Guadalajara: Mexico’s city of art and culture

I’d been wanting to visit Guadalajara for a very long time. As a writer and lover of the arts, I had long heard of the artistic appeal of this Mexican city–home to 1.5 million in the metropolitan area, and close to 4.5 million in the surrounding area, making Guadalajara Mexico’s second largest city.


The fountains and cathedral at Plaza de la Liberacion are a must-see and probably the most highly photographed location in Guadalajara.

I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to visit Guadalajara twice in 2015. This post offers highlights of our city tour, as that was a great place to begin our discovery of Jalisco’s state capitol and experience the art and culture of Mexico’s eclectic city of contemporary art. In this post, I talk about the chocolate of Guadalajara. And in this post, about Guadalajara’s artisan neighbourhood of Tlaquepaque.


The Cathedral Assumption de la Virgin Maria in Guadalajara–built in 1568–is the second oldest cathedral in Mexico.

Guadalajara is home to many museums including the fabulous Te Quiero Tequila museum devoted to Tequila where the walls are adorned with commissioned contemporary art, all in the theme of tequila and the blue agave from which it is made. I loved all of the pieces as they were all thought-provoking and filled with insight into life in this region–past and present. And what a collection of tequila bottles and memorabilia!


Te Quiero Tequila is a contemporary museum devoted to tequila. But it also has an amazing contemporary art collection of tequila-themed art.


We also toured the Governor’s Palace, an impressive building that looks like a fortress adorned with gargoyles. What impacted me most about the Governor’s Palace is the dramatic mural painted by José Clemente Orozco between 1936 and 1937. It depicts Miguel Hidalgo–one of the heroes of Mexico’s War of Independence–and fills the staircase going to the second floor of the palace.

This photo depicts just a small portion of the mural in the Governor's Palace in Guadalajara.

This photo depicts just a small portion of the massive mural in the Governor’s Palace in Guadalajara.

The culinary scene of Guadalajara is impressive as well. We had an amazing meal at Santo Coyote, which in itself is an art gallery with murals, gardens, and live entertainment. And lots of chocolate in the buffet. It was very near where we were staying at the Fiesta Americana Hotel. I had a nice room with a view of the roundabout, and with access to the Fiesta Club lounge, we enjoyed complimentary food and drinks during our stay.


The dessert bar at Santo Coyote had plenty of chocolate offerings.


This three-dimensional art can be seen at Santo Coyote Restaurante in Guadalajara.

Have you been to Guadalajara? What impressed you most about the city? As I am a huge fan of Mexican art, my favourite part of our visit to Guadalajara was spending time in Tlaquepaque. I love artists’ villages and creative spaces. Find more about it in this post.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

67 Responses

  1. Lovely post! I grew up in Guadalajara, and now you’ve got me longing to go back for a visit.
    Also loved the Tlaquepaque post. Yes, it’s definitely time for another visit.

    • Lucie, thx so much for your comment, and for visiting a couple of my Mexico posts. As someone who has visited many parts of Mexico over the past 35 years, I think you’ll find many more posts that will pique your interest. I hope you’ll subscribe and have a look around. Happy National Margarita Day!

  2. Whenever I see photos of Mexico I feel like it’s the Philippines. We have a lot of similarities. I will surely love this place coz I’m fascinated with arts and architecture.

  3. Janna says:

    I’ve never been to Guadalajara but it definitely looks like an interesting place to visit. I love the culinary scene there especially the dessert spread at Santo Coyote. Looks so inviting!

  4. Milosz Zak says:

    I had no idea that the place has so much history and intact colonial architecture. Usually it is billed as a den of crime by the media, so this was wonderful to read.
    Milosz Zak recently posted…Ibn Tulun MosqueMy Profile

  5. I’ve been interested in learning more about food and beverages lately so a tour at that museum dedicated to tequila would be a joy. Would you know if they have any tequila tasting available in the city? I would really love to go around Mexico as soon as I get a chance to go back to the Americas. Thanks for the tips, Doreen! More power to your quest for the best chocolates!
    Trisha Velarmino – P.S. I’m On My Way recently posted…Do it yourself Angkor Wat: forget the tour guidesMy Profile

    • Hi Trisha. Indeed, you will find many places that do tequila tastings in Mexico. It is their national drink and they are very proud of it! Mexico is a very large country, so you will never be able to take it in all in one trip. Pick an area that attracts you in line with your interests and focus on that for your first trip. Each time you visit, you will peel off another layer and discover more.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…rediscovering cacao with AMO CacaoMy Profile

  6. Tatia says:

    Thanks for sharing Doreen! The only city in Mexico I’ve visited is Cancun, so clearly there is a lot more to see. I love how you touched up the visual appeal of Guadalajara and its cuisine offerings, both elements I look for in a getaway trip.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Tatia. And welcome to my site! I think it is your first visit?

      Yes, you will discover a completely different Mexico when you follow the path AWAY from the tourist resorts. I love them, too. Don’t get me wrong. But when you want to discover the real authentic Mexico, you’ve got to go where people live, work, and play away from a world that is highly influenced by tourism dollars.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Guadalajara: Mexico’s city of art and cultureMy Profile

  7. Doreen, It looks like a great place to explore. I would definitely be headed to the tequila museum. I love the opportunity to learn about the local food and drink.

    • I know you do, Elizabeth. I, too, love to focus on the vibrancy of the contemporary food, drink, and culinary scene of any destination I visit. Chocolate travel fits in very nicely with that. 🙂 Thx for stopping by.

  8. I agree, Jeannette. Too often, the media focuses on the negative of a situation or destination. I have made it my life’s purpose to focus on the positive, and try and find the good in every situation. That said, I had absolutely no negative experiences during the four weeks I spent in Mexico in 2015.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Teuchitlan: a trip to authentic MexicoMy Profile

  9. What beautiful photos, Doreen. The daily news is filled with stories about the bad things happening in Mexico. It’s nice to see the other side of life there. The people, the food and the wonderful art which you can see throughout the country.

  10. Your posts always have me craving for some chocolate! Mmm that dessert bar looks amazing as well.
    Jennifer McMillen recently posted…Guess Where We Went This Weekend!My Profile

  11. What a fascinating city, and the artwork is breathtaking.
    It must be wonderful to appreciate it first hand.
    Thanks for sharing this great post with us.

  12. Andy says:

    Doreen, what kind of agave art did the Te Quiero Tequila museum feature? Was it just paintings of the agave plant or did it go beyond that? (I was going to ask if you had any photos thereof but I see you addressed this earlier in the comment thread.)

  13. Doreen,
    thanks for sharing this nice post with me
    I have never been to Latin America at all and now I am even more inspired to go!
    Good luck with your new trips !

    • Doreen says:

      Hello, Kristina. Latin America is so varied! You will find Mexico to be very different from Costa Rica, and that to be very different from Peru. They may share the Spanish language, but the culture, food, and sights are really different, yet equally intriguing.

  14. Doreen, thanks for posting this. I have never visited Guadalajara, however after reading your post I feel that it wouldn’t be a bad place to visit. I am completely blind so couldn’t see the images, however your explanation of what were in the images awoke the desire for a Guadalajara visit. Sounds like it was a blast!
    Michael Babcock recently posted…5 Horrible Mistakes I made When Teaching BloggingMy Profile

    • Thanks very much for your comment, and welcome to the blog! I believe it is your first visit.

      Being an extremely visual person, I would find it difficult to describe some places without visual reference. There are some places we associate with certain pleasant scents like the highly-aromatic flowers in Hawaii, or some sounds like the waves crashing on a beach. But right now, I can’t think of a way to describe Guadalajara that doesn’t involved the amazing visual art I saw. When visually impaired people visit an art gallery where there are sculptures, do you caress the sculptures to visualize them in your head? If so, I think you will really be able to relate to the post I will do on Tlaquepaque in 2 weeks, as it has some galleries specializing in bronze and ceramic sculptures that are truly memorable. I will try to use the right words to describe them.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Guadalajara: Mexico’s city of art and cultureMy Profile

      • Doreen, yes this is the first time i’ve ever visited your blog.
        I have not really been to an art gallery, though if life takes me to one i’m not going to object visiting.
        I normally rely on audible cues either surrounding the place I’m visiting or from words people who have visited the place used to explain the art. Then I construct in my mind what I think that it would feel like if I were to feel the art.
        For sure I will check out your posting in a couple of weeks, I found you in the Bloggers Helping Bloggers – BHB group on linked in. I was just introduced to this group last week, and am working on connecting with the other bloggers.
        Keep being wonderful!
        Michael Babcock recently posted…the truth about WordPress in four little wordsMy Profile

  15. Tuhin says:

    Learned about a new place through this post. The place definitely looks artistic and rich in culture.
    Lovely pictures too…Thank you Doreen
    Tuhin recently posted…6 reasons why kids lie!My Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Tuhin. I love discovering new places and it is through the blogs of my fellow travel writers that I have found many. What place is on the top of your Bucket List to visit?

  16. Since this isn’t a place on my bucket list, I am very happy that it was on yours! Living vicariously through you on this one, Doreen. Fantastic pictures–the artwork is quite striking. And the food…well, now I’m hungry!
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…How Do We Reinvent Ourselves After Fifty?My Profile

    • That why we travel writers love what we do, isn’t it, Rose? Through our words and pictures we share our stories and hope they will have an impact on our readers–whether to follow in our footsteps, or at least learn and be inspired by our words or photos.

  17. Mar Pages says:

    Tequila themed art sounds really interesting, and fun! I didn’t know it was made from blue agave. Chocolate in a buffet is always good too, I loved the colourful deco piece at the dessert table.

  18. Beverly says:

    Another exciting place to visit when I travel to Mexico!

  19. This looks fabulous Doreen and particularly for an art lover like myself. Thanks for the info:-)

  20. Hi Doreen, I haven’t been to Guadalajara. The art and architecture alone look like they make it with a visit. Ok well that and the dessert bar! 🙂

    • Just wait until next week’s post, Susan! I think it’s time I gave you all a taste of the chocolate makers of Guadalajara. 🙂 The dessert bar was great, but eating raw whole handmade chocolate is a completely visceral experience. Stay tuned!

  21. Just amazing, Doreen, and your photos tell as much, if not more, of the story as your narrative. This does indeed look like an amazing place–especially that dessert bar!

    • Thanks so much, Christine! That compliment re my photos means a lot from you living with such a great photographer! We are indeed inspired buy those around us. Thx for stopping buy and joining the conversation.

  22. I have not been to Guadalajara but love to go someday. Our travels in Mexico have so far been limited to the Riviera Maya region. The 3D art at Santo Coyote restaurant is very striking!

    • Hi Christina. The Riviera Maya is definitely a lovely region. But if you want to visit the real Mexico, you’ve got to get away from the tourist spots and go where the locals live and where Mexicans come to visit. That’s how I got Guadalajara on my brain. Long ago, when we were vacationing in Ixtapa, I remember a handsome businessman who was staying at the same resort, tell me that if I want to see the real Mexico, I must visit Guadalajara.

  23. The photos are stunning! Looks like an absolutely gorgeous place.
    Suzanne Boles recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

  24. lenie says:

    Doreen, I was impressed with the Cathedral and thought I would love to go to a service there. I think the building would set the stage for an awe-inspiring spiritual experience and I’m not even catholic.
    lenie recently posted…Comment on MARCH into Spring – MARCH out with Savings. by Jason BMy Profile

    • Hi Lenie. Indeed, that cathedral was majestic! We happened to be there when there was a service going on, and quietly observed from the sidelines for a few moments. When I was in Tlaquepaque, I visited their cathedral with a friend who wanted to pray for a few moments. You could really sense the holiness within those walls. Thx for stopping by, and stay tuned for a tasty post next week!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…Guadalajara: Mexico’s city of art and cultureMy Profile

  25. Erica says:

    That is a dramatic mural at the Governor’s palace. I’ve never been to Guadalajara. I should take more advantage of living so close to Mexico. Guadalajara seems like it should be on the top of my list of places in Mexico to visit.
    Erica recently posted…Your Crash Diet May Lead To Weight Gain! Do This Instead!My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Erica. How fortunate you are to live close to Mexico! There is truly so much to see and learn from visiting your southern neighbour.

  26. Chris says:

    We first fell in love with Tacos Al Pastor here in Guadalajara 😉

    That mural of Hidalgo brings back some great memories of a wonderful time!
    Chris recently posted…Living up to a nameMy Profile

  27. Ken Dowell says:

    I’ve never been to Guadalajara but your post surely makes me want to see it. The Orozco mural must be stunning in person. Thanks for the tour.

  28. Phoenicia says:

    I imagine the food tastes more authentic in Mexico. I have heard great things about Mexico and hope to travel there one day!
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  29. Jeri says:

    I would love to visit Guadalajara one of these days. The visual appeal is right up my alley with so many bright colors and I’m sure the food can’t be beat either. A city tour is always a great way to quickly orient one’s self with a new city.
    Jeri recently posted…#Marketing: Should an Author Have Their Own Podcast? by Suzanne KelmanMy Profile

  30. Wonderful images as always Doreen. I have been to Guadalajara but it was so many years ago I’m sure it’s changed a lot – though I clearly remember the beautiful fountain! I would love to go back because the visit would be completely different since I was first there with my (ex)husband who didn’t care for museums and whose idea of fine dining is chips and dip in the local cantina!
    Marquita Herald recently posted…Reflections on the Hidden Beauty of SilenceMy Profile

    • Hi Marty and thanks for your comment. The historical sites would be the same, but I think you’d find quite a different vibe in Guadalajara than you would have experienced years ago. And I met a lot of young people who have really innovative businesses. I’ll share more of that in a future post. The culinary scene was also very contemporary, melding a mix of fusion with traditional.

  31. Linda says:

    Wonderful photos, Doreen! Have you purchased a new camera recently? I love that mural. And a tequila museum, I think I’d just park there for the duration! 😉
    Linda recently posted…Son of Saul; stunning cinematography, but not for the faint of heartMy Profile

    • Hi Linda. Thx for the compliment. Actually, I got a new iPhone in May, and most of the Mexico photos were taken with that. It’s truly amazing how good the cameras are in the new phones.

      And yes, the tequila museum in Guadalajara is really a gem. It’s very contemporary, while still respecting and sharing the history of the subject. I loved it.

  32. Catarina says:

    Guadalajara looks like an interesting place, Doreen. Pity I didn’t have time to visit when I was in Mexico City. Maybe in the future so I can visit the museums and have desserts.
    Catarina recently posted…Do you agree with Joseph Stiglitz on market fundamentalism?My Profile

    • Yes, Guadalajara is very different from MX City. Size being the main factor that differentiates the two. But that smaller size has nurtured some amazing cultural experiences. Stay tuned for the next two posts!

  33. I’ve not been to Guadalajara, but it sounds likes an interesting place. Santo Coyote looks well worth a visit. Love the art and the dessert bar
    Donna Janke recently posted…Historic Casco Viejo in Panama CityMy Profile

  34. Sabrina Q. says:

    Doreen, I have never been to Guadalajara. It looks like an interesting place. Thanks for sharing.

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