Best Places to Visit in Guadalajara
Guadalajara may be Mexico’s second largest city and the capital of the state of Jalisco, but the city has still managed to retain the independent character of a town that is aware of its own heritage.
The city exudes a distinctly European feel, with its wide tree-lined boulevards, tree-lined squares, Spanish-style architecture and bustling sidewalks. But Guadalajara is also known as a mariachi music venue and is home to the Mexican version of the rodeo Charreadas.
Tapatios, as the people of Guadalajara call themselves, celebrate a popular folk dance called the Jarabe Tapatio. These three things are often what travelers imagine when they think of Mexican folk traditions, and Guadalajara is at the heart of it all.
It is also an easy city to explore thanks to its mild subtropical climate. It’s also easy to navigate, as the four magnificent squares in the city center are lined up around them, easily connected in a cross to the city’s main attractions.
Guadalajara is as cultural and diverse as Mexico City, but much smaller and less energy-intensive. Read our list of the best places to visit in Guadalajara for ideas on the best places to visit.
10 Best Places to Visit in Guadalajara
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Guadalajara:
1. Instituto Cultural de Cabañas
In the historic center of the city centre, the World Heritage-listed Instituto Cultural Cabañas (formerly Hospicio Cabañas) is a magnificent neoclassical former hospital and orphanage built in the early 19th century.
Today, the complex is home to the Cabañas Institute of Culture and the Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Besides the elegant architecture of the building, which is based on similar designs in Paris and Madrid, the main highlight here is the collection of 57 magnificent frescoes painted by Jose Clemente Orozco and considered his finest works.
Many of the frescoes adorn the ceiling and the walls around the huge nave and dome, including the famous El Hombre del Fuego fresco. The tour guide is available in English and Spanish and is highly recommended. Then visit the nearby large market hall (Mercado Libertad) where local costumes, pottery, paper flowers and musical instruments are sold. It is the largest covered market in Latin America.
Address: Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, 44360 Guadalajara, Jalisco
2. Expiatory Temple
One of the newest churches in Guadalajara – although it was built in 1897 and not completed until 1972 – the Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento is undoubtedly one of the best religious buildings in the city.
Built in the Neo-Gothic style, the church is known for its ornate exterior and many European-made pieces. Highlights include a beautifully carved door with bronze reliefs, an exquisite mosaic from Italy, a unique German clock and a premium carillon that can play 25 different pieces of music (which can also be played inside the church). 12 apostles move it.
Also of interest is the building’s exquisite French stained glass windows and ornately decorated gold altar containing many biblical stories.
Address: Av López Cotilla 935, Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jalisco
3. Teatro Degollado
Opposite the cathedral, the neoclassical DeGorado Theater is the city’s most important and beautiful performing arts venue. Completed in 1866, this impressive theater is worth seeing with its fine architectural details and flamboyant interiors. The exterior features 16 Corinthian columns surrounded by nine muses and marble reliefs of Apollo.
Known for its excellent acoustics, the theater is home to the Jalisco Philharmonic and the Guadalajara City Ballet, and hosts the International Mariachi Competition, among other local cultural institutions. Even if you can’t watch the show here, it’s worth poking your head inside to see the luxurious gilded interior. Five-story balcony towers rise above the stage like a red and gold-plated cake, and dramatic frescoes depicting scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy adorn the ceiling.
Address: Calle Degollado s/n, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
4. Guadalajara Zoo
Just a few minutes north of the city is Zoológico Guadalajara. In addition to its beautiful setting – it overlooks the majestic Santiago Canyon – this quaint attraction is one of the largest and most important zoos in Latin America.
Highlights of the animal collection include numerous primates, including many rare species such as white lions, Bengal tigers and black panthers, as well as gorillas and orangutans, as well as some native Mexican species such as Mexican wolves.
Other highlights include a large aquarium and a reptile house with many lizards, snakes and spiders. The zoo is also known for two aviaries dedicated specifically to songbirds and tropical species. Kids will love Safari Masai Mara, a fun ride through the African savannah, home to antelope, rhinoceros and other species.
Address: Av Paseo del Zoologico 600, Huentitán El Alto, 44390 Guadalajara, Jalisco
5. José Clemente Orozco’s Frescoes
Many attractions are scattered all over the city, displaying the works of José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), one of Mexico’s most famous painters. Some of his best works can be found in the form of frescoes in the former chapel of the Instituto Cultural Cabañas complex. Created between 1938 and 1939, these massive murals depict the Four Elements, Art and Science, and the Four Horsemen of Conquest and Apocalypse.
The highest point is the elegant Man of Fire (El Hombre del Fuego) fresco on the dome.
The various rooms around the complex are also interesting as they contain several exhibits dedicated to Orozco’s life and works. Another site containing examples of Orozco’s frescoes is the Palacio de Gobierno.
6. Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses Ilustres
The Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses Ilustres, just outside the Guadalajara Cathedral in Plaza de Armas (the Rotunda of the Glorious Jaliscienses), is one of the city’s most unique monuments, living in a beautiful park-like setting.
This large circular stele was erected in 1952 to honor some of the province’s most famous historical figures, including the famous artist José Clemente Orozco, whose work can be found throughout the city. There are 17 of these large circular steles that can be seen in frescoes. tall columns and houses the remains of 98 important people. Statues of some of these men adorn the surrounding lawns.
Warm Tip: After dusk, when you visit the site, it lights up magnificently, the effect amplified by the burning cauldron in the middle of the domed dome.
Address: Av. Fray Antonio Alcalde 108, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
7. Parque Agua Azul and Bosque Colomos
The most popular park in Guadalajara is the beautiful Parque Agua Azul, which literally translates into Blue Water Park. Opened in 1952, the park covers approximately 168,000 square feet and is a great place to stroll among the landscaped gardens and trees.
Highlights include the Tropical Orchid House, Butterfly House, and Aviary, all home to a variety of native species. Also of interest are the adjacent Casa de las Artesanías, where local folk art is exhibited and sold, as well as a small anthropology museum (paleontology museum), an open-air theater and a flower market.
Another popular park in Guadalajara is Bosque Colomos. Partly forested, winding waterways dotted with ducks, this peaceful green space provides a relaxing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Other highlights here include a tranquil Japanese garden, a jogging track, and a cultural center with workshops on genre arts such as folk dance, painting, drawing, and sculpture. Bird watching and picnics are other popular activities here.
Address: Calz Independencia Sur 973, Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
8. The Regional Museum of Guadalajara
The Museo Regional de Guadalajara is a short walk from the Plaza de Armas and is well worth a visit.
Housed in a former 18th-century theological school that also served as headquarters and prison during the Revolutionary War, the museum opened in 1918 and contains many pre-Columbian finds and scattered ethnographic displays, but please note that the descriptions are mostly in Spanish.
Highlights include 14 dioramas and exhibits on local fossils and geography, an extensive mineral collection including an 800kg meteorite, and a fine collection of colonial art as well as contemporary and modern art.
Depending on the date of your visit, some rooms may be closed.
Address: Calle Liceo 60, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jalisco
9. The Churches of Santa Mónica and San Agustin
Guadalajara is home to many magnificent old churches, most of which are easily accessible from the historic city centre. One of the most beautiful Santa Monica churches is the 17th-century Templo de Santa Monica, located a few blocks northwest of the cathedral. and symbols of the religious order.
Also of interest is the magnificent Templo de San Agustín, part of a former convent that was built in the 16th century and later flourished in the Baroque style. It has ornate interiors, including a chapel with a chapel. Other Baroque churches of interest are the 17th century churches of San Francisco, San Felipe Neri, and Aránzazu.
Address: Esq Degollado, Calle de Morelos, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jalisco
10. Guachimontones Archaeological Site
Mexico is full of indigenous cultures that are thousands of years old, especially the Mayan and Aztec cultures. But Mexico is home to more indigenous tribes that have left their mark on history. From 300 BC to 900 AD, the Teuchitlan people lived outside of Guadalajara, in the valley now known as Tequila, leaving monumental structures that made travel from Guadalajara possible.
Known as the Guachimontones archaeological site, the unique circular stepped pyramid structures look like beehives and appear to emerge from the grassy valley floor. This is one of the examples of the only circular pyramid in Mexico, although excavations at other Teuchitlan sites suggest that similar structures may exist. It is one of the most amazing places in Jalisco, but be sure to bring comfortable shoes and water with you. Climbing the archaeological area is a bit difficult.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Guadalajara. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Guadalajara, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.