Guadalajara, Mexico’s fourth largest city, may just be the country’s coolest. With a vibrant nightlife, a thriving arts scene, some impressive landscapes nearby and plenty to see and do, you won’t quickly run out of cool things to do in Guadalajara. Here are our top ten.
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Visit the Barranco de Huentitán
At the northern end of Guadalajara, the city ends and there is suddenly a 600 metre deep canyon! The mirador and park that overlooks it offer spectacular views over to the other side of the canyon and surrounding countryside.
The amphitheatre that overlooks it directly was once the set of a Björk concert in 2007, which attracted 20,000 people to the location! Come at sunset for the best light across the canyon.
Get a haircut (and maybe a tattoo) at Barbierattoo
The most hipster barber shop we found in the greater Guadalajara area was without a doubt Barbierattoo. Actually located in Zapopan to the northwest of downtown Guadalajara, this place has an exclusive vibe and is manned by well-trained and friendly staff using high quality tools and products. There’s a bar where you can get free coffee while you wait for your appointment, and the barber studio is full of natural light. They also do tattoos by appointment if you’re in the mood for some new ink. Additionally, they offer massages, facials and tailoring services.
Go to the gay underwear party at Voltio
Every weekend Voltio, an unassuming gay bar wedged between bathroom supply stores in the residential area of Mexicaltzingo, hosts a men only underwear party. Entry costs M$150 and includes five beers, waters or soft drinks. This is not a party to come for the dancing, more for the socialising and inevitable cruising in the labyrinthine dark rooms. Turn up around 11:30pm and it’ll be in full swing.
Hang out in a cool café
There are many excellent cafés to discover in Guadalajara. Most of the ones we visited were in the Americana neighbourhood, close to downtown. Some of our favourites were El Terrible Juan for the hipster setting, funny staff and excellent coffee, El Gato Café for its amazing hot chocolate and staff who leave you alone to work, Darjeeling for its artsy vibe and La Tetería for its pleasant outdoor space and impressive range of teas. Out in Zapopan, we also discovered The Blooming Tea, a super cosy and friendly place for some quality tea and occasionally vegan cookies.
Wander down Paseo Chapultepec
Lined with cool bars, modern restaurants and other amenities, one of Guadalajara’s most modern and well developed areas is the place locals meet for a night out. The wide central reservation of the street is a pedestrian only area and is punctuated with sculptures and fountains. There are regularly markets and other day-time and evening events that take place centres around the pedestrian area, making it worth visiting at almost any time of day.
Find all the street art
Mexico is no stranger to street art, but Guadalajara in particular is abundant with the stuff. In certain parts of the Americana neighbourhood, seemingly every free wall is covered with some artistic creation, most of which are unfortunately not tagged by their creators.
A particularly good area to check out are the few streets surrounding the Mercado Juárez, at the corner of Prisciliano Sánchez and Argentina, but also a bit further south towards the metro station Mexicaltzingo.
Check out the Parque Expiatorio weekend market
Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening, the modern square next to Templo Expiatorio del Santísima Sacramento becomes a hub of family-friendly activity. There are multiple food stalls, several serving vegan options, people selling handicrafts and other curiosities, dance groups you can join or watch and just hang out and soak in the relaxed and jovial weekend atmosphere.
Visit the Mercado Mexico
Perhaps the centres of hipsterdom in Guadalajara, this modern outdoor food court is home to over a dozen places to eat and drink with churros on offer next to cocktails, ice cream as well as full meals including some vegan options. The design of the building is quite striking and unlike anything else in the city, making it an interesting place to visit for that alone.
Explore the iconic Hospicio Cabañas
The main reason tourists visit Guadalajara is to visit the Hospicio Cabañas. This former home for orphans built in the late 18th century, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has been converted into a museum and art gallery with a vast range of visual art on display including painting, photography and sculpture from the renaissance period right up to contemporary work.
Entrance costs M$70, which is worth it as you can easily spend a whole morning or afternoon there exploring the myriad different rooms and also marvelling at the grandeur of the architecture. It’s closed on Mondays and entry is free on Tuesdays.
Eat all the things
There is plenty of great food to be found in Guadalajara, including a lot of excellent vegan food. Guadalajara is known around Mexico as a foodie destination, and is the birthplace of some popular Mexican dishes including pozole (a thick mushroom-based soup) and torta ahogada (literally, drowned sandwich). La Flaca is an excellent option for trying vegan versions of such dishes.
Bonus: Stay at LA FE Hotel and Arts
Looking for the coolest place to stay in Guadalajara? Hands down it is LA Fe Hotel and Arts, a cute boutique hotel full of works by local artists in the Americana neighbourhood, an easy walk from many of the area’s sights but on a side street so is relatively quiet. With just a handful of rooms, it’s a quiet, peaceful option with a personal touch and friendly, helpful staff. The beds are large and comfortable, the shower reliable and the wifi fast enough for us to work in the common area on. Bookings include self-service breakfast of cereal, fruit, toast, sweet spreads and juice, which is easy enough to veganise. Book a room here.
Here’s a map of all the places mentioned in this post.
Have you been to Guadalajara? What other cool spots did you uncover?