Mazamitla: A Guide to Mexico's Switzerland

El Salto waterfall
El Salto waterfall | © Dannyqu / Flickr
Stephen Woodman

Tucked into a mountainous corner of the western Mexican state of Jalisco is tiny Mazamitla – a gem of a town that is still relatively unknown internationally. With its quiet center, surrounding pine forests and picturesque charm, the town has a distinctly Alpine feel. For decades, it has been a popular getaway from the hustle and bustle of Mexican city life and has earned its reputation as the “Switzerland of Mexico.”

Take a stroll in the center

Less than three hours from the busy metropolis of Guadalajara, laid-back Mazamitla is a favorite destination for locals looking for a weekend of fresh air and relaxation. As with almost any small Mexican town, the central plaza is the beating heart of the place.

Here you’ll find couples strolling hand in hand, souvenir hawkers and street vendors selling atole, a hot corn-based beverage of Mesoamerican origin. You can also enjoy some of Mazamitla’s unique architecture. All of the buildings are painted burgundy and white, and almost every construction uses wood in its design.

Rising in front of the plaza is the Parroquia de San Cristóbal, one of the country’s most handsome buildings. The church is an architectural anomaly in Mexico – it draws inspiration from the Far East rather than Europe. Built in the middle of the 20th century, the temple is painted white and burgundy so it corresponds with the surrounding buildings.

Parroquia de San Cristóbal, Centro, Mazamitla, Jalisco, Mexico +521 33 3639 4206

Parroquia de San Cristóbal

Accommodation

Ranked as one of 111 pueblos mágicos (magic towns) that Mexico’s tourist board has enthusiastically promoted in recent years, Mazamitla is particularly popular as a weekend getaway for groups of friends or couples. Most opt to rent a cozy cabin for their stay, and we would strongly suggest that you do likewise – cabins are a crucial part of the Mazamitla experience.

Monteverde offers spacious, luxurious chalets with impressive views of the surrounding countryside and is an ideal spot for couples. Cabañas Mi Chosita is another excellent option, offering neat cabins with a fireplace, a seating area and a whirlpool bath tub.

Monteverde Hotel, Chavarria S/N, Centro, Mazamitla, Jalisco, Mexico +521 33 3616 1060

Mi Chosita, Hipazote 17, Vista Los Volcanes, Mazamitla, Jalisco, Mexico +521 382 538 0349

Inside a typical Mazamitla cabin

Cascada El Salto

The 30-meter waterfall of El Salto is a must-see sight. Located in El Tabardillo Ecological Park, visitors typically arrange to take a car to the entrance and walk or rent a horse to cover the remaining distance. More energetic tourists can hike the entire route, a round trip that takes around five hours. Wear sensible, sturdy footwear and bring some food and drink.

Cascada El Salto, Ecoparque El Tabardillo, Mazamitla, Jalisco, Mexico

El Salto waterfall

Eating

Mazamitla has plenty to offer the hungry tourist, from simple pizza spots to elegant, rustic restaurants.

Quinta del Bosque is top of the list for most locals. Owned by the same people who run the Bosque Escondido Hotel next door, this smart, cozy restaurant is a great place to tuck into traditional Mexican cuisine. The splendid views of the surrounding mountains and the great cocktails don’t hurt either.

The Posada Alpina Restaurante Bar on the north side of the central plaza is another popular eatery serving mostly Mexican food. The cozy restaurant has an outdoor section that overlooks the plaza and is a great option for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Quinta del Bosque, Vicente Guerrero 100, La Prepa, Mazamitla, Jalisco, Mexico +521 382 538 0966

Posada Alpina, Reforma 8, Centro, Mazamitla, Jalisco, Mexico +521 382 538 0104

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