10 Reasons To Visit Guadalajara Instead Of Mexico City

Anna Bruce /
Anna Bruce / | © Culture Trip

Northern England Writer

In comparison to Mexico City, Guadalajara is wildly underrated as a principal tourist destination. Sure, some travelers pass through on their way to the Pacific coastline and hippy hotspot of Sayulita, but often it’s ignored without a second thought. However, Guadalajara arguably has just as much to offer as Mexico’s capital and even boasts experiences and cultural heritage you simply won’t find in Mexico City. With that in mind, here are all the reasons you should visit Guadalajara instead.

Loved by over 40s

Guadalajara has some of the best food in Mexico

While Mexico City has some exceptional street food, regional cuisine and some truly delicious dishes available at every turn, Guadalajara wins hands down when it comes to dining. Cheesy tacos, the deceptively spicy hangover-busting torta ahogada (a sandwich bathed in spicy sauce, filled with deep fried pork and fresh onions), and the unmissable birria. Plus, Guadalajara’s crispy lonches (a sandwich that uses the regional birote bread) beat Mexico City’s soggy tortas any day!

Anna Bruce /
Anna Bruce /

Mexico City has pulque, but Guadalajara has tequila

Pulque, while it is something everyone should try once, is an acquired taste at best. Tequila, on the other hand, is a versatile spirit that can be mixed with coke to make a delicious charro negro, added to fizzy grapefruit juice for a refreshing paloma, or even just enjoyed straight (in sips not shots!). Guadalajara is also situated just a few hours from Tequila, meaning you can take your own day trip to the blue agave filled fields and see the tequila production process for yourself.

Anna Bruce /

Guadalajara is much less overwhelming

Mexico City is enough to make even the most relaxed person’s stress levels go through the roof. Guadalajara, as Mexico’s second biggest city, still offers that big city feel without the chaotic tendency Mexico City leans towards even on a good day, so you can really focus on enjoying your visit. Additionally, the public transport is far less stressful in Guadalajara. While the city only has two metro lines in comparison with Mexico City’s 12-line subterranean monster, most things around the center are accessible on foot. Even when you do need to take the metro, you won’t end up pinned against the window because of the overcrowding.

Anna Bruce /

You’ll save a ton of money in Guadalajara

To visit or even live in Guadalajara will set you back far less than the capital counterpart. Beers are cheaper in bars, entry is generally free and the hostels and accommodation aren’t as expensive as some of the widely recommended options in Mexico City. If you needed to rent a decent apartment in Guadalajara, you’d be paying MXM$2000 a month maximum, whereas renting a flat for that price in the nice neighborhoods of Mexico City is but a dream for many residents and expats.

Anna Bruce /

The museum scene rivals that of the capital

We’re not claiming that Guadalajara has more museums than Mexico City, mainly because that would be absurd, but the quality of them is fantastic. Whether you like modern art or history, you’ve got all your bases covered in Guadalajara, and we especially recommend a visit to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas. Plus, the cathedral in Guadalajara is far more iconic – Mexico City’s Catedral Metropolitana is beautiful, no doubt, but the pale-yellow twin spires of the Guadalajara cathedral are just far more emblematic of the region.

Anna Bruce /
Anna Bruce /

You don’t have to travel as far for great nightlife

Guadalajara is smaller than Mexico City, so most of the great nightlife is around Avenida Chapultepec and the historic center – all areas theoretically in walking distance. Mexico City, however, is so spread out that if you fancy a night out in the center and you’re staying in the south, you need to factor in an hour or so to even get there. For some of the best bars in Guadalajara, check out this guide.

Anna Bruce /

Guadalajara is only four hours from the beach

You read that right – Guadalajara is just four short hours from some of the best beaches and most popular tourist destinations in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta. While four hours may seem a long way if you’re from a smaller country, in sprawling Mexico that’s not bad at all! Mexico City’s closest beach, in contrast, is around a six-hour drive from the capital. If the beach isn’t your thing, though, Guadalajara’s outlying towns of Tonalá and Tlaquepaque are the perfect spots to wander the streets and pick up some artesanías.

Anna Bruce /

Mexico City has Plaza Garibaldi, but Guadalajara is the home of mariachi

As with the food and drink mentioned earlier, Guadalajara is the birthplace of some of the country’s most representative musical stylings, too, notably mariachi. While you can check out excellent mariachi music at Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi, why not just cut out the middleman? This brings us to the assertion that Guadalajara IS Mexico — think of everything you associate with Mexico; mariachi, tequila, sombreros and the Jarabe Tapatío. They all originated in Jalisco! So, if you want a mixture of tradition and big city living, you can’t go wrong with Guadalajara.

Anna Bruce /
Anna Bruce /

Guadalajara is the city of eternal spring

In summer, Mexico City is going through its rainy season (as is Guadalajara, to be fair), but the crowded city atmosphere means that when it’s hot in Mexico City, it’s also humid in Mexico City and if you’re traveling on the metro all day, it doesn’t make for a pleasant sensation. Meanwhile, Guadalajara (aforementioned rainy season aside) is far more temperate all year round, which is especially welcomed during the winter months.

Anna Bruce /

Tapatíos are more attractive than chilangos

OK, so hear us out with this one, as we’re just relating a time-old adage that’s associated with the state of Jalisco! Guadalajara is regularly regarded as the city with the most beautiful men and women in the country (although of course beauty is subjective), but if you are in the market for a trophy wife or husband, Guadalajara’s the place to be. We kid, we kid, and honestly, we must admit that in terms of friendliness, Mexico City and Guadalajara are at a tie score.

Anna Bruce /
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.