Guadalajara Mexico : The Ultimate Guide to Living and Traveling

Guadalajara Mexico is home of mariachi and tequila, one of the cities with the best weather in the world, and was our home for four years (2010-2014).  

The city of Guadalajara is close to the large ex-pat and retiree communities near Lake Chapala and Ajijic, home to an international airport, and Mexico’s second largest metropolitan area.

If you are heading to Guadalajara, and especially if you are moving to Guadalajara we hope that this resource page will help and inspire your visit!

The city is brimming with opportunities for travel and exploration. Here’s a list of posts to help and inspire your future vacation or stay. But first, a little mood music!

The Best Things to Do in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Zone (including Zapopan, Tlaquepaque and Tonala)

In the newspapers, you will see reference to ZMG, that’s the Zona Metropolitana de Guadalajara which means the whole area. While Guadalajara itself has about 1.4 million residents, the whole of the metropolitan zone is around 5.5 million people! Meaning that all in all it is a very large city.

If you are new to Guadalajara or visiting for the first time, start by visiting the Centro Historico. You can see most of the main attractions in one day, or two if you also include checking out the markets and shopping.

Here’s How to Spend 3 Days in Guadalajara! and for the foodies: Here’s Where to Eat in Guadalajara!

Things to Do in the Guadalajara Centro Historico

More Things to Do Around Guadalajara

If you have more time, or are looking to get to know other neighborhoods in Guadalajara, here are a few locations to get you started.

Things to Do in Zapopan

The large suburb of Zapopan lies North and West of Guadalajara. While largely, residential, it does have its own centro with things to do for tourists.

Tonala and Tlaquepaque

Tonala and Tlaquepaque are the suburbs to the South and East, and are destinations for artisans and shopping!

Events in Guadalajara

Many of these are yearly recurring events that are worth checking out:

Just outside of Guadalajara

Here are day trips that you can take from Guadalajara. All of these are less than an hour away from downtown.

Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit

When you’re ready to head out for a longer trip from Guadalajara, here are some of the nearby options, within the State of Jalisco, and in the neighboring states of Colima and Nayarit. This will have you heading West towards the Pacific coastline.

I’ve noted roughly how long it would take to get from Guadalajara to these locations. You can decide on if they are a good day trip or you would prefer to stay overnight! We have frequently combined a few destinations into a short getaway lasting anywhere from 3 days up to a week and more.

Colima (2 hours)

Chacala Beach (3 hours)

Nuevo Vallarta (4 hours)

Puerto Vallarta (4.5 hours)

Guanajuato and Michoacan

If you’re ready for more cultural exploration inland, then check out the states of Guanajuato and Michoacan! These are amazing destinations that are affordable and easily drivable from Guadalajara.

Guanajuato (3.5 hours)

Guanajuato, the capital of Guanajuato, is a colorful University town, best known for its mummy museum! We loved the walkable downtown. An excellent weekend destination from Guadalajara.

San Miguel de Allende (4.5 hours)

San Miguel de Allende in the State of Guanajuato, has a gorgeous colonial era center, and is home to many artisans. It is also an expat hub in Mexico. This is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway from Guadalajara.

Michoacan Butterfly Reserve (5 hours)

Truly one of the most unique places in the whole world! Seeing the monarch butterflies in their winter migration destination is a must-see if you are spending any extended amount of time in Mexico.

Mexico City

Mexico City, also known as D.F. or Distrito Federal (federal district) or CDMX (Ciudad de Mexico), is the capital of Mexico! As such it deserves a place of it’s own in this guide. At about 5 or 6 hours drive from Guadalajara, you can do it as a road trip in one day, or choose to take the one hour flight!

We spent around a week in Mexico City and found that an excellent time frame to see most of the main attractions. However, you can definitely pick and choose and do it in more or less time. I would say 2-3 days is a minimum to get a feel for the city, as it is huge!

Other Areas in Mexico

Here are more areas of Mexico, that are probably easiest to access by flight as they are quite far away from each other!

Driving in Mexico– tips for driving from the United States to Mexico.

Los Cabos

The part of Mexico that you can drive to from California. Los Cabos in Baja Mexico was our honeymoon destination.

Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Part 2, Cabo Tips


Oaxaca city, the capital of Oaxaca State and located in the Sierra Madre mountains is a hub of artisans. Such a wonderful area of Mexico with lots of things to do for touristsw.

Yucatan Peninsula

We fell in love with the Yucatan on a trip back while we were still living in Guadalajara, and have been coming back every couple of years since then. It is very convenient if you’re coming from the East Coast or even central USA as there are frequently good flight deals into Cancun International Airport.

You can also fly directly into Merida International Airport.