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Day Trips from Guadalajara Not to Miss!

Day Trips from Guadalajara Not to Miss!

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If you are looking for the best day trips from Guadalajara, be sure not to miss out on these incredible spots.

I have been to Guadalajara several times. It’s an absolutely incredible city with amazing restaurants and plenty of things to do to keep you busy for several days.

But if you are spending an extended period of time in the area or planning to move to Mexico and want to get to know all of the different smaller towns around Guadalajara, then finding out the best Guadalajara day trips should be high on your to-do list!

How to Get to Guadalajara

Guadalajara has a small international airport with flights from hubs like Atlanta, Houston, LAX, and Chicago at least once a day each.

You can also fly internally in Mexico to and from Guadalajara Airport very easily. There are near-hourly flights from the Mexico City airport, which is a huge hub for international flights. It takes about an hour to fly between them, making it a very easy connection.

Guadalajara airport is the hub for the Mexican airline Volaris. While I have a turbulent (pun intended) relationship with this airline, I do think they have made a lot of changes in the last few years to improve.

While it’s definitely still a budget airline in a lot of ways, it’s also incredibly convenient and quite reliable for getting around Mexico.

Veico car rental company in Guadalajara mexico

Renting from Veico car rental is very easy. They picked us up from the airport and took us to their office which is only a few minutes away from the airport and very close to the city, too!

How to Get to the Best Day Trips From Guadalajara

If you just plan to stay in Guadalajara, getting around the city is easy enough to do with Uber, local taxis, and with their well-connected metro bus system.

However, if you plan to take day trips from Guadalajara or you want to get out and take some extended multi-day trips you’ll want a car.

If you are going to drive in Mexico, be sure to use the App Waze. It’s much better for directions in Mexico than Google Maps. Sometimes, Google Maps takes you on roads that aren’t the best. Waze is used way more in Mexico by the locals, so the directions are more accurate.

Renting a car in Mexico is both the more convenient and the more affordable option when compared to hiring a driver for the day or even just paying a taxi driver to take you somewhere, wait for you, and then take you back.

While exploring Guadalajara, we rented our car from Veico. It’s a smaller Mexican-based rental company that includes everything you need in the price. If you’ve rented a car in Mexico before, you know that isn’t always a given.

You can book directly with them on their website and there are no hidden costs like you usually find with other car rental companies in Mexico, especially when you book with third-party websites like Expedia (I don’t recommend doing this in Mexico at all).

The team couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. I really recommend booking with small rental car companies in Mexico. Not only do you get the best service, but you also get all of the insurance coverage that you need without having to pay a huge extra amount per day.

Watch: A Jalisco Road Trip!

Guadalajara sign with trees and blue sky

I love staying in downtown Guadalajara when I visit, even if I’m going to head out on day trips. That way, I can come pack, park the car up for the night, and enjoy the nightlife and restaurants in Guadalajara!

Where to Stay in Guadalajara

If you’re visiting Guadalajara for the first time, I recommend staying as centrally as possible so that you can explore the city by foot. These are my favorite small boutique hotels in the central area of Guadalajara.

  • Casa Habita: This cute boutique hotel is in the popular Guadalajara neighborhood of Americana. It’s within walking distance to great bars and restaurants and is ultra-modern and stylish. Many of the rooms have huge windows or balconies where you can take in views of the city. There’s a gorgeous pool to lay beside on a sunny day and a great bar that you might want to consider visiting even if you don’t stay here. Rooms start at $120 per night. Book a stay at Casa Habita here.
  • Gala Hotel Boutique: Gala Hotel Boutique is truly an experience. Located in Colonia Americana and housed inside a historical building that was part of a castle, it is chic and cleanly decorated inside. Rooms are spacious and well-lit. There is a small courtyard with a pool and bar. Rooms start at $110 per night. Book a stay at Gala Hotel Boutique here.
  • Villa Ganz Boutique Hotel: The best value for money boutique hotel in Guadalajara. The Villa Ganz Boutique Hotel is in a historical mansion that feels miles away from a big city, but is only steps away from downtown Guadalajara. You’re welcomed into the hotel in a huge lobby with stunning staircase. Each room is decorated to feel like you are living in your own Mexican hacienda without feeling kitschy or outdated. The breakfast is another reason you’ll want to spend another night here, just to wake up to that home cooking again in the morning. Rooms start at a reasonable $80 per night. Book a stay at Villa Ganz Boutique Hotel here.

The Best Day Trips from Guadalajara

1. Laka Chapala

Lake Chapala is without a doubt one of the best day trips from Guadalajara that you can take. 

Overall, it’s probably more popular as a place to visit for foreigners than actually visiting Guadalajara. This region of Mexico is home to over 20,000 expats; one of the largest concentrations of foreigners living in Mexico.

The first town you arrive to as you drive straight down from the airport is Lake Chapala. This also happens to be my favorite town of those that I discovered around the lake.

There is a beautiful Malecon (boardwalk) to walk along packed with different restaurants, snack vendors, and little bars to stop in for a drink.

You cannot actually swim in the lake, which is a shame because it’s so beautiful in every other way. However, it is quite polluted.

If you continue along the road around the lake you’ll pass through the expat town of Ajijic. You can continue almost all the way around the lake.

Be sure to stop at the Jocotepec waterfront. This park is home to lots of different vendors selling snacks, drinks, souvenirs, and artisan products like locally made bread, soaps, and beer.

Watch: Is Lake Chapala Worth the Hype?

woman standing in front of lake chapala in mexico, a great day trip from Guadalajara

Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest lake! It’s 48 miles east to west and 10 miles north to south, that’s a whopping 417 square miles. However, it’s very shallow.

2. Tequila

Tequila is definitely one of the most popular day trips from Guadalajara.

The town of Tequila is about an hour away from downtown Guadalajara. You have a few options for getting there.

We took an Uber. We wanted to be able to explore the different tasting rooms and we didn’t have a designated driver, so we figured we’d get an Uber there and then catch the last bus back to Guadalajara from the bus station. You can also take the bus there, we just felt like we wanted to get there quicker in the AM.

However, most of the tasting rooms in Tequila have moved out of town to be at the distilleries. Most companies want their tastings to resemble the wine tasting experience. So they usually include tours of the agave fields, learning about the tequila-making process, and then a tasting afterward.

If that sounds like the experience you’re looking for, you should sign up for a tour. The tour will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel in Guadalajara. It will include a bilingual guide, all of the tastings, and a designated driver of course. This is a great basic tour that includes all of that as well as a stop at the agave fields. Book that tour here.

If you would prefer to visit the most famous of Tequila brands, then you’ll want to take the Jose Cuervo tour. Book the Cuervo Tour here. If you’re interested in taking the tequila train, book this tour

Watch: My experience exploring Tequila

walking through the agave fields in tequila mexico, one of the best day trips from Guadalajara

My trip to Tequila wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for, I really wish I’d taken a tour instead of trying to go it alone. But it still remains one of the most enjoyable day trips from Guadalajara that I’ve taken.

3. Tlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque is incredibly close to the downtown area of the city, making it one of the best day trips from Guadalajara if you’re short on time.

You can easily get an Uber there and back. An Uber from the downtown area to Tlaquepaque should cost less than $10 USD each way. 

Tlaquepaque is most famous around Mexico for the pottery that is made here. To see some beautiful tiles and mosaics, go to Cantú while you’re in town.

The other main reason to come to Tlaquepaque is for El Parian. Jalisco is the home of Mariachi and El Parian is one of the best places to enjoy the music and traditional dances that go along with it.

If you love Tequila and won’t get a chance to get out to the town of Tequila, then visit Nuestros Dulces (our sweets). It has a huge selection of Tequila and is one of the best places to try some to take home with you. 

woman standing in front of guachimontones in guadalajara mexico

Standing next to these mounds at Guachimontones to show you just how huge they are!

4. Guachimontones

History lovers won’t want to miss this Guadalajara day trip. 

Guachimontones is an archaeological site about an hour and 15 minutes away from Guadalajara. It’s the largest pre-Columbian archaeological site in all of Jalisco. It’s believed that it was built around 300 BCE.

Guachimontones are the names of the mounds that you find around this site. There are only a few archaeological sites around Mexico that look like this, so it is rare indeed to explore these perfectly round stone mounds.

It is believed that the people who used to live here used to make tombs filled with the person’s worldly possessions. However, these mounds aren’t tombs. They are worship sites.

There is also a beautiful museum that is included in the entry fee of 30 Pesos (roughly $1.50 USD). You can learn more about the residents of Guachimontones inside the museum.

The best way to get to Guachimontones is by car. It’s easily a morning or afternoon trip from Guadalajara. There is ample free parking. From the parking area, you walk uphill for about 6 or 7 minutes until you reach the main site.

Alternatively, you can take a tour of Guachimontones.

They will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel in Guadalajara. The nice thing about a tour of an archaeological site is the guide. You will learn a lot more about the town where Guachimontones is located. You will learn about the people who used to live and worship at Guachimontones. Book that tour here.

Mound of stone and earth at guachimontones, a day trip from Guadalajara

Visiting Guachimontones is much like other archaeological sites in Mexico. There are no restaurants or shops nearby, so be sure to bring enough water, sunscreen, and a hat.

5. Mazamitla

Mazamitla is about two and a half hours from Guadalajara. The distance puts it right on the cusp of a day trip from Guadalajara. But if you can share the driving, it can be done in a day.

Mazamitla is a mountain town and Pueblo Magico in Jalisco that will remind you more of Switzerland than it will of Mexico. Even the Mexico tourism board calls it the Mexican Switzerland.

If you have a few extra days to spend in Jalisco, it may be worth spending the night here. That way you can experience staying at one of the chalets. Cabañas Los Venados is my personal favorite. But if you want luxury, book a stay at Cabañas Las Palmas.

Mazamitla has everything from waterfalls and hiking to a gorgeous downtown with wooden chalets and a beautiful church at its center. This is a helpful article for finding things to do there.

river running through a grassy area in bosque de la primavera in Guadalajara

The beautiful bosque de la primavera. You can swim in the river and relax at a spot nearby where there are barbecues and chairs to rent.

6. Bosque de la Primavera

This is one of my favorite day trips from Guadalajara. 

If you love the city for great restaurants and bars, but want close access to nature, then this is it. Bosque de la Primavera is referred to as the lungs of Guadalajara.

Located just west of Guadalajara, you can get to the park in less than 30 minutes.

There are tons of different entrances and places to explore. Depending on what you want to do in the park, you’ll want to head for a different entrance.

It’s a very popular place for Mexicans from around the country to come for cycling. I prefer hiking and have found tons of hiking trails in La Primavera.

I find AllTrails to be the best place to find hiking trails around Mexico. There are a lot of hikes listed there. You can see what hiking trails are listed on it for La Primavera here.

colorful day of the dead street art on a wall.

The colorful streets of Tlaquepaque. There are tons of murals and sculptures around Tlaquepaque that you’ll spot as you wander the neighborhood.

7. Tapalpa

Another Pueblo Magico (Jalisco has a lot of them), Tapalpa is just over two hours away from Guadalajara.

If you love regional Mexican food, this is a great place to try some. The two things you’ll want to try in Tapalpa are desserts made with requeson, a fresh slightly soured cheese and tamales de acelga

This type of tamal is unique to the region. In other parts of Mexico, tamales are usually steamed in corn husks. But these tamales are steamed in acelga, or chard. This means that you can eat the whole thing rather than peeling the outer layer off before eating the tamal.

The other popular thing to do in Tapalpa besides exploring the beautiful downtown area is to go to Valle de los Enigmas (Enigma Valley). It’s called enigma valley because the origin of the enormous monoliths that litter the landscape is a complete enigma.

Some say they are meteorites. Others say they are soil formations. Some of the rocks are over 130 feet (40 meters) high. 

You can explore them solo or you can go on a zipline that runs between the two largest rocks. This allows you to get up on top of the rocks and see for yourself just how high up they are. The zipline costs 150 Pesos (about $7.50 USD).

If you don’t want to drive here and prefer a tour, this is one of the best options around. The price is for a private tour and includes up to four people. The tour includes quite a lot of different sites around Tapala. This includes a stop at the Indigenous village of Attaco. Book that tour here.

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