Guadalajara is a diamond in the rough. This second largest city in Mexico boasts warm weather year round, an abundance of historic architecture, and plenty of attractions, yet is not flooded with tourists. Touted as the most “Mexican” of Mexican cities for its rich culture and abundant mariachis, the nearly 500-year-old downtown has an almost European feel with narrow streets, cathedrals, and large plazas. In addition, numerous nearby side trips from Guadalajara add even more vacationing value to this hidden gem.
While the feel of the city is distinctly distant, the price of a plane ticket from major US cities to Guadalajara is significantly less expensive than most overseas trips.
If you can get to the northern Mexican cities of Juarez or Monterrey, Mexico’s economy airline, Vivaaerobus, makes it even cheaper to fly to Guadalajara. My husband and I flew from Juarez and paid just $142 round trip including all taxes and fees per person.
Another perk with Vivaaerobus is the in-flight menu prices. For example, a cappuccino and muffin combo costs just 20 pesos ($1.60).
Where to Stay
Hotels in Guadalajara are shockingly inexpensive. On popular travel websites, hotels start at just $22/night with many good options below $50/night.
I recommend staying in the historic downtown centro for the best deals and proximity to attractions and transportation but if you are looking for new, modern hotel buildings with contemporary styling, the historic downtown is not for you.
Personally, I prefer the charm of older buildings with their beautiful architecture, courtyards, and fountains. We stayed at the San Francisco Plaza Hotel in the heart of downtown Guadalajara for only $37.50/night including taxes and fees. The hotel was wonderful, and its open air restaurant matched the indoor/outdoor feel of buildings throughout downtown - al fresco living and dining. Our hotel also provided all the conveniences – cable TV, wireless internet, and even room service. No sacrifices necessary.