The road from Guadalajara to Tequila, Jalisco

Guadalajara to Tequila Jalisco Transportation Guide 2024

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Are you looking for the best way to get from Guadalajara to Tequila, Jalisco?

You are in luck. I live in Guadalajara and I love going out to Tequila. I have lived here for a long time and, luckily, have had the chance to travel from Guadalajara to Tequila using a lot of different forms of transportation. 

Tequila, Jalisco is one of the most culturally significant parts of Latin America. The region is the birthplace of tequila, mariachi music, and charrería, three of the most internationally recognizable symbols of Mexico. In the Tequila Valley, the Jalisco-style Mexican food is delicious, the tequila cocktails are top-notch, and the agave landscape is breathtaking. You can taste a wider variety of different types of tequila than anywhere else on the planet. Tequila is an unforgettable experience.

Guachimontones pyramid and Tequila Volcano

The Fire Tour – Pyramids, Agaves & Tequila

Visit the town of Tequila and the Guachimontones archeological site in one day.

When you come to the state of Jalisco, whether it be Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, or Lake Chapala, I highly recommend spending a few days in the Tequila Valley.

The city of Tequila is designated a Pueblo Mágico but the whole Tequila Valley is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even if you do not drink alcohol, walking the cobblestone streets of Tequila is a great place to experience living history. 

Calle Jose Cuervo in Tequila, Jalisco

Guadalajara to Tequila Transportation Guide

A lot of people only have time for a day trip from Guadalajara but the best option is to spend the night in a cool hotel and visit small towns in the valley.  

The Tequila Valley is located about an hour outside of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region and an hour and a half from the Guadalajara International Airport

Tequila is a very popular destination and there are a lot of things to do in the Valley. However, many of the primary points of interest are spread out. I highly recommend making a plan ahead of time. Many of the best tequila tours require advanced reservations and some thought to transportation.

Agave fields on the way from Guadalajara to Tequila

The good part is that there are a lot of options at every budget. The difficult part is deciding what you will have to skip. 

1. Private Vehicle

The toll road from Guadalajara to Tequila

My number 1 recommendation is to have their own car and drive the free road through the Tequila Valley. It is the easiest way to see the pyramids, a boutique hacienda hotel, and the top artisan tequila distilleries.  

Having a vehicle gives you the freedom to explore the backroads or pull over for tacos or birria on a whim. Some of the best hotels are not within walking distance of the main plaza. The best hotels are actually on the other side of the volcano near the pyramids. Even Maru Toledo’s celebrated culinary events in Ahualulco de Mercado will require a vehicle because public transportation doesn’t go out to her ranch. 

A car will give you access to the best activities in the valley. 

Is it safe to rent a car and drive from Guadalajara to Tequila?

Yes, driving in Mexico is perfectly safe for competent drivers. The Tequila Valley is a major tourist destination and the transportation infrastructure is well developed. There is a fast toll road and a scenic free road that meanders through small towns. 

There are no carjackings or cartel shootouts to worry about. Returning to the city of Guadalajara at rush hour is the most challenging stretch of the drive but it is just slow, not difficult. 

I recommend using Discover Cars to rent a vehicle. They are an aggregator site that has agreements with big international car rental companies and small local companies. The difference is that they buy their insurance from a third party. Full coverage car rental insurance from Discover Cars has more coverage for a way better price. 

The best place to rent a car is at the Guadalajara Airport because they have the largest inventory but there are smaller rental car offices all over the city. 

My ideal road trip for a first-time visitor with a car would look something like this. 

Leave Guadalajara early in the morning for the Guachimontones archaeological site. Spend the morning exploring the conical-shaped pyramids and small museum. 

There are two historic hacienda boutique hotels located just ten minutes from the Guachimontones that have beautiful restaurants. Hacienda El Carmen is my favorite but Hacienda Labor de Rivera is just as stunning. 

Spend the night at one of the haciendas. Hacienda El Carmen has a spa, a distillery, a working farm, and lots of animals on site the real highlight is exploring the property. It was built over centuries and has been tastefully remodeled by conservation-focused architects. We only spend one night at Hacienda El Carmen but my parents talk about going back every time they are in town. 

The next morning I would leave Hacienda El Carmen for Tequila driving through Etzatlán and Magdalena. Schedule a tequila tour and tequila tasting at the Fortaleza Distillery. Three exceptional hotels in Downtown Tequila are within walking distance from Fortaleza. Make sure to check out the Juan Beckmann Cultural Center which is a part of the Jose Cuervo distillery compound. There are tons of great places to eat and drink in town. 

Before heading back to Guadalajara the following day try to schedule a hike to the Cascada Los Azules waterfalls or a horseback ride through the blue agave fields. 

I think that having a private vehicle is the way to go. Some of my favorite memories are just driving around the agave fields looking for street food and cool places to take pictures. Having a car lets you personalize the experience. 

2. The Buses From Guadalajara To Tequila

The most economical way to get from Guadalajara to Tequila is on the bus.  It is easy to get from Guadalajara to Tequila on the bus but a little more complicated to reach the pyramids and haciendas. 

There are two bus stations in Guadalajara serving the Tequila Valley. The Central Vieja in Downtown Guadalajara and the Terminal Zapopan on the highway leading out of town. 

The Central Vieja (sometimes called the Antigua Central Camionera Guadalajara) in Downtown Guadalajara has buses covering the entire Tequila Valley and every small town within a 100km radius of Guadalajara. Several bus companies are going to Tequila but Tequila Plus is the nicest and has the most departures. The bus to Teuchitlán (Guachimontones Pyramids) leaves from the Central Vieja. 

The Zapopan Terminal on Avenida Aviación and the highway leading to Tequila has a bus line named Tequila Plus. They share a small bus terminal with Vallarta Plus and Tepic Plus. Be aware that there are two different bus terminals on the highway near Avenida Aviacion just 100 meters apart. You want Tequila Plus/Vallarta Plus/Tepic Plus and NOT the one that says “Terminal de Autobuses Nuevo Mileneo de Zapopan.”

The Tequila Plus bus schedule has departures every half hour, from 6:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. every day of the week. 

Tickets cost $130 pesos one way and $240 pesos round trip. You can keep the return trip open but don’t lose the bus ticket or you will have to buy another one. 

Traveling from Guadalajara to Tequila during the week is generally pretty easy. On the weekend and during holidays it can get really busy at the bus station. Plan accordingly. 

There is a free shuttle from the Glorieta Minerva 

3. Private Tequila Tours

Santiago Apostol Church in Downtown Tequila

People around here take tequila seriously. This is the best place in the world to learn about the historical and cultural aspects of tequila. It is also the best place to taste delicious tequila which is hard to find outside of Jalisco. 

I recommend having a look at the full article on private tours of the Tequila Valley. Guadalajara has excellent tour guides for all types of travelers.

There are a lot of options. The luxury private tour by Mickey Marantes has access to distilleries that are hard to get reservations. Then he takes you to a beautiful, formal restaurant in a cave in Amatitán.

Some tours combine a visit to Tequila with a visit to the pyramids at Guachimontones

The other thing is that many of these tours need to be booked in advance. The Tequila and Guachimontones tour is sold out almost every weekend. 

4. Jose Cuervo Express Tequila Train

The Jose Cuervo Express train ride to Tequila is a luxury experience, on one of only three passenger trains in Mexico, that will give you a unique perspective to see the Tequila Valley.

The trip is only a one-way train ride because one leg of the trip will include a bus ride out to the Jose Cuervo ranch to see how the agave plants are harvested.

Agave field on the way from Guadalajara to Tequila

I think that most people will prefer the tequila train ride on the way back to Guadalajara. If you take the train to Tequila, it could be a long day if you have one too many drinks too early in the morning. 

Trains leave on Saturdays and some Sundays during the holidays. Guests must choose if they will take the train to Tequila or take the train back to Guadalajara. The train ride is part of the tour when the tequila flows freely and includes cocktails and an educational tasting. 

When you get to Tequila, there is a tour of the La Rojeña distillery, the Juan Beckmann Cultural Center (easily one of the best museums in the region), and Downtown Tequila. They put on a show of folkloric music, dance, and Mexican snacks.  

There is no parking at the train station in Guadalajara so guests must arrange transportation.

The Jose Cuervo Express Tequila Train is an amazing experience. My only complaint is that the selection of tequilas is all the commercial stuff that is sold back home. If you only have one day in Tequila, it would be best to visit a craft distillery that is making small batch tequila that is hard to find outside of Mexico. 

Unfortunately, the Herradura Express Tequila Train stopped operating during the pandemic and there are no signs that it will resume operation anytime soon. Casa Herradura still has tours in Amatitan but you will need to arrange private transportation. 

 5. Tequila Express Tour Bus To Tequila

The Tequila Express Tour Bus is one of the more affordable tours that includes a tasting, distillery tour, and a walking tour of the magical town of Tequila. There is coffee and cocktail service on the bus ride to Tequila. 

Buses leave and return from the Camera de Comericio on Avenida Vallarta

This tour is organized by the Camara de Comercio de Guadalajara and is associated with Sauza Tequila. They visit the Sauza Distillery which puts on a mariachi music and folkloric dance show.

The professional tequila tasting includes labels by Sauza and Hornitos. 

The Sauza property is beautiful and their kitchen puts out some delicious food but these are not the first tequilas that I would choose to taste while visiting Jalisco. 

6. Taxi or Uber From Guadalajara to Tequila

​This is kind of hit or miss and should not be your only plan. Not every taxi driver is willing to drive out to Tequila. It is possible that you can find a taxi to take you out to Tequila but once in Tequila, you might need to take a bus back to Guadalajara. 

The ride from Guadalajara to Tequila on Uber should cost somewhere between $800 and $1,000 pesos if you can find a driver to make the trip. 

Where To Stay In Tequila

Hacienda El Carmen Boutique Hotel

This is the main reason that I think you should rent a car and drive to Tequila. My favorite places to stay are not in the town of Tequila. Even the famous tequila barrel hotel is on the outskirts of town and too far to walk. 

Final Thoughts On The Guadalajara to Tequila Transportation Options

Tequila tasting glasses

Visiting Tequila town is always a good time. It is one of the best things to do while visiting Jalisco State an however you decide to visit, it is worth the time. 

I think that having a car is a great way to get off the beaten path and find the essence of the region. I have friends who do not drive but raved about the excellent tour guides and tequila tastings. 

There is a ton of content on my website about the best things to do in Tequila and the Tequila Valley. I suspect that you will be able to find something that is unforgettable. 

Tequila is just one class of distilled agave spirits. If you would be interested in learning about other types of agave spirits, I recommend looking into a mezcal tasting at Mezonte. Tequila is a great introduction to the wide world of Mexican spirits.

A bottle of something nice is one of the best souvenirs that you can get in Mexico. Keep an eye out for some excellent tequila to buy that might be hard to find back home.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great time. 

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