Guadalajara : The land of Tequila and Mariachi
Updated: Jan 3, 2019
Often overlooked by travelers, Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest metropolis and the capital and prime city of the Mexican state of Jalisco (pronounced as Halisco). We particularly love this city and have been here thrice in the past few months. Two of our favorite, most exemplary things in Mexico, Tequila and Mariachi music have originated in the state of Jalisco, making Guadalajara a culturally and historically rich city and one of the best places to visit while travelling to Mexico. Jalisco is also home to some of the most beautiful women in Mexico. Modernity and tradition concur in this city. It's not hard to find exquisite colonial structures, museums, and cafés that contrast with the new infrastructure envisioned to make Guadalajara a major cultural showcase of Latin America.
Guadalajara is sunnier and warmer than Mexico City on most days of the year. One should always carry their sunscreen lotions around. You could visit this picturesque city any time of the year, but temperatures are lower between the months of October and December. Also, all the festivities leading up to the new year, make it the perfect time, although if you want to spend lesser pennies and travel on a budget then January to May is the season. Though very hot, you benefit from the reduced hotel prices and thinner crowds. And if rainy season is your favorite (just like me) then June to September is what you must consider.
There are many modes of transportation to reach Guadalajara from Mexico City. You could take a bus, flight or just hire a car and be free to roam around at your own discretion. We have a thing for road trips, the long drives, music, all the singing, the halts near the highway to eat and those coffee breaks, give us a major rush and so we just use the service of Hertz car rental service to book one for ourselves. It’s a 6-hour drive from Mexico City.
There are many options for your stay in Guadalajara. You could book one of the budget hotels or stay in an all-inclusive five-star hotel. You could also consider Airbnb and stay in one of the cute, Mexican homes. We stayed at Riu Plaza Guadalajara, located in the city center. It is a stunning property and the rates were affordable too. The panoramic view from the top floors of the hotel is to die for. Well you will not need a drone or a helicopter for the aerial shots of the city if you are in one of those rooms.
There are tons of things to do in and around Guadalajara, we will be trying to cover some of the best ones for you :
Matute Remus Bridge
An iconic landmark of Guadalajara, The Matute Remus Bridge is partly a suspension bridge, covering a stretch of almost 1 kilometer and is famous for its unique architectural graft. It is built over the intersections of Avenida López Mateos and Calzada Lázaro Cárdenas.
La Minerva is a monument in Guadalajara representing a Roman goddess of the same name. The statue is surrounded by a roundabout and beautiful fountains. It is located at the intersection of López Mateos, Vallarta, Golfo de Cortés Diagonal and Agustín Yáñez Circunvalación a few meters from the Arcos de Guadalajara.
Rotonda of Illustrious Jaliscienses – It is a monument that honors the illustrious men and women of the state of Jalisco who have made important contributions to the society. Enjoy the quiet atmosphere, sit by yourself and find out about the history of this wonderful state.
Guadalajara Cathedral - The Guadalajara Cathedral also known as Metropolitan Cathedral of Guadalajara is a beautiful Roman Catholic Cathedral that you should simply not miss. It dominates the skyline of downtown in Centro Histórico.
Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento – Templo Expiatorio is one of the most beautiful neo-gothic style churches in Mexico. The interiors and exteriors are both so wonderfully done, it’s a sight for the sore eyes.
Teatro Degollado – Degollado theatre is a neoclassical Mexican theatre located in the central plaza of downtown. It is a monument of great importance as it reflects Guadalajaran culture through the Mexican dances and international opera performances that take place here. It is as beautiful from inside as it is from the out.
San Pedro Tlaquepaque is one of Mexico’s best travel destinations. It lies adjacent to the south of Guadalajara. It was only 11 kilometres from our hotel and took us less than 30 minutes to reach this cute little cultural town. The historic centre is simply breathtaking, with colonial-era churches, old mansions and colourful homes and gardens. The place is a major centre for decorative arts and crafts. The pottery here is a highlight. You can buy souvenirs for your loved ones and all this while enjoying Mariachi around the El Parian square.
We were a little hesitant to visit a Zoo, animals captivated for the entertainment of public is not a very enchanting idea for us, however we were presently surprised to see how free and liberated the animals in this particular zoo were. It made us happy. I can easily say this was one of the best Zoo’s that I have ever visited. There are so many activities you can do, including the jungle safari, train ride and gondola ride for an aerial view of the Zoo. Guadalajara zoo is famous for the diversity of its species, you will find a wide variety of birds and mammals, Bengal tigers, Jaguars, the rare White lion (which we were lucky to spot), Crocodiles, Polar bear, Penguins and much more. It’s a must visit.
Tequila is a small Mexican town located in the state of Jalisco. It is around 60 kms and a one-hour drive from Guadalajara. Tequila is the birthplace of the drink with the same name and is made from the spiky blue agave plant. The drink is so popular and deeply integrated into Mexican culture that the town and the area adjoining it has been named a World Heritage Site. When in Tequila, make sure that you hop on to one of the cute barrel buses and take a tour of the town, which will also include a visit to a distillery where you can watch the tequila being made and taste some afterwards.
Chapala is a small town located on the north shore of Lake Chapala, largest freshwater lake in Mexico stretching around a radius of 80 kilometers. It takes around an hour to drive from Guadalajara to Chapala. You can visit Chapala for a day trip, take a walk near the lakefront promenade, visit the church, eat at one of the restaurants along the main avenue and lakeshore, this is a delightful place to while away a lazy afternoon and do not forget to have the ice creams sold by the vendors on the sidewalks. They are simply lip-smacking.
Nightlife in Guadalajara is majorly concentrated in the Chapultepec and Zapopan districts. Chapultepec street is filled with cute cafes and loud bars and pubs by the streets to start your weekend, have a couple drinks and then head to Zapopan. We partied at La Santa more than once, it’s one of the poshest nightclubs. Dress to kill and you would have no problems getting an entry. Everything about La Santa was simple awesome, the crème-de-la-crème crowd, the music (a mix of Spanish and English) and the beautiful interiors of the place deserve a big thumbs up.