Cathedral in Guadalajara

Guadalajara & Jalisco

The region of your medical and dental getaway

Patients come from around the world to Lake Chapala in Jalisco, Mexico to undergo treatment with our professionals and benefit from the before, during, and aftercare.

DocTours connects clients with the best affordable doctors, dentists, and plastic surgeons in Mexico, including the most affordable stem cell therapy, anti-aging therapy, and HGH therapy. (For more information on any of our Sentient Treatments, just click on one of the tabs directly above.) We also can give you leads on wellness travel in Mexico, in our own neighborhood on Lake Chapala.

Guadalajara is the nearest major city to Lake Chapala

Flying to an appointment with any of the professionals providing medical and dental care through DocTours, the client usually uses the international airport of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco. It's a major city, quite close—just a half hour over the hill. Hence, while improving their health, some clients choose to do some sightseeing in Guadalajara, ranked the #2 Best Place to Travel in 2016 by Travel & Leisure.

Nicknamed Mexico's Silicon Valley, Guadalajara is also the birthplace of mariachi music and Jalisco is the birthplace of tequila. One of the country's industrial and business centers, Guadalajara is Mexico's second biggest city, with shopping centers, new buildings, and underground parking. Its boulevards are wide, it is dotted with green spaces, and its many parks and plazas are filled with public art; making it not only a major city just half an hour over the hill from Lake Chapala, but also a wonderful place for sightseeing.

The most recognizable landmark in the skyline—with its twin pointed towers and central dome—is the cathedral in the heart of Guadalajara.

Plazas border the cathedral on all four sides:

  • Rotondo de los Jaliscienses Ilustres has a central circular monument with statues of Jalisco's sons and one daughter who have made notable contributions in science, art, and politics.
  • Plaza Guadalajara has a fountain with the city's coat of arms—two lions resting their paws on a tree trunk.
  • Plaza de Armas has an art nouveau bandstand and matching lampposts. Beside it stands a palace of baroque facade and an interior mural painted by Jose Clemente Orozco.
  • Plaza de la Liberation has a statue of Miguel Hidalgo holding a broken chain to commemorate the priest's abolishment of slavery.

Teatro Degollado, a beautiful neoclassical building dating to 1856, is where Guadalajara's Ballet Folklorico performs. Nearby, the Plaza Tapatio stretches over half a mile, with bubbling fountains, modern sculptures, promenades, picturesque arcades, and restored colonial buildings. It reaches the Hospicio Cabanas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Urban renewal left the most beautiful older buildings intact in Guadalajara. The city is known for its museums, cultural events, symphonies, and operas. Visitors can tour Guadalajara's numerous plazas, colonial architecture, and modern conveniences on foot, bike, double decker bus, or calandria (horse-drawn carriage).

Rotunda in Guadlajara
ancient liege - lion sculpture in Guadalajara
Ancient Liege

Statue of Minerva, photo by Armando Aguayo Rivera used under Creative Commons License from Flick
Statue of Minerva

silver and gold sculpture in Guadalajara

Local Culture

Strolling nearly everywhere are the mariachi bands, festooned in their fancy costumes with wide-brimmed sombreros. Original to Guadalajara, mariachi music was recognized by UNESCO in 2011 as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In every town in Mexico, the music accompanies every major event in life, from baptisms to funerals.

Horsemanship, still important in the Mexican culture, is often on display. Charreria is the official national sport of Mexico (not futbol!). At a charreada, you can catch Mexico's enthusiasm for their equestrian traditions. As in a rodeo, the caballeros ride horses and rope and handle cattle. The competition originated on the haciendas where cowboys tried to outdo each other, turning their work tasks into an art form. The workers on various ranches would challenge each other, developing the contests into the charreadas that you can witness today.

If you happen to be in Guadalajara in late fall, meander through the Feria Internacional del Libro (International Book Fair), the largest book fair in Latin America. It takes place annually in the city between the last week in November and the first week in December. Imagine getting a copy of Cervantes or Garcia Marquez in their native language.

If you happen to be there in early fall, join the fun generated by the Fiestas de Octubre (October Parties). Somewhat like Germany’s Oktoberfest, the citizens and visitors turn out for street parades, parties, Mariachis, food, and tequila. These celebrations begin on the first Sunday in October and run right through to Halloween.

You can find four-star restaurants in this cosmopolitan city. One place that foodies go nuts about is Lulu Bistro. Shades of Napa Valley, the waiters bring out complimentary starters hanging like decorations from a small live tree. The reviews of this must-dine eatery are ecstatic.

More information

Una Mariachia

Working Caballero

Frida's Face

Tlaquepaque—the city's artsy barrio

In the southeast of this major city, quite close to Lake Chapala and a great place for some sightseeing in Guadalajara, is Tlaquepaque ("Tla-Keh-Pa-Keh"), a trendy boutique shopping district offering fine arts and crafts, fashionable galleries, and excellent food. Restaurants line colonial-style streets and alleyways, plazas and gardens. The shops of artisans specialize in blown glass, ceramics, bronze sculpture, wooden furniture, papier-mache, and embroidered cloth.

Although the original village has been absorbed into Guadalajara city limits, Tlaquepaque retains the traditional pattern of a small Mexican community: central plaza (Jardin Hidalgo) with its bandstand and gardens, parish church, central market, and old neighborhoods.

The mansions of Tlaquepaque date back to the 19th century. Early in the 1800s at the house on the corner of Independencia and Contreras Medellin Streets, revolutionaries signed the Plan de Iguala, which set forth the foundation for Mexican Independence from Spain.

There are various pedestrian areas, cafes, and restaurants with outside tables where you can watch the world go by. Street performers provide curbside entertainment and musicians' instruments fill the warm air.

Great Food

Several restaurants in Tlaquepaque have become especially popular:

  • Casa Fuerte. Centrally located among the town's galleries and museums, this fine dining establishment serves delectable traditional Mexican cuisine. Garden patio and bar available. Serving lunch and dinner daily. Independencia 224. Tel. (33) 6339 6481
  • Mariscos Progreso. A local favorite, serving fresh seafood (fish, ceviche, octopus cocktail) and a good selection of tequilas. Av. Progresso 80. (33) 3639 6149.
  • Adobe Fonda. Mexican fusion. Av. Francisco de Miranda 27. Tel: (33) 3657 2792.
  • Cafe San Pedro. Specialty coffee, sandwiches and desserts. Outside dining available. Av. Juarez 85. Tel. (33) 3639 0616.

The shops in Tlaquepaque specialize in art and craftwork from all over Mexico, with a particular emphasis on up-market ceramics, bronze sculpture, papier-mâché, blown glass and embroidered cloth. Some sell exclusive designs while others will offer more mainstream, but high quality, Mexican arts and crafts. This is not the place you will find many bargains, but you can be assured of the quality and authenticity of the goods.

Tlaquepaque hosts Mexico's National Handicraft Trade Fair. This Ceramics Festival is aimed at buyers (wholesalers) of Mexican Handicrafts and is ideal for those who buy Mexican handicrafts for export. Further information and dates for this year's event is available online.

As for nightlife, Tlaquepaque has a good selection of cafes, restaurants, and bars that stay open reasonably late, although most of the late night celebrating takes place in downtown Guadalajara.

More Information

If you are a bargain hunter, consider visiting the nearby village of Tonala. Its arts and crafts markets are less touristy than those of Tlaquepaque. A working people's village lacking Tlaquepaque's elegant facades and streets, Tonala's local market offers bargain prices that make the day trip worth it. Plus, in conversation with the artisans and craftsmen, one can learn more about their work. Their markets are open Thursday and Sunday.

Carved Horse

Artsy Pots

Agave Growing Near Town of Tequila

Art in the Brush
Painted Lady in the Brush

Tequila—more than a beverage

Tequila has moved upscale. Celebrities like George Clooney and Justin Timberlake have introduced new artisanal brands, libations to be sipped like fine wine or whiskey. Yet the only spirit that legally can be called 'tequila' must come from the town Tequila, also in Jalisco, a short distance from Guadalajara.

For mile after mile, the hilly terrain surrounding Tequila is blanketed with the greenish blue agave plants, cultivated for distilling the drink.

Tequila is not unlike pulque, which the ancient Aztecs made from raw, fermented agave sap then used in their religious rituals. The conquering Spanish introduced the European technique of distillation. Distilling pulque resulted in the tequila we know today. High-end versions of the beverage are made from 100% agave.

There are four main types—or 'expressions'—of tequila. Blanco (white) is clear, typically un-aged, and conveys agave's vegetal flavors. Smoother reposado (rested) usually sits in large oak casks for two months to a year. Añejo (aged) typically remains in used bourbon barrels for one to three years. Extra añejo is aged for longer than three years.

In the town of Tequila, many distilleries—both boutique and big names like Jose Cuervo, Sauza, and La Cofradia—take visitors through the entire process, from harvest to bottling, then offer samples of the different varieties. Formal tequila tastings and food pairings focus on the subtle nuances found in the flavor of finer tequilas. Drinking tequila in Tequila adds a whole new dimension to the experience.

Called the jima, harvesting the agave is still done manually with the same razor-sharp tool as in the past. At one distillery, flanked by fountains and lush landscaping, tourists are invited to assist a traditional jimador—a Mexican farmer in charge of harvesting the plant. It's not an easy task.

Another distillery has a duck pond and a succulent garden. They provide horses and bicycles to explore the area. Their restaurant, situated in an underground cave, serves up traditional regional cuisine. Dinner is part of their special "Tour of the Senses" for three or more people. For guests staying overnight, the distillery has an attached boutique hotel beside the agave plants.

The town has other hotels, too, featuring traditional Mexican architecture and décor, an outdoor pool, and a spa built in an old granary.

One of the ways to get to Tequila is via railroad. Two distilleries operate competing train rides from Guadalajara. On board, mariachi bands dressed in traditional regalia serenade passengers.

Take that Medical or Dental Vacation

Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque, Tonala, and Tequila are all close enough to be a day trip while staying on Lakeside or you might visit them on your way in to Lake Chapala or on your way back out to the airport.

If you enjoy traveling with another, familiarize them with this site, too.

With an international airport in Guadalajara and quite close—just a half hour drive over the hill—flying to an appointment with any of the professionals providing care through DocTours is easily accomplished.

Craftsmen Demonstrate