While Guadalajara is famously known as the birthplace of tequila and mariachi music, there’s so much more to discover and experience in Mexico’s second-largest city. A designated Pueblo Mágico, Guadalajara is a cosmopolitan city with a rich history, as evidenced by its countless colonial plazas and landmarks, as well as a vibrant cultural scene, beloved by an artistic community and a buzzing culinary presence. Read ahead for your go-to guide to exploring the very best highlights of Guadalajara.
The most iconic building in Guadalajara, the city’s main cathedral has been the centerpiece of both its culture and its skyline for more than 450 years. The original structure was built in the Spanish Renaissance-style during the 16th and 17th centuries and features a Neoclassical facade, while the Neo-Gothic bell towers were added in the 19th century after the previous ones were toppled by an earthquake. The result is an amalgam of architectural styles that balances baroque, neoclassical and Gothic elements.
Cultural Institute Cabañas (Hospicio Cabañas)
Originally founded as a hospital-orphanage by the Bishop of Guadalajara in 1791, the highlight of the UNESCO-protected Cultural Institute Cabañas is the amazing frescoes by Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco, including his famous work, Hombre de Fuego (The Man of Fire). Meander through the galleries and enjoy the breezy courtyards of this beautiful Neoclassical building.
Catch a local soccer match and soak in the energy of the passionate crowd at one of Guadalajara’s two rival stadiums: Estadio Chivas, home to Club Deportivo Guadalajara, the city’s most popular soccer club, or Estadio Jalisco, home to the Chivas’s fierce competition, the Atlas club.
An editor favorite, the Art Deco-designed Casa Habita is a luxury boutique hotel of 36 rooms and suites that each have panoramic windows for spectacular city views. The vistas continue at the rooftop spa that features massage cabins, a sauna, steam room and more alfresco for the utmost relaxation.
Hard Rock Guadalajara
Located in the heart of downtown Guadalajara, the classic Hard Rock brand hotel features an amazing rooftop that boasts 360-degree views of the city, a relaxing spa, infinity pool, along with comfortable rooms and suites inspired by musical elements.
Located in the chic Lafayette district of Guadalajara, a stay at the 5-star Hotel Demetria places you in the heart of the city, within a 10-minute walk of Avienda Chapultepec. In addition to everything you look for in a hotel (e.g. restaurant, spa and gym), it also has a sky bar, library, art gallery, artisan shop and more.
One of Guadalajara’s most popular restaurants, Alcalde serves modern Mexican cuisine with upscale flair in a bright and colorful ambience with floor-to-ceiling windows. Innovative menu selects from Executive Chef Paco Ruano include Shrimp “Green Aguachile” with cucumber, apple and seaweed powder; lamb in a chili ash crust, green sauce and guacamole with chicatanas; or caper fish, with artichokes and creamy potato puree. Finish the meal off on a sweet note with a delectable dessert, like chocolate ganache with passion fruit geleé.
Arguably Guadalajara’s most happening brunch spot, this plant-laden, half restaurant-half cafe offers a no-frills, no-fail menu of dishes, like omelettes and chilaquiles for breakfast and fresh ceviche and tacos for lunch.
If you have a sweet tooth, La Postrería is the place to be. Exclusively serving up desserts, this sugar-forward restaurant creates edible works of art, such as the “Bosque,” pictured above, made from pine cloud, mint and lime yogurt, nitro raspberry caviar, red fruit pâte de fruit, mint sugar and matcha tea, pistachio and matcha streusel, lemon tea ice cream and matcha tea ganache.
Just a little over 5 miles southeast of Guadalajara is the town of Tlaquepaque, known for its hand-painted pottery and endless shopping. Walk underneath colorful umbrellas to the pedestrian-only Calle Independencia to discover unique souvenirs from talented local artisans.
Mercado San Juan de Dios
With three floors and nearly 3,000 stands, the Mercado San Juan de Dios is the largest indoor market in Latin America. Shop local products, enjoy authentic Mexican food and discover one-of-a-kind items you didn’t even know you needed at this vibrant and colorful market.