Budget Guadalajara – Lonely Planet

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Guadalajara is one of Mexico’s shining stars: an elegant city founded in the mid-1500s with grand plazas and historic sites, world-class museums, and a culinary scene that includes everything from gourmet restaurants to taco stands.

The city has grown exponentially over the past two decades, but it’s still a relatively affordable place to visit. Here are some tips to help budget-conscious travelers stretch their pesos even further.

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Plan your visit well for cheaper places to stay

Guadalajara teems with visitors (and hotel rates rise accordingly) during the weeks around Christmas and Easter, as well as in October, when the city celebrates its Fiestas de Octubre. If you can, visit outside of these times for lower prices and a wider choice of accommodation. If you are staying more than a few days, ask about discounts.

From abroad, fly to Guadalajara on a Mexican airline

The Aeropuerto Internacional Miguel Hidalgo (GDL) in Guadalajara is the hub of the region and one of the busiest airports in the country, with direct flights to more than 50 destinations. Several international carriers offer flights, but be sure to check Mexican airlines like Volaris and VivaAerobuswhich cater to Mexicans abroad and often offer cheaper rates, last minute deals and even payment plans.

Take a local bus to travel between the airport and the city

If you’re traveling light and don’t mind crowds, save a few pesos by taking a city bus to and from the airport and downtown Guadalajara. It is the cheapest way to travel. From the airport, the bus stop is in front of the Casa Grande Hotel, approximately 50m (164ft) from the terminal exit. From there take either “Ruta 176” ($9.50M), “Aeropuerto” ($10M) or the more direct “Arvento/Agaves” ($13M); buses run every 20 minutes from 5am to 10pm. All head to Central Vieja (Second Class Guadalajara Bus Terminal), where you can take any of the same routes for the return trip. The trip takes about 45 minutes.

From Mexico, arrive by bus for (usually) the cheapest fare

If you are already in Mexico, traveling by first class bus is often the cheapest way to get to Guadalajara. Several bus lines have direct routes to the city from just about anywhere in western, central, and northern Mexico. For the most comfortable rides (and for a few pesos more), opt for the deluxe AND N and Primera Plus, which have Wi-Fi, air conditioning, individual TV screens, fully reclining seats, and free snacks and drinks. They often offer discounts if you also buy your tickets online. If you’re coming from further afield, work out the numbers before you start a cross-country bus trip – a flight may make more sense, in terms of time and cost.

Use public transport to get around

Guadalajara has a comprehensive public transportation system, including dozens of bus lines and three metro lines, all operating from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. It’s the cheapest way to get around town – $9.50-15M each way (plus $4.75M for metro transfers) – and covers most tourist sites and transport hubs in Guadalajara. It can get crowded (watch your wallet), but it’s efficient and the quickest way to get around, especially at peak times.

Moovit App is a useful app for navigating the city’s complex bus and metro routes. It provides the best options for your trip, including cost, wait times, and even walking instructions. Once on board, the site tracks your progress and will remind you when to disembark – a nice feature.

Use carpooling instead of taxis

For overnight trips or the convenience of door-to-door service, carpooling is the way to go. Uber and Cabify are reliable providers and are invariably cheaper than taxis, which are notorious for overcharging passengers with flat fares. (If you need to take a taxi, agree on a fare before getting in!)

Avoid renting a car at the airport

You really don’t need to rent a car to see Guadalajara — ride-sharing and a robust public transportation system have you covered. But if you want a car to explore further afield, there are plenty of local and international car rental companies to choose from. Rentals start at $1100M per day, but you can save a bundle by renting in town, which takes the hefty 18% airport tax off your bill. Weekly rates often also reduce the daily rate significantly.

Take do-it-yourself day trips

Taking a day trip from Guadalajara is an easy and fun way to see another side of the region. But instead of paying $2,000-4,000 per person to take a guided trip, do it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Second class buses run to surrounding towns from Central Vieja for $60-180M or, for more flexibility, hire a car. Licensed guides can be hired at the entrances to museums, ruins, and other sites, while places like Tequila offer integrated tours of most of its distilleries. For meals, ask a local for the best actor (simple restaurant) or just looking for somewhere lively – it’s so much more rewarding than being parked in a restaurant on a tour bus.

Stock up on food at local markets © Alamy Stock Photo

Buy food at local markets

Although eating out in Guadalajara isn’t prohibitively expensive, cooking just one of your own meals a day can save you a lot of money. Do as the locals do and head to the market to buy freshly picked fruits and vegetables, baskets of grains and spices, and all kinds of meats and seafood. Even if you don’t have a kitchen, you can always stock up on snacks and fruit. Mercado San Juan de Dios, Mercado Santa Tere and Mercado Mexicalzingo are all good options near the city center.

Stay in a hostel

Guadalajara is full of hostels aimed at budget travelers of all ages, most with bohemian style and modern amenities. Most are in the Centro Histórico, within walking distance of the sights, or in Colonia Americana, near the city’s best restaurants and bars. The majority offer private rooms (with shared bathrooms), but dorms offer the best value, especially if you’re traveling alone. Most hostels also include breakfast and have communal kitchens to cook your own meals, saving on food costs. Some even include bikes that you can borrow for free.

Choose an apartment rather than a hotel room

There’s no better way to feel part of a place than living among the locals, even if it’s just for a few days. Guadalajara has many short-term rental apartments that you can book through companies such as Airbnb and Vrbo. Rates per night are often similar to the cost of a mid-range hotel room in the same area, but you’ll have space to spread out (a big plus, especially for families) as well as a kitchen , which saves you the cost of meals. at each meal.

Eat at market food stalls and buy snacks from street vendors

Although Guadalajara is known for its fine dining scene, eating at high-end restaurants can add up quickly. To save on breakfast or lunch, head to the markets, where food stalls serve tasty delicacies like tortas ahogadas (pork sandwiches dipped in chili sauce) and Birria (spicy goat or mutton stew) for cheap. The best offer is usually a comida corrida, a two-course meal with drink, for around $70 million. Browse the offerings and grab a free seat at a counter for service.

For dinner or a late night snack, head to the nearest plaza for some of the best street food in the country. Vendors set up carts as the sun sets, selling mouth-watering standards like tacos, tamales, elot (grilled corn on the cob with mayonnaise and cheese) and bacon-wrapped hot dogs for about $20 million each. Be sure to save room for dessert – piles of sticky candies like jericallas (a cross between flan and crème brûlée) and brandsitas (stuffed pancakes) can always be had. Templo Expiatorio Square and the main square of Tlaquepaque are local favorites.

A person stands in front of a sculpture created from a pile of discarded clothing in a museum gallery in Guadalajara
Some museums in Guadalajara are free to visit © Alamy Stock Photo

Visit museums on free days

Several of the city’s museums are free on certain days or don’t charge admission at all. Check their websites and plan ahead to save money on admission fees. Some, like the Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, also offer free guided tours of their collections.

Enjoy complimentary appetizers that accompany your drinks

Most bars in Guadalajara offer free botanicals (aperitifs) with each round of drinks. As a general rule, the fancier the location, the better the snack. canteens (old school bars) and antros (dive bars) could serve bowls of popcorn and chicharrones (crispy pork skin), craft breweries and wine bars will feature mini sandwiches and cheese plates. Sometimes, botanicals can be big enough to replace a meal (especially accompanied by a few high calorie infusions)!

Ask about discounts

Mexicans take their discounts seriously and tapatios are no different. Children, seniors, students and teachers often pay less for tours, entrance fees, theater tickets and buses – up to half the normal fare. If the discounts are not clearly displayed, ask! Just be prepared to show your ID.

Daily costs in Guadalajara

Hostel (dormitory bed): $150-300m
Basic room for two: from $500 million
Independent apartment (including Airbnb): from 1000 M$
Public transport ticket: $9.50M to $15M
Cup of coffee: $30 million
Torta ahogada: $40 million
Street Tacos: $15M
Dinner for two (upscale restaurant): from $600 million
Bottle of beer (domestic): $35M

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