The home of Mexico’s first revolutionary government and the birthplace of Mariachi music, Guadalajara is one of Mexico’s culturally and historically most significant cities. With some of Mexico’s most beautiful historic architecture, with its developed food and art scenes, it truly is a wonder why Guadalajara receives much less tourism every year compared to other major cities in the country. All the better for those of us who know to appreciate its greatness! Small crowds and friendly locals make for excellent opportunities to experience Mexican culture at its purest. Therefore, one day in Guadalajara is something true travel enthusiasts will certainly love!
What’s the best time to visit Guadalajara?
The best time to visit Guadalajara is between October and December. The weather is perfect during this time of year, foreign tourist crowds are especially small, and some of the city’s best festivals and events take place at this time.
In September, though, you can visit the International Mariachi and Charrería Festival, which was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. This festival is a beautiful tribute to Mexican culture and music, right in the birthplace of Mariachi!
In October, Guadalajara hosts the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the largest book fair in the Americas and the second largest in the world. Then there’s also Fiestas de Octubre, Guadalajara’s massive music and culture festival which attracts more than two million attendees each year.
However, spring and summer are also good time to visit Guadalajara, with good weather and a fair amount of festivals as well. You will be able to enjoy the world-class Guadalajara International Film Festival, and Tequila Festival in March, whereas the May Cultural Festival, a massive art festival, and the Jalisco Jazz Festival, take place in May and June respectively.
A few facts about Guadalajara:
- Mexico’s first revolutionary government was founded by Miguel Hidalgo in Guadalajara in 1810.
- Guadalajara is the birthplace of Mariachi music.
- The Mexican state of Jalisco, in which Guadalajara is located, is Mexico’s tequila country. The rural areas surrounding Guadalajara are full of tequila distilleries, many of which offer tours!
- Guadalajara is the home of several of the best-known murals of Jose Clemente Orozco, one of the key artists associated with the Mexican Muralism movement.
- Guadalajara’s football club, officially known as Club Deportivo Guadalajara, and colloquially known as Chivas, is one of Mexico’s most popular football clubs. Currently, they are tied with their rival Mexico City’s, Club America, for most league titles. It’s also the only professional football club in Mexico, made up entirely of Mexican nationals. The club doesn’t hire foreigners!
One Day in Guadalajara Itinerary:
You have arrived in Guadalajara! You must be excited, but if you only have one day here, there’s no time to lose. Follow this itinerary to see all the main sights and discover one of Mexico’s most amazing cities! You’re in for a real treat.
Enjoy a lovely morning at an amazing market
Start your day off with a visit to Mercado San Juan de Dios, the largest indoor market in all of Latin America! Here you will find countless options for breakfast at the many stalls and restaurants located within the market. Afterward, you will want to spend some time walking around and taking in the beautiful chaos of the place. This is also a great place to buy souvenirs!
Move on to a breathtaking museum
After the market, you should visit Hospicio Cabanas. Just a short walk from the Mercado San Juan de Dios, this striking building was originally built as a hospital and an orphanage. However, today it has been converted into an art museum.
The main attraction of the museum is its main hall, which is covered in some of Jose Clemente Orozco’s most impressive murals. Seeing the great hall in person is sure to take your breath away, and no photos can do it justice. The Orozco murals alone are worth the visit to Cabanas, but there are numerous other world-class exhibits in the museum, as well.
See another aMUSAing place
One more thing to do before lunch is to head over to MUSA, which is the University of Guadalajara’s art museum, located in a beautiful historic neighborhood of Guadalajara. Among its collection, MUSA features an auditorium decorated with murals by Jose Clement Orosco.
Have a really quick lunch
Time for a break from all the sightseeing! Head over for lunch at the nearest Karne Garibaldi. This local restaurant with multiple locations around the city holds the Guinness World Record for fastest service in the world. Perfect for making the most of your one day in Guadalajara!
Explore the sights at Plaza De Armas
The afternoon is the ideal time to head down to Plaza De Armas. Located within this beautiful public square are two of Guadalajara’s must-visit sites: the Guadalajara Cathedral, and the Government Palace.
The cathedral was completed in 1618, after being under construction for almost 60 years, and has a beautiful altar made of silver and marble. On top of that, the cathedral holds the body of Santa Innocencia, a girl who was killed by her father in the 18th century for professing her Catholic faith.
The Government Palace features one of Jose Clement Orozco’s best-known murals, an image of Miguel Hidalgo lighting the way for his people that spreads over 400 square meters. The palace was built in 1774 and has a wonderful museum that tells the story of the city.
Find a nice place for dinner
For dinner, there are plenty of great options in the city. La Chata de Guadalajara is certainly among the best choices for some Mexican dishes, and the same can be said for La Tequila Cocina de Mexico. Pig’s Pearls, on the other hand, is a great place for juicy burgers, but if you’re looking for a fine dining experience, I Latina is certainly a fine choice. So, plenty of great places to choose from – you definitely won’t be hungry in Guadalajara.
Enjoy a night out
After dinner, head down to the Tetro Delgado. This beautiful theater hosts all manner of performances from classical music, to dance shows, Operas, and plays. If that isn’t your cup of tea, you might want to plan a visit to the Lucha Libre show. Guadalajara’s Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara is considered the best in the city with performances every Tuesday and Sunday.
Where to stay in Guadalajara, Mexico?
Riu Plaza Guadalajara
Av. Adolfo Lopez Mateos 830, Fracc. Chapalita, 44500 Guadalajara
If you want a spectacular hotel in Guadalajara, Riu Plaza Guadalajara is where you need to book a room! Located in a skyscraper, the hotel’s rooms offer spectacular views of the city. Furthermore, there are two great restaurants to enjoy, a pool with a bar, a lounge bar, and even a deli corner with takeaway food! The rooms are, of course, impeccable, with wonderful details and comfortable beds, while the breakfast served here is exceptionally delicious. All in all, book a room here and you will get a true five-star experience!
Hotel Velvet Plaza
Avenida Vallarta 2477, 44130 Guadalajara
Don’t mind staying in a place that’s not exactly in the city center? In that case, Hotel Velvet Plaza is one of the best hotels in Guadalajara! It offers absolutely everything from a great fitness center and an outdoor pool to private parking, a non-stop working desk, a wonderful restaurant and so much more. The rooms come with a coffee machine and a safety box, among other things, so you really will enjoy your stay here. It’s worth every last cent!
Avenida Juarez, 687, 44100 Guadalajara
Fabulous location in the historic district, modern and comfortable interior, a lovely little restaurant and so much more awaits you if you book a room in Hotel Portobelo. The value you get here is immense, and you won’t find a better hotel of this category in the city. Because of its location, it complements our itinerary perfectly, plus it’s also surrounded by plenty of bars and restaurants if you feel like sitting down for a drink or a meal. A great hotel, no doubt about that!
Hostel Hospedarte Centro
Maestranza 147, 44100 Guadalajara
Hostel Hospedarte Centro – This upscale hostel is located in a beautiful old colonial building, not far from the city’s historic center and all of its attractions. It looks absolutely amazing and has a lot to offer, from a pool table in the common room, to balconies in every dorm. There’s a shared kitchen, and breakfast is also included, plus the hostel organizes pub crawls regularly. Definitely, the hostel to beat in the city!
Day trips from Guadalajara
This stunning archeological site is located about two hours from the city center of Guadalajara. Made up of massive, grass-covered circular mounds, this is one of Mexico’s most unique archeological sites.
The beautiful small town located just outside the city, hosts some of the most beautiful architecture in Mexico as well as many restaurants and great shopping venues.
There are many tequila distilleries outside of Guadalajara to choose from, so go ahead, take a tour and try some of the best tequila in the world.
Extra tips for visiting Guadalajara:
- Generally speaking, Guadalajara is a very safe place to visit. However, there are a few precautions that should be taken by tourists:
- As in the rest of Mexico, it is not safe to drink faucet water in Guadalajara.
- The police in Guadalajara (and Mexico in general) are known to be very corrupt. You shouldn’t worry about unprovoked incidents. However, Mexican police are known to rob tourists caught committing minor infractions. It would be wise to avoid speeding, drinking alcohol out of open containers, public drunkenness, getting in fights, trespassing, purchasing/possessing illegal drugs, etc.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Gabe Pearson is a recent college graduate of Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri where he double majored in History and Philosophy with a minor in Cultural Anthropology. He is obsessed with travel and has currently visited seven countries and counting. He is an aspiring travel writer, who currently works as an English language teacher in Beijing, China, teaching Adult students. He is passionate about literature, writing, the arts, food, and all things travel. Gabe hopes to travel the world teaching English and writing.