Print this page
Monday, 03 May 2010

Guadalajara: Que Rico!

Written by April Nelson
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Why Guadalajara?

It’s cheap!

Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April NelsonGuadalajara 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.

 

Getting There

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.

Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April NelsonPersonally, 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.

 

 

 

 


 

Transportation

When staying downtown, many of the sights are within walking distance so there is no need to rent a car. The cathedral, famous plazas (Tapatía, Liberación, Laureles, Armas, Mariachis, Mártires), Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, museums, and other famous sights are all only a few blocks away.

For attractions further away, busses run frequently at 6 pesos ($0.50) per person. Conveniently, tourist information booths in the larger plazas will tell you which ones to take.

Attractions

Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April NelsonAfter exploring the historic downtown, take a 20 minute walk or short bus ride to visit Parque Agua Azul, a refreshingly green oasis in Guadalajara. $1.25 will get you into this large urban park where lush gardens, flowering trees, and fountain-filled ponds make you feel miles from the city. Meander along the paths between stops at the impressive main attractions – aviary, butterfly house, and orchid house.

 

 

Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April Nelson

 

 

Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April NelsonAnother worthwhile attraction is the Guadalajara Zoo. The extensive collection of animals parallels zoos of large American cities, yet the price here is only $4.50/person. A bonus at the far end of the zoo is the striking view overlooking the Oblatos Canyon.

Itching for more action? Check out a Chivas professional soccer game for as little as 100 pesos ($8) or attend a rock concert for a steal.

 

Eating

My husband and I rarely spent more than $10/person for a meal including drinks, and most meals were closer to $5/person even in sit-down restaurants with wait staff.

The San Francisco Plaza Hotel’s restaurant featured a daily breakfast buffet for about $5, but we found an even better deal at a nearby outdoor restaurant on the Plaza de los Laureles. There, even with a beautiful Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April Nelsonview of the cathedral, the breakfast special only cost 38 pesos or $3/person. This included coffee, fresh-squeezed orange juice, a basket of bread, and choice of breakfast plate (pancakes, eggs with bacon and beans, chilaquiles, etc). After a tip for the waiter, we left stuffed for a total of $8.

Dinner on a chilly evening is excellent at the Plaza de los Mariachis. Spend about $6 for a large bowl of birria (delicious stew) with tortillas and beer. Pay wandering mariachis to play you a song, or enjoy the music for free as they play for other tables.

 


 

Side Trips

Tequila, Jalisco is the birthplace of the powerful spirit, and one of the only few places in Mexico that can produce it under the “tequila” name. A roundtrip bus ticket to Tequila from the Old Guadalajara Bus Station (Antigua Central) will cost you 90 pesos ($7.20). The movies on the bus and comfortable reclining seats make the 1:45 hour ride pass quickly.

Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April NelsonOnce in Tequila, if you want to really save, avoid the commercial Jose Cuervo tour or the barrel/bottle bus tours. Walk to the plaza and find the UNESCO map display. Take the self-guided walking tour through town passing tequila factories and reading signs along the route which provide Tequila facts and history in English and Spanish. Next, head to La Alborada Distillery for the free guided tour and tasting. There, see the elaborate process of turning blue agave plants into tequila and sample the sweet, cooked agave and several varieties of tequila. Then splurge and take home a bottle of their 400 peso ($32), award-winning tequila, El Gran Jubileo Extra-Añejo.

Another side trip worth taking is to Lake Chapala, the largest freshwater lake in Mexico. The 50-minute bus ride costs about $3 each way. Spend a playful afternoon walking on the tree-lined boardwalk or out on the pier. Peruse the booths selling wares and food and drinks. Play on the beach, fly a kite, swim, kayak, or just sit on a bench and watch the youthful happiness here. Don’t forget to enjoy a large seafood meal at a restaurant on the water. Spend just $20 for two.

Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April Nelson

 

Souvenirs

Before you fly home, take another 6 peso bus ride to the outskirts of Guadalajara to Tonalá or the more upscale Tlaquepaque. These artsy towns are known for their ceramics, glassware, furniture and artwork. Tlaquepaque is more expensive than Tonalá and caters more to tourists, but it is worth a walk through the plaza and down the charming pedestrian streets. Stop in the free ceramics museum to see the variety of Guadalajara – Que Rico!, Vivaaerobus, Guadalajara inexpensive, budget travel Guadalajara, San Francisco Plaza Hotel, Plaza de los Laureles, Parque Agua Azul, Teatro Degollado, Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, Tequila, Jalisco, La Alborada Distillery, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, April Nelsonwork from the region. In Tonalá, visit the workshops where the artisans make their crafts, and buy your souvenirs straight from the source at rock-bottom prices. These pieces are resold around the world in ritzy shops for much more.

 

Guadalajara – Que Rico!

The next time you’re craving an international trip, but don’t have the cash for a pricey flight, consider Guadalajara. Enjoy this hidden gem now before tourists rush and prices rise. Its rich history, culture, and cuisine will satisfy without breaking the bank.

 

©April Nelson

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

Related items