Tlaquepaque (“Tla-Keh-Pa-Keh”), a fashionable colonial neighborhood in the southeast of Guadalajara, was once a small village in its own right, even in pre-hispanic times. Today, it’s a trendy (and touristy) boutique shopping district offering fine arts & crafts, galleries and excellent food. If you are visiting Guadalajara city, make sure that you spend a few hours exploring the many treasures of historical Tlaquepaque.
Modern-day Tlaquepaque has become an up-market boutique arts and crafts center with trendy shops and restaurants lining colonial-style streets and alleyways, plazas and gardens. The shops specialize in art and craftwork from all over Mexico, with a particular emphasis on ceramics, bronze sculpture, wooden furniture, papier-mâché, blown glass and embroidered cloth.
Although the old village has now been absorbed into the expansive reach of the Guadalajara city limits, Mexico’s second largest city, Tlaquepaque retains the traditional structure of a small Mexican community: central plaza (Jardin Hidalgo), parish church, central market and old neighborhoods.
Its mansions and gentile style date back to the 19th century, when Tlaquepaque was one of the principal stops en route to Mexico City. It also holds an important place in Mexico’s history: The Plan de Iguala, which set forth the foundation for Mexican Independence from Spain, was signed at the house on the corner of Independencia and Contreras Medellin Streets.
The look, feel and atmosphere around Tlaquepaque is distinctly colonial; there are various pedestrian areas, cafes and restaurants with outside tables where you can watch the world go by; street performers provide curbside entertainment while musicians’ instruments fill the air with the warm sound of Mexican music.
Although many of the shops are closed on Sundays, the area fills up with lots of locals and visitors for Sunday lunch at one of the many fine restaurants here. Some people prefer to use it as a base to explore Guadalajara and environs as there are many good B&Bs and hotels in the area, too.
The nearby artisan village of Tonala, also known for its ceramics and pottery, is another interesting day trip from the center of Guadalajara if you enjoy learning about and buying crafts. Don’t expect to find the elegant facades and streets of Tlaquepaque—this is a working people’s village, but the bargain prices at the local market make it worth it.
Just a short taxi or bus ride from Guadalajara’s city center, Tlaquepaque offers visitors a fascinating view into one of Guadalajara’s most treasured artisan traditions that has spanned generations— traditions that nowadays very much rely on the patronage of appreciative Mexicans and foreigners alike.
The colonial center begins at the Jardin Hidalgo, with its plaza, bandstand, gardens and church. Off here are several streets and alleyways that lead around the area of Tlaquepaque.
Museum in Tlaquepaque
The Museo Regional de la Ceramica (Regional Ceramics Museum) offers free admission and a glimpse into the different types and styles of ceramic crafted in Tlaquepaque. Like most museums in Mexico, it is closed on Mondays.
Many of the old colonial mansions have been converted into excellent cafes and restaurants. Sunday lunch is very popular here with locals and visitors alike; live bands can often be heard playing through the open windows and often a traveling minstrel will “do the rounds” at a restaurant offering to play traditional Mexican folk songs in return for a small charge per song.
There are many boutiques selling arts and crafts in Tlaquepaque. Some sell exclusive designs while others will offer more common, but high quality, Mexican arts and crafts. This is not the place you will find many bargains, but you can be assured of the quality and authenticity of the goods.
By Air – The nearest airport to Tlaquepaque is also the main airport for flying into Guadalajara; Aeropuerto Internacional Libertador Miguel Hidalgo is 10 miles (16.5 km) south of Guadalajara. You can fly to Guadalajara from the US and other points in Mexico including Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and Monterrey. Using ground transportation, it will take about 45 minutes to get into the center of Guadalajara; or about 30 minutes if you are going straight to Tlaquepaque. For detailed information about flights and flying, see the Mexperience guide to Air Travel in Mexico.
By Bus – You can travel to Guadalajara on a luxury bus from Mexico City – the trip takes around 7-8 hours. Luxury buses drop passengers off at the new bus station in Guadalajara, which is actually near Tlaquepaque. For detailed information about bus transportation read the Mexperience guide to Bus Travel in Mexico.
By Car – Driving to Guadalajara / Tlaquepaque is very fast and efficient using the many high-speed roads that connect this region. See additional information about Driving in Mexico and Mexico’s Toll Roads on Mexperience.
Car Rental – To explore Mexico’s colonial towns and cities, consider renting a car for your visit. Having your own car will give you more flexibility than using public transport options and, in some cases, offer you access to places which are otherwise difficult to visit without the use of a car. Read our guide to Car Rental in Mexico to learn what you need to know about car rental in Mexico and connect to the Mexperience Travel Center to reserve your Rental Car.
Taxis – Guadalajara’s and Tlaquepaque’s taxis are officially metered, but taxis here have been known not to use them. Either insist that the meter be activated (or find another taxi) or agree your price before you get in. Taxi travel is very affordable in Mexico, in comparison to the USA, Canada and Europe, and so provides a viable means of public transportation in Mexico. Your hotel can arrange taxis for you; some post their rates on a board in the lobby; taxi hotel rates are usually higher than cabs you hail off the street. If you speak Spanish, you will have a distinct advantage and be able to negotiate a price with the driver. For detailed information, read the Mexperience guide to Taxi Travel in Mexico
Buses – There are regular local buses from Guadalajara to Tlaquepaque and the journey takes around 20-30 minutes. Also, the Tranvia Turistica is an open-air bus that is a direct route to Tlaquepaque; it leaves from Plaza de Armas in Guadalajara’s historic center several times a day. Bus trips to local areas (within about 50 miles of Guadalajara) depart from the old bus station in Guadalajara, which is in the city center. You can take a local bus to nearby places including Lake Chapala (Chapala, Ajijic, Jacotepec). Connect to the Mexico Essentials section on Mexperience for information about traveling on Local Buses.
Besides the big national holidays like Independence Day, Easter and Christmas (see Mexico Events Calendar) Guadalajara has some local festivals of its own:
Feria de Tonala – Once Tonala was Guadalajara – before it moved to its current location. Today, Tonala is a neighborhood of the city and the week before and week after Easter, it hosts an annual Handicrafts Fair, with the emphasis on ceramics.
Fiesta Internacional del Mariachi (International Mariachi Fair) – Scheduled to take place during the first two weeks in September. Mariachis from everywhere come to celebrate and play here.
Feria Internacional del Libro (International Book Fair) – The largest book fair in Latin America takes place annually in Guadalajara between the last week in November and the first week in December.
Fiestas de Octubre (October Parties) – These celebrations begin on the first Sunday in October and run right through to Halloween. Street parades, parties, celebrations, food, Mariachis and tequila all feature heavily. Consult the local tourist office or web site for details of this year’s event calendar.
Ceramics Festival (Tlaquepaque) – Tlaquepaque hosts Mexico’s National Handicraft Trade Fair. This event is aimed at buyers (wholesalers) of Mexican Handicrafts and is ideal for those who buy Mexican handicrafts for export. Further information and dates for this year’s event is available online at: www.enart.com.mx.
Telephone: Connect to the guide about Communications in Mexico on Mexperience for detailed information about keeping in touch and the latest table of national dialing codes.
Exchanging Currency: All of Mexico’s main Banks with ATM machines can be found in the central area of Tlaquepaque. During business hours, they and the Casas de Cambio will buy traveler’s cheques and cash from you as well. For detailed information about exchanging and managing your money, read the Mexperience guide to Money in Mexico.
Travel Insurance: We recommend that you are adequately covered with travel medical insurance and/or travel assistance insurance when you are visiting Mexico. Read the Mexperience guide to Travel Insurance in Mexico for full details and links to specialist insurance suppliers.
Internet Access: Internet cafes can be easily found in towns and cities across Mexico and WiFi is increasingly commonplace–from cafes, shops, hotels, and some cities even offer free WiFi in some defined public spaces.
Adobe Fonda. Mexican fusion. Av. Francisco de Miranda 27. Tel: (33) 3657 2792.
Cafe San Pedro. Specialty coffee, sandwiches and desserts. Outside dining available. Av. Juarez 85. Tel. (33) 3639 0616.
Casa Fuerte. Centrally located among the town’s galleries and museums, this fine dining estalishment serves delectable traditional Mexican cuisine. Garden patio and bar available. Serving lunch and dinner daily. Independencia 224. Tel. (33) 6339 6481
Mariscos Progreso. A local favorite, serving fresh seafood (fish, ceviche, octopus cocktail) and a good selection of tequilas. Av. Progresso 80. (33) 3639 6149.
Tlaquepaque has a good selection of cafes, restaurants, bars that stay open reasonably late, although most of the late nightlife takes place in nearby Guadalajara.
The shops here specialize in art and craftwork from all over Mexico, with a particular emphasis on up-market ceramics, bronze sculpture, papier-mâché, blown glass and embroidered cloth. Some sell exclusive designs while others will offer more mainstream, but high quality, Mexican arts and crafts. This is not the place you will find many bargains, but you can be assured of the quality and authenticity of the goods. If you are a bargain hunter, visit the less touristy arts and crafts markets of Tonala (Thursday and Sunday).
Guadalajara / Tlaquepaque’s climate is spring-like all year-round. The winter months do become cooler in the mornings and evenings, so bring a sweater with you if you’re traveling at these times. The warmest times are April, May and June. The rainy season runs from June through to September. Rains tend to come in the afternoon, are relatively short and fierce and leave the evenings dry and cooled off.
Weather & Climates in Mexico
Learn more about the weather and climates through the seasons and regions by connecting to the Mexperience guide about Weather and Climates in Mexico