It doesn't have a world-famous resort strip home to all the popular brands in hospitality, like Cancun.
Its wellness scene is nowhere near as developed, if it is existing at all, as Los Cabos.
It does not even have a beach, like fellow Jalisco city Puerto Vallarta.
Yet, for some reason, Guadalajara is smashing tourism records in 2023, with international arrival figures up 18.3% against the already record-breaking 2022, which remains, to this date, Mexico's best-performing year: so far this year, as many as 4.2 million foreign visitors have landed there.
This may have left some wondering what it is about this inland metropolis that is captivating a growing number of tourists.
Here are 5 reasons why:
Though it is a poorly-disseminated fact among Americans, Guadalajara is, in fact, one of the cultural capitals of Mexico, with a historical relevance comparable to that of Mexico City, having been founded as early as 1532 and having played a key role in the Mexican War of Independence.
It's here where the country's first revolutionary government convened, and throughout its History, Guadalajara has hosted migrants not only from Spain, but all over Europe and further afield, drawn to its 18th-century development boom, and they have left a profound mark on the city.
This is evidenced in a diverse demographic, mixed-origin cuisine, and inestimable cultural wealth, offering culture seekers plenty to sample and marvel at, especially if lounging by a pool all week is not their idea of fun.
With its accumulated centuries of History, it goes without saying Guadalajara has a plethora of landmarks, some of which rank among the most iconic in Mexico: think Guadalajara Cathedral, an imposing 16th-century Catholic effort, or Hospicio Cabañas.
Guadalajara's number one point of interest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cabañas once housed one of the largest orphanages and hospitals in the Americas; still, it is only the tip of a monumental iceberg, as it only takes a short stroll around the historic center to be awe-struck.
From the Expiatorio Church to the Neoclassical Teatro Degollado to San Juan de Dios Market, the largest indoor market South of the United States, and all the winding streets lined by brightly-painted colonial houses that connect them, Guadalajara truly has an endless supply of manmade wonders.
Over the years, Mexico went from being an affordable tropical destination to one of the most luxurious, and if you're headed to the Mexican Caribbean or even coastal Jalisco, you should definitely plan on spending a few thousand dollars during your stay, be it on costly dining or expensive resorts.
In Guadalajara, on the other hand, as it does not sit on the overdeveloped coast, consumer prices are within a ‘normal' range: it is by no means the cheapest destination in Latin America, but tourists can get by on $46 per day for meals, or $791 for the whole week, all included.
The cost of living for locals is even lower, and if you're visiting for a longer period (e.g. you're a digital nomad) you should expect to live comfortably off of $1,918 per month; naturally, prices are higher for short-term visitors as they normally spend more on experiences, cultural attractions, and hotels.
One of the reasons why Guadalajara is seeing this uptick in foreign arrivals, particularly from the United States, is the great connectivity between U.S. hubs and the Jalisco capital: it is among the best-connected international airports in inland Mexico.
You can fly to Guadalajara from at least 20 departure points across America, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, and more keep getting added: next year, Detroit will receive its inaugural Guadalajara-bound Aeroméxico Connect flights.
Guadalajara also hosts nonstop service from Vancouver, in Canada and a Transatlantic link to Madrid, in Spain, making it one of a handful of non-coastal resort destinations in Mexico that are open to foreign markets outside the United States.
One Of The Top Destinations In Jalisco
Finally, it was recently crowned one of top destinations for tourists, both domestic and international, in the state of Jalisco, alongside Puerto Vallarta, proving they are not exactly intra-state competitors, but actually complement each other.
While Vallarta, and its neighboring Riviera Nayarit, in the bordering state, caters mostly to beachgoers and high-end travelers seeking relaxation and some fun in the sun, Guadalajara's tourism sector is mainly geared towards culture and immersive experiences.
That's not to say museums and historical buildings are the city's only attractions:
Tourists will often visit it for the family-run restaurants and delectable cuisine, as it is the birthplace of the ‘drowned' sandwich and tejuino, an indigenous corn beverage, shopping, and the exciting nightlife of Chapultepec Avenue.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.