Known as “the Pearl of the Occidente” for its great beauty, Guadalajara is the capital of Jalisco and one of Mexico’s largest, busiest and most interesting cities, offering visitors almost everything they could want in a trip to Mexico.
In many ways, Guadalajara is an iconic Mexican city; it’s historic, vibrant, and alive with music, festivities and colorful local charm. It’s also known for being the birthplace of both the Mexican Hat Dance, Mariachi music and tequila.
However, Guadalajara is also a complex city that draws visitors of every kind, from those looking to escape and have some fun, to those who want to experience Mexican art, architecture and history in a whole new way.
Guadalajara’s picturesque cityscape features graceful tree-lined streets, charming old neighborhoods, tranquil green parks and stunning historic buildings. The weather is pleasant year-round, with an average yearly temperature of just 67 degrees. The locals are friendly, warm and welcoming, and, while it’s always prudent to take extra safety precautions anywhere you visit, Guadalajara is generally considered a safe city to visit.
Guadalajara is a busy, bustling metropolis that’s full of life and color. Seven million people call the city home, and thousands of people visit it each year. Guadalajara serves as an economic powerhouse, not just in Mexico, but in the Americas overall. Known as the Silicon Valley of Mexico, the city has a foothold on the high electronics industries, and is home to such companies as IBM, Dell and Solectron.
Guadalajara also has a thriving tourist industry, and for good reason; there is much to see and do, and there are numerous hotels, restaurants and pubs to choose from. Whether travelers are looking for a quiet and relaxing spa getaway, or they want to be at the heart of all the action, they are spoiled for choice when it comes to lodging, dining, shopping and entertainment options.
Named “Cultural Capital of the Americas” in 2005, Guadalajara is a forward-thinking city that has made a name for itself as a cultural hub. It hosts the world’s second largest book fair, as well as Latin America’s most prestigious film and visual arts festivals. Guadalajara has produced many prominent artists, musicians and writers, and in recent years, the city has increasingly drawn in contemporary artists, musicians, fashion designers, architects and intellectuals from around the world.
Things to Do and See
Churches and Temples
Guadalajara boasts a number of exquisitely beautiful and historic places of worship. Some must-sees include:
Templo Expiatorio: This stunning temple is designed entirely in Baroque style, and features a Gothic, Old World appeal and an amazing attention to detail. One of the design highlights is the procession of Jesus and his disciples that comes out of the clock on the hour.
Catedral: The impressive façade of this cathedral is an iconic part of Guadalajara’s architectural landscape. With its dramatic spires, majestic vaulted ceilings and intricately detailed décor, this landmark is truly worth a visit. The Catedral’s surrounding plazas are laid out in the shape of a Celtic cross, and feature a delightful assortment of shops, cafes and restaurants.
Basilica de Zapopan: Built in the 1690s, the Colonial-style Basilica de Zapopan is one of Guadalajara’s oldest structures. This church is smaller and more low-key than others in the area, but it is beautifully ornate, and is across the street from restaurants, shops and pubs.
Ruins of Teuchitlan: While far smaller than the dramatic ruins of Machu Picchu or Tulum, the Ruins of Teuchitlan are still a delight to explore. The grass-covered pyramids are a must-see. Learning the history and significance of the ruins should make any history buff happy.
Centro Cultural: A stellar example of Colonial architecture, the Centro Cultural is as beautiful as it is informative. The perfect place for a leisurely stroll, the Centro is an extensive complex featuring plazas, fountains, and historic buildings.
Museums and Galleries
Instituto Cultural Cabanas: Originally an early 19th-century orphanage, the Instituto Cultural Cabanas is a one-of-a-kind gallery in which the building is as intriguing as the artwork. This is the home of the famed Orozco murals, which are well worth seeing, and the Instituto’s courtyards also serve as a display for traveling art exhibits.
The Magic Top: This delightful children’s museum provides captivating interactive exhibits for children of all ages and interests.
Museo Regional de Guadalajara: Built in the 1600s in Spanish Colonial style, this small, yet intriguing museum once served as a house and a military command center. Today, it houses fascinating regional historical relics that date back to prehistoric times. The bottom floor is dedicated to the pre-Hispanic era, and the top floor is dedicated to exploring the history of Colonial Guadalajara.
Museo de las Artes: This well-maintained museum is built from brick in a neo-Classical style, and stands as a work of art in and of itself. The museum houses artwork from around Mexico, and features both permanent and temporary exhibits.
Bosque Colomos: Located right in the heart of the city, Bosque Colomos is the ideal family park, featuring green, shady spots for picnics, picturesque ponds, and playgrounds. Take a leisurely walk, or rent a horse for a very affordable rate.
Parque Mirador Independencia: This stunning park offers a respite from city life, with benches and cool shady spots perfectly positioned for incredible views of the Barranca de Oblatos Canyon.
Forest of the Spring: Just 45 minutes out of the city, this beautiful park offers unimpeded views of the woods and the mountains, as well as opportunities for hiking, biking and horseback riding through the woods.