Where is Guadalajara Mexico?
Guadalajara is located in the western state of Jalisco and is the westernmost point in the Bajío Region of Mexico. The next thing that most people ask is where is Jalisco and what is the Bajío. This article is going to talk about the geography of western Mexico around the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region. This is a part of Mexico that helps to define what Mexico is known for internationally because tequila, mariachi, and cowboys are so popular.
If you are ready to discover where Guadalajara is located and why the Bajío region is so important to Mexico, let’s dive in.
Guadalajara Mexico Maps from Big to Small
We are going to take a look at Guadalajara in relation to the rest of the country, in relation to the Bajía Region, in relation to the State of Jalisco, and the municipalities that comprise the metropolitan region.
Guadalajara Mexico Map
Guadalajara is located relatively close to the Pacific Coast and the resort town of Puerto Vallarta. It is in the central part of Mainland Mexico in the northern half of the country. Driving just a few hours southeast into Michoacan the geography quickly changes and so does the culture.
The latitude and longitude coordinates for Guadalajara are 20.659698, -103.349609 which has a similar latitude as Hana on the island of Maui in Hawaii and a similar longitude as Denver in the state of Colorado.
There are four main freeways that intersect with Guadalajara heading North to the Nogales, Arizona border crossing, south to Colima, east to Mexico City, and northeast to the Bajío Region.
What is the Bajío Region?
The Bajío is a culturally significant region of Mexico that dates back to the Spanish era. It is the corridor between Mexico City and the silver mines in Zacatecas above the Rio Lerma. It includes just the very top of Michoacan State and a tiny piece of western Hidalgo State. Mexico State and Mexico City are not included in the Bajío Region.
There are major cities like Guadalajara, León, Santiago de Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes, Irapuato, Celaya, and Zacatecas but there are also a myriad of small villages, ranches, and ex-haciendas.
The Spanish Royal Highway, El Camino Real, runs right through the center of the Bajío. In the 16th century, the extraction of mineral wealth from mines in the Bajío would go on to alter the balance of power in Europe for centuries. In order to defend and protect travel through the area, there had to be accommodations and government outposts to defend against bandits.
Enormous haciendas sprang up along the Camino Real. To this day there is a strong appreciation for agriculture and ranching culture that is evident in a very unique style of equestrian folklore that includes rodeo, clothing, music, and food. Bullfighting has been shut down in much of Mexico but it still exists in the country during the yearly festivals like Fería de San Marcos in Aguascalientes. Some of those old haciendas have been renovated into boutique hotels like the Hacienda Sepulveda in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco.
The Bajío was an important theater of conflict during Independence, the Revolution, and the Cristero War.
To reach the Bajío by land one would leave Guadalajara eastbound on Calzada Lázaro Cárdenas towards Zapotlanejo. Just before Zapotlanejo, there is a turn-off for the 80D toll freeway towards the highlands of Jalisco and eventually Aguascalientes and León. There are a lot of good, fast, and fairly expensive toll roads running through the area.
How far is Guadalajara from Mexico City?
Mexico City is 550 km east southeast of Guadalajara. It should be less than a six-hour drive if there isn’t much traffic. Getting in and out of each of those metropolitan regions can be exhausting at rush hour.
To reach Mexico City by vehicle, one would leave Guadalajara eastbound on Calzada Lázaro Cárdenas towards Zapotlanejo. Not too far outside of Tonalá, but before Zapotlanejo, there will be a turn-off for the 15D toll freeway to Mexico City. It is very well-marked. There are several different approaches that one can take for accessing Mexico City from the north by way of Tepotzotlán or from the south by way of Santa Fe. The split is in Mexico state near the city of Atlacomulco.
How far is Guadalajara from the Border?
I’m from San Diego so I typically drive the 15D northwest up to Nogales, Arizona which is about 1,900 km and takes more than two days to drive. It is about 1,600 km to Ciudad Juarez and El Paso. Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass are less than 1,200 km from Guadalajara and are probably the most recommended crossing into Texas from a safety perspective.
How Far is Guadalajara from the Beach?
Please read the complete article on the closest beaches to Guadalajara but here is a brief summary. There are four nearby states with amazing beaches: Jalisco, Colima, Michoacan, and Nayarit. Even Sinaloa isn’t that far. There are beaches both to the north of Guadalajara and to the south of Guadalajara.
Due south of Guadalajara is the state of Colima and the beach town of Boca de Pascuales. Pascuales is famous for surfing but dangerous for swimming during the summer because of enormous waves and strong currents. The port and resort town of Manzanillo is another hour up the coast but inside the bay, it is much safer to swim. The Jalisco coast from Manzanillo to Puerto Vallarta is full of incredible and remote beaches that are just waiting to be explored.
Puerto Vallarta is directly west of Guadalajara but the Sierra Madre Mountain Range is slow and has a lot of curves. The drive is beautiful and visits some pueblos mágico with a lot of traditional culture. This route is not the freeway toll road route to Puerto Vallarta.
The toll road freeway route from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta is not completed yet but the half that does have freeways makes the drive longer in distance but shorter in time by going around the tallest parts of the Sierra Madre mountains and hitting the coast in Nayarit and cutting back down south. The Riviera Nayarit has a ton of spectacular beaches and surf spots.
Guadalajara Jalisco Mexico Map
Jalisco is one of the most famous states in Mexico because of the agave industry making tequila, mezcal, and raicilla. Mariachi music is said to originate in the town of Cucula, Jalisco just south of Guadalajara. There are significant archeological sites next to boutique hotel ex-haciendas. There are nine official pueblos mágicos designated by the Secretary of Tourism but probably a hundred or more small towns with unique culture and country-style food. I have a huge list of articles I am working on about the pueblos in Jalisco. Check out this boutique hotel group for exceptional experiences in the country. There are some amazing properties.
The Guadalajara Metropolitan Region
The Guadalajara municipality is smack dab in the middle of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region. Zapopan is west, Tlaquepaque to the east, and Tlajomulco to the southeast.
It is important to take into consideration all of the different municipalities when deciding where to stay in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.
Check out the full article on the neighborhoods of Guadalajara because I have a ton of information in there about the differences between the metro region, the municipality, and the neighborhoods.
Where is the Guadalajara airport?
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport (IATA: GDL) is located on the south end of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region in the municipality of Tlajomulco on the freeway to Lake Chapala.
With light traffic, it is about a 30-minute drive from the airport to Downtown Guadalajara. It is about a 20-minute drive to Tlaquepaque, and a 40-minute drive to Zapopan.
The Best Neighborhoods to Visit in Guadalajara
- Downtown Guadalajara
- Downtown Tlaquepaque
- Colonia Americana
- Santa Teresita
- Tequila (45 minutes from Guadalajara)
Guadalajara Mexico: Frequently Asked Questions
The population of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region is somewhere around 5,268,000 according to the 2020 census. This makes Guadalajara the third largest metro region in Mexico behind Monterrey and the Valley of Mexico (Mexico City and parts of Mexico State).
Guadalajara is seated at an elevation of 1,560 meters above sea level (5,120 feet above sea level). It can be thought of as an intermediary between the highlands (Lagos de Moreno) and lowlands (Tequila) of Jalisco.
Is Guadalajara in Mexico or in Spain?
That is an excellent question because there is a Guadalajara in both Mexico and Spain. Guadalajara, Mexico was named after Guadalajara, Spain because of Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán who conquered this part of Mexico and was originally from Guadalajara, Spain. The name Guadalajara comes from the Arabic-Andalacian phrase wadi al hijaraI which translates to ‘river that flows between stones.’
Some Final Thoughts on Guadalajara Mexico
I hope that after reading my article on the geography of Guadalajara you have a better idea of where it is located and how to get here. If you are interested in learning more about the Guadalajara and Jalisco there are some additional articles that I have written.