Are you looking for the best information about using the Guadalajara Airport and finding the best transportation options to Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tlaquepaque, and Lake Chapala?
You are in luck. I have been using the Guadalajara International Airport Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, more commonly known as the GDL Airport, for close to 15 years now, and I know all the secrets. Ground transportation, car rentals, bus routes, and secret checks are my specialty.
Lots of family and friends came to my wedding and also agreed that the Guadalajara Airport is an excellent facility.
Guadalajara Airport Information
Right now, in 2023, the Guadalajara Airport is going under some major construction.
It will soon be one of the most important airports in Mexico for cargo shipping. There is a new Hilton under construction along with 13,000 sq meters of office space, an air cargo warehouse, and updated terminals.
Please excuse the dust and construction traffic because the final product will be way better than that tiny new airport in Mexico City.
The Guadalajara Airport is currently the third busiest airport in Mexico in terms of passenger traffic and the second busiest airport in terms of cargo. The Mexico City Airport and the Cancun International Airport in Quintana Roo State are busier in terms of passenger traffic.
There are two airport terminals but nobody uses the terminal numbers to find their flights. Gates are organized in groups with A and B on one side and D and E on the other. The security checkpoint leads passengers to the food court in the middle.
Pro Tip: There are two VIP Lounges in the Guadalajara Airport. The Priority Pass Lounge has a private security checkpoint with no line.
Access to the secret Priority Pass security checkpoint is up the escalators by the domestic arrivals area. Besides the better customer service at the security checkpoint, there are complementary beverages and free wifi.
The lounge is very comfortable.
Where Is The Guadalajara Airport?
The Guadalajara International Airport is located in the municipality of Tlajomulco de Zúñiga on the highway to Lake Chapala. It is in the south part of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region that can be prone to traffic.
- Guadalajara Airport to Downtown Guadalajara: 15 miles (25 km) | 30-60 minutes
- Guadalajara Airport to Downtown Zapopan: 18 miles (30 km) | 40-70 minutes
- Guadalajara Airport to Chapala: 18 miles (30 km) | 30-45minutes
Where To Stay In Guadalajara
Downtown Guadalajara’s Centro Histórico, the Colonia Americana, Providencia, and Chapalita are several of the most popular neighborhoods in Guadalajara for travelers.
Colonia Americana was named the coolest neighborhood in the world in 2022 because of the underground, urban (hipster) culture. There are excellent restaurants, bars, and specialty coffee shops in the Colonia Americana.
Providencia was a wealthy suburb that was engulfed by urbanization. Today, it is right in the middle of the financial district. There are great restaurants and boutiques that are a little fancier than the ones in the Colonia Americana.
Chapalita was another wealthy suburb that is now right in the middle of the metropolitan area. There are beautiful tree-lined streets, lots of parks, and it is close to the Expo Guadalajara convention center and the Plaza del Sol mall.
Guadalajara Airport Car Rental
Rental cars are a great way to see the region. Guadalajara is a major transportation hub with nearby beaches, pueblos mágicos, and a lot of day trips. Having a vehicle will give you the freedom to see a lot more of the region and travel at your own pace. I have been driving through Mexico for decades and I love stopping for food at a rustic country kitchen.
If you are not planning on leaving the metropolitan region a rental car probably isn’t necessary unless you have kids. I prefer using my kid’s own car seat rather than looking for a taxi with a car seat. We got a driver with a car seat once but it didn’t fit right and the driver didn’t know how to adjust it.
If your travel plans include renting a car then the Guadalajara Airport is the best place to rent one in the metropolitan area. The airport rental location has the largest selection of companies and inventory of vehicles. The majority of Guadalajara car rental company offices are located just a short walk from the main terminal, on the road to the highway. There are a few more rental car companies with offices on the highway but they offer free shuttle services to the offices.
The major international car rental companies have desks inside the airport baggage claim area and more desks in the general arrivals terminal.
READY TO BOOK YOUR GUADALAJARA RENTAL CAR?
I recommend using Discover Cars. Over the years, I have used five different Guadalajara rental car companies and Discover Cars is the best because of the insurance.
Discover Cars is an aggregator site that works with all the major car rental companies but they use different insurance providers. Mexican car rentals typically charge more for insurance than they do for the car rental itself but they don’t tell you how much the insurance will cost until you arrive
Full coverage insurance for a standard vehicle with Discover Cars usually comes out to USD$10 per day which is significantly less than the onsite rental desks will charge.
Guadalajara Airport Transportation
Getting to and from the Guadalajara Airport can be a challenge at rush hour. There is a lot of traffic and construction feels like it is perpetual. If you have a friend that is willing to pick you up, you should feel privileged. It is a big favor.
The public transportation servicing the Guadalajara Airport is not great compared to other international airports. The buses are inconvenient for most users, the shuttle has been discontinued, and there is no train. The best options are private transfers, car rentals, or official taxis.
BEST GUADALAJARA AIRPORT TRANSFERS
If it is your first time using the Guadalajara Airport, you don’t speak much Spanish, or you are traveling with a lot of luggage, an airport transfer could be a good option. I also recommend using a professional airport transfer service when scheduling early flights.
There are lots of drivers in Lake Chapala that offer this service but the Ajijic and Lake Chapala Facebook groups are full of complaints about drivers not showing up for an early morning airport run.
Is there Uber at the Guadalajara Airport
Yes, there is Uber at the Guadalajara Airport but I do not recommend using them to pick you up. I use Uber to drop me off at the airport all the time but pickups are complicated.
On two separate occasions, Uber drivers arrived to pick me up in vehicles that did not match the vehicle registered in the Uber app. The airport was not busy enough for the driver to say he could not find me because the pick-up area was mostly empty.
The Uber driver charged me for no-showing and it took 45 minutes to get another driver to reach the airport.
One of the most important safety concerns in Guadalajara is getting into a pirate taxi. You should never get into an Uber that does not match the description (license plates and driver) registered in the app.
In this case, the driver was just trying to scam me out of a few pesos but there are real concerns about kidnapping when travelers step into pirated or stolen taxis.
After these experiences, I recommend using a Guadalajara Airport Transportation Service or an official taxi.
Can Uber drop off at the Guadalajara Airport?
Yes, Uber can drop you off at the Guadalajara Airport without a problem. Uber is one of the best forms of transportation to the airport. Uber is not a great option for picking up from the airport.
Is there LYFT in Guadalajara Mexico
No, Lyft currently does not operate in Mexico. But there is Uber, DiDi, and InDriver.
Guadalajara Airport Taxis
The official Guadalajara airport taxis are usually convenient. You will come to recognize the unique green and orange racing stripes when you see them all over the city. The Nissan Versa is the most common sedan and the Toyota Hiace is the most common van currently being used as an airport taxi.
During periods of high demand like the weekends and especially holidays, there may be a significant wait to get a taxi.
The official airport taxis line up just outside of the arrivals areas. Travelers pay for the taxis in advance according to a fare schedule based on the distance from the airport. This way there is no haggling with the driver over the price after the fact.
There are two taxi payment desks. One is located inside the baggage claim area. The second is located in the arrivals area next to the rental car desks and the ATMs. They are both easy to find.
Drivers typically do not speak English. If you do not speak Spanish it is a good idea to have the address of your hotel readily available so you can pay and show the driver before starting the trip.
HOW MUCH IS A TAXI FROM THE GUADALAJARA AIRPORT TO DOWNTOWN GUADALAJARA?
An official taxi from the Guadalajara Airport to Downtown Guadalajara costa MX$360 pesos.
Buses to the Guadalajara Airport
There are two bus lines that serve the Guadalajara Airport but neither is convenient for tourists.
The bus from Guadalajara to Lake Chapala has a stop on the highway near the airport. It is almost a half-mile walk from the baggage claim to the bus stop on the highway.
If you are going to Guadalajara you will have to use the pedestrian bridge to cross the highway. If you are going to Lake Chapala, the bus stop is on the airport side of the highway.
The Guadalajara to Lake Chapala bus route drops off at the Central Vieja in Las Conchas which isn’t a great neighborhood. I don’t recommend using this option if you have a lot of luggage or are not used to traveling in sketchy places.
There is a second bus line that runs from the Periferico Norte to the University of Guadalajara campus in Tonalá (CUTonalá) to the Airport.
The transit center at Periferico Norte connects with Line 1 of the Guadalajara Metro which can get you to Parque Rojo near Downtown Guadalajara and the Colonia Americana.
This is a really long trip to save a few hundred pesos and I do not recommend it.
The Periferico Norte bus stop is on the east side of the short-term parking lot next to the UPS Customer Center.
What Airlines Fly To The Guadalajara Airport
Guadalajara is a main transportation hub within Mexico and in North America. The main airlines flying to Guadalajara are Volaris, Aeromexico, Viva Aerobus, Copa, Alaska, United, and American Airlines. Delta sells some flights but they are usually operated by Aeromexico.
There are more than 150 flights per day using the Guadalajara airport.
Some of the smaller airlines are TAR, American Eagle, Interjet, and Magnicharters. Unfortunately, Aeromar went out of business in 2022. There had been the favorite airline to fly non-stop between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.
What U.S. Cities fly direct to Guadalajara
Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport has direct flights to more than 30 destinations.
Domestic Destinations within Mexico with direct flights to Guadalajara
Tijuana, Mexicali, Loreto, La Paz, San José del Cabo, Hermosillo, Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Ciudad Obregon, Los Mochis, Culiacan, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Torreon, Durango, Monterrey, Reynosa, Mexico City (AICM and Felipe Angeles), Toluca, Veracruz, Acapulco, Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Villaherosa, Mérida, Cancún, Tapachula, and Puebla.
International Flights from Guadalajara to the United States
Los Angeles, Ontario, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Fresno, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Reno, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa, Miami, Charlotte, and New York City.
International Flights from Guadalajara to Central America and South America
Panama and Bogotá
International Flights from Guadalajara to Europe
Can I fly from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, Viva Aerobus operates a direct flight from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta.
Unfortunately, Aero Mar went out of business in 2022 and no longer operates that route.
Several of the large airlines also fly Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta but include a layover in Mexico City which kind of defeats the purpose of flying in the first place. It would be quicker to take the bus rather than flying if there is a layover especially because the Mexico City Airport is notorious for delays.
Guadalajara Airport Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to get from the Guadalajara Airport to Downtown Guadalajara, Zapopan, Lake Chapala, or The Central Nueva Bus Terminal?
1. Private Shuttle From The Guadalajara Airport
The best way to get from the Guadalajara Airport to Downtown Guadalajara, Downtown Zapopan, Lake Chapala Area, or the Nueva Central Bus Station is to book a private airport transfer before your arrival.
Especially for travelers who may be visiting for the first time, don’t speak Spanish, or are traveling with a lot of luggage. Having the transportation taken care of is a nice perk after a long day of travel.
2. Guadalajara Airport Car Rental
Many travelers that will be staying within the Guadalajara city center don’t need a car because many of the best neighborhoods are walkable.
However, many travelers will combine a trip to Guadalajara with a trip to the Tequila Valley. The best way to tour the Tequila Valley, or any of the day trips from Guadalajara for that matter, is with a private vehicle. There are marvelous beaches within a few hours of Guadalajara, archeological sites, and plenty of cultural experiences in Jalisco. Having a car is a lot of fun.
Discover Cars is the best way to rent in Guadalajara. They search both international and local companies so you get the best rates. Their insurance coverage is more comprehensive and less expensive than buying it directly from the car rental company saving a lot of money.
How many terminals does the Guadalajara Airport have?
The Guadalajara Airport has two terminals but they are both connected and easy to navigate. It is a much smaller airport than the Mexico City International Airport.
Is there parking at the Guadalajara Airport?
Yes, there is onsite parking at the Guadalajara Airport. There is both short-term and long-term parking onsite.
Short-term parking is located right next to the terminals and the arrivals area. You can’t miss the entrance to the parking structure as you are coming in from the highway.
Because of the construction, the long-term parking has been reduced. Long-term parking is behind the rental car buildings on the road that parallels the entrance. As you are coming into the airport from the highway, turn right at the first glorieta (traffic circle) and make a quick left.
The entrance to the long-term airport parking is next to the Avis car rental building just 20 yards from the traffic circle. It is labeled in Spanish, “Entrada Pensionados”
There are a dozen long-term parking lots off-site on the highway to Chapala that offer quick shuttles to the airport. They are all similar in price.
Are there restaurants at Guadalajara Airport?
Yes, there are corporate restaurants in the Guadalajara Airport serving average food and drinks. Starbucks is always busy.
The best place to eat near the Airport is Birrieria Chololo. Birrieria Chololo is one of Guadalajara’s most treasured institutions for traditional local food. Chololos is 6 km down the freeway and is just a five-minute drive.
I really enjoy stopping to eat at Chololos when my flight arrives in the morning. They close at 6 pm.
Where is the Instituto Nacional de Migración office in the airport?
The Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) office is located on the northwest side of the check-in desks next to the international arrivals and the Burger King food court.
If you are a temporary resident or permanent resident of Mexico, make sure to get your check-out document with the INM before checking in with your airline. They will ask to see it.
Did that shootout in Narcos Mexico really take place at the Guadalajara Airport?
The Netflix series Narcos Mexico is based on real events but they don’t do a very good job getting all the facts straight.
There is no proof that the shootout was perpetrated by the two parties that the series suggests.
However, there was a gangland-style shootout at the Guadalajara Airport in 1993 that killed Archbishop Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo and six others.
There is a memorial to the Archbishop outside of the Oxxo next to the parking garage where the shooting took place.
Posadas Ocampo is laid to rest in the crypt of the Guadalajara Cathedral.
Final Thoughts: Guadalajara Airport in Jalisco, Mexico
Guadalajara has a good airport that is only getting better. As the construction starts to finish, the flow of the airport is only going to get better.
I heard some rumors that there are even more transportation options in the works. The employee working at the information desk told me that they are going to bring back the shuttle to the Minerva and the governor is working to extend the metro to include an airport stop.
As it stands today, the Guadalajara Airport is an excellent facility. In another year it is going to be a really great airport.
Come check out Guadalajara. I think you will enjoy it.