Are you looking for the best tequila tours from Guadalajara?
Visiting the Tequila Valley in Central Jalisco state is one of the world’s great culinary experiences. Much like visiting the Champagne region in France or Chianti in Italy, the Tequila Valley is home to the origin story of one of the world’s most popular beverages. Additionally, there are beautiful landscapes, ancient culinary traditions, and cool drinking establishments all over the region.
I have lived in this area since 2009 and I want to help you craft a truly fulfilling tequila tour from Guadalajara with elements of history and culture.
These are the best tequila tours for every sort of traveler including transportation, expert knowledge, and artisanal tasting experiences.
Guadalajara is the capital of tequila country without a doubt. Tequila’s governing body, the Consejo Regulador de Tequila is located here. There is a whole industry of traditional cantinas, modern cocktail bars, and world-class restaurants. Most travelers will simply pass through the Guadalajara Airport and explore the city as they arrange transportation to the valley.
There are a lot of things to do in the Tequila area and some people will only spend one day in the Valley while others will spend a week. I want to help you have a good time in Tequila finding a unique experience for your preferred style of travel.
Best Tequila Tours from Guadalajara
There are a lot of different experiences to be found along the Ruta del Tequila. Some people are going to want to visit the best tequila brands using artisanal processes. Other people might be more interested in the scenic background for some Instagram reels.
My personal feeling is that the best option for Tequila is a self-guided tour renting a car and spending a week ‘puebleando’ hopping from one town to another visiting cult-favorite distilleries and staying in historic haciendas. There are some real luxury experiences to be found.
Not everyone has the time or the desire to drive around the backcountry of Jalisco. These day tours leave from Guadalajara and handle all of the transportation. Most of them offer hotel pickup and will return you back where you started.
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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.
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.
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.
Experience Agave organizes professional-level tours of agave-producing regions of Mexico. These experiences bridge the gap between beverage and culture, offering unrivaled access to the people and regions that gave rise to tequila and mezcal. The tour guides are some of the most educated agave enthusiasts in Mexico. Many of them have master’s degrees in tequila from the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara.
This is one of the highest-rated tequila tours from Guadalajara on the market today. They offer both small group tours and private tours and hadle all the transportation. You will visit two tequila distilleries, the agave fields, El Arenal, Amatitán, and Tequila.
- Tequila tasting
- Expert descriptions
In addition to tequila tours, there are also raicilla tours in Puerto Vallarta and mezcal tours in Oaxaca.
These tours are a good option for hospitality industry professionals with a cursory understanding of the spirits industry. They are going to trace the current state of the industry back to the origins of Mexico.
Camina GDL is one of the best tour operators in Guadalajara. They offer an excellent tour through the Tequila Valley visiting two different artisanal, additive-free distilleries.
The first distillery is set in the agave fields so you can see the harvest and learn about what makes the agave plant so special. They prepare and serve a rustic breakfast that is cooked over a bonfire which is followed by a tequila tasting.
The second distillery is in the heart of the Pueblo Mágico Tequila, Jalisco. It is one of the oldest tequila distilleries in Mexico. There is a beautiful tour that includes a three-course lunch and tequila tasting at a boutique hotel.
What the Camina GDL tequila tour includes:
- Transportation, snacks, Guide
- Entrance to the distillery
- Tasting of 8 types of tequilas
- Harvest and plant your own agave
- Breakfast and tequila tasting in the agaves landscape
- Lunch 3 courses and a cocktail
The folks at Camina GDL are a lot of fun. They know Jalisco really well and want to share the absolute best of the region with you. I guarantee you are going to enjoy their tequila tour.
Not to be confused with the Jose Cuervo Express tequila train, the Tequila Express is a tour bus that provides round-trip transportation from the Camara de Comercio in Guadalajara to the Casa Sauza distillery in Tequila town.
There are several different packages depending on the food, beverage, and transportation style that you prefer. All the tours include a full-day tequila tour with a certified guide and a tour of the distillery and agave plantation.
Guests have plenty of free time to explore the magic village of tequila before heading back to Guadalajara.
Independent Tequila Distillery Tours
There are a couple of different experiences to be found in Tequila, Jalisco. A lot of people are in town to drink cheap tequila and get wasted. On the other hand, I want to promote the cultural side of Tequila. There is a lot of history and refined culinary experiences if you do a little bit of research.
The best tequila distillery tours do not offer walk-up service. Reservations must be made in advance. Travelers are responsible for their own transportation and hotel accommodations. This is the best way to experience not just the town of Tequila but the whole Tequila Valley.
I recommend visiting at least one artisanal tequila distillery. If you have spent your whole life drinking commercial tequila, the tequila that is made at Fortaleza and Cascahuin will change your life. I still remember when I tasted a true tequila for the first time. It is a big part of why I am writing all these articles. I love good tequila.
7. Fortaleza Tequila Distillery
In my humble opinion, Tequila Fortaleza offers the most important distillery tour in Tequila, Jalisco. They are a boutique tequila producer making an old-fashioned product for aficionados.
The founder of Tequila Fortaleza comes from a long line of tequila makers that helped define the style of tequila and establish the regulatory counsel that protects tequila from cheap imitations. He is also at the forefront of the Renaissance in tequila making.
Fortaleza makes tequila using ancestral methods that are labor-intensive and time-consuming. They are going back to original production methods to make tequila like their grandparents used to drink before accountants and cost-cutting changed the recipes.
Tequila Fortaleza has created a boutique, distillery tour experience reminiscent of wine country. I highly recommend contacting them a week before your visit to see what they have available.
8. Fabrica de Tequila El Cascahuín
Tequila Cascahuín is a small, independent distillery making some of the finest tequila in Jalisco. They are using old-school, artisanal methods of cooking, fermenting, and distilling. You should pick up a bottle of their high-proof tequila plata to bring back to the United States because you will not find it outside of Jalisco.
Before you visit one of the large, multinational distilleries you need to see how tequila was made in the old days. These guys are preserving the culture and traditions of a time long past.
9. El Tequileño Distillery
El Tequileño was founded by Don Jorge Salles Cuervo in 1959. Yes, that Cuervo. They have a boutique hotel on the back of their property and a nice tour that can be combined with a tequila tasting and lunch.
10. La Rojeña Distillery: Mundo Cuervo
When I was in high school I had a hand-me-down Jose Cuervo t-shirt that I adored. I think that everyone can agree that their marking department is one of the best in the world and they have the most famous tequila on the planet. The experiences that Jose Cuervo has created are some of the best things to do in Tequila, Jalisco.
As you would probably imagine, José Cuervo has a large footprint in Tequila. The Jose Cuervo La Rojeña distillery is the oldest distillery in Latin America with plenty of options for guided tours. In addition to the Jose Cuervo distillery, there are event spaces, hotels, restaurants, retail boutiques, and much more. The whole area surrounding the distillery is beautiful and very Instagram-friendly. They have done a good job preserving the colonial charm of rural Jalisco. Even if you don’t tour the Jose Cuervo factory you need to check out Mundo Cuervo.
11. Casa Herradura
One of the world’s most recognizable tequila brands also has a stunning hacienda tour. When it comes to big-name tequila brands there are a couple of options for touring distilleries. You can take the train in from Guadalajara or you drive in and just take the walking tour. There are a couple of different price points depending on the tequila tastings that you are interested in. Honestly, the expensive tasting doesn’t seem necessary because I am not that into the añejo and extra añejo tequilas that cost a ton of money.
Tours are in English and in Spanish but make sure to call ahead to get the schedule. Intermediate-level Spanish speakers will struggle to understand the technical vocabulary of the distillation process.
The Best Tequila Tastings in Guadalajara
Interestingly, it is more common to find classic cantinas that serve all the commercial tequilas and has a very small selection of artisanal tequilas from small distilleries. It is worth the effort to search out tequilas that are made without artificial flavoring and colorings.
Jalisco is the best place in the world to learn about the different types of tequila.
12. El Gallo Altanero
The first option is to make a reservation or head over to the Gallo Altanero tequila bar. They have one of the best agave programs in the world and host plenty of visiting bartenders learning about Jalisco’s historic agave culture.
Not only do they have an exceptional selection of different brands of tequilas but they know how to describe them and prepare them in cocktails. The Gallo Altanero was named one of the 50 best bars in North America in 2022.
13. Mezonte: Destilados Mexicanos de Agave
In addition to learning about just tequila, there is a whole world of agave-based spirits out there. Mezonte Destilados de Agave has classes about the cultural significance of the agave to the Mexican people. Pedro Jiménez, the owner, is an expert and has set up an NGO that promotes, supports, and preserves the production and practices of traditional agave spirits. Mezonte is more of a classroom and reservations are recommended. He also owns a bar called Pare de Sufrir where you can taste a WIDE variety of agave spirits.
14. Agüita Agaveria
Agüita Agaveria is not focused specifically on tequila but on agave spirits in general. They have a fine selection of hard-to-find tequilas from small producers and a respectable cocktail program. This is an excellent place to go for a tequila tasting.
I have learned a lot about the geography of Jalisco from the tequila-producing pueblos. It is fun to plan tequila tours to the pueblos that make your favorite tequilas.
Tequila Tours FAQ
What is Tequila?
Tequila is Mexico’s national drink, but it is also the name of a volcano, a town, and even a region with 11 unique municipalities. Each municipality is a little town with cobblestone streets, a lot of charm, and hospitality. There are plenty of tequila distilleries throughout the region and many of these tours combine a distillery tour with some other cultural activity.
The beautiful blue agave fields are a designated Unesco world heritage site and a top destination in Mexico. The magical town of Tequila is the main attraction but there are a lot of different tours exploring Jalisco’s historic tequila culture.
How far is Tequila from Guadalajara?
The town of Tequila is located 65 km (40 miles) from downtown Guadalajara. The fastest way to get to Tequila from Guadalajara is the toll road which takes just over an hour. The free road adds about 30 minutes to the drive but is more enjoyable because of the agave landscapes and pueblos along the way.
Stopping for tacos in Arenal or cocktails in Amatitan will be a highlight of the trip to Tequila.
Taking a bus or a train will be significantly slower than driving a car.
When is the best time to visit Tequila?
The best time to visit Tequila is in the fall after the rains have stopped and the agave landscapes are a vivid shade of green. The temperatures are mild and there is a lot going on in the region including festivals and fairs.
Winter is enjoyable too and most Canadians will laugh at what the locals call cold.
Spring is the hottest time of year when it can be uncomfortable to be outside without a had in the middle of the day.
Summer is the rainy season when it rains for a little while most days in the afternoon.
Where to Stay in the Tequila Valley?
Most of these day trips to Tequila do not require an overnight stay. However, the Tequila Valley has some spectacular accommodations.
Best Hotels in Tequila, Jalisco
Best Hotels in the Tequila Valley
My personal favorite is the Hacienda El Carmen boutique hotel. It is located on the other side of the Tequila Volcano right down the road from the Guachimontones archeological site. There is a tequila distillery on site and one of the most romantic hotels in Mexico.
Is Tequila Safe?
Tequila, Jalisco is a very popular destination for international travelers. It is a pueblo mágico and a part of the UNESCO World Heritage program. There is a competent police force in the area and I can’t recall a major security issue that has made the international news.
The problem with safety in Tequila is alcohol-related. It is really easy to drink too much cheap or adulterated tequila and people can get out of control. Know your limits and know how to identify a bad situation.
Much like Napa Valley, Sundays are full of day trippers that should not be driving. Try to avoid being on the road on Sunday afternoon heading back to Guadalajara.
A Final Note on Tequila Tours from Guadalajara
I hope you found something valuable in this article that helps you make the most out of your time in the Tequila Valley. Remember, Tequila is more than just one pueblos. Tequila is the whole valley. There are amazing experiences to be found in this part of Mexico if you are willing to look.