-The following is a guest blog from TravelZoo.com–
You could say that to visit Guadalajara is to visit Mexico. The city is home to three of the country’s most identifiable exports revered and reviled in equal measure, namely: tequila,
mariachi and the broad-rimmed sombrero. With one of the world’s best climates and a strong colonial heritage, Guadalajara gives you a sense of the ‘real’ Mexico. Excellent hotel deals also make it the perfect base from which to explore.
Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, exudes a pleasant but unspectacular charm characterized by its distinct neighborhoods, each offering something different. The historic center is littered with colonial relics. Vast and imposing structures built around courtyards in the traditional style, government offices and traditional drinking dens. The suburban area of Tlaquepaque is the artisan’s workshop, where you can pick up the traditional craft with its unmistakeably Mexican style. After dark, head out to Zapopan, wander through the cobbled streets and wonder at the sheer number of bars and young, upmarket Mexicans drinking in
Guadalajara is a both a progressive and conservative place. Traditions are respected and observed, although you can’t help feeling that modern influences have infiltrated. For every bar omitting the strains of a mariachi band, there are two playing Lady Gaga’s latest hit. But then this is Mexico, and everywhere you go you can sense the influence exerted from north of the border.
After a while you’ll want to get out of the city, searching for the Mexico of your imagination populated by tequila drinking vaqueros (cowboys) and cactuses, and where better than the town of Tequila itself? Mexican law states that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and ferociously pursues anyone who dares to manufacturer it outside the state lines.
Striking out further from Guadalajara, the city of Guanajuato offers a glimpse of the great age of silver. At its height, just one mine in the city produced two-thirds of the world’s silver. Crammed into a narrow valley, most of the city’s roads are underground allowing visitors to amble along its tiled thoroughfares, peacefully taking in the ornate and beautiful mansions and churches, all that remains of the vast silver wealth the city once possessed.
Travel west from Guadalajara and you hit the Pacific. Mexican beach towns can differ wildly, so get it wrong and you end up in Puerto Vallarta, complete with towering hotel
complexes and chain bars catering to tourists. It’s a party for sure, but one that gets old pretty quickly and you’ll find yourself longing for the more sedate charm of the city.
In its mountain seat, Guadalajara enjoys one of the best climates anywhere in the world. Like the little bear’s porridge, the temperature is just right, all year round, averaging about 26C and rarely straying too far either side. It’s the perfect analogy for the city itself. There may be more exciting places in Mexico, more extreme adventures to be had, but Guadalajara is just right. Not too hot and not too cold.