Guadalajara is a city with unique sights, mouthwatering food and an incredible nightlife unique to Latin America. It has a powerful history and if you keep exploring, no two days will be the same for you and your new friends in Mexico’s 2nd-largest city.
After about 50 years of tireless effort, the powerful cathedral was finally completed in 1618, building on the more fragile and less impressive structure which preceded it. Shaped almost like a crown, the current towers are actually replacements for those which were lost during an earthquake in the early 19th century. Inside, the stunning mural The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a must-see.
Considered the finest of the four great squares of Guadalajara, it offers an unrivalled view of the great cathedral and features a wrought-iron bandstand which was shipped all the way from France. The bandstand has historically been used for all sorts of performers and marching bands, but is now guarded 24-7 following its consistent use as a political soapbox.
This is the largest enclosed market of its kind in all of Latin America. Known as Mercado San Juan de Dios among locals, you can buy and trade all sorts of trinkets here all day long - but keep an eye on your wallet as pickpocketing is rife, especially if you stand out as an international. There’s also a delicious food court inside, selling seafood and famed local stews.
With more animal species than any other zoo in Latin America, this has to be one of your must-see trips during your stay. It houses various endangered species and has been very successful at encouraging reproduction among such animals as Bengal Tigers and Gorillas. It’s only a little way out of the city, and boasts all sorts of exhibitions, shows and environments for seeing different animals.
The Estadio Chivas is the 4th-largest football stadium in Mexico, with the capacity a whopping 45,000! It’s in Zapopan, but you can get there easily enough by bus from Guadalajara. If you can find the time to watch a match there (usually at 7pm in the evening) then you won't’ soon forget the experience. Chivas are probably the most popular team in Mexico and the fans will be going wild throughout!
This may or may not appeal, but many visitors to the city flock to the bullfighting ring just opposite Estadio Jalisco (a football stadium). Every Sunday at 4.30pm you can watch these traditional fights, though they aren’t for the faint-hearted.
If you’re looking for traditional Guadalajaran dishes, then birria, chilaquiles and tortas ahogadas are some of the buzzwords you want to look out for. The famous market Mercado Libertad has an outstanding food court, and inside you can find all sorts of cheap, delicious and home-cooked delicacies unique to this part of the world.
The great thing about living Guadalajara and coming from Europe or North America, is that the exchange rate is almost certainly in your favor; given the low cost of living in the city, you can eat out at restaurants way more than you probably could at home. A few good options include:
Birreria Las 9 Esquinas - Located in the historical centre of the city, at the Nine Corners, it is famed for its sumptuous lamb birria and barbacoa - you have to try it.
La Chata - Situated in an old convent courtyard (with a roof), the scene is exceptionally traditional. Fortunately, so is the food! Expect mole poblano , chiles en nogada and other such tasty, real Mexican food.
El Sacromonte - Aimed at a slightly more affluent person than much of the street eats in Guadalajara, El Sacromonte is still affordable as a treat. In the afternoon you’ll even be treated to violin-focused Mariachi!
In reality, you don’t need a list of restaurants or eateries in Guadalajara. They are everywhere, and with some few exceptions, they’re all affordable and absolutely delicious. Go take some local advice or explore with your classmates!
Unplugged is a bar for anyone who love rock, pop culture, live music and, well... it’s for everybody. There are themed nights and awesome drinks deals every week. In fact, they even cater to those who just want to drink beer and play table football - just head to the back of the bar and have fun.
One of the more youth-focused clubs, Ibiza Club draws a huge student crowd every weekend to drink and dance to massive electronic tracks. It’s a nonstop, all-go party location, so only head that way if you’re feeling energetic!
The building is at Chapultepec Avenue, right in the heart of Guadalajara nightlife. Unbelievably, it also has some of the cheapest drinks (and wildest shots) in the entire city; the downside is that everyone needs to have a seat inside, to avoid it becoming rammed. You might have to queue and wait for a few people to leave before getting in, but it’s worth it.
Pints of beer for about one euro, maybe less. Big, fresh, stone baked pizzas with a huge variety of toppings. Rooftop seating with a great view. Open from early afternoon until late at night.
Is there anything else I need to add? Go to Pinta Negra.
Struggling with the lack of chilled hipster venues on this list so far? Worry not - we haven’t talked about the Darjeeling Tea Room yet! It’s open peacefully all day, and transforms into a sick live music venue at night. Serves food all day, as well as a range of other drinks (not just Darjeeling!) inside a converted house.