The second-largest city in Mexico and capital of the rural state of Jalisco, Guadalajara provides a slower-paced counterpart to the humming urban sprawl of Mexico City. The area in and around Jalisco nurtured both the development of tequila and of mariachi, Mexico’s signature music, and Guadalajara has a reputation as a center of arts and culture, hosting an international literary expo and a film festival annually.
The surrounding area provides plenty of opportunity for day trips, as well. The nearby Jose Cuervo distillery offers bus tours through agave farmland that end in a tour of the distillery, and other tours through tequila country give visitors insight into the production of the region’s famous spirit. An hour outside the city, the ruins of Guachimontones, a temple complex featuring unique circular step pyramids, provides visitors with a glimpse into the history of the area. Whether you’re in the mood for historic attractions, shopping, nightlife or a soccer match, Guadalajara can accommodate you as soon as you step off your private jet.
Must see: The spectacular, more than 400-year-old Guadalajara Cathedral is Be sure to explore the four squares that surround the cathedral, as well as the numerous museums nearby.
Lodging: Quinta Real Guadalajara–This boutique, hacienda-style hotel is conveniently located in a quiet residential portion of the city. It features an on-site fine dining restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, and amenities like a spa, fitness center and pool.
Cuisine: Birria is a type of spicy stew made with goat, lamb or mutton and chili peppers that originated in Jalisco. While associated with festive occasions, you can find it in many restaurants in the city.
Ground Transportation: Most of the city’s main attractions are clustered together in a walkable area in the city center, where horse-drawn carriage tours are available. Otherwise, buses or cabs are the best way to get around.
Packing Tips: Guadalajara is a fairly casual city. Loose, natural-fiber clothing will help you beat the heat.
Recommended Books: The short novel Pedro Paramal by Juan Rulfo, who lived part of his life in Guadalajara, is a seminal book in the development of Mexico’s best-known literary tradition, magical realism. Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges both admired the book, in which a man returns to his dead mother’s home village to find it full of ghosts.
Currency: The Mexican peso is the local currency.
Calling Code Mexico: 52
Best Travel Dates: Guadalajara hosts festivals and cultural events throughout the year. One of the more distinctive is the Day of the Mariachi, a day in the first week of September when mariachis convene on the city where their music originated.