Guadalajara is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations with plenty to see and do. While it can be hard to see everything in a short trip, there are many ways to make the most of your time.
The ruins of Teuchitlan, just an hour’s drive outside Guadalajara, are a great day-trip for travelers interested in learning about pre-hispanic civilizations. Their circular stepped pyramids are unique, and definitely worth visiting!
1. Parque Mirador Independencia
The cultural capital of Mexico, Guadalajara is a beautiful city full of incredible art and history. It isn’t as busy or touristy as other popular destinations in the country, making it the perfect place to experience a true taste of Mexico.
One of the most iconic buildings in Guadalajara, this government palace houses murals and portraits that illustrate thousands of years of Mexican history. It’s a great place to learn about the history of the country and is free to visit.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Mirador Independencia, which offers stunning views of the canyon below. It’s open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the morning when you can properly appreciate the sweeping views and enjoy cooler weather.
2. Zoologico Guadalajara
The Zoologico Guadalajara is one of the biggest zoological parks in Latin America. It is a popular tourist destination and is located on the Barranca de Oblatos (Huentitan Canyon).
The Zoo contains a large number of animals from different climate zones. Its exhibits are set up to provide a natural environment for the animals.
It also has an impressive reptile house, with a large collection of different species. These include reticulated, Burmese, blood and African rock pyhtons, green anaconda, monocled spitting cobras, timber & coastal green rattlesnakes and chameleons.
It also has a lot of exotic birds, including four different types of macaws and three kinds of Amazon parrots. There are also a number of raptors such as great horned owls and king vultures.
3. Mercado Libertad
The Mercado Libertad is the largest indoor market in Mexico and it's well worth a visit. There are lots of stalls hawking traditional treasures that are worth taking a closer look at and some good bargains to be had.
The Rotunda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres is a great place to admire some of the local statues that represent those who have contributed to the rich culture and history of the area. It's a fun way to get a glimpse into the culture of Guadalajara and is a must-see for anyone visiting the city.
The Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento is another must-visit and is one of the most stunning churches in Guadalajara. Its neo-Gothic architecture is truly breathtaking. The interior is full of beautiful stained-glass windows that give you a feeling that you've traveled back in time.
4. Instituto Cultural Cabanas- Hospicio Cabanas
Located in the city of Guadalajara, the Instituto Cultural Cabanas- Hospicio Cabanas is a historic complex that combines functions of an orphanage, almshouse and hospital. This Neoclassical complex covers 2.34 hectares and was designed by renowned architect Manuel Tolsa in the early 19th century.
The most impressive feature of the Hospicio is the chapel, which houses a series of frescoes painted by Mexican muralist Jose Clemente Orozco in the 1930s. These are now considered some of the masterpieces of Mexican art.
The building also serves as a museum. The Institute hosts exhibitions throughout the year with works of prominent Mexican and international artists.
5. Guadalajara Cathedral
The Cathedral is a must-see for anyone visiting Guadalajara. It is a beautiful cathedral with a unique style that combines Gothic influences with Moorish, Neoclassical and Baroque details.
- The original cathedral was built in 1541, but a fire damaged it and Phillip II of Spain commissioned the new one. It was completed in 1618.
- Today, the church is still the final resting place of many people including cardinals and bishops. It also houses the tomb of a young girl named Santa Inocencia who was murdered for converting to Catholicism.
- The cathedral has two towers that are topped off with crosses. They are said to resemble an upside-down Mexican lily flower or 'alcatraz' and they are a must-see for anyone visiting Guadalajara.