The Top 10 Things to See and Do in Tequila, Mexico
The streets of Tequila | © Gabriel Saldana / Flickr
Famed as the birthplace of Mexico’s national drink, the town of Tequila has recently enjoyed an explosion of tourism as visitors come to explore its historic distilleries and cantinas. Just an hour from Guadalajara, the town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006. It boasts a distinctive, rustic atmosphere and is surrounded by hills lined with countless rows of spiky blue agave plants. But make sure to read through this list before you make the trip – here are the top ten things to see and do in this iconic Mexican town.
Jose Cuervo Express
The train tour offered by Jose Cuervo is undoubtedly one of the best ways to visit Tequila. The mock-19th-century railcar departs at 9 a.m. or 9.30 a.m. from Guadalajara’s Ferromex station and involves a tour of Jose Cuervo’s La Rojeña Distillery, a trip to the agave fields and various samplings of tequila.
La Rojeña Distillery
For visitors who are not taking the train, it is still possible to take a tour of Jose Cuervo’s elegant distillery, which is the oldest in Latin America. Head to the distillery’s reception to arrange your 90-minute guided tour. Visitors are taken through the entire production process, from the brick ovens where the agave is cooked, to the oak barrels that are stacked in its aging cellar. The tour culminates with a tasting of Jose Cuervo’s premium tequila, Reserva de la Familia.
La Parroquia Santiago Apóstol
The town’s iconic baroque church, La Parroquia Santiago Apóstol, is also worth a visit. Located in the central plaza, the single nave structure was built during the 17th century. Inside, the building boasts numerous elegant stained-glass windows.
Plaza Principal de Tequila
Voladores, or “flying” dancers, mostly originate from the state of Puebla, where the ritual was born. However, they are also a regular fixture in Tequila and often perform their ritual dance in the Plaza Principal (main square). The performers spin around a tall wooden pole from which they are attached by their ankles. The ceremony has even been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
The Museo Nacional del Tequila
For more insights into the history and culture behind Mexico’s national spirit, head over to the Museo Nacional del Tequila (National Museum of Tequila). Inaugurated in 2000, the museum offers five rooms with themed exhibits and artwork related to tequila and its production.
Municipio de Tequila
Make sure to stop in at the Municipio de Tequila (Town Hall) in Tequila, which is on the south side of the main plaza. Recently remodeled, the building boasts a striking mural painted by the artist Manuel Hernández. The monumental artwork highlights the significance of the agave plant in pre-colonial Mexico and contains the female Aztec deity Mayahuel, who is associated with fertility and nourishment.
Amor de Mis Amores
Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
This casual, family restaurant in the heart of Tequila is a great place for lunch. The charming eatery offers excellent traditional food and friendly service. We highly recommend the enchiladas or birria, which are both first rate.
Bar, Mexican, $$$
A little over a year old, La Cata is a haven for those who fancy themselves tequila connoisseurs and anyone who is considering becoming one. Their tequila tasting room includes a wide variety of some of the highest quality Mexican spirits. The staff know their tequila and are also very friendly, so don’t hesitate to ask questions or for recommendations.
Bar, Mexican, $$$
If you still have the energy, head over to La Capilla, “The Chapel,” for a nightcap. The oldest cantina in Tequila, La Capilla was given that name because patrons walk in on their feet but crawl out on their knees. Inside, the bar has rough tiled floors, spindly stools and a very lively, friendly atmosphere.
El Guero bar
Bar, Mexican, $$$
After breakfast, head over to the nearby village of Amatitán, 15 minutes’ drive from Tequila. El Guero bar is a legendary institution in Tequila country. The open-air bar offers cheerful cantaritos, or clay pots, to its very contented clientele. These are filled with a potent cocktail of tequila, lime, salt and fruit juices.