This week-long cultural adventure covers the highlights of Western Mexico's vibrant Guadalajara and nearby popular attractions. Wander the state capital, the birthplace of mariachi music, and visit impressive historic sites, eat delicious local food, and enjoy the exciting nightlife. Break up the urban exploration with day trips to nearby ancient ruins, a tequila distillery, quaint lakeside communities, and secluded waterfalls.

Highlights

  • Take in a mariachi performance and enjoy Guadalajara's vibrant nightlight
  • Drink tequila in Tequila
  • Discover the unique pyramids of Los Guachimontones in Tequila Valley
  • Enjoy a boat ride on Lago de Chapala

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Guadalajara! Guadalajara
Day 2 Day tour of Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque Guadalajara
Day 3 Visit Los Guachimontones; Tequila tour and tasting Guadalajara
Day 4 Free day  Guadalajara
Day 5 Explore Lago de Chapala and the surrounding communities Guadalajara
Day 6 Hike to a hidden waterfall outside Huaxtla Guadalajara
Day 7 Free day Guadalajara
Day 8 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Guadalajara!

Guadalajara's historical center
Guadalajara Cathedral in the historic core

Welcome to Guadalajara! Meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel to check in. Depending on your arrival time, you may like to set out and explore your surroundings. There's the option of joining a walking tour to discover Guadalajara's popular attractions.

Day 2: Day tour of Guadalajara and Tlaquepaque

Guadalajara, Mexico
Guadalajara's historic center

After breakfast, meet your guide for your tour of this vibrant city, the birthplace of mariachi music and tequila. You will start the day with a visit to the bustling Mercado Libertad (Liberty Market) in the San Juan de Dios district, one of the oldest markets of the city. From there you will head to the historic center to discover popular sites, like the impressive mansion, El Palacio de las Vacas

After lunch, you will visit the charming historic village of Tlaquepaque. Meaning "place above clay land", Tlaquepaque is known for its pottery and blown glass. You will have free time to explore the art galleries before taking in a Mariachi performance and returning to your hotel in the evening.

Day 3: Visit Los Guachimontones - Tequila tour and tasting

Mexico - Los Guachimontones - Tequila Valley
Discover the unique pyramids of Los Guachimontones in Tequila Valley

Today you will drive the hour west of Guadalajara to the prehispanic archaeological site of Los Guachimontones to see one of the only two circular style pyramids in Mexico—formed by the Teuchitlán culture that once thrived in the Tequila Valley (300 BCE - 900 CE).

After wandering the unique site, you will continue your journey to Tequila, passing by fields of blue agave to first enjoy lunch in a local market and to then visit a well-established distillery. Here you will learn about the process of making the town's namesake spirit (from agave, the liquor's main ingredient) as well as sample a flight of different tequilas to round out your education.

Back in Guadalajara, you will enjoy an evening out on the town, your guide showcasing Guadalajara's nightlife scene with some of the city's best hotspots.

Day 4: Free day

Roam in the animated streets of Guadalajara
Roam the vibrant streets

Today is yours to spend as you choose. After a night out on the town, you may want to start your day with what the locals consider to be the best hangover cure, tortas ahogadas (drowned sandwiches). Afterward, go for a stroll in Parque Colomos or put on your swimsuit and walk through the picturesque La Barranca de Huentitán park, following the track along the river to the thermal baths for a relaxing soak. From there, wander the hundreds of stalls in Mercado Libertad, take in a performance at the Teatro Degollado (free to enter when there isn't a show), and end the day with a dinner of another local favorite, birria (a spicy goat or lamb stew).

Day 5: Explore Lago de Chapala and the surrounding communities

Sunset on the Chapala Lake
Sunset over Lago de Chapala

After an early breakfast, you will meet your guide and head an hour south toward Jocotepec for your tour of the communities that line Lago de Chapala (lake). You will visit Ajijic, Chapala, San Luis Soyatlán and the beautiful San Juan Cosalá. There, you will be able to experience both the beauty and simplicity of rural Mexico. 

In the early afternoon, enjoy a boat ride across the largest lake in Mexico, Lago de Chapala, to arrive at La Isla de las Alacranes (Scorpion Island). This green island is the center of Huichol culture, where the local people believe it to be the birthplace of life on Earth. Wander the island before sitting down to relish a traditional meal. Return to your hotel in Guadalajara, taking the rest of the evening to relax.

Day 6: Hike to a hidden waterfall outside Huaxtla

San Lorenzo, Guadalajara, Mexico
Recharge by the water's edge of the San Lorenzo waterfalls

This morning, your guide will take you hiking along a beautiful canal just outside the town of Huaxtla. The hike is of intermediate difficulty and will lead you along a beautiful canal amid mango and plum trees until you reach the secluded San Lorenzo waterfall. Enjoy the natural setting, recharging by the water, or taking a dip to cool off.

Return to your hotel in the afternoon. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you like. 

Day 7: Free day 

Instituto cultural cabañas
The 18th-century Instituto Cultural Cabañas

Spend your last full day in Guadalajara discovering more of the city. Visit the Hospicio Cabañas, now known as the Instituto Cultural Cabañas (Cultural Institute). A registered UNESCO World Heritage Site, the building alone is worth exploring, though art fans will appreciate the wide collection of important works, including the monumental frescoes by the famous José Clemente Orozco. For more insight into the local culture and traditional indigenous art of the area, you'll want to check out the Museo de las Artes Populares (Popular Arts Museum).

Take the rest of the day to roam the San Juan de Dios market, the largest indoor market in Latin America, capping off the evening on Avenida Chapultepec for your choice of restaurant or bar.

Day 8: Depart

Guadalajara, Mexico
Experience the historic center from the vantage of a horsedrawn carriage

Depending on your departure details you may have time for last-minute gift and souvenir shopping, picking up artesanías from Tlaquepaque or if it's a Saturday, the street market on Paseo Chapultepec. When it's time, say hasta luego to Guadalajara and meet your drive to be transferred to Guadalajara's airport for your flight home. 

Map

Map of Discover Guadalajara - 8 days
Map of Discover Guadalajara - 8 days