One Day in Guadalajara (Jalisco): Must-See Places + Itinerary


Explore Guadalajara in a Day: A Comprehensive Guide

Thinking about visiting Guadalajara for a day and need the best itinerary? You’re in the right place!

Guadalajara is vibrant heart of Mexico filled with colorful traditions, beautiful architecture, and a rich history.

If you’ve got only one day to spend in Guadalajara, you’ll want to see the best parts to really feel the city’s vibe.

In this guide, you will also find the best things to do in one day in Guadalajara, with the essential tips to make the most of your limited stay and my picks for the best hotels.

So, are you ready? Let’s dive into it!

Quick Preview of Your 1-Day Itinerary: What to Expect

Guadalajara, being the second largest city in Mexico just after Mexico City, offers so much that it’s tough to explore everything in a single day!

For your daytime exploration, I recommend focusing on the historic center, home to the main attractions of Guadalajara like Plaza de Armas, the cathedral, Plaza de la Liberación, Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, San Juan de Dios Market, Hospicio Cabañas and Teatro Degollado.

However, understanding the challenge of choosing what to see in such a large city, I’ve prepared two evening plans for you.

  • If you want to delve deeper into the historic center’s charm, spending your night at a traditional cantina is a fantastic choice.
  • Alternatively, for those curious to explore beyond, I suggest an evening in Colonia Americana. This plan gives you a glimpse into two of Guadalajara’s finest areas, ensuring a well-rounded experience even with limited time.

Morning: Historical Heartbeat

Kick off your day by marveling at the Guadalajara Cathedral, an architectural jewel that showcases Gothic, Baroque, Moorish and neoclassical architectural influences.

Built between 1558 and 1616, this iconic structure captivates with its eclectic blend of styles and rich history. Notably, its towers were reconstructed in the 19th century following an earthquake, adding a unique chapter to the cathedral’s story.

Directly across from the cathedral, the Plaza de Armas is a lively central spot where people—tourists and locals alike—gather, drawn by the buzz of city life playing out against a backdrop of historic buildings.

plaza de armas guadalajara
Plaza de Armas, Guadalajara

While exploring Guadalajara in 1 day, you should definitely seek out the stunning murals just a stone’s throw from the main plaza:

  • On the second floor of the Palacio Municipal (City Hall), you’ll find captivating murals that bring to life the city’s rich history, a sight not to be missed.
  • Similarly, the Palacio de Gobierno houses some of José Clemente Orozco’s most profound murals, vividly narrating Mexico’s quest for independence.

Best of all, admiring these artistic treasures won’t cost you a thing, as entry to both is free!

palacio municipal guadalajara
Palacio Municipal, Guadalajara

Just steps from these landmarks, swing by Plaza de la Liberación to see the iconic, Guadalajara letters. It’s a beloved photo spot and a vibrant symbol of the city, offering a picturesque setting with historic buildings in the background.

As you wander through the historic center, make sure to visit the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres. This monument honors leaders in the arts, sciences, education, politics, and human rights, celebrating those whose contributions have significantly shaped Jalisco.

Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres Guadalajara
Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, Guadalajara

Directly opposite the Rotonda, I strongly recommend a visit to the Regional Museum of Guadalajara. Housed in an impressive 18th-century building, this museum presents a comprehensive collection encompassing paleontological, archaeological, historical, and ethnographic exhibits.

Because of its stunning beauty and the peaceful retreat it offers, it’s definitely one of my favorite museums in Guadalajara!

regional museum Guadalajara
Regional Museum of Guadalajara

Midday: Culinary Delights

By midday, when you’re ready to dive into the local cuisine during your 1-day itinerary in Guadalajara, there’s one dish you absolutely can’t miss: the Torta Ahogada

Head over to Mercado San Juan de Dios, where this classic dish awaits. This vast market, home to around 3,000 stalls, offers everything from clothes to electronics, but it’s on the ground floor where you’ll find the true taste of the city, including its iconic dish.

Known as Guadalajara’s signature food, the Torta Ahogada is a delightful pork sandwich submerged in a spicy tomato sauce.

torta ahogada market guadalajara
Torta ahogada at San Juan Libertad Market

Afternoon: Artistic Exploration

After indulging in the flavors of Guadalajara, you’ll be ready to dive into its rich artistic heritage.

First stop: Hospicio Cabañas.

This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned not only for its architectural beauty but also for housing some of José Clemente Orozco‘s most significant murals, including the famous “Man of Fire“.

It also features a museum with a rich variety of Mexican art, from paintings and sculptures to temporary exhibits on modern themes and artists, covering multiple periods and styles.

orozco guadalajara
El hombre de fuego, José Clemente Orozco

Next, head to Teatro Degollado, a stunning example of neoclassical architecture.

The interior of Teatro Degollado is as breathtaking as its facade, featuring lavish decorations that include intricate murals depicting scenes from Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”

Its opulent five-tier auditorium, adorned with golden stucco work, plush red seating, and a stunning crystal chandelier, transports visitors to an era of grandeur.

If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the inside of this architectural masterpiece during visiting hours (usually from noon to 2PM, Tuesday to Sunday).

teatro degollado guadalajara
Teatro Degollado Guadalajara

Late Afternoon to Evening: Two Options

As the evening sets in, I suggest two options for you: embrace the tradition within the heart of Guadalajara or venture out to the dynamic Colonia Americana.

Both choices are excellent, offering a glimpse into the city’s multifaceted identity—each distinctly different but quintessentially Guadalajara.

1. Authentic Cantina

Immerse yourself in the tradition of Guadalajara at Cantina La Fuente, a true historic institution since 1921.

More than just a place for great drinks, it’s a vibrant cultural hub, featuring live music, walls adorned with photographs, and always a few amazing characters around.

Here, you’ll encounter a unique mix of longtime regulars and young groups of friends, mostly locals, creating a lively atmosphere that bridges the old with the new.

Adding to this vibrant ambiance, you’ll often find people singing along, embracing the communal spirit of the venue.

cantina la fuente guadalajara
Cantina La Fuente, Guadalajara

2. Trendy Colonia Americana

Discover the vibrant Colonia Americana, where Guadalajara’s historic charm meets modern energy.

This trendy neighborhood is filled with historic buildings, cool cafes, unique shops, and lively bars and restaurants. It’s a place where locals and visitors blend, enjoying the area’s dynamic atmosphere and street art.

Whether you’re after a good beer in a relaxed setting with live music or a cocktail in a trendy bar, Colonia Americana has the perfect spot for you.

Here are some of my top recommendations for bars in Colonia Americana:

street art guadalajara
Colorful mural in Colonia Americana, Guadalajara
bienvenido pariente colonia americana guadalajara
Bienvenido Pariente, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara

Your One-Day Guadalajara Itinerary Map

Guadalajara in a Day: Expert Tips and Advice

Before you start your exciting journey, here are some extra helpful tips:

  • Wear comfy shoes because you’ll be walking a lot!
  • Shade and Hydration: Guadalajara can be quite sunny, which is great for those picture-perfect shots, but not so great for staying cool. So, pop a hat on and carry a water bottle!
  • Navigating Guadalajara: Walking and public transportation are your best friends here. They’re not only efficient but also let you soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere. And yes, taxis are an option too, especially if you’re moving between distant attractions.
  • Cash is King: While exploring, it’s wise to have Mexican pesos on hand, as not all places accept credit cards
  • Take Your Time: When exploring Guadalajara in 1 day, keep in mind that the city’s central main attractions are easily reachable on foot. Don’t rush trying to see everything; instead, take your time to enjoy each moment fully.
  • Safety First: Like any major city, keeping your wits about you is key. Stick to well-lit areas at night, and don’t flaunt your valuables. Simple precautions go a long way in ensuring a smooth experience.
  • Brush Up on Your Spanish: A few phrases can open doors, literally. “Por favor” and “gracias” are a good start, and don’t be shy to use them. Locals appreciate the effort, and it might even score you a smile or two.

My Advice
If you’re short on time, diving into Guadalajara through a guided tour is a fantastic choice.

I suggest picking one of these two options:

Is 1 day enough to visit Guadalajara

If you’re wondering, “Is one day enough to explore Guadalajara?” Well, it’s a challenge, but with this guide, you’re more than up to it!

I’ve packed this 1-day itinerary in Guadalajara with lots to see and do, so there might not be much time left over.

But if you find a spare moment, I highly recommend stopping by:

  • the Biblioteca Iberoamericana Octavio Paz to take in the impressive murals by David Alfaro Siqueiros
  • the Plaza de las 9 Esquinas, a quaint square known for its fountain and restaurants serving delicious birria
  • MUSA (Museo de las Artes Universidad de Guadalajara), a free contemporary art museum, where you can admire two stunning murals by José Clemente Orozco: “El hombre creador y rebelde” and “El pueblo y sus falsos líderes”

My Advice
 And if you can stay longer than a day, which I highly recommend, here are my guides to make the most of it:

Where to Stay for Your One Day in Guadalajara

For a one-day exploration of Guadalajara, the ideal choices are the historic center for its proximity to historical sites or Colonia Americana, where old-world charm meets modern energy, both offering interesting and accessible experiences.

Here are my personal recommendations for the best hotels in Guadalajara:

  • Hostal Hospedarte Centro: A cozy and colorful hostel in the heart of Guadalajara, close to the Cathedral and Plaza de Armas. Dorm or private room with shared bathroom, from 34 $usd per night, breakfast included. Highlights: free walking tours of the city, friendly staff, lively common areas – this is my choice for a cheap and fun stay in Guadalajara!
  • Hotel Dalí Plaza Ejecutivo: A modern and comfortable hotel 320 ft meters from the Teatro Degollado and the Plaza de la Liberación. Room with private bathroom and cable TV, from 44 $usd per night. Highlights: central location, rooftop terrace, free parking.
  • Hotel de Mendoza: A historic and elegant hotel next to the Teatro Degollado and the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres. Spacious room with balcony and panoramic view of the city, from $67 usd. Highlights: outdoor pool, gym, colonial charm, restaurant.
  • Casa HabitaA restored 1940s mansion in the Colonia Americana neighborhood, 3 km from the historic center. Very elegant and comfortable room with terrace and pool view, from 150 $usd per night, breakfast included. Highlights: the outdoor pool, the bar, the retro atmosphere.
  • Boutique Hotel Villa Ganz: A renovated mansion in the Colonia Americana district, 3 km from the historic center. Cozy and elegant room with fireplace and garden view, from 200 $usd per night. Highlights: the personalized service, the gourmet restaurant, the beautiful decoration, it’s my favorite hotel in Guadalajara for a romantic stay!
hotel guadalajara villa ganz
hotel guadalajara villa ganz

Rent a car in Guadalajara

Renting a car is the best way to visit Guadalajara and make the most of your stay!

To rent a car, personally, I always use Cars, for a few reasons:

  • You can easily compare the rental cars prices between all the agencies: for sure the easiest way to find the best rate!
  • Cancellation is often offered free of charge: no need to worry if you change your mind
  • Booking Cars offers full insurance coverage at a lower price than the rental companies, so it’s an instant saving with no effort

Simply click on the green button to find your rental car at the best price:

Finding the Best Price for Your Flight Ticket

The Guadalajara International Airport (Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla) is one of Mexico’s most significant airports.

It welcomes numerous international flights (from the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world) and domestic flights (e.g., Mexico City 1h30, Cancun 2h45, Tijuana 3h, Puerto Vallarta 1h).

To discover the best deals on flights to Guadalajara, feel free to use our flight comparison tool, developed in partnership with Skyscanner. It’s your ticket to securing the best rates!


Book your trip now and save money!

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best places to visit in Guadalajara in 1 day
best places to visit in Guadalajara in 1 day

I have created this blog to give you all my best tips to plan your next trip to Mexico, regardless of your budget. I share detailed itineraries, advice about places to visit as well as recommendations for transportation, hotels and restaurants. I hope I will also help you to discover amazing off the beaten path destinations in Mexico!

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