Are you looking for the best way to visit Tequila from Puerto Vallarta?
You are in luck. I have been living in Jalisco since 2009 and regularly travel to Tequila from Puerto Vallarta. The Tequila Valley is a magnificent destination with history, culture, and most importantly, tequila distilleries.
In 2023, the road between Puerto Vallarta and Tequila got much better. In 2024, it is going to get even easier and faster to travel between the two towns.
I want to help you make the most of your travels and experience the best of the Tequila Valley. That includes the agave landscapes, artisanal tequila distilleries, tequila tastings, archeological sites, 16th-century haciendas, and charro cowboy culture. There is a lot to see and do, and one day isn’t enough to take it all in.
Visiting Tequila From Puerto Vallarta: An Overview
Puerto Vallarta is a great place to get into tequila. There are a lot of great bars that allow visitors to taste a wide variety of quality tequila.
While there are tequila distilleries in Puerto Vallarta, the Tequila Valley is the best place to learn about the history and artisanal process of making tequila. Plus, Tequila is only 45 minutes away from Guadalajara which is full of historic cantinas, traditional foods, and some of the best tequila bars on the planet.
The town of Tequila is a Pueblo Mágico while the Tequila Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition to just the town of Tequila, there are a dozen small towns that ring the Tequila Volcano full of authentic Mexican culture. Some of the best experiences are a short drive down the highway from the main square in Tequila.
Tequila, Jalisco is known to have a few tourist traps with frat boys taking tequila shots and getting rowdy. With a little advanced planning, you can skip the average experiences and head straight to world-class experiences.
I recommend having a car to explore the Tequila Valley. Some of the best experiences are located a short drive from the town of Tequila where public transportation is slow or non-existent. A car makes it possible to see as much of the valley as possible in a short period of time.
How far is Tequila from Puerto Vallarta?
As the crow flies, Tequila is only about 100 miles from Puerto Vallarta. However, there are some mountains that most people will drive around.
The toll road that connects Puerto Vallarta and Tequila leaves the Mexican state of Jalisco to avoid the mountains adding some mileage. It is 170 miles (275 km) from Puerto Vallarta to Tequila which can easily be completed in under four hours. The bus adds a lot of time to this trip because of the transfer in Zapopan (a municipality in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region).
True agave nerds will enjoy driving the free road from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara in order to visit the raicilla distilleries near Mascota, Jalisco. Raicilla is another distilled spirit made from wild agave plants in an ancestral manner.
Driving to Tequila from Puerto Vallarta
I recommend renting a car and driving from Puerto Vallarta to Tequila. The roads are in good condition and safe for competent drivers. Having a vehicle will allow you to see more of the valley at your own pace, and stop for tacos on a whim. There are some really great culinary experiences on the highways in the Tequila Valley.
The toll road from Puerto Vallarta to Tequila keeps getting better and better. In 2023, a new section of the toll road was completed making the drive faster and safer. In 2024, another section of the toll road will be completed circumventing a slow section of mountainous curves. When completed, I estimate it will take around three hours to travel from Puerto Vallarta to Tequila along a safe and modern toll highway.
The reason that I recommend having a car is to visit the little towns scattered around the Tequila Volcano. Amatitan, Arenal, and the Guachimontones Pyramids are a must-see. My mom loves shopping for opals in Magdalena. Hacienda El Carmen boutique hotel and restaurant is a wonderful example of life in the Spanish colonial era. Even the Matices Hotel de Barricas, the hotel with rooms shaped like tequila barrels, is far enough from Downtown Tequila that it isn’t within walking distance.
You don’t need a car to visit Tequila but having one really makes the experience memorable.
Taking the Bus to Tequila from Puerto Vallarta
There is no direct bus from Puerto Vallarta to Tequila. You need to take the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Zapopan (Part of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area) and transfer to Tequila from there.
It is important to get off the bus at the Zapopan terminal because it is very close to Tequila. If you take the bus all the way to the Central Nueva, the main bus terminal in Tlaquepaque (also part of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area), you are adding hours to your travel time.
The Guadalajara Metropolitan Area is huge and the Central Nueva is nowhere near Tequila. The Zapopan Station is on the road to Tequila on the way out of Guadalajara.
You can find more information about the bus stations in Guadalajara by clicking on this link.
The Vallarta Plus bus line uses the same terminal as Tequila Plus. However, the ETN and Primera Plus bus lines (the premium bus lines) use a terminal across the street from Tequila Plus. If you take Primera Plus or ETN you will need to walk 75 meters and cross Avenida Aviación to get on the bus to Tequila.
Tequila Tours From Puerto Vallarta
There is a one-day tequila tour from Puerto Vallarta option that covers transportation, the production of tequila at a local distillery, and a tequila tasting. I don’t think one day is enough time to justify the travel time. It is eight hours of travel time for just a couple of hours of tequila time.
I suggest making Tequila a weekend trip and spending at least one night and preferably two nights. Lots of people will combine Tequila with Guadalajara which is always a great idea.
Things To Do In Tequila, Jalisco
1. Visit a Tequila Distillery
The first thing that everyone visiting Tequila needs to do is schedule a tour and tasting at an artisanal tequila distillery. Fortaleza is the best tequila distillery in Mexico with a memorable experience. They have a cult following and their tequila can be hard to find because it is constantly sold out. Cascahuin Tequila in El Arenal, Jalisco is another cult favorite tequila distillery that is making some of the best agave juice in Mexico.
Many of the best distillery tours will also take guests to the agave fields to see how the blue agave plant is harvested.
Make sure to schedule your tequila tours in advance. Some of the best tours fill up fast and walk-ins are not available at the best distilleries.
2. Centro Cultural Juan Beckmann
Part of Mundo Cuervo, the Juan Beckmann Cultural Center is one of the finest museums in Mexico with dozens of collections. The exhibitions on Charro ranching culture in Jalisco are amazing and an integral part of tequila culture. I recommend taking the tour so you have access to the sculpture gardens. The works of Elenora Carrington and Sergio Bustamonte are worth it.
3. Plaza Principal of Tequila
The main plaza in Tequila is full of things to do and see. The Parroquia Santiago Apóstol is the town’s main church that holds the remains of Saint Toibio Romo Gonzalez.
4. Guachimontones Archelogical Site
The conical-shaped pyramids that resemble the Tequila volcano are much smaller than Teotihuacan but still an interesting experience. Guachimontones was the ceremonial center of a relatively large Native community. The Tequila volcano left huge deposits of obsidian that the native people crafted into knives that were traded near and far.
5. Hacienda Labor de Rivera or Hacienda El Carmen
I highly recommend combining a tour of the Guachimontones with lunch at one of the 16th-century haciendas in the area. Both Hacienda Labor de Rivera and Hacienda El Carmen have been renovated into superb boutique hotels with great restaurants. Reservations are required to have lunch at the haciendas.
These are just the highlights. I have a whole other article on the best things to do in Tequila, Jalisco. You could spend a week out this way if you had the time.
Where To Stay
Both Tequila and Guadalajara are popular launching pads to explore the Tequila Valley. The José Cuervo Tequila Express train leaves from Guadalajara as well as many excellent tours.
The Tequila Valley is best explored with a private vehicle. If you don’t have a vehicle, you might consider staying in Guadalajara and taking one of the excellent tequila tours from Guadalajara.
Where to stay in Tequila
⭐️ Rating: 8.8 /10 | Neighborhood: Downtown Tequila | View on Expedia.com
⭐️ Rating: 9.4 /10 | Neighborhood: Tequila | View on Expedia.com
Casa Salles Boutique Hotel is a part of the El Tequileño tequila distillery property in the oldest part of town. They have built a small resort with a great pool and beautiful modern property.
It is just a short walk to the main plaza in Tequila but you have access to one of the best artisanal tequila distilleries on the property.
Casa Salles spent a lot of money on the hospitalitaly part of this boutique hotel with excellent food and cocktails.
Hotel Solar de las Animas Tequila (Mundo Cuervo)
⭐️ Rating: 9.6 /10 | Neighborhood: Tequila | View on Expedia.com
Hotel Solar de las Animas is part of what makes Tequila, Jalisco such an important touristic destination. The Jose Cuervo group has built what I consider to be one of the premier tourist products in Mexico.
The hotel is a testament to the wealthy ranching culture of the hacienda era. The rooms are very nice but you will not be spending much time there. The restaurants, bars, pools, distilleries, event spaces, waterfalls, and agave fields are ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE.
There is so much to see and do in this part of Mexico that drinking tequila might actually get in the way of all the other activities like hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
The Hotel Solar de las Animas is an expensive yet worthwhile hotel experience.
⭐️ Rating: 8.6 /10 | Neighborhood: Tequila Suburbs | View on Expedia.com
Matices Hotel de Baricas is located on the outskirts of the city of Tequila. It is not within walking distance to the city sqare. You will need a car to get around
They have built one of the most photographed hotels in the Tequila Valley. There are tequila barrel shaped villas spread through the agave fields. It is a ver photogenic location.
There is a great restaurant and event space, and a good tequila distillery on site.
⭐️ Rating: 9.6 /10 | Neighborhood: Ahualulco de Mercado | View on Expedia.com
Hacienda El Carmen is located about 30 minutes from Tequila between Etzatlán and the Guachinontones archeological site in a lovely part of the Tequila Valley. My kids and my parents thought this was the highlight of our vacation and were talking about it for months.
I have been watching the Netflix series Monarca about a wealthy Mexican family that is partially set in Tequila. They filmed a number of scenes at the Hacienda El Carmen. This is a special place.
Jalisco is famous for country culture. It would be a great experience to see both the big city and the nearby ranches.
⭐️ Rating: 8.6 /10 | Neighborhood: Teuchitlán | View on Expedia.com
Hacienda Labor de Rivera is located 30 minutes away from the town of Tequila near the Guachimontones archeological site. It is an old hacienda that has been refurbished as a boutique hotel.
The 21 rooms are decorated in a historic yet comfortable fashion. There is a working ranch on site and lots of room for the kids to run around.
Where to stay in Guadalajara
⭐️ Rating: 8.8 /10 | Neighborhood: Lafayette | View on Expedia.com
The Demetria Bungalows are located in the heart of the Lafayette neighborhood which is a mosaic of architectural history. The Bungalows themselves are a piece of that history dating back to 1936 and employing an eclectic local style.
While the exterior is vintage, the interior of the bungalows is modern and comfortable. They all have minikitchens and lend themselves to a longer stay.
The neighborhood is one of the coolest in the world and gets lumped in with the Colonia Americana. It is only two blocks to the Gallo Altanero tequila bar, two blocks to Allium Restaurant, and two blocks to Avenida Chapultepec. There is nothing more walkable than this section of General San Martín Street. I am getting hungry just thinking about all the places there are to eat and drink nearby.
⭐️ Rating: 9.4 /10 | Neighborhood: Americana | View on Expedia.com
Villa Ganz is cataloged as the first boutique hotel in Guadalajara dating back over 30 years. There are only 10 rooms in the restored old mansion. The rooms are tasteful yet elegant with very comfortable rooms.
The hotel is located in the heart of the Lafayette neighborhood just a block away from the Colonia Americana. The is one of the most walkable areas in Mexico with a major selection of excellent restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. The Gallo Altanero tequila bar, ‘World’s Best Bars’ winner, is less than two blocks away.
There is a lot of architectural heritage in the area.
Tequila tours from Guadalajara
Mickey Marentes is a legendary tour guide around the tequila valley. He provides luxury tours for the real tequila connoisseur who wants to explore all the different types of tequila focusing on additive-free and artisanal tequilas.
- Hotel pickup transportation
- Two tequila distillery tours
- Visit the agave fields
- Tour Downtown Tequila
- Artisanal tequila tasting
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- Lunch is included
The small group tour starts and ends in Guadalajara. He also offers a private tour that could arrange pickup anywhere in the Tequila Valley. The luxury tequila tour would stay at the Hacienda El Carmen boutique hotel for a few nights and arrange a private excursion to the most exclusive distilleries in the valley.
Both tours include round-trip transport from the city of Guadalajara to multiple distilleries, the enchanting town of Tequila, and photo stops to appreciate the agave landscape. There are high-end tequila tastings and professional-level explanations of the tequila-making process. There are a number of variations in the fermentation process and distillation, and aging in different types of oak barrels.
⭐️ RATING: 4.92/5 Stars | TOUR LENGTH: 8-10 hours | BOOK NOW
If you only have one day for a tequila tour from Guadalajara then this is the tour to take. It is the best of the Ruta del Tequila in one day and the most cultural tour on the list. It is a full-day tour because that van covers a lot of ground. Depending on traffic the tour lasts anywhere from 8 to 10 hours.
Visiting the pyramids gives historical context to the tequila beverage. The original people treasured the agave plant and used it to create a plethora of tools, crafts, and carbohydrates. Aguamiel was extracted from the live agaves while cooked agave hearts were eaten and fermented.
The tour guides are an encyclopedia about the history of the region and the beverage. They will pick you up from just about anywhere in Guadalajara and show you two different sides of the Tequila Volcano. The tour starts early at Guachimontones when the weather is still cool. It is a little walk up a hill to get to the pyramids.
After the pyramids, the van heads to the public market in Tequila which is a great option for lunch. Each person can choose regional specialties from a number of different restaurants and food stalls. This is not included in the price of the tour but the prices are affordable. Just outside the market is the main plaza of Tequila where small kiosks sell tequila cocktails called cantaritos.
It is just enough time to see some of Tequila’s main landmarks like the national tequila museum before taking off for the tequila distillery tour. The last stop before heading back to Guadalajara is the traditional hacienda-looking factory with beautiful gardens.
At the end of the tour returns to where you were picked up at your Guadalajara hotel or hostel.
The Jose Cuervo Express is one of the most luxurious ways to experience Tequila. One of only two operating passenger trains in Mexico, the Jose Cuervo Express is a living piece of Mexico’s history.
Every one of the club cars has been immaculately restored and is a testament to old-world Mexico. Jose Cuervo is famous for selling tequila but also for creating the Mundo Cuervo tourist attraction evoking the soul of Mexico. They are masters of marketing and the imagery is something you will remember for a lifetime.
There are several ways to plan your trip on the Jose Cuervo Express. One direction will be on the train and the other direction will be on a bus that stops at the Jose Cuervo agave plantation for a harvesting demonstration. You can choose to take the train to Tequila in the morning and return on the bus or you can start with the bus and return on the train.
The tequila-tasting portion of the trip is on the train and some people may prefer to drink earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. They offer a wide range of house-made tequilas.
The day trip also includes a tour of the Jose Cuervo Distillery, La Rojeña, the oldest distillery in the region.
Mundo Cuervo often reminds me of an amusement park for adults. A lot of thought has been given to every detail and there is more here than you can see in just one day. No matter how many times you return to Tequila it is likely that you will find something new on the Mundo Cuervo campus like a beautiful garden, a museum, or even a concert venue.
Final Thoughts On Visiting Tequila From Puerto Vallarta
Tequila is a lot of and one of the most popular destinations in Mexico. It is important to remember that Tequila is not just pueblo mágico but a part of the larger Tequila Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the best experiences are not in the town of Tequila but spread around the Tequila Volcano.
Whether you decide ot rent a car or not, you are going to have a wonderful time.
Thanks for reading and I will see you next time.