Guadalajara is a large city with some 5 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, which includes several distinct municipalities and is divided up into more than 2,000 neighborhoods. Some of the coolest neighborhoods are close to the city center, but there are also some separate municipalities that are worth exploring in their own right. This guide to Guadalajara's neighborhoods will help you decide where to stay and where to visit on your trip.
Guadalajara’s historical center has colonial period buildings, several museums, and lots of plazas with monuments and green spaces. This is where the majority of the city's attractions are located, such as the Cathedral, the Municipal Palace, the Government Palace, and the Cabañas Cultural Institute. You’ll also find some traditional cantinas when you need a break from sightseeing and enjoy a snack and a cold drink. The historical center is a good option to stay in for ease of exploring and walkability to major sights and attractions. Some recommended hotels in this area include Hotel Morales and NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Historico. After the sun goes down, there’s not a lot happening here, so if you want to experience Guadalajara’s nightlife scene, plan to get around by taxi or Uber.
Located to the west of the historical center, Colonia Americana is a trendy part of town with many European-style mansions that date to the late 19th and early 20th century set along tree-lined streets. There are restaurants, boutique hotels, shops, and galleries. The U.S., British, and Canadian consulates are also found in this area. The section from Chapultepec Avenue toward the center of town is becoming increasingly hipster with indie cafes and bars. There are small boutique hotels and guest houses in historical buildings, such as La Perla and Casa Bruselas. One of the significant landmarks is the Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento (Expiatory Temple of the Blessed Sacrament), a beautiful Neo-gothic church whose construction took more than 75 years. The Guadalajara University Arts museum MUSA is also in this neighborhood.
Colonia Lafayette is a subsection of Colonia Americana located to the west of Avenida Chapultepec, which was originally called Avenida La Fayette. This wide avenue is one of the city's main drags, with many bars and restaurants. Colonia Lafayette has a strong French influence in the architecture, a style that was preferred during the Porfiriato era (when Porfirio Diaz was president). Currently, this is a more upscale area whereas the heart of Colonia Americana is becoming more hipster. Boutique hotels and cafes mix with swanky restaurants serving Mexican and European cuisines. Luxury boutique hotels such as Casa Habita and Villa Ganz are located in this area. The vibrant nightlife scene includes cool cantinas, snug cocktail lounges, and an intimate live music venue, C3 Stage, which hosts touring metal and rock bands.
Colonia San Francisco (Las 9 Esquinas)
The San Francisco neighborhood, often referred to as "el Barrio de las Nueve Esquinas" (the Neighborhood of the Nine Corners) is located just south of the historical center. Several small streets meet here at the the Plaza of Nine Corners, and there are a handful of small restaurants that specialize in the famous local goat stew called birria. This neighborhood is also home to some of the oldest cantinas in Guadalajara. Itinerant musicians will offer to play a song for a fee. The Convent of San Francisco originally had four chapels but only one, Our Lady of Aránzazu, remains, and is worth a visit to see the original Churrigueresque altarpieces.
Barrio Santa Teresita
Santa Teresita, or Santa Tere is a busy neighborhood located to the northwest of the Guadalajara city center. Many local working families make their homes here. The vibrant market, officially the Mercado Manuel Ávila Camacho but everybody knows it as the Mercado Santa Tere, is a favorite among locals, and there are also two tianguis (markets that are held on a specific day of the week), on Wednesday and Sunday. Karne Garibaldi is located in this neighborhood; this restaurant is widely considered to serve the best Carne en su Jugo, a Guadalajara local specialty. This neighborhood is not touristy, so you won’t find many hotels, but the Casa Santa Tere guest house across the street from the Santa Teresita church, and there are Airbnbs offered by local families.
Zapopan is a town located just 5 miles northwest of Guadalajara but is now contained within the Guadalajara Metropolitan Zone. Founded in 1542, its impressive 18th-century basilica is home to Guadalajara's patron saint, the Virgin of Zapopan, and there are many religious festivities surrounding her feast day, October 12. This area is host to a growing cultural and nightlife scene but is largely known as being a financial and industrial hub. Many of Guadalajara’s electronics, telecommunications, and construction companies have their headquarters here. You’ll see skyscrapers, as well as luxury shopping malls, the Trompo Mágico children’s museum, the Akron soccer stadium, as well as universities and medical centers. Visitors looking to stay in Zapopan may consider the Hard Rock Hotel Guadalajara or Casa Zapopan.
San Pedro Tlaquepaque
A small town 5 miles southeast of the center of Guadalajara, San Pedro Tlaquepaque (most often referred to simply as Tlaquepaque is an arts and crafts center. Its name means “place above clay land.” Although it’s best known for pottery production, you’ll also find wrought iron, copper, brass, silverware, engraving, wooden furniture, leatherwork, blown glass, and textiles. You’ll see a multitude of handicraft shops and vendors as well as upscale boutiques and galleries. El Parián is a small square with a variety of restaurants and a central gazebo where mariachis perform daily. Tlaquepaque makes for a great day trip from Guadalajara, but if you stay here you can enjoy a night tour of El Refugio Cultural Center or the music at El Parian after the sun goes down. Tlaquepaque is home to comfortable boutique hotels such as La Villa del Ensueño and Quinta Don José.