The country’s second-largest metropolis and capital of the Mexican state of Jalisco, Guadalajara retains a vibrant historical center (centro histórico) filled with colonial plazas, churches, and stately buildings. This downtown area includes some of the city’s top tourist attractions, such as the Palacio del Gobierno, Teatro Degollado, and the Instituto Cultural Cabañas.
The majority of the attractions in Guadalajara’s historical center stretch along Avenida 16 de Septiembre. Neo-Gothic Guadalajara Cathedral stands at the western end, and at the other stands the sprawling Instituto Cultural Cabañas, a former orphanage and UNESCO World Heritage Site with murals by José Clemente Orozco. Walking tours of Guadalajara typically include these landmarks and the elevated, seven-block Plaza Tapatía.
Things to Know Before You Go
Keep in mind that most museums located in the Guadalajara Historic Center are closed on Mondays.
The city’s central plaza area is wheelchair and stroller accessible and is equipped with ramps, and all road crossings have concrete wheelchair ramps.
San Juan de Dios, a popular three-story covered market with large produce and prepared-food sections, is a must for foodies.
How to Get There
It’s about a 30-minute ride from Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport to the historical center. You can reach the centro histórico area via the city’s light rail system; the closest stop to the center’s top attractions is San Juan de Dios on Line 2. Once you’re in the historical center, all the attractions are walkable, or you can climb aboard a horse-drawn carriage, often used for tours.
When to Get There
In general, Sunday is the best day to hang with the locals, who are out and about socializing and shopping in the craft markets. Guadalajara is considered the birthplace of mariachi music, and one of the liveliest times to visit is during the annual International Mariachi Festival, held the first week of September.
Day Trip to Tequila
Tequila—a small town with a big name—is 32 miles (52 kilometers) northwest of Guadalajara. A popular day trip from Guadalajara, in Tequila you can visit distilleries and learn about the production of Mexico’s national drink, as well as enjoy some taste testing.