Travel Guide

Home to the vibrant city of Guadalajara, the birthplace of mariachi music, Jalisco is known for its rich cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural beauty. Enjoy a fascinating blend of old-world charm and modern-day vibrancy. If we inspire you to visit this beautiful corner of Mexico, consider our Tranquil Vibes Jalisco Vacation or perhaps even level things up with a private Jalisco travel experience.

Fun Facts About Jalisco

  • Capital: Guadalajara
  • Tequila, Mariachi Music, wide brimmed sombreros, and rodeos (charreadas) all originated from Jalisco
  • Guadalajara is the country’s main hardware producer, 60% of computers are manufactured there
  • Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake

Jalisco Travel Tips

Currency: Mexican Pesos

  • Credit and Debit Cards are accepted in many places in Jalisco, especially Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and Tequila. You will still find plenty of cash-only places, especially in smaller towns or taco stands (which we frequent) 
  • While USD is accepted in some places, you will receive an unfavorable exchange rate. It is always best to pay in Mexican Pesos

ATMs in Jalisco

  • Cash is convenient to have on you, especially when you pull to the side of the road for some street tacos. 
  • It is recommended to only use the ATMs within banks, as  fraud has been reported at the unofficial ATMs or they simply don’t work. 
  • Jalisco Travel Pro Tip: Get money from the ATM before leaving the airport. Getting cash in smaller towns during busy season can be problematic as ATMs run out of cash!

Language in Jalisco

  • Spanish is the official language of Mexico. While it is fairly easy to get by with English, knowing a few key words and phrases is always a good idea! In the smaller towns, English will be spoken less. 
  • Tip: Download Google Translate before leaving!

Cell Phone Data/Wi-Fi in Jalisco

  • WiFi- it is accessible at hotels, restaurants and cafes. It is especially fast in the cities. 
  • Canadian Travelers – You will be able to use your phone with a limited amount of data and only pay a fee per day, depending on your carrier. The data seems to go fast, so use Wi-Fi when you can!
  • US Travelers- many US plans include Mexico travel in their plans, so you will be able to use your phone like at home. 
  • Tip: If you are working remotely, ask your hotel, Airbnb or local cafes for Wi-Fi speed before heading down.

What is the Time Zone in Jalisco?

  • Jalisco is in the Central time zone.
  • Jalisco Travel Pro Tip: Jalisco no longer recognizes Daylights Savings (DST) and does not change the clocks. During North American DST, March-November, there will be an additional hour in time difference.

Local and Tasty food from Jalisco

  • Tequila – We all know it and many of us love it- tequila! Only tequila made from blue agave plants from Jalisco can be honored with the name Tequila. The town where this liquor originated is a Pueblo Magico and a fabulous place to visit.
  • Birria – These delicious tacos are from the great state of Jalisco, from a town near Lake Chapala. Birria tacos are traditionally made with a goat stew, now commonly beef, tacos served dorado, fried, and with a cup of sauce to dip into! These mouthwatering tacos are typically served for breakfast and lunch.
  • Raicilla – a cousin to tequila, Raicilla is made in Jalisco’s mountain regions. It is made of two different agave plants that are then roasted in a clay oven. It has an interesting taste of its own. Try it in San Sebastian del Oeste!
  • Tortas Ahogada – These mouthwatering sandwiches are made with crunchy birtoe bread and stuffed with carnitas and red onions. It is then covered in a chile de arbol sauce. Tortas ahogada can be found all over Guadalajara; on the streets and in restaurants!
  • Micheladas – while not totally a Jalisco dish, Micheladas are popular! You will especially find these in smaller towns, served in giant cups with some sort of snack on top. Our favorites are found in San Sebastian del Oeste with shrimp and lime.
  • Tejuino – A cold and refreshing beverage, Tejuino is made from fermented corn masa and water. Locals swear by its hydrating power. Give it a try in Talpa de Allende!

Safety in Jalisco Travel

The main tourist areas in Jalisco are well known to be very safe tourist destinations, especially Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta’s crime rate is lower than most major cities in the US, including Miami. Puerto Vallarta is very welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community and hosts events and activities in support.

Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest city population-wise, so naturally, it has higher crime rates than small beach towns. However, Guadalajara is still a very safe destination. There are many neighborhoods where you can walk around feeling completely safe and carefree. Crime is often in the form of petty theft, so stay aware of your belongings. Do research on the best neighborhoods to stay in and you will have a great trip to the city!

Must Visit Towns in Jalisco

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Puerto Vallarta has been visited by international travelers since the 1960s, with its rise in popularity attributed to the Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor affair that occurred in the city. Paparazzi covered the scandal closely and unintendedly showed off how beautiful Puerto Vallarta is. Since then, the city has continued to grow but has retained an old-town charm. From giant all-inclusives to boutique hotels to Airbnbs in the hills, Puerto Vallarta has something for any traveler with any budget. We recommend a visit to Puerto Vallarta to start or end your vacation but to spend most of your time in the smaller beach towns to the north and south that offer more unique experiences.

San Sebastián del Oeste, Jalisco

San Sebastián del Oeste is a historic mining town at 4,800 feet in elevation nestled in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. While only a 90-minute drive away from Puerto Vallarta, San Sebastián del Oeste couldn’t feel more different than the bustling resort town. San Sebastián del Oeste offers peace and solitude. The smell of fresh mountain air and pine trees overwhelm the senses. San Sebastián del Oeste has an authentic town square rich with history. It has diverse local cuisine made with fresh ingredients grown in the nearby mountains. This town opens your eyes to a new side of Mexico travel.

Costa Careyes, Jalisco

Costa Careyes is definitely off the beaten path- as it is intended to be! The owners of this beachside community like keeping Careyes a best-kept secret and its remote location helps keep it this way. Careyes is a bucket list destination. It is filled with colorful homes that have earned their own designation as Careyes-style architecture. It is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Jalisco and is surrounded by the lush green jungle. The allure of the eccentric vibes in Careyes attracts the rich and famous. It is still an affordable destination and worth the trek! It is 3 hours from Puerto Vallarta International Airport.

Guadalajara, Jalisco

You hear the second biggest city in Mexico and imagine a sprawling city with large buildings. But in reality, Guadalajara feels like a town with trees lining the boulevards, car-free Sundays, parks everywhere and generally a more laid-back energy. Colonia Americana is a vibrant neighborhood in the heart of the city and was recently named the Trendiest Neighborhood in the world! Guadalajara has not seen the same rise in tourism as Mexico City, so it still remains very authentic and affordable. Guadalajara is an impressive city that will make you think, should I move here?!

Tequila, Jalisco

Even if you don’t drink the popular Mexican beverage, you definitely have heard of it. Tequila, Jalisco is located only four hours from Puerto Vallarta and one hour from Guadalajara. Tequila is similar to champagne, in that only liquor made from agave plants grown in the state of Jalisco can be called tequila. This has created years of traditions and history in the town surrounding many of the blue agave fields. In fact, the agave landscape and ancient industrial facilities are a UNESCO world heritage site. This town is steeped in magical Mexican culture and cuisine.

Tlaquepaque, Jalisco

Tlaquepaque, Jalisco is considered a large suburb of Guadalajara, but in reality, this town takes on a whole character of its own. Tlaquepaque is only 20 minutes from central Guadalajara and 30 minutes from the airport. While Guadalarja is keeping up with trendy & modern times, Tlaquepaque is holding onto its authentic and traditional Mexican customs and architecture. This town is well known for the artisans all over Jalisco & Mexico that bring their work here to be showcased. From clay pots, to copper decor, to handmade furniture, to sculptures and beyond, there are magical pieces from Mexican artists all over town.

Top Things to Do During Your Jalisco Travel

Go Tequila Tasting in Tequila – It goes without saying but we’re going to say it anyway: you need to visit a tequila distillery during your Jalisco Travel. Even if just to learn about the unique history and traditions surrounding this popular liquor. Join a tour to make the most out of your day!

Whale Watching in the Bay of Banderas – Hundreds of humpback whales migrate to the Bay of Banderas every December-March. You can be lucky enough to spot the whales from the coastline, but it is truly magical to see the whales from the water. Taking a boat cruise to see the majestic whales is a must-do activity!

Visit a boat-access-only town south of Puerto Vallarta – Some of our favorite beaches in Jalisco are only accessible by boat. The towns of Quimixto and Yelapa can be reached from Puerto Vallarta within a 30-minute boat ride, but these beaches are much quieter and more relaxed. You get the feeling of visiting a remote island and a fun boat cruise along the way! Bonus- each town has a waterfall that you can hike to.

Culinary Experience at Jardin Nebulosa – this is a world-class dining destination and a must stop during your Jalisco travel. They are built on sustainable dining principles and grow all their food. They focus on the unique ingredients found only in this Cloud Forest region and create a modern- Mexican cuisine. Dine at the restaurant or join a tour to explore their farm and Raicilla distillery.

Food Tour in Puerto Vallarta – While staying in Puerto Vallarta, take advantage of the delicious cuisine that is all around! It is difficult to know which taco stands and restaurants are worth a stop so why not join a food tour? You are guaranteed to eat at tasty and unique spots and you’ll have fun and make a few friends along the way.

Hike Cerro de La Bufa – looking to stay active on your vacation and experience epic lookout points? Cerro de La Bufa is a famous hike in San Sebastian del Oeste. Many travelers rent ATVs to drive near the top and then hike the remaining 30 minutes. On a clear day from the lookout, you can see all the way to Puerto Vallarta and the ocean.

Boat Cruise on Lake Chapala – As Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala is a beautiful lake that creates a unique microclimate in the region. It is a Jalisco travel must see! Some of the freshest fruits and berries are grown right around the Lake. Rent a boat for a few hours and explore this lake from the water for a relaxing and calming day.

Explore Colonia Americana in Guadalajara – Recently ranked the “Trendiest” Neighborhood in the World, Colonia Americana is full of shops, restaurants, & parks. You could easily spend an afternoon walking through the neighborhood, stopping along the way for shopping and drinks. It gives you a great perspective of day-to-day life in Guadalajara and opens your eyes to the modern side of Mexico.

Learn about Mexico’s History in Guadalajara – Guadalajara is full of museums, and many of them are free to visit! Take some time to explore the museum of your choice, from art to history to natural sciences. You will gain a new appreciation for Mexican history and what makes this country what it is today.

Pueblo Magicos, “Magic Towns” in Jalisco

A Pueblo Magico, or Magic Town, is a special recognition given by the Mexican Secretary of Tourism (Sectur). This honor is only given to towns that possess certain magical qualities, such as historic characteristics, natural wonders, or authentic traditions and food. The goal is to promote tourism to lesser known towns in Mexico that are filled with charm and unique experiences. Learn more about the magic towns of Jalisco

The state of Jalisco has 9 Pueblo Magicos, which puts Jalisco in second for states with the most Pueblo Magicos. Jalisco Travel is attracting more travelers interested in learning about Mexico’s culture, history and tradition through Jalisco’s Pueblo Magicos. 

Tequila, Jalisco

1 hour from Guadalajara or 4 hours from Puerto Vallarta

Magical Characteristics
Traditional customs and way of life
Home to one of the world’s most popular liquors

San Sebastián del Oeste, Jalisco

90 minutes from Puerto Vallarta or 4.5 hours from Guadalajara

Magical Characteristics
Rich history and culture
Natural beauty of cloud forest
Authentic architecture

Ajijic, Jalisco

1 hour from Guadalajara and 5 hours from Puerto Vallarta

Magical Characteristics
Natural beauty of the Mexico’s largest freshwater lake
Colorful and traditional town buildings

Talpa de Allende, Jalisco

2.5 hours from Puerto Vallarta or 3.5 hours from Guadalajara

Magical Characteristics
Religious traditions and annual pilgrimage
Local foods and cuisine steeped in history

Mascota, Jalisco

2 Hours from Puerto Vallarta or 3.5 hours from Guadalajara

Magical Characteristics
History surrounding buildings and ruins
Unique traditions for this mountain town

Tlaquepaque, Jalisco

20 minutes from Guadalajara and 4.5 hours from Puerto Vallarta

Magical Characteristics
Home to Jalisco Traditions like Mariachi and Micheladas
Authentic and colorful architecture
Rich artisan culture

Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco

2 hours from Guadalajara and 6.5 hours from Puerto Vallarta

Magical Characteristics
Natural beauty from the many local parks
Rich history and traditional architecture

Mazamitla, Jalisco

2 hours from Guadalajara and 6 hours from Puerto Vallarta

Magical Characteristics
Natural beauty from the waterfalls surrounding the town
Traditional buildings and town square

Tapalpa, Jalisco

2 hours from Guadalajara and 5.5 hours from Puerto Vallarta

Magical Characteristics
Natural beauty all around with the mountains, valley and waterfall
Authentic and traditional cuisine

Best Time of Year for Jalisco Travel

  • High Season December-April: The typical high season in this region, coincides with the dry cooler season. Temperatures are milder and range from 60F-80F degrees.
    • This season is also during the Whale Watching season (December-March). This is a main attraction in the Bay of Banderas and a must-see!
    • Due to this being the most popular time to visit, rates are higher and there is less availability. Booking in advance is recommended! 
  • Low Season June-October: The summer months bring the rainy season. You are almost guaranteed daily rain, but this is often during the nighttime or brief afternoon thunderstorms. Temperatures are higher and range from 70F-90F degrees. The humidity will be felt!
    • If you like to avoid crowds, visiting during this time is recommended. If you are prepared and open to some rain, this can be a great time to visit. The jungles are lush and alive from the rain.
    • Opposite to high season, rates are more affordable and there is more availability. 
    • In the smaller towns, some businesses close down during July-September. Plan ahead to not miss out on any must-sees!
  • Shoulder Season November & May: There is a quick transition from rainy to dry season and back again! But the months of November and May are the “shoulder seasons” and offer a combination of great weather & less crowds.
  • Jalisco Travel Pro Tip: Guadalajara’s location in the mountains creates a consistent temperature year-round. It feels like spring throughout the year and it is always a great time to visit!

How to Get Around

Rental Car

Renting cars from Puerto Vallarta or Guadalajara is an easy and cost-friendly transportation option. Driving in Mexico can be safe and easy! Always research the best routes ahead of travel and download the maps for areas with limited cell service. This is the best option if you have a travel buddy and want ultimate flexibility to explore.

Private Transportation

There are a wide variety of private transportation options from SUVs to Sprinter vans. If you have a group and have limited excursions planned, this can be a great option. Find a company and driver to stick with for the duration of your trip.


Taxis are readily available, even in small towns. Ask for directions to the local taxi stand and you’ll find a line up waiting. This is a good option for a more confident traveler who speaks some Spanish. You’ll want to be able to clearly communicate where you are going and negotiate a fair rate.


Ubers are not allowed at most airports in Mexico, so always take a taxi. Once  you are in the larger cities, like Puerto Vallarta or Guadalajara, Ubers are a safe and affordable way to get around.

Airports for Jalisco Travel

There are two major airports that provide access to Jalisco Travel. The majority of travelers seeking sun and beach will fly into Puerto Vallarta International Airport. This central airport provides access to Jalisco as well as Riviera Nayarit. Guadalajara is a great option for those wanting to visit the city, Tequila, or Lake Chapala.

Guadalajara Airport:

Guadalajara International Airport, known as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Airport (GDL), is located about 20 minutes south of central Guadalajara. It is Mexico’s third busiest airport after Mexico City and Cancun, and it offers a variety of direct flights to GDL. This airport offers year-round routes to major cities in Mexico, the US and other countries in Latin America. 

Volaris Airlines operates a hub in Guadalajara, and they offer many direct and affordable routes.  However, it doesn’t offer as many “sun destination” flights and airlines, as Puerto Vallarta. If you are interested in the beach, flying direct to Puerto Vallarta and then driving or taking a local flight to Guadalajara is the best option. 

As with many destinations in Mexico, flying direct to Mexico and then transferring to a local airline to GDL, can be the most affordable option.

Direct Routes to Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) from the United States

  • Alaska Airlines- LAX, SJC
  • American Airlines- DFW, PHX
  • AeroMexico- FAT, LAX, ORD, SFO, SLC, SMF
  • Delta Airlines- ATL
  • Frontier Airlines- LAS, MCO
  • United Airlines- IAH
  • VivaAerobus- IAH, LAX, ORD

Puerto Vallarta International Airport:
PVR Airport is located on the north side of Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco. Major airports across Canada & the US fly direct to PVR, making it an easy trip for most North American travelers. The airport is expanding a second terminal, and new flight routes are being added often. In 2022, there were record travelers flying into Puerto Vallarta, with 6.2 million passengers flying through PVR. Below is a list of direct flights to Puerto Vallarta International Airport. Here are more details on how to get to Puerto Vallarta and beach towns near PVR.

  • Air Canada- YUL, YYC, YYZ
  • Air Transat- YQB, YUL, YYZ
  • Alaska Airlines- LAX, PDX, SFO, SAN, SEA, SJC
  • American Airlines- AUS, DFW, LAX, ORD, PHX
  • Delta Airlines- ATL, DTW, LAX, MSP, SEA, SLC
  • Frontier Airlines- DEN
  • JetBlue- JFK
  • Southwest Airlines – AUS, DEN, HOU, PHX, SNA
  • Spirit Airlines- LAX
  • Swoop Airlines- YHM, YEG, YWG, YXX, YYZ
  • Westjet Airlines- YEG, YLW, YQR, YWG, YXE, YYC, YYZ
  • United Airlines – EWR, DEN, IAH, LAX, ORD, SFO

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