Hear about travel to Guadalajara Mexico as the Amateur Traveler talks to food, travel, and surf enthusiast Paul Hudson about the city he calls home.
Paul says, “I am very excited to spend a little bit of time talking about a place that I absolutely love. Guadalajara is a cosmopolitan city. It’s the second-largest city in Mexico. There’s a great relationship between modern and traditional culture. Modern because there are great universities. There is a burgeoning tech scene. There are lots of multinational tech companies that have big offices here. But then there’s also this relationship with the countryside, where a couple of times a year you’ll see 2 million pilgrims walking through the city, some of them on horseback, some of them walking on their knees, to follow the Virgin of Zapopan as she goes from the Guadalajara Cathedral all the way over to Zapopan. And that’s not to mention the food, the nightlife, there’s a lot to do.”
Guadalajara is in the highlands of the state of Jalisco in western Mexico. It is around 100-150 miles east of Puerto Vallarta and about 300 miles west of Mexico City.
With a week-long trip to the area, Paul recommends spending about half of that in the city of Guadalajara and the rest in the surrounding area. When Paul’s surfer friends visit that other half week is spent at the spectacular beaches with world-class waves on the coast.
Paul starts us in the historic downtown which is one of his favorite neighborhoods. We start at the Plaza de las Nueve Esquinas or the Plaza of 9 Corners. We will stop for a traditional breakfast of birria which is a goat meat soup. The area was redeveloped when the new metro line was put in to have more pedestrian streets. We will walk past two old Franciscan Baroque churches to the Guadalajara Cathedral. The square around it is surrounded by monuments.
In addition to the Cathedral and numerous plazas, we also talk about the work of some of the Mexican muralists that can be found in the city. The state-level government palace as well as the Biblioteca Octavio Paz both contain notable murals. The work of José Clemente Orozco can also be found decorating the Hospicio Cabañas which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This building started as a catholic charity caring for the poor, orphaned, and disabled.
Take in a show at the Teatro Degollado if you can while you visit.
On Day 2 Paul recommends a trip 7 miles to Tlaquepaque which is well known for its folkloric art. You can find pottery, carpentry, glass blowing, and art. The downtown area is beautiful with big restaurants with Mariachi playing. Mariachi originated in the Guadalajara area and the city hosts the International Mariachi Festival.
As a side trip from Guadalajara, Paul recommends the Tequila Volcano and the small communities around it where well-known and small local tequila is produced. The native people here mined and traded obsidian. They also grew the agave plant which you can still see in abundance.
We talk about some of the local markets like San Juan de Dios Market (St Johnny) and Paul’s favorite market Mercado de Abastos which focuses more on food.
Paul says the food scene of Guadalajara is phenomenal. We take some time to talk about local dishes you should try like birria and torta ahogada and where you can find the best of these.
Whether you are in Guadalajara to see the art, to surf the big waves or just to go on a Taco tour, Mexico’s second-largest city has something for you.