Guadalajara is the second-largest city in Mexico and is best known for its tequila and mariachi. Located in Jalisco, with its big-city energy and small-town charm, it is a destination unlike any other. Here are the 10 things you need to know about Guadalajara and the town of Tequila:
Explore the Historical Center
Tour the majestic Historical Center with its plazas, cultural institutions, cathedral, museums, and bustling markets. Go to the Plaza de Armas, a traditional plaza full of history and surrounded by beautiful buildings. Visit the cathedral with its Colonial Renaissance architecture, majestic altars, and gothic interior; it will take your breath away.
Tlaquepaque Artisan Tour
Tlaquepaque used to be a city of its own before urban Guadalajara absorbed it in the 20th century. The artisan tradition of Tlaquepaque includes glassware, pottery, jewelry, and many art galleries. Its picturesque, cobbled streets are decorated with colorful paper banners (papel picado).
San Juan de Dios Market
The San Juan de Dios Market, built in 1958, is the largest indoor market in Latin America. You will find everything from clothing, shoes, eyewear, and electrical appliances. Look for arts, crafts, and traditional street food. Try the world-famous torta ahogada, a salsa-drowned fried pork sandwich prepared with bolillo bread, and don’t forget to grab lots of napkins.
Built in 1791, this hospital, orphanage, and workhouse is often compared to Madrid’s
El Escorial or Les Invalides in Paris. Designed by Manuel Tolsá, the building houses a series of frescoes by Jose Clemente Orozco, including the famous “Man in Fire” dome (1936-1939). This stunning building is not just one of Guadalajara’s architectural highlights; it is believed to be one of the city’s most haunted.
Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan
In the town of Zapopan, you will find the basilica with colonial baroque architecture. This Franciscan church from the 17th century has a superb façade of scrolls, sculpted reliefs, and bell towers. This church is the Virgin of Zapopan procession site that goes from the Guadalajara cathedral to the basilica during October.
No other type of music is more representative of Mexico than the mariachi. Everywhere you will find the sounds of this traditional music band, listed by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage in recent years. There is no better place to enjoy this traditional music than right here in Guadalajara. Head to the Plaza de los Mariachis in the evenings to enjoy a great serenade.
This impressive neoclassical building is one of the most important performing arts institutions in Mexico. The theater was finished in 1866 and has a magnificent portico entrance and columns that support the tympanum where Apollo and the nine muses appear. The theater has a capacity of 1,015 spectators, and the vault is decorated with a fresco taken from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Check for hours and guided tours due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Tequila Magical Town
Tequila, the most famous Mexican spirit, is made from the blue agave plant and produced in the town of the same name. Your visit to Guadalajara must include a day trip to this small and vibrant town. You can find guided tours of the distilleries and learn more about the production process. Explore its cobbled streets, beautiful landscapes, fine dining, or spend the night in a boutique hotel or hacienda among the blue agave fields.
Jose Cuervo Express
You can visit Tequila on your own, or you can travel on an actual train with the renowned Jose Cuervo Express company. This is a highly recommended experience worth the splurge. This trip includes travel, food, a tour of the Jose Cuervo distillery, tastings, and entertainment with a well-prepared itinerary. Spending the day in the agave fields is a unique experience where you will enjoy this guided tour and scenery. Be prepared to have too much fun in this authentic Mexican experience. Book your trip here.
Guadalajara’s food scene will blow you away. From traditional street food to fine dining, you will enjoy some of the best cuisines Mexico has to offer. If you want a trendy buzzy atmosphere with modern Mexican dishes, go to Alcalde. If you prefer seafood, La Docena is an excellent choice for phenomenal food and a lively vibe. Another place to check out is Boulangerie Central, famous for its bakery and a great breakfast spot.
There are so many things to do and visit in Guadalajara. Be sure to plan for more days, so you have plenty of time to enjoy this fabulous city and all it has to offer. As for COVID-19 travel restrictions, Mexico does not have testing entry restrictions.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com