the most popular on Isla Mujeres. Dining gets stellar marks, and the beachfront pool is a great spot to unwind in the sun (though the Zoetry Villa Rolandi has several other pools to cool off in).

Pricing for Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres Cancun

Mexico City

Palacio Bellas Artes

Palacio Bellas Artes/Oyster

Travelers who are more interested in soaking up culture rather than the sun should plan a trip to Mexico City . Several of the country’s most impressive museums can be found here — one of the largest cities in the world. In fact, the city likes to tout that it has more museums than any other on the planet. That starts on an incredibly high note at the National Museum of Anthropology , which houses an astonishing collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, including the famous Aztec calendar stone. In the Centro Historico, the Palacio de Bellas Artes features murals by Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo in a building that combines Belle Epoque and Art Deco styles. The Frida Kahlo Museum , also known as La Casa Azul, is located in the Mexican artist’s former home, and boasts one of the most popular collections in the area. The National Palace, home of the executive branch of Mexico’s government, also has several beautiful gardens and Diego Rivera murals. Historic sites include Templo Mayor (one of the main temples of the Aztecs) and the Catedral Metroplitana on the Zocalo — the city’s main square. To top it off, Mexico City offers an incredible dining scene, amazing boutique shopping, wild nightlife, and a cultural calendar that never stops. Oh, and the spring-like year-round weather doesn’t hurt either.

Our Mexico City Hotel Pick: Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico

Terraza at the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico

Terraza at the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico/Oyster

Located right on the Zocalo, amid Mexico City’s buzzing Centro Historico, the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is a gem. With its beautiful historic interiors and rooftop restaurant with views of Mexico City’s main square and cathedral, make this a top pick.

Pricing for Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico

Teotihuacán

Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, north of Mexico City

Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, north of Mexico City/Oyster

Once the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, Teotihuacán now lures history buffs to climb its numerous pyramids. Built in 150 B.C., the Pyramid of the Sun is the largest structure in the compound and has an excellent view of the mountains and the entire site. There are numerous smaller structures, including the Pyramid of the Moon and Temple of Quetzalcoatl. While many of the Teotihuacán’s relics have been moved 45 minutes away in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the on-site Teotihuacán Museum has several interesting exhibits and a miniature model of the city. It’s definitely worth your time to make a day trip here from Mexico City — the pyramids are only an hour away by bus, though you can opt for a Teotihuacán guided tour as well. Be sure to bring sunscreen as there’s almost zero shade at the site.

Beach at the Hotel B Cozumel

Beach at the Hotel B Cozumel/Oyster

For scuba divers, the island of Cozumel is one of the best swimming spots in the world. Local reefs are protected in a marine reserve, allowing them to remain healthy. Numerous dive schools offer scuba certification lessons and will also take visitors out on tours to see scorpion fish, sea horses, tarpons, and plenty more. For the less adventurous, Stingray Beach offers a nice view into the clear waters without needing to strap on an air tank. On land, history fans can peruse the San Gervasio ruins, once a destination for Mayan women to offer tribute to Ixchel, goddess of fertility and love. Ferries leave for Cozumel from Playa del Carmen, which is about an hour south of Cancun’s airpot. It’s a popular day trip stop, though beware that cruise dockings can swell the islands population. For those who want to stay over, there are many hotels, from the upscale Melia Cozumel All-Inclusive Golf & Beach Resort to Hotel B Cozumel , which caters to a younger, partying crowd.

Our Cozumel Hotel Pick: Hotel B Cozumel

The Pool at the Hotel B Cozumel

The Pool at the Hotel B Cozumel/Oyster

The truth is that Cozumel doesn’t have the largest hotel inventory in Mexico’s Caribbean region. However, Hotel B is an incredible exception. Interiors are attractive and contemporary, and everything from the seaside infinity pool to free loaner bikes make a stay here special.

Pricing for Hotel B Cozumel

Puerto Vallarta

Beach at the Buenaventura Grand Hotel & Great Moments All Inclusive

Beach at the Buenaventura Grand Hotel & Great Moments All Inclusive/Oyster

While it doesn’t get the same attention as Cancun or Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most popular beach destinations. It draws a mix of families, couples, and friends looking to party, and draws a particularly loyal LGBTQ following. Gay bars are numerous in town, and drag performances shouldn’t be missed. The city sits on the Bay of Banderas, which helps shield the beaches from the notoriously strong surf along Mexico’s Pacific coast. In town, expect bars, restaurants, and tourist shops by the dozen, while outside of town, the scene is very different. Boat trips to villages like Yelapa (which can’t be accessed by car) give you a window on how the region used to look, while Nuevo Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit to the north are home to posh luxury resorts. Temperatures remain warm during most of the year (it’s about 72 degrees Fahrenheit in January and 81 degrees in summer). Keep in mind the rainy season falls between June to mid-October, with September usually being the wettest month of the year. Activities include hiking from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas and indulging in the numerous local foodie options. Plus, Puerto Vallarta stays awake when the sun dips below the horizon. Steamy salsa clubs light up the streets, and rowdy local bars supply a steady stream of cerveza for the thirsty traveler — gay or straight.

Our Puerto Vallarta Hotel Pick: Secrets Vallarta Bay

Aerial Photography at the Secrets Vallarta Bay

Aerial Photography at the Secrets Vallarta Bay/Oyster

This adults-only option draws a loyal following every year with its prime location right on the beach. Secrets Vallarta Bay definitely fits in amid Puerto Vallarta’s party scene, with its swim-up bar and generous premium all-inclusive drinks package.

Pricing for Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo/Oyster

Mexico’s beach resorts may be the country’s most popular tourist destinations, but Oaxaca , a state along Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast has the best of Mexico’s beach scene plus amazing inland cultural destinations. Much of that centers on Oaxaca City, which is atmospheric in the extreme and where you’ll still find the character of local indigenous cultures such as the Zapotecs and Mixtecs. Oaxaca is also home to one of the most complex local cuisines in Mexico, with dishes like hand-whipped Oaxacan chocolate, tlayudas (tortillas smeared with refried beans, Oaxacan cheese, and salsa), and tamales Oaxaqueños. Several historic sites can be found in Oaxaca City and the surrounding region, from the pre-Columbian pyramids of Monte Alban to the 18th-century Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. If you’re more adventurous, head to the stunning Hierve el Agua, an easy day trip southeast of Oaxaca City , or any of its other under-the-radar sights . Temperatures across Oaxaca range from 88 degrees Fahrenheit in summertime to 48 degrees in the winter, though that varies depending on your altitude.

Our Oaxaca Hotel Pick: Hotel La Casona de Tita

Restaurant at the Hotel La Casona De Tita

Restaurant at the Hotel La Casona De Tita/Oyster

This hotel offers old world European-style luxury with activities such as an Oaxacan cooking class and wine tasting. The artsy style is pitch-perfect is atmospheric Oaxaca and outdoor terraces make it easy to take in the region’s abundant sunshine.

Pricing for Hotel La Casona De Tita

Guadalajara

Ballrooms at the NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Historico

Ballrooms at the NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Historico/Oyster

Guadalajara — one of Mexico’s cultural capitals — is known as the home of mariachi music as well as an international film festival and acclaimed book fair . The beautiful work of local craftspeople can be seen in the numerous baroque churches that dot the city, including the Guadalajara Cathedral. Works by several of Mexico’s famous painters, including José Clemente Orozco, can be found on the walls and ceilings of several landmarks in the city, including Orozco’s famous “Man of Fire” in the rotunda of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Hospicio Cabañas (also known as the Instituo Cultural Cabanas ). You’ll find a thriving arts scene here, plenty of cafes, and a slower pace than the country’s other main cultural hub, Mexico City.

Our Guadalajara Hotel Pick: NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Historico

The Junior Suite at the NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Historico

The Junior Suite at the NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Historico/Oyster

Situated right amid the Centro historic of Guadalajara, the NH Collection Guadalajara has modern rooms and a great rooftop restaurant with stunning city views. You can, of course, expect tequila tastings and cool cocktails in the bar downstairs as well.

Pricing for NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Historico

Puerto Escondido

Beach at the Villa Mozart y Macondo

Beach at the Villa Mozart y Macondo/Oyster

You’ve likely heard some whispers about this part of Oaxaca at this point. We’ve told you that Puerto Escondido is one of Mexico’s best underrated destinations, though major outlets like The New York Times have also taken notice of it. That’s because Puerto Escondido embodies so much of what has always made Mexico an amazing place, especially if you’re looking to unwind along the ocean. Surfer vibes? Check. Amazing scenery? Check. Cool cafes and beachside restaurants? Double check. The laid-back atmosphere of Puerto Escondido, and its blissful freedom of the tourist hassle of so many other Mexican beach destinations make this a place to visit immediately. You can get here in an hour by air from Mexico City, and once here, you’ll find secret swimmable beaches and the surfer-ready Zicatela all begging for your attention.

Our Puerto Escondito Hotel Pick: Villa Mozart y Macondo

Beach at the Villa Mozart y Macondo

Situated just above the Zicatela, Villa Mozart y Macondo is easily one of the quirkiest and coolest spots in town. The owner’s cool art collection takes center stage, though the unique bungalows and amazing breakfast are also more than enough reason to stay here.

Pricing for Villa Mozart y Macondo

Riviera Nayarit

Beach at the Samba Vallarta - All Inclusive

Beach at the Samba Vallarta – All Inclusive/Oyster

With over 190 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, wonderful resorts, and world-class golf, it’s surprising the Riviera Nayarit is now firmly on the tourist the radar. Punta Mita and Nuevo Vallarta are probably the most well-known towns in this vast region, and home to the biggest resorts, but Riviera Nayarit also hosts charming little beach towns that are worth a visit. For those whose ideal vacation involves snoozing under a straw umbrella on a gorgeous sandy beach, the shoreline is beautiful and varied. The most popular beaches are on Banderas Bay, but it’s worth exploring the beautiful stretches of sand farther north. Sayulita and San Pancho are wonderful picks and offer good waves along with plenty of bohemian charm. If you’re after something more adrenaline-pumping, opt for zip lining, surfing, hiking; and even rock climbing. While the rainy season is, well, rainy, showers usually only take place in the evening for a couple of hours. Plus, the temperatures rarely dip below the 70s at night and the high hovers above the 80s during the day year-round, so outdoor activities can be enjoyed even in the off-season.

Our Riviera Nayarit Hotel Pick: Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

View from hotel at the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

View from hotel at the Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit/Oyster

If you know us, you know we are enthusiastic about the Grand Velas all-inclusive chain. That’s because you get so much for what you pay for — excellent dining, beautiful grounds, and top-shelf cocktails. The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is no exception. It has activities for adults and kids, spacious rooms, a three-tiered pool, and excellent spa.

Pricing for Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit

The narrow lanes of colonial Merida

The narrow lanes of colonial Merida/Oyster

Merida , the largest city in the state of Yucatan (the western part of the Yucatan Peninsula), has developed a distinct culture that combines influences from its Mayan, Spanish, French, and British history. A trip to “The White City,” as it’s known, usually includes a tour of Mayan ruins, beautiful cathedrals, and distinctive examples of architecture that are rarely seen elsewhere. These days, it’s making a name for itself among culture seekers and foodies as well. The cuisine here is Yucatecan, relying heavy on seafood and local tropical produce, and every week there seem to be new galleries popping up in town. Merida is land-locked, but if you’re after the beach, simply head north to Progreso, where you may spot flamingos in the lagoon if you’re lucky.

Our Merida Hotel Pick: Hacienda Santa Cruz

The Spa Pool at the Hacienda Santa Cruz

The Spa Pool at the Hacienda Santa Cruz/Oyster

While it’s not technically in the center of Merida — in fact, it’s about 25 minutes from town — Hacienda Santa Cruz is one of the most special properties on the Yucatan Peninsula. You’re coming here to unwind in peace and quiet after a day exploring the bustling city. There are two pools, a lovely spa, and a restaurant that serve excellent Mexican cuisine.

Pricing for Hacienda Santa Cruz

Isla Holbox

Beach at the Hotel Villas Delfines

Beach at the Hotel Villas Delfines/Oyster

Holbox Island — Isla Holbox (pronounced hole-bosh) — is the Mexico of yore. Even after making a splash on the tourist scene, this isolated island has retained its quiet and quaint charm. You see, there are no cars here, and to reach it you’ll need to drive nearly two hours north of Cancun and then hop a ferry. But that commute is worth it. This is barefoot island life in the extreme, with a laid-back pace, just enough yoga and wellness spots, and great local cuisine that makes unplugging a true dream. Even better? The location is great for seeing whale sharks, pelicans, flamingos, and other wildlife.

Our Isla Holbox Hotel Pick: Las Nubes De Holbox

The Beach Pool at Las Nubes De Holbox

The Beach Pool at Las Nubes De Holbox/Oyster

Situated right along the pristine blue waters of Isla Holbox’s shore, Las Nubes de Holbox has just the right amount of creature comforts to feel like you’re spoiling yourself in an admittedly unplugged place. Rooms are spacious and sharp, there are two pools, and it’s an easy 10-minute bike ride to the center of town.

Pricing for Las Nubes De Holbox

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Mazatlan is undergoing something of a rediscovery these days. You see, Hollywood stars once flocked to Mazatlan in the 1950s before the town fell on hard times the 1970s and ’80s as Acapulco became the place to be. However, Mazatlan is once again drawing in-the-know travelers. Old Mazatlan has hotels and restaurants located in restored 19th-century buildings, creating charming places to unwind for a long weekend. You’ll find plenty of dazzling sights there. Dia de los Muertos celebrations are also quite lovely in the town’s historic center. Alternatively, bars and nightclubs are the name of the game in Mazatlan’s Zona Dorada. The four-mile malecon (boardwalk) is the best place to stroll and take in the sunset. Oh, and eight miles of pretty beaches is what brought the stars to Mazatlan years ago and continues to lure new visitors today. Keep in mind that the state of Sinaloa, where Mazatlan is located, should not be explored independently.

Our Mazatlan Hotel Pick: Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay

The Master Suite at Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay

The Master Suite at Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay/Oyster

Spacious suites, a great beachfront location, and a quiet vibe all make the Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay a great Mazatlan pick. Rooms are bright and cheerful, and there are three restaurants to choose from.

Pricing for Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay Resort & Spa

Beach at the Hotel La Posada

Beach at the Hotel La Posada/Oyster

Known and loved for its excellent deep-sea fishing, Manzanillo has been the location for numerous international angling competitions. The city is home to two bays — Bahía de Manzanillo and Bahía de Santiago — with crescent-shaped beaches. The relatively little amount of tourist traffic on them keeps the sand and water pristine. Bahía de Santiago in particular also offers an excellent backdrop for snorkeling and diving. Several all-inclusive resorts are available for those who want to enjoy their fishing along with some pampering. Visitors are also usually on the lookout for the green flash phenomena: During sunrise or sunset, a small green spot can be seen on the upper edge of the sun.

Our Manzanillo Hotel Pick: Gran Festivall All Inclusive Resort

The Main Pool at the Gran Festivall All Inclusive Resort

The Main Pool at the Gran Festivall All Inclusive Resort/Oyster

Situated right on the beach, the Gran Festivall All Inclusive is a simple resort with the typical amenities for an all-inclusive vacation: a nightclub, several pools, and direct beach access. You’ll find plenty of kid-friendly amenities here, making this a solid alternative to more expensive resort areas.

Pricing for Gran Festivall All Inclusive Resort

Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa

Beach at Thompson Zihuatanejo

Beach at Thompson Zihuatanejo/Oyster

Zihuatanejo has long been a quiet fishing village that became a travel destination when nearby Ixtapa was developed into a resort town. Maintaining more of its cultural roots than Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo is loved by tourists who want to mix a sunbathing Mexican getaway with cute beach-town life. It’s packed with quaint restaurants and bars that make this a great alternative to more built-up resort destinations. And Ixtapa , a government-planned tourist resort just next door, is well-suited for families who want to enjoy sunbathing and all-inclusive resort life.

Our Zihuatanejo Hotel Pick: Thompson Zihuatanejo

The Adults-only Pool at the Thompson Zihuatanejo

The Adults-only Pool at the Thompson Zihuatanejo/Oyster

One of the poshest hotels in otherwise casual Zihuatanejo, the Thompson Zihuatanejo has a great spa, two beachfront restaurants, three lovely pools, and attractive rooms that make this a great pick. There are only 47 rooms here, so the vibe stays peaceful and uncrowded.

Pricing for Thompson Zihuatanejo

Traveling? Consider the Carry-On from Away

The Carry-On from Away

The Carry-On from Away

On your next trip, don’t bring the same carry-on you’ve been using since high school — update to the best of the best. With a TSA-approved lock, a hard exterior shell, a USB-port for charging your phone, and 360 degree spinning wheels, Away’s carry-on is built to be your last.

You’ll Also Like:

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  • The 14 Best Bang-for-Your-Buck All-Inclusive Resorts in Mexico
  • The 10 Best Magic Towns in Mexico

All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Oyster may earn an affiliate commission.

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Wondering how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara?

Most people would immediately think of taking a commercial flight, but there are actually several options available to you.

The best way for you will depend on your budget, how long you’re going to spend in Mexico, and how quickly you need to be in Guadalajara.

I’ve set out below a comprehensive guide that has helped loads of people find out how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara simply and safely in seven fantastic different ways.

Ready to go? Let’s get right into it.

How to Get From Mexico City to Guadalajara

Why should you visit mexico city.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Mexico City is the capital city of Mexico and the country’s largest city. It is a captivating blend of history, culture, and modernity and should be a must-see destination on your Mexico bucket-list.

The list of things to do in Mexico City is enormous. You can go to the Zócalo and see the imposing Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral and the National Palace, which houses Diego Rivera’s iconic murals. You can also see world class art at the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Museum of Bellas Artes.

The ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlán is within the city limits at the Templo Mayor archaeological site and the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán are an easy day trip from the city.

And of course there is the amazing Mexican cuisine that you can enjoy from street vendors or from the many high end restaurants in the city. All in all, having a great time is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Before we jump into getting from Mexico City to Guadalajara, let’s look at why you should consider visiting Guadalajara in the first place.

How to Get From MExico City to Guadalajara

Why should you visit guadalajara.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Guadalajara is a large city of over five million people and is the capital of the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It’s the second-largest city in Mexico by metropolitan area, with lots of great attractions in and around its beautifully preserved historic city center.

Like all major Mexican cities, Guadalajara is home to a stunningly beautiful cathedral in its historic center, the Guadalajara Cathedral. The cathedral was originally constructed during the 16th and early 17th centuries in the Spanish renaissance style but has two newer gothic towers that were built after the original structure was destroyed in an earthquake in the 19th century. The combination of architectural styles make it completely unique.

Nearby Tlaquepaque is a colorful Mexican “magic town” ( pueblo mágico ) where you can enjoy a more relaxed pace and explore some great local artisanal cafes, art studios, and street art. You can also walk down the Andador Turístico de Tlaquepaque (the “tourist walk”) and see the beautiful colorful umbrellas creating an artificial rainbow above you.

And if you’re an aficionado of tequila, you will be in heaven. The birthplace of tequila itself is just 40 miles away in the town of Tequila, where you can tour the famous Jose Cuervo Distillery and taste some of the freshest Tequila you’ll ever find.  You can also follow the tequila trail ( la ruta de tequila ) through over 150 registered distilleries that, together, make 100% of the tequila in the world today.

So let’s look at how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara and the different options available to you.

1. Fly to Guadalajara

Gate seating at an airport with a glass wall beside it, outside of which a plane is taking off, similar to the trip from Mexico City to Zipolite

If you think even briefly about how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara, it won’t surprise you that flying is the quickest and most convenient option.

This is the case even when you add the time it takes to get to the airport before you fly.

Fast Facts: Flying From Mexico City to Guadalajara

  • Starts at around US$45 one way
  • Flight time starts at around 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Several flights per day
  • Departs from Mexico City International Airport (MEX)
  • Arrives at Guadalajara International Airport (GDL)

Where Do I Book A Flight To Guadalajara?

I recommend that you use Expedia.com to book your flights. You can check flights using the Expedia search box below:

You’l be able to see the best deals available on different dates and flying with different airlines.

How Do I Get From Mexico City To The Airport?

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

You have a few options to get to Mexico City International Airport (MEX) from Mexico City.

I’ve set these out in detail below for you.

1. Rental Car

If you have a rental car already, you can usually drop it off at the airport before you fly.

All reputable providers have kiosks at the airport, and you’ll just need to make sure that you return it to the designated parking area for rental cars.

Tip: If you didn’t book the car at the airport, you’ll need to check with your provider that you can drop it off at the airport and you may need to pay an additional one-way fee.

2. Private Transfer

Your hotel should be able to arrange a private transfer to Mexico City International Airport for you. If you want to arrange it yourself, I recommend using Viator , which has over 100 different options.

Private transfers will start at around US$30 and will take between 30 minutes and an hour, depending on where your hotel is located and the time of day that you need to travel.

Tip: Check whether the transfer is shared with other passengers. If the driver needs to collect other passengers, the trip will be longer and you’ll need to allow more time.

Taxis are easy to find in Mexico City, especially if you’re staying at a large hotel. I recommend that you ask the front desk to book you a taxi before you check out, and it will be waiting for you as soon as you’ve settled up.

There’s nothing to stop you hailing your own taxi, although I think letting the hotel arrange it is better so that you focus on getting packed and ready to travel.

If you do hail a taxi on the street, you’ll need to agree the fare with the driver before you go, but you can expect it to be around US$15 to US$20, depending on the location of your hotel and the time that you need to travel.

Uber is available in Mexico City and it’s perfectly safe to use. If you don’t already have the Uber app installed on your phone, you’ll need to install it before you can call a driver using Uber.

The app works the same as it does in the US, so you’ll pay up front using a credit card and the driver will then pick you up. The app will send you the details of the driver and the vehicle picking you up ahead of its arrival.

An Uber from Mexico City to the airport should cost you around US$15 to US$20, depending on the location of your hotel and the time that you need to travel.

Tip: Uber drivers aren’t allowed to accept tips in Mexico City, so don’t be surprised if they decline if you offer them any extra money!

5. Public Transport

According to Statista , Mexico City had a population of 9.3 million at the end of 2022, so it’s not surprising that the city has a sophisticated public transport network to help you move around.

Traveling on the Metro or on a Metrobús is simple enough, although you’ll need to buy a rechargeable travel card (Tarjeta de Movilidad Integrada), which you can get in a Metro station, many Metrobús stations, or in newstands around the city.

Once you have the card, you use it to tap in when you board a train or a bus, and you can use it to pay for others too if you’re traveling as a group. When you run low on credit, you can recharge the card at machines available at the Metro or Metrobús stations.

Metro line 5 (the yellow line) stops at Terminal Aérea, which services both of the terminals at Benito Juárez International Airport. If you’re traveling with the Metrobús, you can take line 4 right to the terminal 1 and terminal 2 buildings. You can find a map of the CDMX Metro and Metrobús lines here .

Both the Metro and the Metrobús lines operate from early in the morning until late in the evening. You can expect to pay between US$1 – US$2 per trip per person.

Tip: Make sure that you have your Mexican pesos handy when you are buying your recharge card or when you’re topping it up.

FAQs: Flying To Mexico City

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

I’ve tried to answer the most frequently asked questions about how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara flying commercially.

But if I haven’t answered your question yet, take a look at the FAQs and their responses below.

How Much Is A Commercial Flight To Guadalajara?

Commercial flights fluctuate from season to season and it depends on how far ahead you book, but prices typically start at around US$45 from Mexico City.

Check out Expedia.com for the best deals available.

Which Commercial Airlines Fly From Mexico City?

Volaris, VivaAerobus and AeroMexico fly direct to Guadalajara.

What is the Flight Time?

Flight time is on a commercial flight starts at around 1 hour 20 minutes.

What is the Flight Distance?

The flight distance from Mexico City to Guadalajara is approximately 286 miles (around 460 km).

Which Airports Do I Use?

You’ll use Mexico City International Airport (MEX) to depart and you’ll use Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) in Guadalajara when you arrive.

How Far Is It From Guadalajara Airport To The City Center?

Guadalajara International Airport is about 13 miles (21 km) to the west of the historic center of Guadalajara.

How Can I Get From Guadalajara International Airport To The City Center?

Guadalajara is a large city with a well-developed transportation system. You can get a taxi, a private transfer, an Uber, or the public bus to the city.

You’ll be able to get a taxi from the airport. A taxi will cost around US$10 to US$15 and you can get one in front of the airport when you exit.

Private Transfer

If you’re staying in any of the major hotels, the concierge will be able to arrange an airport transfer service for you.

If you want to arrange it yourself, check out your options on Viator . Prices start at around US$30.

Uber is also available in Guadalajara and works the same as it does in the US. Uber is usually a little cheaper than a taxi, and you can expect to pay around US$10 for a ride into the city.

The cheapest way to travel from the airport to your hotel is to take the public bus, and it will cost you 9.50 Mexican pesos (less than US$1.00).

You’ll need to take the Ruta T13-A bus from the airport to into the historic center of Guadalajara. The trip will take around an hour.

Can I Rent A Car At Guadalajara Airport?

Yes, Europcar and other major providers have kiosks at the airport.

I recommend using DiscoverCars to book the best deal available ahead of your arrival. You can expect to pay around US$30 per day plus gas for a basic rental car.

2. Rental Car To Guadalajara

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

A road trip from Mexico City to Guadalajara is a great option that offers the freedom to explore at your own pace.

There’s nothing quite like the open road.

Fast Facts: Rental Car From Mexico City to Guadalajara

  • Starts at about US$350 plus gas, driving one-way
  • Travel time is about 7 hours
  • Mexico City (various locations)
  • Guadalajara (various locations)

Tip: Gas in Mexico will probably cost you around US$5 per gallon, and you’ll need about 9 to 10 gallons to get to Guadalajara.

How Do I Find A Rental Car?

I recommend using DiscoverCars to book the best deal available ahead of your arrival. Assuming you’re driving one way and dropping off your car in Guadalajara when you arrive, you can expect to pay around US$350 plus gas.

If you’re planning on driving the car back to Mexico City, then you’ll pay around US$30 per day plus gas.

What Is The Best Route From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

The route from Mexico City to Guadalajara starts on highway 57D just to the north of the city.

After about 50 miles you’ll take highway Arco Norte for another 30 miles or so south-west until you reach highway 15D. From there you’ll continue following highway 15D for another 240 miles into Guadalajara.

What’s Great About Driving to Guadalajara?

There are some great advantages to renting a car and driving to Guadalajara.

Of all of the options, driving literally and figuratively puts you in the driver’s seat.

You get to choose every aspect of your journey, from departure time to the speed you travel to how often and where you stop.

One of the best things about driving is that you don’t have to share your journey unless you want to.

If you’re traveling as a family, driving also means that you can have your familial privacy whilst you travel.

3. Convenience

Driving is the ultimate convenience. All you’ll need to do is book the car and pick it up whenever you’re ready to go.

This is particularly helpful if you have a family and it might take a little longer than expected to get everyone ready.

FAQs: Rental Car From Mexico City to Guadalajara

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

We’ve set out below some frequently asked questions and answers about how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara by rental car.

How Much Does It Cost To Drive From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

A rental car that you pick up in Mexico City and drop off the next day in Guadalajara will cost around US$350. The price is high because it includes a one-way fee. Gas is on top of that.

If you’re driving it back to Mexico City, then the rate is much cheaper (around US$30 per day) and you’ll just pay the daily rate and the gas.

Most providers don’t charge you per mile travelled, but make sure you check before you sign on the dotted line.

What is the Route From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

After about 50 miles you’ll take highway Arco Norte for another 30 miles or so south-west. Once you reach highway 15D, you’ll continue following it for another 240 miles into Guadalajara.

What is the Travel Time?

You’ll be driving for around 7 hours, depending on how often you want to stop.

What is the Distance From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

The total distance is approximately 345 miles (554 km) from Mexico City to Guadalajara.

Where Do I Rent A Car In Mexico City?

There are lots of places in Mexico City where you can rent a car, including Benito Juárez International Airport and on Avenida Paseo de la Reforma in the Juárez district of Mexico City.

Are The Rental Cars Comfortable?

The short answer is yes, you will be able to rent a comfortable modern vehicle in Mexico City. However, the level of luxury that you enjoy depends very much on your budget.

The car rental providers in Mexico City have a range of vehicles that you can choose from, ranging from compacts up to luxury limousines.

Is It Safe To Travel By Car?

Yes, it is safe to travel by car provided you take basis precautions such as wearing your seatbelts, traveling with the doors locked and not driving unsafely.

3. Bus To Guadalajara

Internal bus seating, similar to on a trip from Mexico City to Puebla

If you can’t or don’t want to fly and don’t want to drive yourself from Mexico City to Guadalajara, the bus is a great option for you.

Fast Facts: Bus From Mexico City to Guadalajara

  • Starting at around US$55
  • Travel time is around 7 hours, depending on the trip
  • Multiple trips per day
  • Central de Autobuses del Norte, Mexico City
  • Central de Autobuses de Guadalajara, Guadalajara

Where Can I Book A Bus From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

The two biggest providers of bus routes from Mexico City to Guadalajara are Futura and Elite Select .

I recommend using ClickBus or Busbud to find the best deal.

Tip: there’s no WiFi in the bus, so download anything you need at the hotel. You might also want to bring a neck pillow to help you sleep and Benadryl or Dramamine if you get carsick.

What’s Great About Taking The Bus?

Okay, so it’s not a private jet and never will be. Still, there are some positives to taking the bus.

1. The Bus Is Cheaper

Taking the bus will usually work out a little cheaper than flying.

That’s especially the case if you are planning to take a taxi to and from the airport each time.

2. Buses Take Their Time

It might seem like a strange thing to say, but buses are a bit like slow-food.

As you travel the approximately 345 miles (554 km) from Mexico City to Guadalajara through the mountains, you’ll get to soak in the diverse natural beauty of Mexico.

3. You’ll be Dropped Off In The City Center

If you take the bus from Mexico City to Guadalajara, you’ll be dropped off close to downtown Guadalajara.

When you get off the bus, if you’re staying in the town center, you can take a short taxi ride to your hotel.

FAQs: Taking The Bus From Mexico City to Guadalajara

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

I’ve set out below some frequently asked questions and answers about how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara by bus.

How Much Is The Bus From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

Prices start at around US$55 per person per trip.

Which Buses Run From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

Futura and Elite Select are the two largest operators.

I recommend using ClickBus or Busbud to check availability for your dates and to find the best deal.

Is There a direct Bus from Mexico City to Guadalajara?

Yes, there is a bus service that can take you the whole way from Mexico City to Guadalajara without a stop in between.

Travel time starts at around 7 hours, depending on the time of day you’re traveling and the provider you use.

The bus route is approximately 345 miles (554 km) long.

Which Bus Stations Do I Use?

In Mexico City, the pick-up point is Central de Autobuses del Norte in Mexico City

In Guadalajara, the drop-off point is Central de Autobuses de Guadalajara, just a few miles south-east of the historic center.

Are The Buses Comfortable?

The buses are modern and air-conditioned, and the seats are comfortable semi-recliners.

There is no WiFi, though, so download everything you need before you leave the hotel.

Is It Safe To Travel By Bus?

You will be perfectly safe provided you take basic precautions.

Most importantly, keep your belongings with you at all times and keep your valuables out of sight.

4. Private Transfer To Guadalajara

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

If you’re keen on a road trip from Mexico City to Guadalajara but aren’t so keen to do the driving, you can arrange a private transfer.

It’s a lot more expensive than renting a car and driving yourself, but it lets you relax and enjoy the scenery or even catch up on some sleep.

Fast Facts: Private Transfer From Mexico City to Guadalajara

  • Starts at around US$400 per person (minimum 2 people)
  • Travel time is minimum 7 hours, depending on stops
  • Hotel pick-up
  • Hotel drop-off

Where Can You Book A Private Transfer From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

The easiest way to find a reputable private transfer service is by using a platform like Viator .

There are different options available and you can add in stops along the way in interesting places like Morelia and Lake Chapala.

What’s Great About A Private Transfer?

Although it is more expensive than a rental car, there are some benefits of getting a private driver rather than driving yourself.

1. No Need To Focus On The Road

The best thing about being chauffeured is that you don’t need to worry about driving.

Watching the road for seven hours or more is exhausting and means that you won’t be able to completely relax until you reach Guadalajara.

2. Great For Groups

A private transfer is great if you’re traveling as a group.

You get to share the cost and just focus on having fun and let the driver bring you to Guadalajara.

3. Capped risk

The other big benefit of having a private driver is that you don’t bear the risk of having an accident and damaging the car.

Your insurance would likely cover any damage, but having a driver just avoids the risk altogether.

FAQs: Private Transfer From Mexico City to Guadalajara

Black sedan making a turn on a road in a forest

We’ve set out below some frequently asked questions and answers about how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara by private transfer.

A private transfer starts at around US$400 per trip per person for a minimum of two people. If you book with a larger group, the price per person will usually go down.

Most services cap the number of passengers, so make sure you check this before you book.

The route from Mexico City to Guadalajara by private transfer will follow the same route as you would take if you rented a car.

You’ll be driving for at least 7 hours, depending on how often you want to stop.

The private transfer will usually plan for one stop to eat, unless you need to stop more often to use the bathroom or you plan stopovers in different towns.

Are The Private transfer Cars Comfortable?

Yes, the private transfer services offered on Viator use comfortable modern vehicles.

Is It Safe To Travel By Private Transfer?

If you travel with a reputable provider such as those arranged via Viator, you will be perfectly safe traveling by private transfer.

5. Carshare To Guadalajara

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Another option you can use to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara is a carshare.

Car-sharing is very popular on the Mexico City to Guadalajara route and it’s a great cheap way to travel while getting to know new people.

Fast Facts: Carshare From Mexico City to Guadalajara

  • Starts at around 500 Mexican pesos (US$25) per person
  • Travel time is around 7 hours
  • Pick-up depends on trip
  • Drop-off depends on trip

Where Can You Book A Carshare From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

The easiest way to find a reputable carshare service is on BlaBlaCar .

There are different options available and you can choose a ride with a verified driver with lots of positive reviews.

What’s Great About A Carshare?

Although you won’t be able to take full control like you could with a rental car, there are some benefits of using a carshare rather than driving yourself.

1. Cheap Way to Travel

Car-sharing is often much cheaper than any other option.

Similar to Uber, the car-sharing model is unregulated and costs are lower as a result.

2. Easy to Organize

Arranging a car-share is very easy through online platforms like BlaBlaCar.

You’ll be able to see the pick-up and drop-off points at the time of booking and you’ll then pay when you’re picked up.

3. No Responsibility for the Vehicle

Similar to the other options where you’re being chauffeured, you won’t be responsible for what happens to the car while you’re on the road.

You’ll only be responsible for paying the agreed price and your liability ends there.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

We’ve set out below some frequently asked questions and answers about how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara by carshare.

A private transfer starts at around 500 Mexican pesos (US$25) per trip for one person. If you book with a larger group, the price per person will usually go down.

You’ll be driving for around 7 hours.

Drivers with good reviews will have comfortable vehicles. Contact the driver ahead of agreeing to a carshare ride to confirm.

Is It Safe To Travel By Carshare?

Yes, but you should be aware that some people may try to use the platforms to run scams.

You should be able to easily avoid this by choosing drivers who have verified profiles and lots of positive reviews.

6. Private Jet to Guadalajara

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Before you ask, yes, you can absolutely get a private jet from Mexico City to Guadalajara, even for such a short distance.

And yes, it is monstrously expensive, but can’t be beaten for comfort and convenience.

Fast Facts: Private Jet From Mexico City to Guadalajara

  • Starts at around US$8,000
  • Flight time is around 50 minutes direct

Where Can I Book A Private Jet from Mexico City To Guadalajara?

There are a few different sites that you can take a look at.

I recommend taking a look at AlbaJet , which sets out various options for the Mexico City to Guadalajara route.

You have a few options to get to Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX) from Mexico City.

The options and prices are broadly the same as for a commercial flight (see above ).

What’s Great About Flying With A Private Jet?

There are obviously some big positive aspects of flying with a private jet.

It’s hard to think of a more stylish or glamorous way to arrive in Guadalajara than in a private jet.

If you want to feel like a rockstar when you arrive, there’s no better way to do it.

2. Convenience

If you need to travel urgently on short notice, flying on a private jet is extremely convenient.

You can usually book a window during which your pilot will be available, and you can arrive and fly at any time in that window.

3. Special Occasions

If you’re traveling as a group for a wedding or for a stag or hens night, a private jet is a great way to ensure that everyone arrives at the same time.

With a large group, the prices per person aren’t quite so eye-watering, although your wallet will still take a good beating.

FAQs: Flying From Mexico City to Guadalajara by Private Jet

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

If you still have questions about how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara by private jet, take a look at the FAQs and responses below.

How Much Is A Private Jet To From Mexico City to Guadalajara?

If you want to fly privately from Mexico City to Guadalajara, you’re looking at around US$8,000 for a light jet seating six to eight, going up to around US$30,000 for a larger jet seating up to 16 people.

Extremely glamorous and wonderfully convenient, but not for those of us with weak wallets.

Flight time is on a private jet is around 50 minutes.

You’ll also get through security faster and will be able to board and get off more quickly than on a commercial flight.

You’ll fly out of Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX) to depart and you’ll use Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) in Guadalajara when you arrive.

How Can I Get From Guadalajara Airport To The City Center?

The options are the same as for a commercial flight, which I’ve set out in detail in the section above .

How to Get From Mexico City To Guadalajara

7. helicopter to guadalajara.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

If you would consider taking a private jet from Mexico City to Guadalajara, a similar option is to take a helicopter. Helicopter taxi services are definitely the transport of the future, so if you can afford it, why not start now?

While a helicopter is slower than a private jet and not as luxurious due to the limited space, you’ll have much more time to sightsee on your way to Guadalajara. On that basis, I definitely think it is an option that you should have on your list.

Fast Facts: Helicopter From Mexico City to Guadalajara

  • Starts at around US$3,000
  • Flight time is around 2 to 3 hours

Where Can I Book A Helicopter From Mexico City To Guadalajara?

I recommend starting with Patriot Aviation or Meicer Aviación , each of which can offer you a personalized quote on request for the Mexico City to Guadalajara route.

In most cases, you’ll take off from Mexico City International Airport (MEX) in Mexico City when you’re flying by helicopter.

The options and prices for getting from downtown Mexico City to the airport are all the same as for a commercial flight (see above ).

What’s Great About Flying By Helicopter?

Most of the advantages of flying privately apply to flying by helicopter as well.

I’ve added a few specific ones that are unique to flying with a helicopter below.

1. Better For Sightseeing

While flying by helicopter is much faster than traveling by land in a car or a bus, it is still a lot slower than flying commercially or privately.

That might be a downside if you’re in a hurry, but if you’re not, you’ll have a much better opportunity to enjoy the scenery as you fly.

Basically, because you’ll be flying lower and slower, you’ll see more for longer.

As with a private jet, if you want to travel quickly, a helicopter flight is extremely convenient.

3. Better if You Fear Flying

It might sound like an odd thing to say, but if you’re keen to fly yet have a fear of flying, a helicopter flight is likely to be a better bet than a flight on a jet.

Helicopters take off vertically so there’s no dramatic acceleration that bothers many people when flying. They also fly lower and don’t use pressurised cabins, which means that you won’t have the discomfort from the change in pressure like you do in a plane.

All in all, a helicopter flight is a “lighter” version of flying, if you like. So if you’re not really keen on flying but need to travel quickly, this is a great option for you.

FAQs: Flying From Mexico City to Guadalajara By Helicopter

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

If you still have questions about how to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara by helicopter, take a look at the FAQs and responses below.

How Much Is A Helicopter from Mexico City to Guadalajara?

If you want to fly by helicopter to Guadalajara, you’re looking at around US$3,000 for a helicopter seating six to eight.

The price will go up for the larger, heavier models that require more crew members to pilot them.

Flight time on a helicopter will be around an hour in total.

You’ll fly out of Mexico City International Airport (MEX) to depart and you’ll use Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) in Guadalajara when you arrive.

What Are The Best Things To Do In Guadalajara?

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Although it may not be the first Mexican destination that you think of, other than Mexico City itself, there’s no bigger city in Mexico than Guadalajara. Unsurprisingly, it’s full of Mexican history and culture and there are plenty of things to see and do.

The heart of the historic center of Guadalajara is the Plaza de Armas, also known as the zócalo of the city. It’s a great place to start your exploration of the city, because it’s very close to lots of great attractions.

Guadalajara’s stunningly beautiful cathedral is the most obvious of these and it’s right opposite the zócalo . It’s a blend of early 17th century Spanish renaissance architecture, but with two distinctive yellow neo-Gothic spires constructed after an earthquake that make the cathedral truly unique.

Just a few blocks east of the zócalo , you can visit the 19th century Degollado Theater ( Teatro Degollado ) designed by Jacobo Gálvez with classical Corinthian columns, marble sculptures and extensive murals. It’s home to the state philharmonic orchestra ( Filarmónica de Jalisco ) and you can also see regular opera and ballet performances in its 1,027 visitor capacity.

A few miles south-east of Guadalajara’s historic center is a colorful area called Tlaquepaque. It was designated as a Jalisco magic town ( pueblo mágico ) in 2018 and you can walk down the colorful Calle de la Independencia, watch a mariachi show with a tequila cazuela in El Parían, or admire the locally produced pottery, clothing and glass products in the many unique shops.

And if you’re an aficionado of tequila, you will be in heaven. The birthplace of tequila itself is just 40 miles away in the town of Tequila, where you can tour the famous Jose Cuervo Distillery and taste some of the freshest Tequila you’ll ever find.  You can also follow the tequila trail ( la ruta de tequila ) through over 150 registered distilleries that, together, make 100% of the tequila in the world today.

All in all, Guadalajara is loaded with great things to do and you can easily keep yourself entertained over a few days.

Where Are The Best Places To Stay In Guadalajara?

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

When you make it to Guadalajara, the next obvious question will be where do you stay?

The city is geographically huge and you can choose to stay in the historic center or in neighbouring areas like Chapalita. Wherever you decide to stay, there are lots of great options.

Within the historic center, Hotel de Mendoza is a beautiful luxury option a stone’s throw from the Teatro Degollado. If you’re looking for something a little easier on the wallet, Hotel Frances is a beautiful hotel in a building dating back to the early 17th century and One Guadalajara is right opposite the Guadalajara Cathedral.

In Chapalita, which is just a few miles to the south-west of the historic center, I’d recommend Hotel Boutique La Mansión Guadalajara . It’s a beautiful hotel with some real Mexican character with a pool, onsite restaurant and even a squash court. If you’re looking for something more traditionally modern, then the Riu Plaza or Becquer Hotel are also great options.

If you’re looking for hostels, Hostel Hospedarte Centro is just a few blocks to the south-east of the Guadalajara Cathedral. Art House Hostel is another great option with beautifully painted murals just a few blocks to the north-east of the historic center.

When is the Best Time to Visit Guadalajara?

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

If you live in northern latitudes, you’re probably used to four defined seasons.  However, the more equatorial parts of the world like Guadalajara don’t really follow this model. 

Instead, in Guadalajara, there are really only two distinctive seasons, which are a dry season and a rainy season . The dry season runs from November to the end of April and is cooler except for March and April, where the maximum temperature is quite high. The rainy season runs from May through to October, which are all warm months.

Guadalajara also has an altitude of 5,138 ft (1,566 m), which is about as high as Denver, Colorado. Its climate is a subtropical highland climate, and because of the high altitude, its temperature can fluctuate daily by more than 61°F (16°C). You’ll get cold nights and warm days, with the extremes in the temperature depending on part of the season in which you’re visiting.

The dry season is the most popular time for tourists, although there are also some spikes at other times such as the end of October during the Day of the Dead festival. The greater demand during the tourist season means that prices of flights and hotels increase as well.

The rainy season typically has fewer tourists, meaning that prices are lower, so its definitely the time to travel if you’re on a budget. Most of the time, it only rains in the afternoons, so if you plan to explore in the mornings, you can still have a great trip during the rainy season. 

What Should I Pack To Go To Guadalajara?

Woman sitting on a pink suitcase in an airport

Although Guadalajara is at a lower altitude than Mexico City, it’s still quite high, which means that the temperature fluctuates quite a lot throughout the day, the same way as in Mexico City.

As in Mexico City, in Guadalajara, people deal with this by dressing in layers and progressively stripping layers off as the temperature increases throughout the day. What you pack for both cities depends a little on when you’re expecting to visit.

During the cooler dry season months of November to March, temperatures are cool enough that you might want a warm jacket in the evenings. At its coolest in January, the temperature in Guadalajara will fall as low as 54°F (12°C) in the evenings and then get up to 77°F (25°C) during the day.

The wet season months are generally warmer. In May, which is the warmest month of the year, it gets up to 91°F (33°C) during the day and only falls to 63°F (17°C) in the evenings. You’ll still need warm clothes in the evening, but you can get away with warm jumpers rather than needing coats.

If you travel during the rainy season, you’ll want to bring a light, waterproof jacket or buy a fold-up umbrella when you arrive.  The run isn’t usually too extreme, but you should also have a few more changes of clothes in case you get caught in a downpour.

Even though the public transport system is great, you’ll still do a lot of walking in Guadalajara, so bring or buy a comfortable pair of walking shoes. A hat for protection against the sun is also a good idea if you’re visiting in the late part of the dry season or in the wet season. 

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading, and I hope I’ve been able to help you with some ideas for traveling from Mexico City to Guadalajara beyond just renting a car or taking the bus.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with those options, and frankly they’re probably your best bet most of the time. But I think it’s helpful to understand the other options so that you don’t miss out on a great experience you wish you’d had.

Your options to get from Mexico City to Guadalajara are many, and all of them are great. Choose the one that most takes your fancy, and have an amazing time in Guadalajara!

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Guadalajara Travel Guide

Mexico › Guadalajara Updated: March 1, 2022

  • Guadalajara – Where to Stay
  • Mexico – Where to Go
  • Mexico – With Kids
  • Mexico – Best Time to Visit
  • Mexico – Best Beaches

Frequently Asked Questions about Guadalajara

Guadalajara cathedral

The iconic Guadalajara Cathedral with its unique 2 spires sits in the main plaza in downtown.

Where is Guadalajara?

Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, in western Mexico. It is located in the central part of the state, in the Atemajac Valley, at an altitude of 5150 ft. (1570 meters). Eight municipalities make up its metropolitan area, which is the second-largest in the country, right after Mexico City.

How big is Guadalajara?

The population of Guadalajara is around 4,500,000 inhabitants, including its metropolitan area, distributed in an area of 1698 square miles (2734 square kilometers). Without counting the other seven municipalities, Guadalajara measures 94 square miles (151 square kilometers) and its population exceeds 1,500,000 inhabitants.

What is the history of Guadalajara?

In 1530, the Spanish Conquistador Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán decided to conquer the region of Guadalajara. Once he achieved this, he named it Guadalajara in honor of the Spanish city where he was born. The colonization process was long and complex due to the indigenous resistance and it wasn’t until 1542 that the new settlement finally took hold of the place it now occupies in the Atemajac Valley. In 1560, it became the capital of Nueva Galicia, now called Jalisco.

mariachi musicians serenading diners

Mariachi music originated in the region around Guadalajara, and is one of 7 Mexican cultural traditions recognized by UNESCO.

How do I get to Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has an international airport located 10 miles (16 kilometers) away from the city center. It’s the third airport with the most air traffic in the country (after Mexico City and Cancun). There are daily flights from various parts of Mexico, the United States, and Central America. Transfer time from the airport to the city center by taxi is around 35 minutes.

When is the best time to go to Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has a privileged climate. The average maximum temperature in the year is 80°F (27°C) and the minimum is 51°F (11°C). The rainy season begins in late June and ends in early October. Even though the city’s tabachines and jacaranda trees aren’t in full bloom in the winter, this is a good time to explore the city on foot without worrying about rain or excessive heat.

What neighborhoods should I visit in Guadalajara?

tlaquepaque walkway

Tlaquepaque is a popular neighborhood for both locals and tourists, filled with restaurants and art galleries, and a pedestrian only central area.

Guadalajara exemplifies tradition and modern-day life at the same time. There are neighborhoods where visitors can feel the timeless flavor of tequila and mariachi music, and others where they can breathe avant-garde through art, design, and gastronomy. ‘Musts’ include visiting the buildings in the historic center, the markets in Mexicaltzingo and Santa Tere, the galleries and bars in the Americana neighborhood, as well as strolling through Tonala and Tlaquepaque, two traditional neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city.

Where should I stay in Guadalajara?

The historic center of Guadalajara combines iconic buildings, good nightlife, and access routes to the rest of the city. Travelers looking for luxury and exclusivity will find that Puerta de Hierro, home to the business district, is the right choice. Host to renowned events like the International Book Fair , Expo Guadalajara —the city’s main convention center— is a magnet for visitors. There are plenty of accommodation options for all budgets in its surrounding area, known as Zona Expo. The Americana neighborhood has an appealing hipster vibe where younger, or young at heart, visitors might feel right at home staying at Airbnbs.

How do I get around in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has several main roads that cross the city. Transportation options include light rail, minibus, buses, bicycle rental, and taxis. It’s best to request taxis through hotel concierges or restaurant reception staff. Transport companies also operate in the city through apps such as Uber and Cabify .

What are the best things to do in Guadalajara?

agave fields in tequila Jalisco

Visiting the agave fields and distilleries in Tequila on the outskirts of Guadalajara is a popular day trip.

Guadalajara has many interesting buildings worth visiting but some unmissable ones are Hospicio Cabañas , Degollado Theater , and the Expiatory Temple . The town’s culinary offer is impressive and Chapultepec Avenue is a good example of it. With bars lining both sides of the street, visitors can breathe in its enchanting atmosphere, even late at night. And to fully experience this thoroughly Mexican city, visitors would do well to sit in a bar in Tlaquepaque and listen to live mariachi music while sipping a jarrito with tequila.

How many days should I spend in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara is a great city in every sense, and its essence can’t be absorbed in less than four days. One or two days should be allocated to go sightseeing around the historic center, another one to explore iconic places such as Tlaquepaque, and one more to discover its artistic side by popping into galleries, designer shops, and restaurants in the Americana neighborhood. Travelers wishing to visit tourist attractions in the surrounding areas, such as Tequila or Chapala, will need to allocate at least a week to the trip.

What currency is used in Guadalajara?

In Guadalajara, as in the rest of the country, the currency is the Mexican peso. In 2020 the average exchange rate has been about 20 pesos per US dollar. There are foreign currency exchange agencies in the airport but the best rate is usually offered by the bank, so it’s advisable to pay with a credit card whenever possible and withdraw cash from an ATM. Carrying small bills is useful because many smaller establishments don’t accept cards. The same is true for markets, taxis, and street vendors.

Should I tip in Guadalajara?

In Guadalajara, as all over Mexico, waiters’ salaries are generally low, so tips are a fundamental part of the hospitality industry. The usual range is between 10 and 15%, but if service has been extraordinary, that percentage can be increased. In hotels, it’s also common to leave some bills to the housekeeping staff at the end of the stay. Unlike in the United States, it is not customary to tip taxi drivers in Mexico.

San Juan De Dios market

San Juan de Dios market in downtown is the largest indoor market in Latin America, covering 40,000 sq meters, filled with endless clothing stalls and a huge interior food court.

Is Guadalajara expensive?

Being the second-largest city in the country, Guadalajara’s prices are above those of the rest of Mexico, but also due to its size, it adapts to all budgets. As in all large cities, prices fluctuate from one area of the city to another, so it will not cost the same to buy handicrafts in Zapopan as in less touristy Juanacatlán. For travelers arriving from the United States, Europe, or Australia, it will not feel like an expensive city.

Is Guadalajara safe?

Like any great metropolis, Guadalajara is a city where crime is present. It’s best to carry money in a front pocket or crossbody bag, and going into sketchy neighborhoods should be completely avoided. To travel long journeys, especially at night, it’s best to call a taxi or Uber instead of walking back to the hotel or Airbnb.

What should I eat in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara has a culinary offer that will make the most demanding palates fall in love. Foodies will revel in the signature cuisine at Alcalde and D’Franck , the interesting fusions at Anita Li and Bruna , and local food staples such as tortas ahogadas (drowned sandwiches) and carnes en su jugo (meats in their juice). Karne Garibaldi , a restaurant that serves this specialty, holds the Guinness Record for the fastest service in the world.

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Is It Safe to Travel to Mexico? Here’s What You Need to Know.

A spate of incidents, including a kidnapping and the death of two Americans near the border, have prompted travel warnings from the U.S. government.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

By Elisabeth Malkin and Isabella Kwai

Two Americans found dead after they were attacked and kidnapped near the border. Airports shuttered amid gang violence in Sinaloa. Turmoil among taxi drivers in Cancún.

A number of recent security incidents have raised concerns about the risks of traveling to Mexico, where more than 20 million tourists flew last year to visit the country’s beaches, cities and archaeological sites, or to obtain health care .

Ahead of the spring break holiday, a popular time for American tourists to visit the country, the U.S. Embassy issued a travel alert , urging visitors to exercise caution by avoiding dangerous situations and drinking responsibly, among other recommendations. “Crime, including violent crime, can occur anywhere in Mexico, including in popular tourist destinations,” the alert said. And the State Department has warned tourists to steer clear of six states, including the state of Tamaulipas, where the recent kidnapping occurred — and to exercise increased precautions in other popular destinations like Playa del Carmen, Cancún, Tulum and Mexico City.

An overwhelming majority of visitors enjoy a safe vacation in Mexico, and tourists are largely sheltered from the violence that grips local communities. But the attack and kidnapping of four Americans in the border city of Matamoros, two of whom were later found dead, along with recent disorder in Cancún and violence in early January that forced the closure of three airports in northwest Mexico, is prompting questions about whether the country’s broader unrest is spilling into other destinations.

What happened on the border?

On March 3, four Americans from South Carolina traveling in a white minivan crossed the border from Brownsville, Texas, into the city of Matamoros, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. One of the Americans was scheduled for cosmetic surgery.

Soon after the Americans crossed the border, gunmen fired on their vehicle and then abducted the group in a pickup truck. Officials later said that two of the group were found dead at a rural location alongside the other two, who had survived.

The Americans were attacked as a result of “confusion,” according to Irving Barrios, the state prosecutor in Tamaulipas. Matamoros has a long history of violence and highway shootouts, though that reputation has partially subsided in recent years. Then, in late February, one gang moved into the city to wrest control of drug sales from another, said Eduardo Guerrero, the director of Lantia Intelligence , a security consulting company in Mexico City.

“There are places in the country where the situation can change abruptly from one week to another,” he said. While the motives in the attack remain unclear, the Americans had “very bad luck,” Mr. Guerrero said, because they likely stumbled into a battle between the two gangs.

What happened earlier this year in Cancún?

Uber has been challenging the taxi unions for the right to operate in Cancún and won a court decision in its favor on Jan. 11. The ruling infuriated the powerful unions, which are believed to have links to local organized crime figures and former governors. Taxi drivers then began harassing and threatening Uber drivers.

The conflict generated widespread attention after a video of taxi drivers forcing a Russian-speaking family out of their rideshare car went viral, and after unions blocked the main road leading to Cancún’s hotel zone. That prompted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to issue a security alert .

Mr. Guerrero said that the authorities will try to negotiate some kind of compromise, but there was a probability of more violence ahead.

Have authorities curbed violence that might affect tourists?

As a rule, criminals in Mexico are careful not to kill tourists, Mr. Guerrero explained, because doing so “can set in motion a persecution that can last years,” the consequences of which can be “very dissuasive,” he said.

But the rule doesn’t always hold. And in two popular destinations for foreign tourists — Los Cabos , at the tip of the Baja California peninsula, and the Caribbean coast — local and state officials have recently sought help from the United States to take on organized crime that threatened to drive off tourists.

A spasm of violence at the end of 2021 and early 2022 rattled the tourist industry along the Riviera Maya, the 80-mile strip of Caribbean resorts south of Cancún. Two visitors were killed in crossfire between local gangs in Tulum; a gunfight on a beach in Puerto Morelos sent tourists running for cover into a nearby hotel; a hit man gained entry to a luxury hotel in Playa del Carmen and killed two Canadian tourists believed to have links to organized crime.

The federal government sent National Guard units to patrol the beaches, and Quintana Roo state authorities asked U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to provide intelligence, Mr. Guerrero said. Local authorities, flush with tourism revenues, invested in the police, which is typically the weakest link in Mexican law enforcement.

The joint approach led to a lull in gangland gun battles in Quintana Roo’s tourist areas, and experts say that drug sales to meet foreign demand no longer take place on the street, although they are continuing more discreetly.

The success in tamping down drug violence in Quintana Roo follows a similar improvement in Los Cabos a couple of years ago when U.S. authorities also collaborated with local officials in the state of Baja California Sur. The murder rate soared in Los Cabos in 2017 amid cartel wars, and although tourists were not targeted, that year police chased gunmen into the lobby of a luxury hotel in San José del Cabo, and a cooler containing two heads was left in a tourist area.

What about tourist areas in other states?

Even in states where crime is very high, tourist areas have generally been spared. San Miguel de Allende, a haven for U.S. retirees, is an island of relative peace in a state, Guanajuato, that has been riddled with cartel violence .

The Pacific Coast state of Jalisco, home to the resort of Puerto Vallarta, picturesque tequila country and the cultural and gastronomic attractions of the state capital, Guadalajara , is also the center of operations of the extremely violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel . The cartel’s focus of violence is in the countryside; Puerto Vallarta and the beaches to its north, including the exclusive peninsula of Punta Mita and the surfers’ hangout of Sayulita, are all booming — and, despite drug sales, the cartel’s control seems to limit open conflict.

Mexico City has become a magnet for digital nomads and shorter term visitors , and concerns about violence there have receded. The city’s police force has been successful in reducing violent crime, particularly homicides, and the number of killings has been cut almost in half over the past three years.

Are there any other safety concerns?

Street crime is still a problem almost everywhere, especially in bigger cities and crowded spaces. Kidnapping and carjacking are a risk in certain regions and many businesses that cater to tourists operate under extortion threats. While tourists may not be aware of underlying criminal forces, their power sometimes spills out into the open in spectacular shows of violence.

The attack in Matamoros is only the most recent example. Mexican border cities, which have long endured waves of violence, are not typically tourist destinations, although Americans often cross the border to visit family, seek out cheaper health care or dine at restaurants.

Three airports in the state of Sinaloa, including the beach destination Mazatlán, were closed on Jan. 5 amid gang violence after Mexican security forces arrested Ovidio Guzmán López, a son of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the crime lord known as El Chapo, who is serving a life sentence in the United States. A stray bullet fired by cartel gunmen shooting at a Mexican military plane as it landed at the airport in the state capital, Culiacán, clipped an Aeromexico plane preparing to take off for Mexico City. Nobody was hurt and the plane returned to the terminal.

In August, gunmen positioned burning cars and buses to block roads around Guadalajara in response to a military raid on a meeting of criminal bosses. In October, a local politician was shot and killed in an upscale steakhouse in suburban Guadalajara as terrified diners crawled to safety.

Pierre de Hail, the president of Janus Group Mexico, a risk management company in Monterrey, is skeptical that security has improved. “There is too much random risk,” he said. “It’s all about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

What precautions should tourists take?

Mr. de Hail recommends researching the resort and news from the area you’re visiting. The U.S. State Department provides state-by-state information about travel risks in Mexico. As of early March, the department had issued its strongest possible warning — Level 4: Do Not Travel — for six states, including Tamaulipas and Sinaloa. Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur are at Level 2, indicating that visitors should exercise increased caution. (By comparison, the same Level 2 advisory is applied to France and Spain.)

The Matamoros incident shows how violence can flare up in places that have been quiet recently. Mr. Guerrero suggests searching on the internet before traveling for news of recent outbreaks.

Mr. de Hail also suggests buying travel insurance in case of a medical emergency or theft, and recommends that tourists keep a low profile to avoid attracting attention, he said, warning that it is easy to misread situations.

As anywhere, common sense should prevail, Mr. de Hail said: Don’t wear expensive watches or jewelry, and avoid dark and deserted places. He recommends making a copy of your passport, remaining alert while walking home at night and not leaving your drinks unattended. “I have had numerous cases of people asking for help because they were extorted coming back from bars,” he said.

He added: “If you’re staying in a place that has a report of strikes or demonstrations, don’t go there. You’re a fish out of water.”

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram , Twitter and Facebook . And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2023 .

Isabella Kwai is a breaking news reporter in the London bureau. She joined The Times in 2017 as part of the Australia bureau. More about Isabella Kwai

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

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India: A writer fulfilled a lifelong dream of visiting Darjeeling, in the Himalayan foothills , taking in the tea gardens and riding a train through the hills.

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

9 Reasons Why You Should Visit Guadalajara

is Guadalajara worth visiting

With its thriving art scene, delectable cuisine, and vibrant nightlife , Mexico has been a tourist favorite for years, but people often overlook Guadalajara, its second-biggest city. Visiting is a no-brainer if you’re looking for a slightly more relaxing getaway, and truth be told, we think it has just as much, if not more to offer than Mexico’s capital. 

From Guadalajara’s rich history to its fascinating museums and mariachi concerts, there are plenty of reasons to pay the city a visit besides the tequila. The prices for accommodation, food, and attractions are also often a good deal cheaper than in Mexico City , while being a much easier destination to get around in.

For those of you who need even further convincing, our nine reasons to visit Guadalajara are sure to sell you on an unforgettable holiday in this underrated Mexican gem. Let’s get into it. You’ll thank us later.

Table of Contents

The relaxed vibe

Guadalajara

As a consequence of the booming tourism scene in Mexico City, navigating public transport can be a chaotic experience and popular spots tend to be quite crowded. Of course, this won’t be a problem for everyone, but if you’re looking for that big city feeling without the chaos, Guadalajara is the destination for you.

It’s fast becoming a favorite among architecture enthusiasts, and those who enjoy a slower pace, with the limited number of metro lines contributing to the city’s laidback vibe. Most things are accessible on foot, which means fewer traffic jams and more than enough space for tourists to explore to their heart’s content. 

The city doesn’t have any shortage of quality bars either, with Chapultepec Avenue serving as the center of a quirky nightlife scene. Plus, the locals are generally exceedingly friendly, not to mention helpful, adding to its relaxed atmosphere. 

The culture 

Mexican theater

Mexico is a country steeped in culture and tradition. You can enjoy unique local festivities all year round and Guadalajara is no exception. For starters, you could catch a performance at the neo-classical Teatro Degollado theatre, which houses an array of incredible murals or grab a drink in the nearby suburb of Tequila. If the aforementioned drink isn’t quite to your liking, you could always sample the beers in the city’s rapidly expanding craft brewery scene instead.

Another option is heading to the Plaza de Los Mariachis in the evening and hiring a band to serenade you. After all, it’s widely believed that mariachi music as we know it today was birthed in Jalisco, the Mexican state where Guadalajara is the capital city.  

Naturally, one of the most culturally enriching things to do in Guadalajara is taking part in a local festival, and one of the most famous and important events of the year is the International Mariachi Festival. It takes place at the end of August and offers parades, free concerts in the square, as well as gala shows with revered mariachi musicians in the theatre. 

Football is another big part of the culture here, and watching local teams compete in the Liga MX is a great way to soak it up. The Estadio Akron and Estadio Jalisco regularly host matches followed by booze-heavy celebrations. 

The affordability

Town in Guadalajara

Mexico has a reputation for being one of the most affordable holiday destinations in North America, and Guadalajara in particular is known for being very reasonably priced. Seeing as it isn’t doesn’t have quite the tourism scene of places like Cancún, Oaxaca, and Mexico City, this means drinks, entrance fees, and accommodation are often much more affordable.

You’ll find an abundance of hotels, hostels, and homestays in the city, with a single occupancy room typically only costing around 563 Mexican pesos, that’s roughly $28, per night. What’s more, the food and transport prices are easy on the wallet too. 

You’ll be greeted with the smell of delectable local cuisine around nearly every corner, and while prices will vary, on average tourists only spend about $32 a day on meals, and $27 on transport.

The museums

Museum

Guadalajara has an undeniably rich history, with a museum scene to rival the capital’s, and paying a visit to one of them offers a fascinating window into it. There’s no shortage of gorgeous cathedrals or historic buildings to explore either.

One of the most interesting places to visit is the Cultural Institute Cabañas, which is a neo-classical building founded in 1791 as a hospital and orphanage. These days, it houses several courtyards and galleries to explore, with one of the highlights being the works of iconic Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco. 

You could also embark on a guided, free walking tour through the historic city center, or pay a visit to The Government Palace, which dates back to the 18th century, and houses several stunning murals.

The Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses Ilustres, or Rotunda of the Illustrious Jaliscans, is another great option. Once you’re there, you’ll be greeted with a circle of 17 Doric columns and bronze statues of teacher Irene Robledo García, and artist José Clemente Orozco, along with monuments to some of the region’s favorite writers and revolutionaries. Strangely enough, it’s even believed that some of their ashes are tucked into the monument. 

The cuisine

Mexican dish

Mexico has a well-deserved reputation for its mouthwatering cuisine, and while Guadalajara might be somewhat undiscovered, that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptional dining experiences on offer. There are several traditional dishes to sample and savor, and we have no doubt that you’ll discover a new favorite Mexican dish or two.

One of our favorites is the hangover-curing torta ahogada, which is a sandwich bathed in spicy sauce and filled with deep-fried pork and fresh onions. You should also try the quintessential birria, which is a Guadalajaran highlight and offers a blend of Spanish lamb or goat with the flavors of Mexican tomatoes and spices. 

Traditionally, birria is served with freshly made corn tortillas, onion, and lemon. Another popular delicacy is Guadalajara’s crispy lonches, which is a sandwich that uses the regional birote bread and offers a variation on the torta ahogada. The main difference is the fact that the tomato sauce is mixed with sour cream, and it’s served with avocado slices.

There are plenty of delectable desserts to sink your teeth into as well if spicy food isn’t your thing. Jericalla is widely considered to be the city’s flagship dessert and offers a mix of European and Mexican ingredients like milk, sugar, cinnamon, eggs, and vanilla. 

Often described as a cross between flan and crème brûlée, its texture is soft and silky, while the dish has a burned top like a creme brulee. You definitely shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to sample Nieve de Garrafa either. It’s an exquisite, handmade Mexican ice cream with a texture similar to Italian gelato, which comes in a variety of flavors including tropical fruit, tequila, Mexican chocolate, and vanilla, amongst others.

Mexican culture

Guadalajara has its fair share of enchanting national parks, but there are also enthralling canyons to hike, and leisurely freshwater lakes to visit. In fact, it was once affectionately known as the City of Roses due to the many gardens and rose bushes found throughout the city.

If you’re craving a slice of nature and fresh air, one of the most rewarding options is hiking up Parque Mirador, where you’ll be greeted with sweeping views of the Huentitán Canyon. You could even cap off your hike with a gourmet meal at the restaurant nearby. That being said, it’s important to note that it’s a difficult location to reach with public transportation, so it would be a good idea to order an Uber or similar taxi service to get there.

Bosque Los Colomos is another highlight and the most famous park in Guadalajara. Nestled in the western part of the city, it boasts everything from a Japanese Garden to a cultural center, a small dam, and even hiking and cycling trails. It offers a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area and is a great place to spend a leisurely afternoon outdoors.

If you’re keen on a day trip, you could also visit Lake Chapala, which is Mexico’s biggest freshwater lake and is located about an hour’s drive south of the city. There are several charming towns you could visit on the way too, and, if you’re a bird-watching enthusiast, there’s a good chance you’ll spot some snowbirds as well.

The shopping

Mexico flag

Guadalajara is a true shoppers’ paradise, and you really won’t struggle to find unique souvenirs to take home after your trip. Tlaquepaque is one the best places to visit if you’re after a local shopping experience, with the area being renowned for its beautiful, hand-painted pottery. We recommend starting off in the Mercado de Artesanías and then expanding your horizons by visiting some of the boutique stores tucked away in the old town if you want to see more.

Mercado Libertad is also well worth a visit. This sprawling indoor market is located in the historic center of Guadalajara and offers a host of diverse, maze-like stalls selling fresh produce, bootleg DVDs, leather products, and even pets. Plus, there’s a massive food court serving several local specialties at affordable prices.

Wild nightlife

Mexico nightlife

Guadalajara is a diverse city and the dynamic nightlife has something for everyone. As the birthplace of tequila, the drinking culture is rife and electric. You’ll find traditional cantinas, live music venues, a flourishing craft beer scene, and even trendy nightclubs to suit any palette. 

Mariachi music and tequila are usually the focal points of the cultural nightlife offerings in Guadalajara. Visiting an evening of performances should be at the top of your agenda, whether that is paired with tequila tasting in the upscale Casa Bariachi, or in the open air in Plata Real where local bands burst out in song for waiting revelers.

Still, there are also some contemporary dance clubs open until the early hours where locals and tourists can enjoy the sounds of international DJ sets and South American soul all night long. Babel Club, Bar Américas, Lo-La and Envy are among the top rated discotecas in Guadalajara. Nightclubs are concentrated in the hip, Col Americana neighborhood.  

Guadalajara weather

One reason Guadalajara is chosen over other Mexican destinations is the weather. It has a much more temperate climate than the capital city and both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. 

Guadalajara is warm and sub-tropical , but winter is mild and pleasant, with an average annual temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The winters are rainier and more overcast than summer, but the dry season is typically cloudy, making for good weather for exploring. 

From May to August you can still expect highs in the mid-80s, although heavy rains come in from June to September. Still, March to May can be very hot and dry too if this is what you’re after.  

How many days do you need in Guadalajara?

We recommended spending at least three to four days in Guadalajara to get a real taste of the city and the cuisine, and even longer if you want to squeeze in some of the great day trips on offer. 

When is the best time to visit Guadalajara?

The best months to visit Guadalajara are from October to December when you can expect warm temperatures, dry weather, and a number of cultural events on the calendar. Highs hover in the late-80s and there are plenty of blue skies, but accommodation is most expensive at this time. Hotels operate great discounts between January and May, but you can expect scorching temperatures and uncomfortable humid days. Plus, there’s the risk of tropical storms in summer.  

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For more than 11 years, Joe has worked as a freelance travel writer. His writing and explorations have brought him to various locations, including the colonial towns of Mexico, the bustling chowks of Mumbai, and the majestic Southern Alps of New Zealand. When he's not crafting his next epic blog post on the top Greek islands or French ski resorts, he can often be found engaging in his top two hobbies of surfing and hiking.

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Best Time to Visit

Weather & Climate

Airport Guide

Neighborhoods to Know

Best Hotels

Top Things to Do

Guide to Mariachi Music

Nightlife in Guadalajara

48-Hour Itinerary

Day Trips From Guadalajara

Food to Try

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Your Trip to Guadalajara: The Complete Guide

Guadalajara Guide: Planning Your Trip

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Guadalajara is a vibrant and enchanting city bursting with history and culture. With a population of nearly five million people in the metropolitan zone  , it's the second-largest city in Mexico. While it's the cradle of mariachi music and Mexico's national sport, charrería, and is the heart of tequila country, it's also an industrial and technological hub, earning it the nickname "Mexico's Silicon Valley," although many traditional crafts are still produced in the area  , including textiles, pottery, and hand-blown glass. Overall, Guadalajara is a great destination for travelers wanting a taste of authentic Mexican culture together with modern comforts and attractions.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit: Between August and December the weather is fine with pleasant temperatures and little rain, and you’ll also find interesting cultural festivals taking place, such as the mariachi festival , the Fiestas de Octubre , and Day of the Dead . 

Language: Spanish is the most spoken language. A small percentage of the population may also speak an indigenous language (Huichol, Nahuatl, Tarasco)  . Some people who work in the tourism industry speak English.

Currency: The local currency is the Mexican peso (MXN). The symbol for the peso is the same as the dollar sign, so if there’s any doubt, ask what currency prices are listed in.

Getting Around: Taxis and Ubers are plentiful and economical, and there’s a decent public transportation system that's a good option for budget travelers and includes city buses and a metro/light rail system that serves the municipalities of Guadalajara, Zapopan, and Tlaquepaque.

Travel Tip: Museums are closed on Mondays, so plan alternate activities for that day of the week, such as taking a day trip to Tequila or the Guachimontones archaeological site.

Things To Do

There’s plenty to see and do in and around Guadalajara for visitors of all ages and interests. You can learn about its history and discover the city's traditional architecture and lovely plazas on a walking tour of Guadalajara which should include the cathedral, government palace, and plazas of the historical center. There are several interesting museums in the city including the Museo Regional de Guadalajara which shows the history of the region from ancient times to the present, and the Museo de las Artes , an art museum within the Guadalajara University. 

You won’t have time to do everything during your stay in Guadalajara, so when planning your itinerary, do your research and prioritize. Here are a few activities to enjoy:

  • See the murals by Jose Clemente Orozco in the Palacio de Gobierno and in the Hospicio Cabañas
  • Listen to a live performance by a mariachi group
  • Shop for handicrafts such as hand-blown glass, leatherwork, ceramics, and textiles.
  • Peruse the Mercado Libertad, one of the largest indoor markets in Latin America.
  • Take a day trip to the town of Tequila to see how this traditional Mexican beverage is made. 

Explore more attractions with our full-length articles on the top things to do in Guadalajara and the best day trips from Guadalajara .

What to Eat and Drink

Mexico’s cuisine varies greatly by region and Guadalajara has many special dishes that are traditional to the area. Some of the local specialties to try include Tortas Ahogadas (“drowned sandwiches” which are crusty buns filled with meat and slathered in spicy tomato sauce), Birria (a flavorful slow-cooked goat stew), and Carne en Su Jugo (meat au jus, thinly sliced beef in its broth). Guadalajara is also undergoing a foodie renaissance, with young homegrown chefs along with some outsiders who are open to experimentation, so you'll find several restaurants on the cutting edge of new trends in gastronomy.

When it comes to drinks, there’s also an interesting blend of old and new. Of course, being in the land of tequila, the agave spirit is very popular here, but there’s also a large and flourishing craft beer scene, as well as a number of bars specializing in mixology. So you can while away the afternoons in a traditional cantina, head to a microbrewery for an artisanal beer or two, and then spend the night dancing til you drop at one of Guadalajara’s trendy nightclubs. (Although the next morning you may want to eat a Torta Ahogada, purportedly a hangover cure!)

Explore our articles on the Best Restaurants in Guadalajara and Guadalajara’s Nightlife .

Where to Stay

As one of Mexico's largest cities, there's plenty of choices for accommodations in Guadalajara. When considering where to stay, you reflect on your intention and priorities for your trip. If you’re planning to spend most of your time visiting museums and cultural attractions, it may make the most sense to look for accommodation in the historical center, such as the Hotel De Mendoza which is in a lovely colonial building located right next to the Teatro Degollado on the Plaza de la Liberación. If you’re planning to shop 'til you drop, maybe find a place to stay in Tlaquepaque, such as at the Quinta Don José Boutique Hotel . If your intention is to enjoy the nightlife and meet people, you may wish to stay in the trendy area of Colonia Americana, in which case either Hotel Laffayette or Villa Ganz would be a good choice. The Hard Rock Hotel Guadalajara in the district of Zapopan is also convenient for fun nightlife options.

Getting There

Guadalajara is located in the state of Jalisco in the center of Mexico, 350 miles west of  Mexico City . Guadalajara's international airport is the Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport (Airport code GDL). If you'd like to combine your visit to Guadalajara with some time on the beach,  Puerto Vallarta  is a good choice (at 200 miles distance, it's a three and a half hours drive away); the ETN bus line offers direct service.

Culture and Customs

There are a few cultural differences and customs that you should be aware of while visiting Guadalajara. In general, Mexicans tend to be more formal than people from the United States and Canada. It’s important to greet people before making a request or asking a question with a "buenos días," "buenas tardes," or "buenas noches" depending on the time of day. Also, keep in mind that you can use "por favor" and "gracias" in excess. In inland cities, Mexicans tend to dress somewhat conservatively, rarely wearing tank tops or shorts, and many people frown on flip flops as streetwear. Even though you're on vacation, it's a good idea to dress like the locals do if you don’t want to stand out too much as a tourist.

Mexican mealtimes may not be aligned to your usual schedule. The main meal of the day is usually taken in the afternoon between 2 and 4 p.m. In restaurants, you must request the bill (it would be considered rude for the server to bring it before you ask for it): ask for “la cuenta, por favor,” or make a sign of writing in the air. Usually, a tip is not included, but check your bill to make sure. It’s customary to tip 10 to 20 percent depending on the level of service. Tipping is expected in bars and restaurants, but is not required in food stalls and markets (although it’s generally appreciated). It's also customary to tip bellhops and cleaning staff at your hotel. Read more about tipping practices in Mexico .

Money Saving Tips

Guadalajara is a city with accommodation and restaurant options at all price points. If you select where you stay and eat with a little care, it’s easy to have a great time in Guadalajara without breaking the bank. 

  • The best and easiest way to save is on your hotel choice. In most Mexican destinations there are budget hotels that are clean, safe, and perfectly comfortable but may not have all the amenities you might be accustomed to such as a hairdryer and coffee maker. If you’re only planning to sleep in your hotel and spend your days out and about, it makes sense to reduce your spending on accommodation, and this can make a big difference in the total cost of your trip.
  • Take public transportation. It’s a little more complicated and takes longer, but you’ll save a lot of money if you take city buses instead of getting a taxi or Uber. You can even get to day-trip destinations such as Tequila or Guachimontones by bus—most of them depart from the Guadalajara Antigua Central bus station. Consult the website Rutas Guadalajara that shows public transportation options for destinations around Guadalajara.
  • There are lots of things to do in Guadalajara for free or very low cost. Many museums and historical sights don’t charge admission fees or have fees that are very low. Just wandering around the Historical Center, you’ll see lots of interesting buildings. Go into the government palace to see the mural by Jose Clemente Orozco on the staircase; admission here is free whereas to enter the Hospicio Cabañas to see his other murals you’ll have to pay (less than $5 though!). The Museo de Arte Huichol in Zapopan only charges ten pesos and the Museo Regional de Cerámica in Tlaquepaque has free admission.

Government of the State of Jalisco, "The Guadalajara Metropolitan Area"

Government of the State of Jalisco, "Destaca Jalisco en la Diversidad de Artesanias."

Instituto de Información Estadistica y Geografica, "En Jalisco, 56 mil 938 personas hablaban alguna lengua indígena en 2015." 2017

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7 Tips To Know Before Visiting Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara offers plenty of local flavor in a metropolitan setting

Not as many visitors are as familiar with Guadalajara as they are with other destinations in Mexico, but this city has all the perks of an urban metropolis while still preserving traditional local charm. From knowing which neighborhood to visit or what spices to avoid, find out crucial tips about the so-called Tapatía Pearl.

1. eat a ‘torta ahogada’, but be careful with the hot sauce.

A taco might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Mexico, but if you’re going to Guadalajara , you can’t miss the chance to try a torta ahogada . This local delicacy is a pork sandwich ‘drowned’ in chili pepper sauce. The bread is the star of the dish, since it can’t be found in any other part of Mexico and has a signature salty flavor and crunchy exterior. However, we have to warn you: it’s spicy! Even if locals tell you that the sauce is mild, you may want to ask for the salsa on the side, or you could end up with tears in your eyes.

‘Tortas ahogadas’ are drowned in chili pepper sauce, so be careful if you can’t handle your spice

2. Listen to some good mariachi

Guadalajara is known for mariachi

3. Public transportation: know before you go

Unlike Mexico City, moving around Guadalajara without a car can be challenging. Although the city has several bus providers and even two underground lines, information about the routes, times and destinations can be difficult to track down. Some buses have signs on the windshield that indicate their main stops, but most locals rely on general knowledge and word of mouth to navigate in the city. Additionally, Google Maps is not connected to the public transportation system, so the best way to find out how to get to a place is by asking tapatíos (Guadalajara’s residents) or visiting Rutas Guadalajara , a website that has information about some of the main bus routes in the city.

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4. Avoid staying in the city center

Although Guadalajara’s downtown has a lot of historical charm, it’s not the best place to find accommodation. Most of the buildings are old, and so is their maintenance. Additionally, the area is far away from other popular sites of the city. It’s better – and especially safe – to find a place to stay in a residential area and take a day trip to the city center to explore its landmarks.

Colonia Americana is one of the best places to stay in Guadalajara, mainly because it’s the heart of the bohemian scene of the city. The area is surrounded by hipster cafés, restaurants and independent bookstores . It’s also a very walkable neighborhood, full of day and night entertainment options. Colonia Providencia is slightly fancier than Colonia Americana, but it has its fair share of culinary options, clubs and design shops, which makes it a great alternative to find accommodation. Also, there is Chapalita, which is a quiet, residential neighborhood that will allow you to experience the daily life of Guadalajara. Additionally, this area hosts a Sunday street market in the main roundabouts, where you’ll be able to see the work of some local artists and sample a wide variety of street food.

5. Visit the towns nearby

If you are already traveling to Guadalajara, then you should have a look at some of the surrounding towns. Tlaquepaque and Tonalá are great options if you like smaller cities with traditional flair. Here, you can find plenty of indigenous artisans and taste some local specialties like cazuelas (tequila cocktail with orange and grapefruit).

Likewise, you can take a day trip to Chapala, which is a Pueblo Mágico (‘magical town’) next to Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. This is the perfect spot to watch sunsets, eat freshly caught seafood and buy typical candy like chapalitas (soft caramel candy) and gallitos (hibiscus caramel).

And, if you are the outdoorsy type, then Mazamitla or Tapalpa are the perfect choices. Rent a cabin, light a fire or go on a hike through the woods and get to enjoy some of Jalisco’s countryside. Also, don’t forget to try the milk caramel, the preserved fruits and the quince cheese.

Tlaquepaque is a quaint and artistic small town with many shops

6. Bring an umbrella

Mexico tends to be portrayed either as a tropical paradise with white sand beaches or as a cactus-strewn desert. That’s why many people find it hard to believe that Guadalajara is a very rainy place. From June until October, the weather becomes unpredictable. It can be sunny in the morning and stormy at night, so it’s wise to dress in layers and keep your eye out for potential floods, which can be common.

7. Dare to try Tejuino

Even if you are not an adventurous eater, you should have a sip of Tejuino , Guadalajara’s most traditional drink. This fermented corn beverage is mixed with water and piloncillo (cane sugar) to create the perfect summer refreshment. Tejuino dates back to pre-Hispanic times when indigenous groups considered it to be a drink of the gods. Nowadays, it has lost a bit of its hallowed status, and you can easily find it at street markets and town squares, but it is still delicious. Although it’s consumed in other parts of the country, what makes tapatío tejuino here so unique is the fact that you can have it with a scoop of lime sorbet. Just add a pinch of salt and chili flakes to enjoy the full flavor of Guadalajara in a cup.

‘Tejuino’ is a fermented corn drink, often consumed with lime, salt and chili spices

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Travel Guide: How to Spend a Week in Guadalajara, Mexico

Alyssa stands in front of Barranca de Huentitán

Back in April, I had the absolute pleasure of spending a week in Guadalajara with my partner, Michael.

It was the first time I’d had the chance to travel for my birthday since 2019 , and so it only felt right to choose a destination that has long been on my list of places to visit. You already know I love Mexico City so much, and as a result, I had high hopes for the country’s second city.

This trip marked our second visit to the state of Jalisco , a region known for its incredible food and drink, and I knew I wanted to dedicate a large portion of this trip to trying local specialties. But of course, we needed to find things to do to fill our time between meals (sadly my stomach is not a bottomless pit). I spent a significant amount of time reading other travel blogs, searching the local subreddit , and browsing hashtags on Instagram to create an itinerary full of historical sights, cool shops, and naturally, the best bars and restaurants.

With a week to explore, we had the luxury of doing so at a relaxed pace (this generous schedule even gave us enough time to take a full day trip ), but even if you only have three or four days to spare I think you’ll find that a trip to Guadalajara is well worth your while.

To visit Guadalajara is to have a full sensory experience: the colors are more vibrant, the smells more pungent, the flavors more intense, the heat stronger, and the sounds more dynamic. It has tourist sights, sure, but overall the city feels very off the beaten path for outsiders. But no matter where we went, we were treated warmly and, occasionally, with curiosity. I can’t wait to show you around:

GUADALAJARA SIGHTS + ATTRACTIONS

Check out the barranca de huentitán.

Alyssa walks down the stairs at Guadalajara's Parque Mirador Independencia

The canyon of the Rio Grande de Santiago is meant to be a great place for hiking – if you can make it early in the day before the heat sets in. Not wanting to risk hiking back up the canyon in 95°F weather, we opted for an easier way to get a great view: visiting the Parque Mirador Independencia . The park offers an amphitheater with a spectacular view of the canyon and an easy walking trail at around the same elevation; although there are some stairs (you can read a little more about the park in this blurb from Atlas Obscura ). The landscape changes throughout the seasons; on our dry season visit it was quite dry and brown, but we’ve seen photos of the lush green growth during wetter times. No matter when your visit falls, be sure to visit the fruit vendor near the lookout points – it’s hard to beat a panorama with an accompanying fresh snack!

Visit Guadalajara’s Historic Cathedrals

View of the Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento

Both the Catedral de Guadalajara and Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento are stunning from the outside and inside. If the doors are open, stop in to see the soaring ceilings and stained glass windows, and perhaps explore a little if a mass is not currently in progress (and if it is, why not join in and listen?). Perhaps my favorite part of our visit to Templo Expiatorio was the little apostles that appeared on the bell tower to mark the hour, and the incredible market going on outside.

Stroll Through Some of Guadalajara’s Parks

Collage of images from Bosque los Colomos

World-class parks dot the city of Guadalajara, providing its residents with plenty of opportunities for recreation and leisure. During this trip, we had the opportunity to visit several for strolling and prime people-watching. Parque Morelos is the only park within the historic center and is well worth veering off the path to check out. The concrete zoo brought a smile to my face; in fact, the elephant, giraffe, llama, and their friends have been delighting children for over fifty years (there was even a celebration in honor of the 50th anniversary ). Parque Metropolitano de Guadalajara is actually located in neighboring Zapopan, and though it’s just a portion of the size, it brings to mind NYC’s Central Park and Mexico City’s Bosque de Chapultepec. It features paths for running and cycling, gathering spots with grills and piñateros, playgrounds, snack vendors, and a number of landscapes. It’s a wonderful place to relax, and no wonder so many Tapatíos choose to make this park their hangout spot for the afternoon. Heading further north, you’ll find Bosque Los Colomos , another large park popular with locals and visitors alike. Unique to this park are the Japanese Gardens, created to symbolize the friendship between Guadalajara and Kyoto. Before you enter, make sure you’re not breaking any of the park rules …

Discover Guadalajara’s Art Scene

Alyssa in front of Hospicio Cabañas

No matter your preferred style of art, Guadalajara has something for you. During this trip, I had the chance to visit MUSA (free), the Hospicio Cabañas (free on Tuesdays), and the Palacio de Gobierno (free). All three are probably best known for their grand murals by Mexico’s most famous muralist, José Clemente Orozco. MUSA is the art museum of the University of Guadalajara, and you can expect to see works by many famous Mexican artists in their collection , as well as rotating exhibitions. Hospicio Cabañas is a former orphanage-turned-museum and houses 57 murals by Orozco –  including El Hombre del Fuego , considered by many to be his masterpiece. Linger over these incredible frescos, but don’t skip the rest of the exhibits. Throughout the compound, you’ll find a diverse collection of art in varying media. The Palacio de Gobierno is another must-visit for Orozco fans, as it contains two grand murals. Admission is free, but you’ll need to sign in before entering (and know that holidays may impact the opening times).

Consider a Day Trip to Tequila

Alyssa stands in an agave field

If you’re lucky enough to have at least five days in Guadalajara, consider adding on a day trip to Tequila (unless you’re passionate about the subject, then I’d recommend it even during shorter stays). We booked our day trip through Airbnb Experiences and had the chance to visit a distillery, the famous Cantaritos el Güero , and the town of Tequila. You can read all about our day trip here .

…or a Half Day in Tlaquepaque

Alyssa stands in a street in Tlaquepaque

Thanks to urban sprawl, you’ll likely hardly notice the fact that you’re leaving Guadalajara to visit Tlaquepaque. This artistic pueblo mágico is just 15-20 minutes away from the city core via Uber (unless traffic is heavy, that is), but the city center has a small-town feel. It’s a great place to spend a morning wandering, as we did on Easter Sunday. You can read more about our experience in Tlaquepaque in this post .

WHERE TO SHOP IN GUADALAJARA

Mexicanartes.

Interior of Mexicanartes

Shopping wasn’t high on my itinerary for this trip, but I did pick out a few spots ahead of time that I wanted to visit. Of those shops, Mexicanartes was the one I was interested in visiting the most. The shop was founded by a pair of local sisters who were inspired by all of the art and beauty in Oaxaca and decided to curate a shop of handmade garments. On their blog they take readers behind the scenes, allowing us to get to know who makes their clothing (something that’s so vital!). If I could have purchased everything in the store, I would have. Instead, I wound up purchasing this beautiful palm hat that served me so well in the intense Jalisco sun and will continue to remind me of our trip for years to come.

La Nube is a cute shop in Americana with a small selection of locally made crafts as well as some boutique clothing. Although I didn’t wind up purchasing anything, I came very close to buying an artsy-painted tote bag. Worth a quick pop-in if you’re in the neighborhood!

Exterior and interior of NIMIA

NIMIA is also located in Americana and is another store where you’ll likely have a hard time resisting buying locally-made items to bring back home with you. They carry pieces from local artists, ceramicists, and leatherworkers, as well as a large selection of stationery items. Wisely, the store is laid out perfectly to entice shoppers to pick things up and hold them.

Oxen Concept Store

Interior of Oxen

I love combing through a good concept store, but often the styles are just a bit too far outside of the kinds of clothes and accessories that mesh with my cohesive wardrobe. Oxen Concept Store carries a really cool selection of streetwear but instead, we went with a new piece of local art for our home.

GUADALAJARA FOOD + DRINK

Assorted photos of Guadalajara Food and Drink

Because food and drink were the main reasons I chose to visit Guadalajara, they earned their very own blog post. The city is home to a number of now well-known dishes like birria, and I suspect soon-to-be-well-known dishes like tortas ahogadas. I think it’s nearly impossible to eat a bad meal in Guadalajara, but if you’re looking for recommendations, head to my Guadalajara Food Guide .

WHERE TO STAY IN GUADALAJARA

Colonia americana.

Street in Colonia Americana

Surprisingly many of the travel guides I read before I booked my stay recommended staying in the city center. I suppose if you were only planning to stay 1-2 nights, that might be the most time-saving approach. But in terms of getting a better sense of the city’s culture, and having a better selection of nightlife, I highly recommend staying in or around Colonia Americana. The neighborhood is chock full of bars and restaurants – even if we were for some reason restricted to eating only in Americana, we would have been completely content.

Although Casa Habita is widely considered the place to stay in Guadalajara, we were sitting on several Airbnb gift cards and it made more fiscal sense to book a place on the home-sharing platform. Even after paying service and cleaning fees, our choice still came in under budget – although we had to give up A/C, which did feel like somewhat of a sacrifice considering the temps reached into the mid-90s some days. Yet I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again; the apartment stayed pretty comfortable thanks to the shaded patio, it was in a fantastic location (though it was near the neighborhood’s many bars, it remained quiet at night), and it had everything we needed.

WITH MORE TIME…

View of Lake Chapala from the plane

If I’m being honest (well, I always share my honest opinion here, but still), with more time in Guadalajara I would likely focus on enjoying more food and drink in this culinary wonderland. But between meals, there are a few more places I’d like to visit: Ex Convento del Carmen , San Juan de Dios Mercado (sadly the market experienced a massive fire weeks before our visit; hopefully the rebuilding occurs quickly so displaced businesses can resume operation), Juan José Arreola Public Library , Lake Chapala and Ajijic (supposed to be a great day trip!), and shopping for ceramics from places like Cerámica Suro and Al Centro Cerámica .

GUADALAJARA TRAVEL TIPS

Fountain in Guadalajara

When to Visit Guadalajara

Fall and winter are the best times to visit Guadalajara, when it comes to weather. Not only are the temperatures cool and comfortable, but these months also fall in the dry season (so you can leave your umbrella behind!). In theory, mid-spring should have also been a decent time to visit, but a heat wave pushed the temperature as high as 95°F. And although the forecast showed low temperatures in the high 50s, the reality is that it was only ever that chilly during the wee hours of the morning (i.e., when we were sleeping). By 9 a.m. most days, I was already starting to sweat. While I’d be grateful to return to Guadalajara at any time, I would choose to travel between October and March.

Getting Around Guadalajara

Transportation.

Guadalajara has a metro system with three lines but is much more tailored to locals than tourists. If the routes are convenient for you, they can be a great value (a one-way will cost you around USD 0.50). We were prepared to use it for our morning in Tlaquepaque if Uber wasn’t running, but never needed to. Instead, we relied on Uber the entire time, as we’ve done with every previous visit to Mexico . Throughout the trip, wait times varied, from a minute or two to almost twenty minutes (this was likely due to our visit coinciding with Semana Santa ). Uber essentially works the same in Mexico as it does in the U.S.: enter your destination, confirm your current location, and it will quote you a price and match you with a driver. Before entering the car, verify the license plate on the vehicle matches the one on the account, and do the same for the driver’s photo. All of the drivers we rode with chose to roll down the windows instead of turning on the air conditioning, and I found it helpful to have a hair tie handy to help with the wind. Tipping is available in the app; unless there is a major, major issue, I always tip the highest amount.

We encountered a few English-speaking staff at restaurants, but by and large, we needed to rely on speaking Spanish to get around (frankly, people seemed surprised that we were visiting from the U.S.). You’ll want to have at least a basic grasp of the language if you’re planning on visiting Guadalajara – especially if you plan on leaving the city center and visiting any mom-and-pop restaurants and food stands. A translating app can be a huge help, but I definitely recommend learning as much as you can before you leave. At the very, very least, you should be comfortable with greeting phrases , as these are essential for politesse when entering shops, restaurants, and the like.

Mobile Service

Our Verizon and T-Mobile plans allow us to have free talk, text, and data in Mexico, but depending on your provider and plan, it may not be included. Check before you leave to see if there is an additional charge, and if so, you might consider purchasing a local SIM card and reloadable plan. During our time in Mexico, the main cell phone service we received was from TELCEL and Movistar – those might be a good place to start when researching!

It’s always helpful to have a bit of cash before you land, but thankfully nowadays you can get from the airport to a bank without needing any pesos in hand. The best exchange rates are always going to be at an ATM – check to see if your bank partners with any banks in the city to avoid costly fees. The ATM (and some credit card machines at shops) may ask if you want to convert the transaction to your home country’s currency; this typically gives you an unfavorable exchange rate. It’s generally best to complete these transactions in MXN. If ATMs give you the option to withdraw smaller bills, take them up on it. If not, we had success in breaking larger bills at several of the OXXO convenience store locations. You’ll want to carry smaller bills and coins for places that are cash-only and to tip as needed.

Tipping Culture

Tipping culture is strong in Mexico, and you’ll always want to have some extra pesos on hand. Uber and restaurants have made it a bit easier on the credit card-reliant traveler by allowing digital tipping. To tip at a restaurant, you’ll need to let your server know how much you want to tip before they swipe your card. Fifteen percent is the norm, but we typically tip twenty percent. Some card machines will give the server the option to add the tip as a percentage, but not always – be prepared to do some quick math (if not, many of them keep a mini calculator in their apron)! Other people that you should expect to tip include bartenders, grocery store baggers, your hotel concierge or apartment’s door person, bathroom attendants, and even your COVID test administrator (more on that later).

Guadalajara offers travelers the option to pinch their pesos or to splurge at every opportunity – my preference when traveling is mostly the former, with some of the latter sprinkled in here and there. Our private Airbnb totaled $320 for all six nights; we could have saved more in a shared place or spent more on a lavish, luxury stay if desired. Our meals for two ranged from around USD 4 to a max of USD 58 (in total), with most of them skewing toward the lower number. Grocery shopping and preparing food in our rental could have dropped that number even lower. Our booze costs ranged from around USD 1 (for non-craft beers) to USD 9 (for swankier cocktails). Over seven days, we spent around USD 92 on Uber, with fares ranging from USD 1.75 to 12.32, based on distance and surge pricing. Your shopping budget will be totally up to you of course, but for reference, our main purchases were my palm hat (USD 40), an art piece (USD 50), and a little stuffed alebrije toy for Meow (USD 4).

Other Things to Know

Paper Towels and Toilet Paper mounted on the wall in the bathroom

As usual, I heard warnings from friends and family about safety before we left, but thankfully we never encountered any issues during our time in Guadalajara. The only time I personally felt a little uneasy was walking home on our last night as we were just about the only ones walking down Av. Vallarta and it was a bit foggy out (but honestly, anywhere that’s deserted feels a bit creepy at night). That being said, there are plenty of crimes of opportunity throughout the city. If you were to encounter an issue, it would likely be pickpocketing, mugging, or scams (in particular, patrons of clubs in Colonia Americana seem to be the most common victims of theft in the wee hours of the morning). Use your travel smarts: keep an eye on your belongings, don’t get wasted, and stick together with your group when heading home at the end of the night.

It is not recommended to drink the tap water in Guadalajara, but many hotels and rentals have filtration systems in place. Ours had a demi-john, so we were able to easily brush our teeth and refill our smaller water bottles before heading out for the day. When dining out, choose your destinations wisely: the stuff ice is made of and produce is washed with is, of course, water!

I hope we’re all friends here and can talk a little business . In Guadalajara and across Mexico, it’s customary to toss any used toilet paper in the trash bin rather than in the toilet (unless a sign states otherwise). Many restrooms place the toilet paper dispenser near the entrance rather than in the stalls; if you see one on your way in, go ahead and grab your paper. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way, and now keep some extra tissue in my purse in case I forget. You may need to have some pesos on hand to pay for the restroom before entering (you’ll likely receive a wad of TP in exchange for your coins), or if there’s an attendant, be sure to leave a tip to thank them for keeping the space clean.

COVID Testing

Hopefully, this is a moot point by the time you read this post, but at the time of our trip, we were required to submit a negative COVID test result within one day of our flight home (at the time of publication, the U.S. no longer requires this). We made an appointment online at our neighborhood Farmacias del Ahorro , although we saw people manage to obtain a test by simply walking in and purchasing one. The cost for our two tests was approximately $37, plus a tip for the test administrator. We received our results in less than fifteen minutes and uploaded them to Delta shortly afterward.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON VISITING GUADALAJARA

Every time I leave Mexico, I feel like I leave a piece of me behind. As a travel destination, Mexico is vastly underrated – and when people do travel to the country, they tend to land at the all-inclusive resorts on the coasts. That’s great if that’s your thing, but I hope you’ll consider diving deeper into this vibrant destination, and Guadalajara is the perfect place to do so.

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  • Airbnb Experience: Tequila Day Trip
  • Dining at Xokol in Guadalajara
  • What to Expect During Semana Santa in Guadalajara
  • Three Days in Mexico City, Mexico
  • Five Days in Mexico City: A Second-Timer’s Guide
  • A Meal to Remember: Dining at Pujol in Mexico City
  • Things We Ate: Mexico City
  • Things We Ate: Mexico City (Part Two!)
  • Essential Mexico City: Lucha Libre
  • Visiting Teotihuacan with a Local: An Airbnb Experience
  • Three Days in Mexico City Packing List
  • Five Days in Mexico City Packing List
  • Five Days in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  • Puerto Vallarta Packing List

One more recommendation before you go: watch this series of episodes mostly filmed in Guadalajara.

What are you most looking forward to for your trip to Guadalajara? And can I come with you?

6 Comments on “ Travel Guide: How to Spend a Week in Guadalajara, Mexico ”

Thanks for the all inf. I may be going in Feb 2023 for 9 days and have points to stay at Casa Habita for 5 of them. It’s owned by Marriott.

That sounds like the perfect use of your Marriott Bonvoy points! I hope you have an incredible time – it’s such an underrated destination.

Hi Alyssa, Great info. My wife and I are hoping to visit Puebla, Oaxaca, Mexico City and Guadalajara before spending a few weeks in Nuevo Vallarta. Do you think 2 weeks in Guadalajara is too long. We will most likely stay in an Airbnb and will have no car. We are open to day trips from Guadalajara Cheers, Dan

Um, can I come with?! That sounds like a dream trip!

Depending on your travel style, two weeks in Guadalajara could be the most wonderful decision you’ve ever made, or leave you feeling restless by the time it’s over. If you’re big on food, you’ll have plenty of places on your list (and perhaps can have the luxury of revisiting a favorite or two!) and simply enjoy killing time around the city until your next meal. If not, most of the city’s major sights can be seen in three-ish days, so I’d recommend staying for up to ten days max, and sprinkling in a few day trips to places like Tequila, the pyramids, Lake Chapala, etc.

An Airbnb is the perfect way to go, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend renting a car. Stick with Ubers in the city, and consider a guided tour for the remaining activities. Have the very best time!

My partner and I will be heading to Guadalajara February 2023 for our honeymoon. Our stay will be at Quinta Real Guadalajara. Thank you for all the information you provided. I’ve been doing research on the must do’s while we are there. I was born there and was a resident of Hospicio Cabanas so I definitely want to revisit.

Congratulations on your upcoming honeymoon trip to Guadalajara! I can imagine that revisiting your roots will make the trip even more special.

The Quinta Real Guadalajara looks absolutely beautiful, and is in such a great location for exploring the city! I’m glad to hear that the information you’ve found has been helpful in planning your trip; I’m sure you’ll have an incredible time exploring the city and creating new memories. Cheers!🥂

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Templo Expiatorio in the Guadalajara travel guide

Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico: The Definitive Travel Guide for 2024

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Guadalajara is quite possibly the most under-the-radar travel destination in Mexico. Puerto Vallarta is well known internationally but pales in comparison when it comes to culture and things to do. The capital of the state of Jalisco is known as the most Mexican destination in Mexico because of the contributions to the national identity. You have to visit this amazing city.

I’ve been here since 2009 and written a Guadalajara travel guide since 2017 but I’m barely scratching the surface of all that the region has to offer.

The Definitive Guadalajara Travel Guide for 2022

Jalisco and specifically the Metropolitan region are a place of contrasts. Conservative and liberal, rich and poor, traditional and modern are all on display at every turn. It is hard to believe that all those pueblos grew into the second-largest metropolitan region in Mexico (currently the third-largest metro region). It feels much smaller than Mexico City while being big on culture at the same time. 

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

In addition to the capital, the State is Jalisco has a wonderful amount of natural beauty and tourist infrastructure for all budgets. Mexican luxury resorts are some of the finest in the world. 

Guadalajara Mexico Travel Guide

Guadalajara travel guide: know before you go.

Airport : Aeropuerto Internacional de Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (IATA airport code: GDL)

Currency : $Mexican Peso 1 USD to MXN on Google Finance  

Language : Spanish with some English and native languages like Wixárika, Náhuatl, and Purépecha.

Time Zone : Central Time Current Local Time in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México

Visa : A visa is not required for visitors from more than 60 countries . A Multiple Migratory Form (FMM) is issued upon arrival to a port of entry and must be signed, stamped, and held onto until departure. 

Electrical Outlets : Mexico operates on 127V supporting Type-A and Type-B plugs like the ones in the United States. The electrical current may not be stable in all areas and regulators are recommended for expensive electronics and appliances, especially during the rainy season. Outlets with a third-pin grounding plug may not be available at all locations either. 

Local Tip: Many of the best museums are closed on Monday so plan accordingly.

Recommended Reading: Mexico: A Novel by James Michener

Horse drawn carriage in Downtown Guadalajara

A Brief History of Guadalajara

Guadalajara was founded at its current location in 1542 by the merciless Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán, a one-time political rival of Hernán Cortes. The original settlers moved around from what are today Nochistlán, Tonalá, and Tlacotán to finally put down roots at a defensible location with a reliable source of water.

The name Guadalajara was chosen for Guzmán’s hometown in Spain. Interestingly, the name Guadalajara comes from the Arabic-Andalacian phrase wadi al hijaraI which translates to ‘river that flows between stones,’ ‘valley of stones,’ or ‘ valley of fortresses.’ Even if the city was named after a town in Spain it is still a fitting description because the San Juan River carved the city’s geography. The river was paved over by the Calzada de la Independencia avenue but the area still floods like crazy during the rainy season.

In the late 16th century Pope Paulo III seated the bishopric of Nueva Galicia in Guadalajara and the Spanish royal audience soon followed. Nueva Galicia quickly grew into a wealthy and influential region of New Spain because of the silver mines and Asian trade routes.

The wealth of the colonial period can be seen in the ornate churches that have survived centuries through independence, revolution, and religious war. Downtown Guadalajara has a spectacular collection of colonial buildings and many of them are open to the public. The Catholic Church amassed great wealth during the colonial period and set the stage for conflict in the post-colonial period.

Guadalajara was an important theater during the war of independence. Father Miguel Hidalgo decreed the end of slavery from Guadalajara and there are a number of murals and statues to commemorate the event. Guadalajara was even the capital of Mexico for several months during the Reform Wars while President Benito Juarez was exiled from Mexico City by conservative forces opposed to the new constitution.

The unusually long presidency (or dictatorship) of Porfirio Diaz ushered in a period of stability and development. In addition to the trains, the legacy of Porfirio Diaz can be seen in the European style, neo-gothic cathedral, and the mansions that still line Avenida Vallarta. The Porfirian era is marked by a hodgepodge of European-style architecture known as regionalism. The Colonia Americana and Lafayette neighborhoods have some of the most enjoyable tree-lined streets to stroll through and appreciate the architecture of the Porfiriato.

The Mexican revolution was a prolonged and bloody affair that led to an aggressive secularization and religious conflict called the Cristero War. As the revolutionary governments of Plutarco Elias Calles’ Maximato (Name given to the three presidents to succeed Calles) seized church assets and persecuted the faithful, tempers flared and the countryside around Guadalajara was lit on fire. The Cristero War precipitated the first large-scale emigration of Mexicans to the United States. It is somewhat ironic that Calles was also exiled to the United States after the new President, Lázaro Cárdenas took office and clashed with the old guard.

Fountain in the middle of Avenida Chapultepec

Where is Guadalajara?

Guadalajara is located in the Atemajac Valley of Central Jalisco state. The city of Guadalajara is located in the middle of the metropolitan region but it is difficult to tell where Zapopan begins and Tlaquepaque ends. 

As the crow flies, Guadalajara is 200 km east of Puerto Vallarta and 500 km west of Mexico City. It is a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Tijuana, four hours from San Francisco, and less than six hours from Seattle. 

Guadalajara Travel Guide Map

How Big is Guadalajara?

The city of Guadalajara has a population of 1.5 million but the metropolitan region includes 10 independent municipalities and has a population of almost 5 million.

With such a large population many people migrate to Guadalajara for school, for work, or to receive modern medical care .

Birrieria Apatzingan in the Central de Abastos neighborhood.

Guadalajara Weather

People from cold weather climates make fun of me for saying this but I love the seasons in Guadalajara. They are mostly mild but there is a difference between summer and winter. 

Winter is mild and short. December and January may see temperatures reach freezing at night in the suburbs of Guadalajara at a little higher elevation. Daytime temperatures are lovely often in the seventies Fahrenheit with clear skies. 

Spring is the hottest and driest time of year with the poorest air quality. There are often fires in the forest surrounding Guadalajara and little wind. The daytime temperatures in May regularly pass 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Summer is the rainy season. It is hot and humid during the day but can get chilly at night. It rains most days, usually in the afternoon but sometimes in the morning. When it rains really heavily, big hail is possible if not regular. The first rain of the season is marvelous. There is a famous song about the smell of the damp earth, Guadalajara, Guadalajara. After months of heat, the rains are much appreciated.

Hurricane season runs from the end of summer into the beginning of fall. Hurricanes don’t hit Guadalajara directly but they pass by the Pacific coast close enough to send a couple of days of heavy rain. 

Fall is my favorite time of year in Guadalajara because of the mild weather and the high number of cultural events. The rains usually come to an end by late September. The daytime temperatures are in the 80s but the nighttime temperatures are lower and don’t require air conditioning. 

The Best Time to Visit Guadalajara

Fall (late September, October, and early November) is the best time to visit Guadalajara because of the weather and the events.

The Glorieta Minerva during a night time bicycle ride through Guadalajara

The Best Neighborhoods in Guadalajara

I have written extensively about the best neighborhoods in Guadalajara to visit and the best neighborhoods to live in. These are of my favorite parts of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region to explore. 

  • Downtown  Guadalajara 
  • Downtown Tlaquepaque 
  • Downtown Zapopan
  • Colonia Americana
  • Providencia
  • Glorieta Minerva
  • Central de Abastos

The Best Hotels in Guadalajara

This is just a summary of the complete articles: on the

  • Best Hotels in Guadalajara
  • Cheap Hotels in Guadalajara
  • Pet-Friendly Hotels in Guadalajara

The AC Hotels Marriot is one of the best hotels in Guadalajara

Once you get an idea about what part of the city you want to stay in, then comes the hotel. There are hotels for every budget and style of travel. Over the last decade, My family and I have stayed at a lot of hotels in Guadalajara. These are my favorites.

First-time visitors to can read about the best places to stay in Guadalajara depending on what they are looking for. The Colonia Americana is usually for a younger crowd. Downtown Guadalajara is within walking distance of lots of museums but there aren’t as many gourmet dining experiences.

The best Boutique Hotel in Guadalajara 

  • Hotel Demetria (Colonia Americana)

Best Deal in Guadalajara 

  • Hotel Morales (Centro Histórico)

Best Hotel in Tlaquepaque 

  • Quinta Don Jose Boutique Hotel

Best Modern Business Hotel

  • Riu Plaza Hotel (Chapalita)

Best Budget Hotel with safe parking 

  • Hotel La Mansión del Sol (Ciudad del Sol)
  • Hotel Malibu (by the Grand Plaza)

Best Boutique Hotel in Ajijic

  • Donaire Hotel Boutique

Best Hacienda in the Country

  • Hacienda Labor de Rivera

Strolling Downtown Tlaquepaque on a Sunday afternoon is one of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara

The Best Tours in Guadalajara

This is just a summary of the complete article on the best tours in Guadalajara

  • History & Muralism: Walking Tours in Guadalajara
  • Guachimontones Pyramids
  • Street Art Tours in Guadalajara with Karen Mora
  • Camina GDL Free Walking Tour of Downtown Guadalajara
  • Calandria Tour of Guadalajara
  • Craft Tequila Tour and Tasting by Mickey Marentes
  • Lake Chapala and Ajijic Tours from Guadalajara

The Best Things to Do in Guadalajara

This is another topic that I have written extensively on. The full article is close to 10,000 words and has a ton of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara . 

These are six of my favorites:

  • Walk Downtown Guadalajara and visit the museums , churches, cantinas, government buildings, and theaters. You can see as little or as much as you have time and interest in visiting.
  • Go Shopping in Tlaquepaque . Tlaquepaque is one of Mexico’s most important centers for folk art. There are more galleries than you will be able to visit in one day. 
  • Party in the Colonia Americana . There is a high concentration of hip restaurants and drinking establishments set in old mansions.
  • Find the best murals in the city. There are historic murals hidden in government buildings and there is a huge amount of street art. Guadalajara has a ton of art all over the place!
  • Rent a bike or walk the Via Recreactiva on Sunday from the Glorieta Minerva to Downtown Guadalajara along Avenida Vallarta. It is one of the most enjoyable ways to appreciate the historic architcture.
  • Get out of town and see the countryside . There are so many options nearby it is staggering. From day trips to Tequila and Lake Chapala to long weekends in Puerto Vallarta and Punta Mita .

Food & Beverage Guide to Guadalajara

The ultimate Guadalajara Travel guide for foodies

I think that the food and drink industry is one of the best reasons to live and travel to Guadalajara. There is a combination of very formal and very casual eating establishments that serve a lot of different styles of food. The following articles represent some of my favorite culinary experiences in the world and they just happen to be located in Guadalajara.

  • Traditional Guadalajara food and drink
  • Café palReal
  • The Best Tacos in Guadalajara
  • The Best Birria in Guadalajara
  • The Best Coffee in Guadalajara
  • The Nightlife and Bars in Guadalajara
  • The Best Breakfast Restaurants in Guadalajara
  • The Best Sushi Restaurants in Guadalajara
  • The Best Food Courts in Guadalajara
  • Eating Gluten-Free in Mexico

Lengua en salsa verde at Xokol restaurant in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Guadalajara Transportation Guide

Guadalajara is a major metropolitan area with a significant amount of complexity. That also means that there are many options when planning a trip.

Guadalajara Transportation Guide

How to Get to Guadalajara

Guadalajara is an important destination in terms of transportation infrastructure. Originally it was the train but today it is the freeways and the airport that make it easy to move around.

The Guadalajara International Airport, also known as the Aeropuerto Internacional de Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (GDL), is the third most important airport in Mexico after Mexico City and Cancun. It is located 30 minutes (no traffic) from Guadalajara proper in the municipality of Tlajomulco on the freeway to Lake Chapala.

The airport is constantly under construction but it functions relatively well. It is not nearly as complex as the Mexico City airport but during high travel times like Christmas and Semana Santa, it can surpass its capacity.

The best way to get to and from the airport is an official taxi paying at the booth inside the terminal. Uber does exist but it is hard to use and I have had problems with drivers showing up in cars different from that which was registered on the platform. I prefer the official taxi.

Chapala Plus operates a route from the Central Vieja in Downtown Guadalajara to Chapala that stops at the airport along the way.

Additionally, there is a shuttle from the Glorieta Minerva to the Airport.

Guadalajara long term bus station Central Nueva

The Metropolitan Region is big and there are long-distance bus terminals at several of the entrances to the city. The largest bus terminal is the Central Nueva in Tlaquepaque (right on the Tonalá border).

  • The Long Distance Bus Stations in Guadalajara

Guadalajara is not the easiest place to learn how to drive in Mexico. While it is much smaller than Mexico City, the traffic is still heavy and infrastructure is not always labeled properly. While in many cases there is an offical established rule, when first learning to drive along the back streets is can be hard to discern who has the right of way.

I keep pretty close to my house during the week but on the weekends I want to get out and see the region. That includes finding a new birria place in Tlaquepaque or road-tripping to a new beach in Michoacan.

Having a car is amazing. I had my car from the United States for years before finally buying something locally .

  • Guadalajara to Mexico City
  • Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta
  • Guadalajara to Sayulita
  • Guadalajara to Manzanillo
  • Guadalajara to Tequila

Getting Around Guadalajara

I suggest planning some walking days when you are visiting Guadalajara. There is no better way to appreciate the architecture than walking. It is the best way to experience Downtown Guadalajara, the Colonia Americana, Downtown Tlaquepaque, Downtown Zapopan, Downtown Tonalá , and many more neighborhoods. Sunday is the best day to walk because of the car-free Via Recreactiva.

Bicycle in front of the Templo Expiatorio in the Guadalajara travel guide.

Guadalajara has built a solid infrastructure for bicycles including autonomous bike rental stations, bike lanes, and a culture of cycling. Experienced cyclists should have no problem covering large swaths of the city on a bicycle rented from the city Mi Bici Program.

With a credit card, you can rent a bike from a hundred different docking stations, use the bike for a few hours, and return it to a different docking station for a very reasonable price.

Taxis and Ubers are ubiquitous in Guadalajara. While it is common to flag down taxis on the street it is advisable to use a service to call for a taxi from a reputable source like a neighborhood taxi station. Ask the restaurant to call you a taxi from their trusted source.

Be prepared for some major surge pricing in the rainy season. Nobody wants to be on the road in a downpour.

The biggest challenge to driving around Guadalajara is the roundabout, also known as the glorieta. The Glorieta Minerva is a five-lane roundabout with a reputation for crashes because drivers do not anticipate moving to the exit lanes until the last minute and then swerving across five lanes of traffic can easily cause a crash.

Make sure not to leave anything in the car when it is parked on the street. Leaving a car out on the street in a rough neighborhood overnight is a good way to lose some car parts. The informal car part markets along Calle 5 de Febrero has a reputation for selling stolen parts. Buying stolen parts is bad for the karma.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Guadalajara recently inaugurated Line 3 of the metro. Line 3 runs from the Periferico near Tesistán to Downtown Zapopan, Downtown Guadalajara, Downtown Tlaquepaque, and all the way to the long-distance bus terminal. It is awesome and cheap at $9.5 pesos per ride. Line 1 and 2 don’t connect touristy areas unless you need to get to the ITESO University or the surrounding business park (HP and Jose Cuervo campuses).

Local Buses

For a big city, the local buses function pretty well. They are not comfortable at rush hour but they are way faster than the buses I grew up riding in Southern California.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Travel to Guadalajara Frequently Asked Questions

Is guadalajara safe.

There are both safe and unsafe activities in Guadalajara. I think it is worthwhile to familiarize oneself with the most common risky activities because small changes in behavior can minimize exposure to that risk.

  • Is Guadalajara Safe, the 10,000 word article

Is Guadalajara Expensive?

Guadalajara is a huge place with both expensive and inexpensive activities. It is possible to have a lovely, budget trip eating in the markets and at inexpensive restaurants. The museums are affordable and one of the most enjoyable activities in Guadalajara is just walking the streets to see the historic architecture. That being said, Guadalajara is a wealthy area. There are plenty of high-end restaurants, bars, and entertainment options with expensive price tags.

Should I tip?

Yes. Tipping at restaurants is between 10-15%. Tip more when the check total is low. Tip the lady making the tortillas 5 to 10 pesos. Tip the Uber Eats delivery driver but not the Uber Taxi driver. Tip the guy pumping your gas 10 pesos if he washes the windows of your car and offers to check the tire pressure. If he doesn’t, I don’t tip him. Tip the housekeeper in the hotel about 20 pesos a day. Remember, tips grease the wheels in Mexico. If you want special favors, tip well. Tips look a lot like kickbacks and you will see them all over the place

Day Trips and Long Weekends from Guadalajara

It is kind of subjective what people call a day trip from Guadalajara. I surf and will occasionally drive to the beach, surf all day, and drive home in one day. It is a really long day and a lot of miles but is totally worth it for some tasty waves.

  • Ruta del Tequila
  • Lake Chapala
  • Huaxtla Waterfalls
  • The Pueblos Magicos in Jalisco
  • My favorite Beaches Close to Guadalajara
  • The old Highway from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta
  • Punta Mita Surf Guide
  • San Blas and Las Islitas, Nayarit
  • Cuyutlan, Colima
  • Mazatlan, Sinaloa
  • The Grand Bay, Barra de Navidad
  • Mexico City
  • Day of the Dead in Michoacan
  • 25 Jalisco Beaches: The Costa Alegre to Puerto Vallarta

Some Final Thoughts on Travel to Guadalajara

I love this town and I hope that came through in these articles. Writing the blog started off as a very personal endeavor because I wanted to document what I was seeing for my own personal enjoyment. It turns out that my friends liked seeing the photos and hearing the stories as well. I hope you find something new to do in my Guadalajara Travel Guide.

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Paul Hudson is a food, travel, and surf enthusiast who writes about Mexico on his blog Playas y Plazas. Originally from Southern California, Paul has lived in Guadalajara since 2009. He has a BA in Global Economics from UC Santa Cruz (Go Banana Slugs!) and speaks English and Spanish fluently. He can often be found exploring the Pacific Coast of Mexico looking for isolated beaches, fun waves, and exotic foods.

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Mexico Travel Advisory

Travel advisory august 22, 2023, see state summaries.

Reissued after periodic review with general security updates, and the removal of obsolete COVID-19 page links.

Country Summary: Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted. In many states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities.

U.S. citizens are advised to adhere to restrictions on U.S. government employee travel. State-specific restrictions are included in the individual state advisories below. U.S. government employees may not travel between cities after dark, may not hail taxis on the street, and must rely on dispatched vehicles, including app-based services like Uber, and regulated taxi stands. U.S. government employees should avoid traveling alone, especially in remote areas. U.S. government employees may not drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior parts of Mexico, except daytime travel within Baja California and between Nogales and Hermosillo on Mexican Federal Highway 15D, and between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey on Highway 85D.

Read the  country information page  for additional information on travel to Mexico.

Do Not Travel To:

  • Colima state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Guerrero state  due to  crime .
  • Michoacan state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Sinaloa state due to  crime  and  kidnapping
  • Tamaulipas state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping.
  • Zacatecas  state due to  crime  and  kidnapping .

Reconsider Travel To:

  • Baja California  state due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Chihuahua state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Durango state  due to  crime .
  • Guanajuato state  due to  crime and kidnapping .
  • Jalisco state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Morelos state  due to  crime .
  • Sonora state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .

Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To:

  • Aguascalientes  state due to  crime .
  • Baja California Sur state  due to  crime .
  • Chiapas state  due to  crime .
  • Coahuila state  due to  crime .
  • Hidalgo state  due to  crime .
  • Mexico City  due to  crime .
  • Mexico State  due to  crime .
  • Nayarit state  due to  crime.
  • Nuevo Leon  state due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Oaxaca state  due to  crime .
  • Puebla state  due to  crime  and  kidnapping .
  • Queretaro state  due to  crime .
  • Quintana Roo state  due to  crime .
  • San Luis Potosi state  due to  crime and kidnapping .
  • Tabasco state  due to  crime .
  • Tlaxcala state due to  crime .
  • Veracruz state  due to  crime .

Exercise Normal Precautions When Traveling To:

  • Campeche state
  • Yucatan state

Visit our website for  Travel to High-Risk Areas .

If you decide to travel to Mexico:

  • Keep traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text it to a friend.
  • Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
  • Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • Enroll in the  Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on  Facebook  and  Twitter .
  • Follow the U.S. Embassy on Facebook and Twitter .
  • Review the  Country Security Report  for Mexico.
  • Mariners planning travel to Mexico should check for U.S. maritime  advisories  and  alerts , which include instructions on reporting suspicious activities and attacks to Mexican naval authorities.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the  Traveler’s Checklist .
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest travel health information related to your travel. 

Aguascalientes state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout the state.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Aguascalientes state.

Baja California state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime and kidnapping.

Transnational criminal organizations compete in the border area to establish narco-trafficking and human smuggling routes. Violent crime and gang activity are common. Travelers should remain on main highways and avoid remote locations. Of particular concern is the high number of homicides in the non-tourist areas of Tijuana. Most homicides appeared to be targeted; however, criminal organization assassinations and territorial disputes can result in bystanders being injured or killed. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

U.S. government employees must adhere to the noted restrictions:

  • Mexicali Valley:  U.S. government employees should avoid the Mexicali Valley due to the heightened possibility of violence between rival cartel factions.  The boundaries of the restricted area are: to the east, the Baja California/Arizona and Baja California/Sonora borders; to the south, from La Ventana (on Highway 5) due east to the Colorado River; to the west, Highway 5; and to the north, Boulevard Lazaro Cardenas/Highway 92/Highway 1 to Carretera Aeropuerto, from the intersection of Highway 1 and Carretera Aeropuerto due north to the Baja California/California border, and from that point eastward along the Baja California/California border.
  • Travelers may use Highways 2 and 2D to transit between Mexicali, Los Algodones, and San Luis Rio Colorado during daylight hours. Travelers may also use Highways 1 and 8 to transit to and from the Mexicali Airport during daylight hours.  Travel on Highway 5 is permissible during daylight hours.

There are no other travel restrictions for U.S. government employees in Baja California state. These include high-traffic tourism areas of border and coastal communities, such as  Tijuana ,  Ensenada , and  Rosarito .

Baja California Sur state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Baja California Sur state.

Campeche state – Exercise Normal Precautions

Exercise normal precautions.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Campeche state.

Chiapas state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Chiapas state.

Chihuahua state – Reconsider Travel

Violent crime and gang activity are common. Most homicides are targeted assassinations against members of criminal organizations. Battles for territory between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens and U.S. government employees, including restaurants and malls during daylight hours. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

U.S. government employee travel is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:

  • Ciudad Juarez:  U.S. government employees may travel to the area of Ciudad Juarez bounded to the east by Bulevar Independencia; to the south by De los Montes Urales/Avenida Manuel J Clouthier/Carretera de Juárez; to the west by Via Juan Gabriel/Avenida de los Insurgentes/Calle Miguel Ahumada/Francisco Javier Mina/Melchor Ocampo; and to the north by the U.S.-Mexico border.  Direct travel to the Ciudad Juarez airport (officially called the Abraham González International Airport) and the factories located along Bulevar Independencia and Las Torres is permitted.  Travel to San Jerónimo is permitted only through the United States via the Santa Teresa U.S. Port of Entry; travel via Anapra is prohibited.

U.S. government employees may only travel from Ciudad Juarez to the city of Chihuahua during daylight hours via Federal Highway 45, with stops permitted only at the Guardia Nacional División Caminos station, the Umbral del Milenio overlook area, the border inspection station at KM 35, and the shops and restaurants on Federal Highway 45 in the city of Ahumada.

  • U.S. government employees may travel between Ciudad Juarez and Ascension via Highway 2.
  • Nuevo Casas Grandes Area (including Nuevo Casas Grandes, Casas Grandes, Mata Ortiz, Colonia Juárez, Colonia LeBaron, Paquimé and San Buenaventura):  U.S. government employees may travel to the Nuevo Casas Grandes area during daylight hours via Mexico Federal Highway 2, and subsequently Federal Highway 10, to Nuevo Casas Grandes.  Employees are permitted to stay overnight in the cities of Nuevo Casas Grandes and Casas Grandes only.
  • City of Chihuahua:  U.S. government employees may travel at any time to the area of the city of Chihuahua bounded to the north by Avenida Transformación; to the east by Avenida Tecnológico/Manuel Gómez Morín/Highway 16/Blvd.José Fuentes Mares; to the west by the city boundary; and to the south by Periférico Francisco R. Almada.
  • U.S. government employees may travel on Highways 45, 16, and 45D through the city of Chihuahua and to the Chihuahua airport (officially called the General Roberto Fierro Villalobos International Airport). 
  • U.S. government employees may travel to Santa Eulalia to the east of the city of Chihuahua, as well as to Juan Aldama via Highway 16 to the northeast.
  • U.S. government employees may travel south of the city of Chihuahua on Highway 45 to the southern boundary of Parral, including each town directly connected to Highway 45, including Lázaro Cárdenas, Pedro Meoqui, Santa Cruz de Rosales, Delicias, Camargo, Ciudad Jiménez, and Parral itself.
  • U.S. government employees may only travel on official business from the city of Chihuahua on Highway 16 to Ciudad Cuauhtémoc bounded by Highway 21 to the north and east, Highway 5 to the west, and Bulevar Jorge Castillo Cabrera to the south. 
  • Ojinaga:  U.S. government employees must travel to Ojinaga via U.S. Highway 67 and enter through the U.S. Port of Entry in Presidio, Texas.
  • Palomas:  U.S. government employees may travel to Palomas via U.S. highways through the U.S. Port of Entry in Columbus, New Mexico, or via Highway 2 in Mexico.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Chihuahua, including  Copper Canyon .

Coahuila state – Exercise Increased Caution

Violent crime and gang activity occur in parts of Coahuila state. 

U.S. government employees must adhere to the following travel restrictions:

  • Zaragoza, Morelos, Allende, Nava, Jimenez, Villa Union, Guerrero, and Hidalgo municipalities : U.S. government employees may not travel to these municipalities.
  • Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña:  U.S. government employees must travel directly from the United States and observe a curfew from midnight to 6:00 a.m. in both cities.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Coahuila state.

Colima state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime and kidnapping.  

Violent crime and gang activity are widespread. Most homicides are targeted assassinations against members of criminal organizations. Shooting incidents between criminal groups have injured or killed bystanders. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.  

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with noted restrictions: 

  • Manzanillo:   U.S. government employee travel is limited to the tourist and port areas of Manzanillo.  
  • Employees traveling to Manzanillo from Guadalajara must use Federal Toll Road 54D during daylight hours.  

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Colima state. 

Durango state – Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime.

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Durango state.

  • West and south of Federal Highway 45:  U.S. government employees may not travel to this region of Durango state.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Durango state.

Guanajuato state – Reconsider Travel

Gang violence, often associated with the theft of petroleum and natural gas from the state oil company and other suppliers, occurs in Guanajuato, primarily in the south and central areas of the state.  Of particular concern is the high number of murders in the southern region of the state associated with cartel-related violence. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Areas south of Federal Highway 45D:  U.S. government employees may not travel to the area south of and including Federal Highway 45D, Celaya, Salamanca, and Irapuato.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Guanajuato state, which includes tourist areas in:  San Miguel de Allende ,  Guanajuato City , and  surrounding areas.

Guerrero state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime.

Crime and violence are widespread. Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping in previous years.

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following area with the noted restrictions:

  • Taxco:  U.S. government employees must use Federal Highway 95D, which passes through Cuernavaca, Morelos, and stay within downtown tourist areas of Taxco. Employees may visit Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park during the day with a licensed tour operator.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of the state of Guerrero, including to tourist areas in  Acapulco ,  Zihuatanejo , and  Ixtapa .

Hidalgo state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Hidalgo state.

Jalisco state – Reconsider Travel

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Jalisco state. In Guadalajara, territorial battles between criminal groups take place in tourist areas. Shooting incidents between criminal groups have injured or killed innocent bystanders. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Jalisco-Michoacan border and Federal Highway 110:  U.S. government employees may not travel to the area between Federal Highway 110 and the Jalisco-Michoacan border, nor travel on Federal Highway 110 between Tuxpan, Jalisco, and the Michoacan border.
  • Federal Highway 80:  U.S. government employees may not travel on Federal Highway 80 south of Cocula.

There are no other restrictions on travel for U.S government employees in Jalisco state which includes tourist areas in:  Guadalajara Metropolitan Area ,  Puerto Vallarta (including neighboring Riviera Nayarit) ,  Chapala , and  Ajijic .

Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico) – Exercise Increased Caution

Both violent and non-violent crime occur throughout Mexico City. Use additional caution, particularly at night, outside of the frequented tourist areas where police and security patrol more routinely. Petty crime occurs frequently in both tourist and non-tourist areas.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Mexico City.

Mexico State (Estado de Mexico) – Exercise Increased Caution

Both violent and non-violent crime occur throughout Mexico State. Use additional caution in areas outside of the frequented tourist areas, although petty crime occurs frequently in tourist areas as well.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Mexico State.

Michoacan state – Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime and kidnapping.

Crime and violence are widespread in Michoacan state. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:

  • Federal Highway 15D:   U.S. government employees may travel on Federal Highway 15D to transit the state between Mexico City and Guadalajara.
  • Morelia:  U.S. government employees may travel by air and by land using Federal Highways 43 or 48D from Federal Highway 15D.
  • Lazaro Cardenas:  U.S. government employees must travel by air only and limit activities to the city center or port areas.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of the state of Michoacan, including the portions of the  Monarch Butterfly Reserve  located in Michoacan.

Morelos state – Reconsider Travel

Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Morelos state.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Morelos state.

Nayarit state – Exercise Increased Caution

Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout Nayarit state.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S government employees in Nayarit state.

Nuevo Leon state – Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime and kidnapping.

Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout the state. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Nuevo Leon state.

Oaxaca state – Exercise Increased Caution

Criminal activity and violence occur throughout the state.

U.S. travelers are reminded that U.S. government employees must adhere to the following travel restrictions:

  • Isthmus region:  U.S. government employees may not travel to the area of Oaxaca bounded by Federal Highway 185D to the west, Federal Highway 190 to the north, and the Oaxaca-Chiapas border to the east.  This includes the cities of Juchitan de Zaragoza, Salina Cruz, and San Blas Atempa.  
  • Federal Highway 200 northwest of Pinotepa:  U.S. government employees may not use Federal Highway 200 between Pinotepa and the Oaxaca-Guerrero border.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees to other parts of Oaxaca state, which include tourist areas in:  Oaxaca City ,  Monte Alban ,  Puerto Escondido,  and  Huatulco .

Puebla state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Puebla state.

Queretaro state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Queretaro state.

Quintana Roo state – Exercise Increased Caution

Criminal activity and violence may occur in any location, at any time, including in popular tourist destinations.  Travelers should maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid areas where illicit activities occur, and promptly depart from potentially dangerous situations. 

While not directed at tourists, shootings between rival gangs have injured innocent bystanders.  Additionally, U.S. citizens have been the victims of both non-violent and violent crimes in tourist and non-tourist areas.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state. However, personnel are advised to exercise increased situational awareness after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and to remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones.

San Luis Potosi state – Exercise Increased Caution

Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout the state.  U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in San Luis Potosi state.

Sinaloa state – Do Not Travel

Violent crime is widespread. Criminal organizations are based in and operating in Sinaloa. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Mazatlan:  U.S. government employees may travel to Mazatlan by air or sea only, are limited to the Zona Dorada and historic town center, and must travel via direct routes between these destinations and the airport and sea terminal.
  • Los Mochis and Topolobampo:  U.S. government employees may travel to Los Mochis and Topolobampo by air or sea only, are restricted to the city and the port, and must travel via direct routes between these destinations and the airport.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Sinaloa state.

Sonora state – Reconsider Travel

Sonora is a key location used by the international drug trade and human trafficking networks. Violent crime is widespread. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping. Travelers should maintain a heightened level of awareness of their surroundings in all their travels in Sonora.  Security incidents may occur in any area of Sonora.

  • Travel between Hermosillo and Nogales:  U.S. government employees may travel between the U.S. Ports of Entry in Nogales and Hermosillo during daylight hours via Federal Highway 15 only. U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures. Travelers should exercise caution and avoid unnecessary stops as security incidents, including sporadic, armed carjackings, and shootings have been reported along this highway during daylight hours. Travelers should have a full tank of gas and inform friends or family members of their planned travel.
  • Nogales:  U.S. government employees may not travel in the triangular area north of Avenida Tecnologico, west of Bulevar Luis Donaldo Colosio (Periferico), nor east of Federal Highway 15D (Corredor Fiscal). U.S. government employees also may not travel in the residential and business areas to east of the railroad tracks along Plutarco Elias Calle (HWY 15) and Calle Ruiz Cortino, including the business area around the Morley pedestrian gate port-of-entry. U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications in Nogales due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures and the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes.  
  • Puerto Peñasco:  U.S. government employees may travel between Puerto Peñasco and the Lukeville-Sonoyta U.S. Port of Entry during daylight hours via Federal Highway 8 only. They may not travel on any other route to Puerto Peñasco. U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications in Puerto Peñasco. due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures and the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes.
  • Triangular region near Mariposa U.S. Port of Entry:  U.S. government employees may not travel into or through the triangular region west of the Mariposa U.S. Port of Entry, east of Sonoyta, and north of Altar municipality.
  • San Luis Rio Colorado, Cananea, and Agua Prieta : U.S. government employees may travel directly from the nearest U.S. Port of Entry to San Luis Rio Colorado, Cananea (via Douglas Port of Entry), and Agua Prieta, but may not go beyond the city limits. Travel is limited to daylight hours only. Travel between Nogales and Cananea via Imuris is not permitted. U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications in these cities due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures and the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes.
  • Eastern and southern Sonora (including San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas and Alamos):  U.S. government employees may not travel to areas of Sonora east of Federal Highway 17, the road between Moctezuma and Sahuaripa, and State Highway 20 between Sahuaripa and the intersection with Federal Highway 16. U.S. government employees may travel to San Carlos Nuevo Guaymas and Alamos; travel to Alamos is only permitted by air and within city limits.  U.S. government employees may not travel to areas of Sonora south of Federal Highway 16 and east of Federal Highway 15 (south of Hermosillo), as well as all points south of Guaymas, including Empalme, Guaymas, Obregon, and Navojoa.  U.S. government employees may not use ANY taxi services, public buses, nor ride-share applications in these areas due to a lack of secure vetting and/or dispatching procedures and the danger of kidnapping and other violent crimes.

U.S. government employees may travel to other parts of Sonora state in compliance with the above restrictions, including tourist areas in: Hermosillo , Bahia de Kino , and Puerto Penasco .

Tabasco state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Tabasco state.

Tamaulipas state – Do Not Travel

Organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria. Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments.

Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state and operate with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa to Nuevo Laredo.  In these areas, local law enforcement has limited capacity to respond to incidents of crime. Law enforcement capacity is greater in the tri-city area of Tampico, Ciudad Madero, and Altamira, which has a lower rate of violent criminal activity compared to the rest of the state.

U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo:  U.S. government employees may only travel within a limited radius around and between the U.S. Consulates in Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, their homes, the respective U.S. Ports of Entry, and limited downtown sites, subject to an overnight curfew.
  • Overland travel in Tamaulipas:  U.S. government employees may not travel between cities in Tamaulipas using interior Mexican highways. Travel between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey is limited to Federal Highway 85D during daylight hours with prior authorization.

U.S. government employees may not travel to other parts of Tamaulipas state.

Tlaxcala state – Exercise Increased Caution

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Tlaxcala state.

Veracruz state – Exercise Increased Caution

Violent crime and gang activity occur with increasing frequency in Veracruz, particularly in the center and south near Cordoba and Coatzacoalcos. While most gang-related violence is targeted, violence perpetrated by criminal organizations can affect bystanders. Impromptu roadblocks requiring payment to pass are common.

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Veracruz state.

Yucatan state – Exercise Normal Precautions

There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Yucatan state, which include tourist areas in:  Chichen Itza ,  Merida ,  Uxmal , and  Valladolid .

Zacatecas state – Do Not Travel

Violent crime, extortion, and gang activity are widespread in Zacatecas state. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping.

  • Zacatecas City : U.S. government employee travel is limited to Zacatecas City proper, and employees may not travel overland to Zacatecas City.
  • U.S. government employees may not travel to other areas of Zacatecas state.

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The best time to visit Guadalajara

Jennifer Fernández Solano

Aug 24, 2022 • 8 min read

San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico - November 23, 2019: Locals and Tourists exploring the restaurants and shops on Independencia Street

This guide can help you plan the best time for your visit to Guadalajara © iStockphoto / Getty Images

Guadalajara , Mexico’s second largest city and the capital of the state of Jalisco, is blessed with sunny skies and spring-like weather year-round. This means there is no bad time to visit, but if you particularly like dry weather and a busy cultural program, you'll want to head there in fall.

Listen out for mariachi, drink tequila, enjoy folk dancing and see Mexican cowboys on horses performing charrería … A lot of what’s considered quintessentially Mexican hails from Guadalajara. Use this month-by-month breakdown of climate, crowds, and cultural events and festivals to help you plan the best time for your trip.

December and Semana Santa through to Easter are the best times to go to escape the cold back home

Winter is the busiest time in Guadalajara when it comes to tourism, especially around Christmas, but the two-week school holiday period comprising Semana Santa and Easter can also be considered peak travel season. During this time, hotel prices will be higher than usual, but – depending on where you live – traveling to Guadalajara in the winter and spring might be worth your while to escape the cold. Winter in Guadalajara is mild, with average temperatures of 16℃ (61℉), highs of 24℃ (75℉) and lows of 10℃ (50℉). Spring can get hot, with the temperature reaching 33℃ (91℉) and no rain. You can expect to see some crowds during both of these peak seasons, as it’s when Mexicans tend to take their holidays.

A woman has her face painted like a skull and wears an intricate head-dress made of skulls and flowers

October to December is the best time to go for great weather and festivals

Fall is indisputably Guadalajara’s best season. Not only is the weather pleasant with little to no rain, but it’s when the city’s calendar of events is at its finest. Maximum temperatures stay in the high 20℃s (high 80℉s), which allows visitors to comfortably explore the city on foot, and nighttime temperatures don't go below 13℃ (56℉). When it comes to culture, you can get your fill during this time: Fiestas de Octubre, Día de Muertos , and the International Book Fair are some of the main events you might want to check out.

June through September is the best time to go for deals (if you don’t mind the rain)

July is the rainiest month in Guadalajara, but it rains throughout the whole summer season. While the temperature itself isn’t uncomfortably hot, it rains every evening, which could get in the way of your sightseeing. On a positive note, you won’t find many crowds as those wishing to take vacations escape to nearby beaches (Puerto Vallarta is not far) and you might find good hotel deals. Rather than walk around aimlessly in the city, this is a good time to explore Guadalajara’s many museums and vibrant culinary scene.

January is the coolest time of year

The first week of January will have one of the lowest temperatures in the year, but it’s still manageable with a light sweater during the day and a jacket at night. For Mexicans, the first week of January is a continuation of the Christmas season, culminating on January 6 with the Día de los Reyes Magos. This is when most Mexican children traditionally get gifts, rather than Christmas. But adults get to enjoy themselves too by indulging in Rosca de Reyes, a ring-shaped cake made specially for the occasion.  Key event: Día de los Reyes Magos.

February means celebrations for Guadalajara's anniversary

In February, Guadalajara lights up with light shows, projection mappings, multimedia shows, live music and fireworks to celebrate the anniversary of the city. GDLUZ Festival lasts approximately three days around February 14 and takes place mainly around Guadalajara Cathedral, Liberation Square, Degollado Theater and El Hospicio Cabañas. Key event: GDLUZ Festival.

March is busy with tourists

Semana Santa occasionally falls in late March, though often it’s celebrated in April. Tourism can get quite high around this time and the temperature will be hot and humid –but without much rain.  Key event: Semana Santa (occasionally).

April means Easter celebrations

The heat starts to kick in for Semana Santa and Easter Week, but still not uncomfortably so. You might be able to spot one of the religious processions happening around the city. Key events: Semana Santa, Easter

May is festival time

May is the hottest month in Guadalajara with highs of 33℃ (91℉). Art lovers shouldn’t miss the Festival de Mayo, which combines different artforms, from theater and painting to opera and dance. If you’re into music festivals, Corona Capital Guadalajara delivers a good dose of international rock and indie bands.  Key events: Festival de Mayo, Corona Capital Guadalajara

June sees fewer tourists

June is the start of the slowest season when it comes to tourism but it has its share of events. The Feria de San Pedro Tlaquepaque, a town 30 minutes away from the center of Guadalajara, is in no shortage of comedy shows, livestock exhibitions, circus perfomances and carnival rides. Guadalajara’s International Film Festival took place in June 2022, but it’s been known to be held in different months, so make sure you research in advance if you’re planning to attend. Key events: Festival Internacional del Cine en Guadalajara (Guadalajara’s International Film Festival), Feria de San Pedro Tlaquepaque.

July is Guadalajara's rainiest month of the year

There’s a good chance you could get stuck in a summer storm in July, so make sure you come equipped with a raincoat, umbrella and appropriate footwear.

Two dancers wave the long skirts of their tradition dresses as they take part in a parade

August is the month to celebrate Mexican tradition

The International Mariachi and Charrería Festival sees mariachi from all over the world partake in a celebration to preserve and promote this popular Mexican tradition. Charrería shows (called charreadas ) are a big part of the event. With some similarities with a rodeo, in a charreada  a male rider – called the charro – performs a series of equestrian activities to demonstrate his skills, be it precision lassoing his horse or the good rein and obedience of the animal. Meanwhile, a female rider, or escaramuza performs sidesaddle wearing a traditional dress brings a graceful touch to the event. Charrería is considered the Mexican national sport. The festival starts at the end of August and extends to the first week of September. Please note: while there is no intent to harm the animals in the performances, the rough nature of the activities carried out can result in the animals getting injured.  Key event: International Mariachi and Charrería Festival.

September is the "patriotic month"

If a festival extolling the virtues of mariachi music and charrería is not enough to satisfy your need to feel like you’ve experienced the “real Mexico”, you’ll be happy to hear that September is also referred to as “el mes patrio” (the patriotic month). Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day and, though a bank holiday, is not widely celebrated around the country. But September 16 is. Drink tequila and margaritas to your heart's desire and join in with the “Viva México” chants that take place close to midnight. Key events: Independence Day, Jalisco Jazz Festival.

October hosts a month-long festival

This is the start of the best season to visit Guadalajara: the temperate weather will allow you to explore the city and its surrounding areas at leisure. Next on the list of really Mexican events is the Fiestas de Octubre, a month-long event filled with concerts, exhibitions, dancing and a traditional Palenque. The Palenque, a small round stage originally used for cockfighting, is a cherished venue where well-known artists sing in an intimate setting. Please note: while cockfighting is still a tradition at the Fiestas de Octubre preceding the performances, it does result in death and serious injury to all roosters involved and may be disturbing for viewers.  Key events: Fiestas de Octubre, La Romeria de Zapopan, Tecate Coordenada

November means Día de Muertos parades

The month opens with Día de Muertos, where visitors can attend a Catrinas parade (a skull lady dressed in fancy attire) and visit the Panteón de Mezquitán graveyard to admire the decorations on the graves. Literature lovers can attend Guadalajara’s International Book Fair – the biggest book fair in the Spanish-speaking world and second largest in the world, after Frankfurt – where famous international authors present their works in intimate settings. You need to speak Spanish to have the best experience. Key events: Día de Muertos, Feria Internacional del Libro (Guadalajara’s International Book Fair).

December is peak tourism time

The festive season brings the tourists. Mexicans don’t just celebrate the days between Christmas and New Year: celebrations start on December 12 with the Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe. From that day onwards, avoid doing anything where you expect bureaucracy to work. Should you happen to have a Mexican friend, get them to invite you to a Posada, a party that takes place at someone’s home to recreate Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage before Jesus was born. Expect fruit punch with a sugarcane stick popping out of it and piñatas. And yes, during this time, higher accommodation prices.  Key events: Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, Christmas, New Year's Eve.

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7 Destinations for Spring Travel That Are Actually Affordable

By Jessica Puckett

Image may contain Outdoors Nature Sea Water Architecture Building Cityscape Urban Shoreline Coast and Lake

All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

It's that time of year when our bodies and minds begin screaming for a vacation, unleashing a deep desire to defrost from the winter chill and all the burdens that come with it. While we'd argue there's never a bad time of the year to book that plane ticket—spring 2024 is looking like an especially good one.

That's because airfares are becoming much more affordable compared to last year; average airfares for March are down 3% compared to 2023, and April airline tickets are 8% cheaper than last year, according to data from travel search site Kayak .

While airfares are down across the board, some destinations offer a better deal than others. So, we asked travel search and booking sites for their latest intel on destinations where airfares are dropping for March and April. Whether you’re craving a beach getaway or you’re in need of a city visit to soak up art and culture, there’s an affordable spring destination for you.

Here are seven destinations—both international and domestic—you can visit this spring without blowing your travel budget, according to the latest data. From US and Canadian urban hubs to coastal getaways in Mexico , the Caribbean, and Central America , the results might surprise you.

Nashville, Tennessee

For a budget-friendly getaway this spring, consider heading to Nashville: Average airfare to the bustling country music haven is just $277 round-trip in March, according to Kayak's data. Aside from Honky Tonk Row, the famous lineup of live music joints and dance halls along Broadway, there’s plenty else to explore in Music City. Pop into the National Museum of African American Music or the Jefferson Street Sound Museum to learn about the history of the city’s Black music scene, then take a guided tour of RCA Studio B —where icons like Elvis recorded their albums—and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Where to stay: Check out our guides to the best hotels and Airbnbs in Nashville, from lively modern stays to historic boutique hotels like The Russell Nashville .

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Take advantage of cheap airfare to Central America and enjoy a coastal getaway to Belize City.

Belize City, Belize

Airfares to Central America are down 11% from this time last year and down 6% from 2019, according to data from travel booking site Hopper , meaning the region is an ideal destination for a tropical vacation that won’t break the bank. Take advantage of the price drops by booking a flight to Belize City, where airfares are averaging $546 from the US, data from Priceline says. With your savings, continue onto a puddle-jumper flight to Placencia and book a suite at one of the luxe beachfront resorts on the peninsula.

Where to stay: Out of our readers' favorite hotels in Central America , 9 out of 20 are located in Belize, including Placencia's Sirenian Bay Resort & Villas .

Montréal, Canada

Looking to visit a city with a thriving culinary scene and plenty of art and culture? Book a visit to Montréal , where airfares for March are averaging only $361 roundtrip, Kayak says. Although March is still quite chilly in Québec’s largest city, the crowds will be much thinner compared to the warmer summer months. There are plenty of museums to tour, like the show-stopping Museum of Fine Arts, and quaint cafés to warm up in. Cozy winter attractions, like the iconic skating rink in the Esplanade Tranquille, are still on offer in March, and the month is prime sugar-shack season , when maple syrup is harvested and all things maple-flavored are featured on restaurant menus.

Where to stay: Check out our guide to the best hotels in Montréal , including creative haven Hotel Uville and the historic Le Saint-Sulpice Hôtel .

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Guadalajara is home to a thriving design scene and walkable, picturesque streets lined with art galleries.

Guadalajara, Mexico

If you need a warm and sunny getaway, consider booking a flight to Guadalajara in the Mexican state of Jalisco. In March, the average temperature reaches a high of 85 degrees with practically no chance of rain—and the average airfare for March is cheap, currently clocking in at $336 roundtrip, according to Kayak. In Guadalajara, you can soak up the city’s thriving design scene with a walk through Calle Independencia, a picturesque, cobblestoned street lined with galleries and open to pedestrians only. The city also offers one of the best food scenes in Mexico : It’s the hometown of birria , slowly stewed tacos served with flavorful consommé. Jalisco is also the birthplace of tequila, so be sure to take a tasting tour through the area.

Where to stay: Check out our readers' 10 favorite hotels in Mexico . In Guadalajara, stay at the quirky Casa Fayette , located in its up-and-coming Lafayette arts district.

Tampa, Florida

Turquoise waters and white sand beaches are more accessible than ever, thanks to low airfares to Tampa, Florida . The average airfare to the city along the Gulf Coast is averaging $288 this spring, according to Priceline, and Kayak shows that 2024 prices are about 19% lower than last year’s. Spring is the perfect time to pay a visit to the city’s Manatee Viewing Center, when the docile sea cows migrate to the refuge’s warmer waters.

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Where to stay: Check out our guide on where to eat, play, and stay in Tampa . Book a night at the relatively new Tampa Edition and pamper yourself at the property’s spa and rooftop pool.

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St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean—no passport required.

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Caribbean islands are also within reach for budget-conscious travelers this spring, with airfares down 9% from this time last year, Hopper’s report says. St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands has hotel rates of $300 on average per night and flights as low as $184 round-trip on Hopper. Plus, no passport is required for US citizens. Stay on St. Thomas to enjoy some of the best beaches in the Caribbean and world-class snorkeling, or hop around to the other US Virgin Islands, St. John and St. Croix.

Where to stay: With the money you save on airfare, consider splurging on a stay at The Ritz Carlton for true island opulence.

Vancouver, Canada

If you can’t decide between an outdoor-focused getaway and a city-based vacation, Vancouver could be your perfect destination. The bustling city is nestled in natural splendor—plus, the average airfare for April is just $331 round-trip. It’s an ideal time to visit, as April is the start of whale watching season , when orcas, humpbacks, and gray whales begin returning to the waters just off the city’s coastline. To truly immerse yourself in nature, take a meandering hike through the dense and biodiverse Pacific Spirit Regional Park . It’s known for its towering evergreen trees, but in April, deciduous varieties like bitter cherry trees will be in bloom.

Where to stay: Check out our guide to the 15 best hotels in Vancouver , including Skwachàys Lodge , Canada’s first aboriginal boutique arts hotel.

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  • Spring Vacations

10 Affordable Spring Break Destinations in the U.S. and Mexico

These are the most affordable places to visit for spring break this year, according to Priceline.

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

Jeff Yount/Getty Images

Craving a spring break escape? Join the club: According to a recent study , more than one in 10 Americans are planning a spring break trip this year. That said, your vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, travelers can score some incredible deals in locales across North America. To help take the stress out of planning, we teamed up with Priceline to round up the most affordable spring break destinations in the U.S. and Mexico based on average nightly hotel rates.

And even though spring break is around the corner, it’s not too late to snag savings. According to Maria Beehner , a travel agent at Marvelous Mouse Travels, booking a last-minute deal may just be the way to go this spring break — as long as you can “be flexible with the destination.” What’s more, she says, “while you might not get the hotel or resort you had your heart set on,” you might be able to score a last-minute bargain with a deep discount. It’s also a good idea to research free or low-cost activities and look into multi-attraction passes in each destination to save money during your trip.  

From beautiful beach retreats to eclectic urban escapes, here are the 10 most affordable places to go for spring break in the U.S. and Mexico this year, according to the average nightly hotel rates pulled by Priceline.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Ron Buskirk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Average nightly hotel rate: $117 

For a family-friendly escape that won’t break the bank, look no further than Pigeon Forge, which is nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The small city is best known for being the home of Dollywood , Dolly Parton’s resort complex, with a theme park, water park, two hotels, and a seemingly endless amount of live music and entertainment offerings. Other family-friendly attractions in the area include the WonderWorks indoor amusement park, The Island in Pigeon Forge (a sprawling entertainment, dining, and shopping complex complete with a 200-foot-high observation wheel), and the thrilling Rocky Top Mountain Coaster .

Guadalajara, Mexico

Sergio Mendoza Hochmann/Getty Images

Guadalajara is the only Mexican destination on this list. And while many folks equate spring break in Mexico with Cancun or Cabo, this underrated city — Mexico’s second-largest by population, which is also considered the country’s cultural center — can certainly hold its own. What’s more, Guadalajara is famous for its rich history, tequila, mariachi music (which is said to have originated here), and its vibrant design and food scenes. Speaking of the latter, must-visit spots include Birriería las 9 Esquinas for birria and La Postrería for exquisite desserts.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Tanveer Badal

Average nightly hotel rate: $130 

Don’t sleep on Oklahoma City, where cowboy culture reigns supreme thanks to a bevy of attractions like the National Cowboy Museum , horse shows , cattle auctions , and indoor rodeos and bull riding . Downtown, the opulent First National Center offers a selection of buzzy bars and restaurants like the swanky Stock & Bond steakhouse and The Library of Distilled Spirits (a cocktail bar housed inside the building’s old bank vault), and a luxury hotel , aptly named The National . So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a pair of cowboy boots at Little Joe's Boots , snag a custom hat at Shorty's Caboy Hattery , and hit the ground running. 

Las Vegas, Nevada

Travelview/Getty Images

Average nightly hotel rate: $142

While Vegas may seem like a vacation destination exclusively reserved for high-rollers, it can be enjoyed on a budget thanks to an abundance of free things to do , including catching the show at the Fountains of Bellagio , admiring gallery-worthy art at the Aria , or taking a self-guided tour of a chocolate factory . Plus, extravagant Vegas buffets , such as Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan , offer great bang for your buck with all-day brunch from $47 per adult. Pro tip: Pick a hotel with a pool so you can spend days soaking up the sun without having to spend any money. According to Priceline, Las Vegas is also one of the most affordable spring break destinations in the U.S. and Mexico based on airfare, with round-trip flights clocking in at $303, on average.

Kissimmee, Florida

Dianette Garcia/Getty Images

Budget-conscious travelers looking to visit the theme parks without breaking the bank may opt to make their base here, just south of Orlando. Beyond the theme parks, the city offers its fair share of noteworthy attractions, including the nostalgia-inducing Old Town entertainment district and the lush Kissimmee Lakefront Park, where biking, hiking, and fishing opportunities abound. To get here, you’ll fly into Orlando, which also made Priceline’s list of the most affordable spring break destinations based on airfare, with round-trip flights coming in at $298, on average.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Average nightly hotel rate: $150

This beloved family vacation destination gets more than 200 days of sunshine per year . Beautiful weather combined with 60 miles of shoreline make Myrtle Beach one of America’s best beach getaways. Beyond the sand, travelers can ride the 200-foot-tall SkyWheel, stroll the boardwalk, go golfing or mini-golfing (there are dozens of courses to choose from), and check out shopping and entertainment complexes like Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing.

Portland, Oregon

Tim Newman/Getty Images

Average nightly hotel rate: $151

This eclectic Oregon city is known for biking (there are hundreds of miles of greenways, bike lanes, and dedicated paths) and brews (travelers can choose from roughly 70 breweries). Spring is among the best times to visit since the weather is mild (think: highs in the low 60s and lows in the mid-40s, depending on the month), and there are fewer crowds — not to mention cheaper hotel rates — compared to the summer high season. Beautiful blooms, which can be found at spots like the International Rose Test Garden and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden , are just the icing on the cake. Outdoor enthusiasts can also take advantage of ample scenic hiking areas such as Forest Park , Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge , and the Instagram-worthy Multnomah Falls , about a half-hour drive from downtown.

Houston, Texas

Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

Average nightly hotel rate: $152

Houston offers so much to see and do for every type of traveler, making it an excellent pick for an affordable long weekend escape. Of course, no trip to Space City is complete without a visit to the Space Center, which offers access to astronaut training facilities, the Starship Gallery (home to multiple spacecraft), an epic collection of spacesuits, and Independence Plaza (where you can go inside a shuttle replica). Then, continue on to the massive Museum of Natural Science before shopping at The Galleria or retreating to the outdoors at the tranquil Hermann Park, Discovery Green, or McGovern Centennial Gardens. Finally, when hunger calls, options abound: As America’s most diverse city, Houston is home to an abundance of different cuisines — from West African staples at ChópnBlok to Korean-Mexican fusion at Coreanos — making it one of the top food cities in America .

Dallas, Texas

Paul Torres/Courtesy of Meow Wolf

Average nightly hotel rate: $161

Dallas truly shines in the spring, with sunny, warm (read: not humid or sweltering) weather. During this time, travelers can attend outdoor events such as Dallas Blooms , which neighbors the expansive and beloved White Rock Lake, or enjoy an afternoon at Klyde Warren Park downtown. Other must-visit attractions include the fun-for-all-ages and highly interactive Perot Museum of Nature and Science as well as The Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy some tacos from Revolver Taco Lounge and Taco y Vino or Texas barbecue at Terry Black's and Lockhart Smokehouse . We also recommend exploring beyond downtown: In fact, the city and surrounding areas are home to some truly dynamic spots like the ever-evolving Bishop Arts District in the Oak Cliff neighborhood and the newest location for the intriguingly popular art exhibition-meets-amusement park, Meow Wolf's The Real Unreal , in Grapevine (a short drive from Dallas near the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport). 

Denver, Colorado

Getty Images

Average nightly hotel rate: $164

From state-of-the-art breweries and world-class museums to top-notch sporting events and outdoor adventure, it’s pretty much impossible to be bored in Colorado’s capital city. Art enthusiasts need not miss the Denver Art Museum, which boasts over 70,000 works, while beer lovers can check out the Denver Beer Trail . Work up a sweat hiking Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre — or at the very least, catch a show here — or wander the Denver Botanic Gardens. Larimer Square is the beating heart of downtown Denver, with many shops and restaurants housed in historic buildings.

US issues warning for spring break travel to popular Mexico destinations

  • Updated: Mar. 04, 2024, 9:09 a.m. |
  • Published: Mar. 04, 2024, 8:45 a.m.

Cancun, Mexico

View of north Cancun Beach, Quintana Roo state, Mexico, taken from the Scenic Tower on May 24, 2023. (Photo by Daniel Slim / AFP via Getty Images) AFP via Getty Images

A warning has been issued for Americans planning to visit Mexico over spring break.

“Crime, including violent crime, can occur anywhere in Mexico, including in popular tourist destinations,” the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico said in an advisory last week. “Travelers should maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid areas where illicit activities occur, and promptly depart from potentially dangerous situations.”

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Mexico Is About to Have Its Biggest Election Ever. Here's What to Know

Campaigning formally starts on Friday for the biggest election in Mexico's history

Mexico Is About to Have Its Biggest Election Ever. Here's What to Know

Fernando Llano

Fernando Llano

FILES - This combination of two file photos shows Xochitl Galvez, at left, arriving to register her name as a presidential candidate on July 4, 2023 in Mexico City, and at right, Claudia Sheinbaum at an event that presented her as her party's presidential nominee on Sept. 6, 2023 in Mexico City. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, Files)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Campaigning formally starts on Friday for the biggest election in Mexico's history.

Voters will choose the president, along with the winners of 628 seats in Congress and thousands of local positions. Elections will occur in all 32 jurisdictions, with more than 20,000 positions up for grabs, making it the country's largest election, according to the National Electoral Institute.

The country of 130 million people has often been marked by its “macho” culture . Now it is almost certain to elect its first woman president .

Also at play are issues such as escalating cartel warfare , the political legacy of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the long, often tumultuous relationship with the United States.

When is the Mexican election and how does voting work?

Parties selected their candidates well before the official start of campaigning for the presidential, congressional and municipal elections. On June 2, millions of voters will turn out at the polls to vote for their new leaders. The winner of the highly anticipated presidential elections will serve a six-year term.

Photos You Should See

A Maka Indigenous woman puts on make-up before protesting for the recovery of ancestral lands in Asuncion, Paraguay, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Leader Mateo Martinez has denounced that the Paraguayan state has built a bridge on their land in El Chaco's Bartolome de las Casas, Presidente Hayes department. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

While most eyes are on the presidential race, Mexicans will also vote for 128 senators, 500 congressional representatives and for tens of thousands of local government positions.

Who is running the Mexican elections?

Leading presidential candidate Claudia Sheinbaum has enjoyed a comfortable lead, with around 59% of the vote, according to a February poll. The former mayor of Mexico City, Sheinbaum is seen as a continuation of populist leftist leader López Obrador and is backed by his Morena party.

Senator Xóchitl Gálvez is in a not-so-close second with around 36% of the vote. Gálvez is a fierce critic of López Obrador and is running under the Strength and Heart for Mexico coalition. Trailing behind both is little-known Jorge Álvarez Máynez of the Citizen Movement party.

What are other risks in Mexico's elections?

In swaths of the country eclipsed by cartel violence , many have raised concerns about a security crisis that has spiraled under López Obrador. In the first two months of the year, a handful of candidates were slain before the election season officially began. Watchdogs warn that this year's elections could be Mexico's most violent on record.

For critics, the election has become increasingly about democratic concerns, which fueled massive February protests against electoral reforms made by López Obrador. However, the leader remain highly popular for many in Mexico’s working class, López Obrador’s base. With high inflation rates , such voters are likely to stick with a candidate that they feel will advocate for them. A great number feel that the president and his Morena party have done that.

Has there ever been a female president in Mexico?

A female president would be a huge step in a country with soaring levels of gender-based violence and deep gender disparities.

Mexico still has a famously intense “machismo,” or male chauvinism, culture, expressed in its most extreme form in a high rate of femicides, but also daily in hundreds of more subtle ways.

While Mexican women have advanced to positions of political power in public life — in part because of required representation quotas for public office — women suffer from high levels of gender violence. Femicides, or the killing of women because of their gender, have been a persistent problem for decades.

This story has been corrected to show that Mexican presidents serve a six-year term, not a five-year term.

Follow AP's Latin-America coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/latin-america

Copyright 2024 The  Associated Press . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tags: Associated Press , politics , gender , elections , world news , violence

should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

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should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

IMAGES

  1. Krystal Hoteles Everything you should visit if you travel to

    should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

  2. 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Mexico City

    should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

  3. Top 8 Things to Do in Guadalajara, Mexico

    should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

  4. Guadalajara vs Mexico City: Which is Worth Your Time?

    should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

  5. An Insider’s Guide: Mexico City or Guadalajara?

    should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

  6. 11 Best Free Things to do in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2023

    should i visit mexico city or guadalajara

VIDEO

  1. Must visit places in Mexico! #mexico #visitméxico

  2. Mexico City Trip 2023

  3. Why you should visit Mexico

  4. Top tips for visiting Guadalajara,Mexico.Eveything you need to know for a 3-day trip in Guadalajara

COMMENTS

  1. Guadalajara vs Mexico City: Which is Worth Your Time?

    Here some of the Guadalajara figures compared with Mexico City: Consumer Prices including Rent in Guadalajara are 15.72% lower. Rent Prices in Guadalajara are 27.46% lower. Restaurant Prices in Guadalajara are 19.17% lower. Groceries Prices in Guadalajara are 2.89% lower. It's worth bearing in mind that the cost of living in Mexico, in ...

  2. Guadalajara Vs Mexico City: Where Should You Choose in 2024?

    The two west-central Mexican cities are the largest in the country. Mexico City (aka CDMX) is the country's capital while Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco. Both cities make excellent city breaks if you are based in the Americas. You could also quite easily spend a week in either city using it as a base to explore the wider ...

  3. 10 Reasons To Visit Guadalajara Instead Of Mexico City

    To visit or even live in Guadalajara will set you back far less than the capital counterpart. Beers are cheaper in bars, entry is generally free and the hostels and accommodation aren't as expensive as some of the widely recommended options in Mexico City. If you needed to rent a decent apartment in Guadalajara, you'd be paying MXM$2000 a ...

  4. Should I Visit Mexico City or Guadalajara for Vacation? Which is Better

    Which is Bigger, Mexico City or Guadalajara? Mexico City has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Guadalajara. When comparing the sizes of Mexico City and Guadalajara, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities.

  5. Mexico City Vs. Guadalajara: A Gringo's Go-To Guide

    - Mexico City Vs. Guadalajara - City Size. Neither of these cities are small. In fact, both Mexico City and Guadalajara find their place amongst the top 10 biggest cities in Latin America . Of course, Mexico City is far larger. As one of, if not the, biggest city in all of Latin America - CDMX comes in at a staggering 23 million people.

  6. An Insider's Guide: Mexico City or Guadalajara?

    Both Mexico City and Guadalajara are two of the country's top spots for both street food and fine dining. Sure, not many places can come close to the weird, wonderful and delicious dishes of Oaxaca, but in my opinion, the food in Guadalajara just edges out the food in Mexico City.

  7. Mexico City vs. Guadalajara: Where Should You Go?

    Mexico City Day Trips vs. Guadalajara Day Trips. The excitement of Mexico City doesn't end at its city limits. Some of Mexico's best destinations sit within day-trip distance of the capital, from the pyramids of Teotihuacan to the world's largest monarch butterfly colony in nearby Michoacan State, to the so-called "Floating Gardens" of Xochimilco, located just 90 minutes from the ...

  8. Things to know before going to Guadalajara

    Don't rent a car. There's no need to rent a car in Guadalajara - the traffic can be crushing and walking is often the quickest option. For places further afield, several bus lines and a newly expanded metro system crisscross the city for cheap (M$9.50-15) - use the Moovit app to navigate your way around town. For more comfort, Uber is ...

  9. Is Guadalajara Safe For Tourists 2024?

    Best time to go to Guadalajara. The dry season runs from November until April. Here, daily average temperatures range from 57-70°F, with highs of up to 87°F, and lows of down to 41°F. Rainfall ranges from 0-0.7 inches per month (April is the driest month to visit).

  10. A Week in Guadalajara: Everything to Know

    As the second-biggest city in Mexico, Guadalajara has a lot to offer anyone who makes the trip. Due to its size of over 5 million people, the city is a sprawling metropolis filled with endless things to do. ... For example, many people wonder: should you visit Guadalajara or Mexico City? Personally, I think that there are incredible draws to ...

  11. Is Mexico City Worth Visiting? 25 Pros And Cons

    Reasons why you should visit Mexico City: Pros 1. Rich history & attractions: Historic Center Zócalo. Also known as the Plaza de la Constitución, the Zócalo is the main square and the historical heart of Mexico City. This place is a must-visit on anyone's Mexico City itinerary as it holds immense cultural and historical significance.

  12. Where to Go in Mexico: A Cheat Sheet to the Top Destinations

    Located right on the Zocalo, amid Mexico City's buzzing Centro Historico, the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico is a gem. With its beautiful historic interiors and rooftop restaurant with views of Mexico City's main square and cathedral, make this a top pick. Pricing for Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. Edit dates.

  13. Mexico City to Guadalajara: 7 Best Ways to Travel [2024]

    As you travel the approximately 345 miles (554 km) from Mexico City to Guadalajara through the mountains, you'll get to soak in the diverse natural beauty of Mexico. 3. You'll be Dropped Off In The City Center. If you take the bus from Mexico City to Guadalajara, you'll be dropped off close to downtown Guadalajara.

  14. Guadalajara Travel Guide

    Guadalajara has a privileged climate. The average maximum temperature in the year is 80°F (27°C) and the minimum is 51°F (11°C). The rainy season begins in late June and ends in early October. Even though the city's tabachines and jacaranda trees aren't in full bloom in the winter, this is a good time to explore the city on foot without ...

  15. Is It Safe to Travel to Mexico? Here's What You Need to Know

    A spate of incidents, including a kidnapping and the death of two Americans near the border, have prompted travel warnings from the U.S. government. 477. The border bridge between Brownsville ...

  16. 9 Reasons Why You Should Visit Guadalajara

    The nature. Guadalajara has its fair share of enchanting national parks, but there are also enthralling canyons to hike, and leisurely freshwater lakes to visit. In fact, it was once affectionately known as the City of Roses due to the many gardens and rose bushes found throughout the city.

  17. Guadalajara Guide: Planning Your Trip

    Guadalajara Guide: Planning Your Trip. Guadalajara is a vibrant and enchanting city bursting with history and culture. With a population of nearly five million people in the metropolitan zone , it's the second-largest city in Mexico. While it's the cradle of mariachi music and Mexico's national sport, charrería, and is the heart of tequila ...

  18. 7 Tips To Know Before Visiting Guadalajara Mexico

    6. Bring an umbrella. Mexico tends to be portrayed either as a tropical paradise with white sand beaches or as a cactus-strewn desert. That's why many people find it hard to believe that Guadalajara is a very rainy place. From June until October, the weather becomes unpredictable.

  19. Travel Guide: How to Spend a Week in Guadalajara, Mexico

    Great info. My wife and I are hoping to visit Puebla, Oaxaca, Mexico City and Guadalajara before spending a few weeks in Nuevo Vallarta. Do you think 2 weeks in Guadalajara is too long. We will most likely stay in an Airbnb and will have no car. We are open to day trips from Guadalajara Cheers, Dan

  20. Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico: The Definitive Travel Guide for 2024

    Guadalajara is located in the Atemajac Valley of Central Jalisco state. The city of Guadalajara is located in the middle of the metropolitan region but it is difficult to tell where Zapopan begins and Tlaquepaque ends. As the crow flies, Guadalajara is 200 km east of Puerto Vallarta and 500 km west of Mexico City.

  21. Mexico Travel Advisory

    Federal Highway 15D: U.S. government employees may travel on Federal Highway 15D to transit the state between Mexico City and Guadalajara. Morelia: U.S. government employees may travel by air and by land using Federal Highways 43 or 48D from Federal Highway 15D.

  22. The best time to visit Guadalajara

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