Jalisco, on Mexico's Pacific Coast, is one of the country's most important tourism destinations, offering many beach resorts, Mexico's second largest city, and lots of outdoor activities. Jalisco is also important as the origin of many of the characteristic traits of Mexican culture, such as mariachi, ranchera music, birria, tequila, and jaripeo.
- Costalegre — a series of different beaches, capes and bays of along the Pacific Ocean on the western coastline of Jalisco, between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo
- 1 Guadalajara — Mexico's second largest city has a beautiful and walkable historical center
- 2 Ajijic — a destination for retirees from the U.S. and Canada on Lake Chapala
- 3 — a small farming and fishing community and beach town with good surfing
- 4 Chapala — a quiet town on Lake Chapala with a mild climate
- 5 La Manzanilla — a quiet beach town that draws fishers and hikers
- 6 Lagos de Moreno — known for its architecture
- 7 Puerto Vallarta — a busy beach resort offering beautiful beaches, lush jungles, sparkling waterfalls, five-star resorts, world-class shopping, and gourmet restaurants
- 8 San Luis Soyatlán — a busy town on the south shore of Lake Chapala with many services
- 9 San Patricio - Melaque — a beach town popular with Mexicans
- 10 Tapalpa — known for its traditional buildings with white facades and red roofs
- 11 Tepatitlan — it has several old Spanish cathedrals each with its own personality
- 12 Tequila — Mexico's most famous small town, where distilleries offer tours of the fabrication process and into the Agave fields
- 13 Tomatlán — a beautiful agricultural town with a historic town square
Jalisco is one of the most economically and culturally important states in Mexico, owing to its natural resources as well as its long history and culture. Many of the characteristic traits of Mexican culture, particularly outside Mexico City, originate from Jalisco, such as mariachi, ranchera music, birria, tequila, and jaripeo, hence the state's motto: "Jalisco es México" ("Jalisco is Mexico").
The state is home to two significant indigenous populations, the Huichols and the Nahuas. There is also a significant foreign population, mostly from the United States and Canada, living in the Lake Chapala and Puerto Vallarta areas.
Spanish is the main language spoken although English speakers can be found with little effort. Many locals understand a few English words but can not converse in English with you. If you do not speak Spanish, be patient as the locals will make every effort to understand you.
- Aeropuerto Internacional de Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (GDL IATA)
- Licenciado Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR IATA)
Both airports have many connections within Mexico and flights from the USA and Canada. Puerto Vallarta is also approached from Europe (London-Heathrow), and by charter flights charter from other airports in Europe.
The major highways in the state include the Guadalajara-Saltillo, Guadalajara-Nogales, Guadalajara-Tampico, Guadalajara–Barra de Navidad, Guadalajara-Colima, Guadalajara-Mexico City, Guadalajara–Ciudad Juárez, Guadalajara-Aguascalientes, Guadalajara-Tepic, Macrolibramiento Sur de Guadalajara and, Guadalajara-Lagos de Moreno.
The main bus station is the Central de Autobuses of Guadalajara which serves state, national and international destinations. Most destinations are in the west of Mexico and Mexico City.
Regional bus system runs seven days per week, fares are inexpensive (pesos only), and buses are reliable. Most stop frequently. Most bus drivers speak only Spanish but will understand if you know the name of the city you want to stop. Most first class buses are air conditioned. Look for blue bus signs on major roads. The drivers will stop for you.
Taxis are abundant in most cities, big or small. Fares can vary. It helps to settle on a fare before getting in the cab.
The most important tourist areas in the state are Puerto Vallarta, the Guadalajara metro area, the Costalegre and Los Altos de Jalisco Regions, Lake Chapala and the Montaña Region.
The Guadalajara area's attractions are principally in the city of Guadalajara (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and Zapopan, Tlaquepaque and Tonalá. Although the area is mostly urban there are also rural zones such as the Bosque La Primavera, El Diente and Ixtepete.
One of the most famous tourism attractions of the state is the "Tequila Express" which runs from Guadalajara to the town of Tequila. This tour includes visits to tequila distilleries which often offer regional food in buffets accompanied by mariachi musicians and regional dancers. The Tequila Valley area is known for the liquor named after it, made from the blue agave plant. This valley is filled with tequila haciendas, archeological sites and modern distillation facilities. The main historical centers are the towns of Tequila, Cocula, Magdalena and Teuchitlán. The aggregate of the agave fields in this area have been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Beginning in the 1950s, due to the pleasant climate and attractive scenery of Lake Chapala, a substantial colony of retirees, including many from the United States and Canada, was established along its shore, particularly in the town of Ajijic, just west of the city of Chapala. An estimated 30,000 foreign residents live along the shores of Lake Chapala.
The Zonas Altos refer to the area's altitude. The area is marked by parish churches with tall towers. Religion is important in this area, with many pilgrimages, festivals, charreds. It is home to one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Mexico, that of the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos. Religious tourism is a major economic activity, with the town of San Juan de los Lagos completely dependent on serving the nearly seven million who visit each year. The area also has old haciendas open to tourism. There is some tequila production as well although most occurs in the Valles Region.
Puerto Vallarta on Banderas Bay has beaches such as Los Muertos, Conchas Chinas, Las Glorias, Mismaloya, Punta Negra and Playa de Oro with large hotels, bars, restaurants and discothèques. This bay was a haven for pirates in the 16th century, but today it is one of Mexico's favored diving destinations because of the range of marine life and an average water temperature of between 24.4 and 30.3 °C. Expert level diving is practiced at Marieta Islands at the edge of the bay. On land, one major attraction is the Puerto Vallarta's nightlife, which is a big draw for LGBT visitors. Ecotourism and extreme sports such as bungee jumping and parasailing are available.
Jalisco's coast includes other beaches such as Careyes, Melaque and Tamarindo along with Puerto Vallarta. The north part of the coast is called the Costalegre de Jalisco. The Costalegre area is classified as an ecological tourism corridor with beaches such as Melaque, Barra de Navidad, Tenacatita, Careyes, El Tecuán, Punta Perula, Chamela and El Tamarindo. All of these have five-star hotels along with bars, restaurants and discothèques.
Many coast areas offer activities such as scuba, snorkeling, kayaking, and sports fishing. Majahuas is a marine turtle sanctuary in which visitors may liberate newly hatched turtles into the sea. Puerto Vallarta is known for its nightlife along with its beaches.
Lake Chapala is popular as a weekend getaway for residents of Guadalajara. The Lake is a tourist attraction on which people sail, fish and jet ski. The Lake is surrounded by a number of towns including Chapala, Jocotepec, Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, Ocotlán and Tizapán el Alto. The area has been promoting ecotourism with activities such as rock climbing, rappelling, hiking, golf and tennis along with spas/water parks such as those in Chapala, Jamay, La Barca and Jocotepec. The Norte Region is the home of the Wixarika or Huichols although there are significant communities of an ethnicity called the Cora as well. The area is known for its indigenous culture as well as its rugged, isolated terrain. Major communities in the area include Bolaños and Huejúcar. There is also ecotourism in the way of rappelling, rafting and camping.
The Montaña or Mountain Region contains mountain chains such as the Sierra de Tapalpa, Sierra del Tigre and the Sierra del Halo. The main communities in this area are Tapalpa and Mazamitla. The area is filled with forests and green valleys and the state promotes ecotourism in the area with activities such as rappelling, mountain biking, parasailing and hiking. The area's gastronomy includes local sweets and dairy products.
The Sierra Region is between the Centro and coastal areas. Mountains chains in this area include the Sierra de Quila and the Sierra de Manatlán.
The best thing about Guadalajara is to try their tortas ahogadas, it is a roll or bread stuffed with "carnitas" or pork meat and bathed in a red sauce with chili. At night many people attend cendurias where they can find Mexican snacks.
- Tequila. Agave is grown in the region (making it a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the eponymous town Tequila is here too.