Tlaquepaque (pronounced tuh-lah-kah-pah.kay) is a city and pueblo magico in the central part of Jalisco state, close to the capital of Guadalajara. It is known for its wonderful street art, handicrafts, and ceramic and is credited as being one of the key places where mariachi music originated.
If you can, dedicate at least an afternoon to exploring Tlaquepaque during your time in Guadalajara, or longer if your schedule allows.
You are in good hands here because I live in Mexico and have visited Tlaquepaque numerous times to see local friends. In this post, we will take a look at the “must-see” highlights of Tlaquepaque, as well as some lesser-known gems.
Visiting Tlaquepaque Jalisco in 2024
Tlaquepaque (officially San Pedro Tlaquepaque) is home to a population of more than 650,000 people. It is its own large, independent city, however, thanks to urban expansion, it can be tricky to see where Guadalajara ends and Tlaquepaque begins and many people mistake it for being a suburb of the Jalisco capital.
The name Tlaquepaque comes from the Nahuatl word “tlalipac” meaning “place above clay land” – supposedly a nod towards the clay ornaments and utensils that the locals would make before the Spanish arrived.
The Spanish conquistadors reached the area in 15430 and several years later, they renamed the city to “San Pedro Tlaquepaque).
A day spent here is mostly about window shopping in the boutique stores along Calle Juarez and Calle Independencia, sampling street food as you go, and checking out the mariachi at the famous El Parian square.
Tlaquepaque was given pueblo magico status back in 2018. The Mexican pueblo magico program is an initiative by the Mexican Tourism Board that recognizes towns and villages with a particularly special culture, history, natural beauty, or gastronomy.
Generally speaking, when you see that somewhere has been recognized as a pueblo magico, it is a pretty good indicator that it is a worthwhile place to visit and that can definitely be said of Tlaquepaque.
Watch the mariachi perform at El Parian Square
The raison d’être that a lot of people decide to travel to Tlaquepaque is an opportunity to see the mariachi perform at El Parian Square. This little square, encircled by bars and restaurants, was constructed in 1878 and mariachi bands have performed on the bandstand at its center since 1927.
While the precise origins of mariachi music are unknown, it is believed to have originated in this part of west-central Mexico in the 1700s. When bands started performing at El Parian in the 1920s, the music wasn’t widely accepted and it was quite a controversial move by the organizers.
It was thanks to regular performances here that mariachi music eventually became popular and known around the world. For decades, mariachi bands at El Parian have delighted locals and tourists alike.
If you want to see the bands perform, it is best to stop by late afternoon (at least after 4 pm) or in the evening. It is a little quiet here during the day so if you are hoping for a lunchtime snack and some live mariachi, you will be disappointed
It is also worth noting that the historical importance of the square paired with the live music has turned El Parian into a bit of a tourist trap.
Do beware that many of the restaurants here will often refuse to let you sit at a table where you can see the mariachi unless you purchase multiple tequila cazuelas which cost $85 a pop.
There are also a couple of benches scattered around the plaza where you will see Mexican locals sitting, although they fill up quickly. These make a good alternative place to watch the performances. You can always tip the mariachi separately.
Experience a Noches de Ronda celebration
Every other Friday (the second and fourth weeks of each month), the streets of Tlaquepaque come alive with a nighttime Noches de Ronda celebration. These are comparable to the calendas that you will see in Oaxaca.
All manner of musicians and street performers take to the streets and plazas to sing, dance, play guitar and other instruments, and vendors set up their stalls selling everything from elotes to fresh flowers.
Take photos at the Tlaquepaque sign
Tlaquepaque, like most Mexican towns and cities of touristic interest, is home to a sign that displays the city name in large, life-size colorful letters which makes for a wonderful photo opportunity. You can find the Tlaquepaque sign just off Calle Independencia, close to the Avenida Niños Heroes.
There is also a Visitors Center here where you can pick up a free city map or ask for any information that you need about your time in the city.
Sample a torta ahogada
There are several lovely restaurants scattered throughout the historic center of Tlaquepaque that serves traditional Jaliscan fare. For a quintessential local snack, try a torta ahogada. (“Drowned sandwich”).
This is perhaps the first and only time you will eat a sandwich with a spoon. Torta ahogadas are made from pork carnitas served on a crusty bread roll with onions and then slathered in tomatoey- salsa. You are usually served with a selection of hot sauces and lime for added flavor.
Like many great dishes, it was invented by accident in Guadalajara in the 1900s when a street food vendor was preparing a sandwich for a customer and accidentally dropped the entire thing in the sauce! The customer loved it, and the trend of the salsa-drenched sandwich soon caught on.
Various mercados and snack bars around Tlaquepaque sell torta ahogadas. A local favorite is the little red and white store opposite El Parian named “Tortas Ahogadas las Famosas” ( Calle Progreso 16, Centro).
You will see tons of Tlaquepaque residents and even mariachi performers from El Parian coming here to grab a sandwich on their lunch break.
Visit the Parroquia San Pedro Apóstol
There are a couple of gorgeous centuries-old catholic churches in Tlaquepaque Jalisco that sit across from each other close to Jardin Hidalgo.
The Parroquia San Pedro Apóstol is particularly unique and has been constructed on the site of an indigenous Indian hospital that existed here between 1580 and 1600.
Sadly, the hospital fell into disrepair and was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1700s, at which time work began to convert the existing structure into the Parroquia San Pedro Apóstol which exists today.
The church took more than 150 years to build due to funding issues. It was eventually completed in 1813 and dedicated to the patron saint of Tlaquepaque.
Its facade and interiors boast mixture of Baroque, Roman, and Byzantine styles, though the structure has sadly incurred a lot of damage through the centuries due to various clashes and flights in the area during the Mexican Revolution, etc.
Admire the Our Lady of Solitude Sanctuary Church
The stunning “Our Lady of Solitude Sanctuary” church dates back to the 18th century and was built by Manuel Caballero in honor of the Virgin Mary, in thanks and appreciation for all of the favors and priveleges he enjoyed during his life. When it was completed, it was given “Basilica Lateranensis” status from the Vatican.
The interiors are just as spectacular as the exteriors, and the walls and ceilings are laden with vibrant frescoes depicting scenes of the bible that date back to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Stroll through Jardin Hidalgo
The Jardin Hidalgo is a small landscaped square in the beating heart of the old town Tlaquepaque. There is a small bandstand in its center, along with a bust of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, after whom the square is named.
The square, filled with quirky sculptures and contemporary art pieces, is a popular rendezvous point among locals who come here to catch up over coffee or walk their dogs. You will often find that little handicraft or flea markets are hosted here and there is always a plethora of street vendors selling a variety of snacks and drinks.
One local treat, in particular, to look out for is the pastel-pink drink known as “Tuba”. It is sweet and fruity and usually packed full of pieces of fruit and candy.
Shop for handicrafts on Calle Independencia
Calle Independencia is one of the oldest streets in Tlaquepaque, and the city’s main promenade today. It is lined with art galleries, upscale restaurants, and artisanal stores.
The street is believed to date back to the 18th century, at which time it was known as the “Royal Street”, perhaps on account of all of the noble families that owned grand mansions and summer homes here. Today it is fully pedestrianized.
You will be greeted with many weird and wonderful sculptures that make for great photo opportunities as you make your way along its length. Tlaquepaque is known for its glass-blowing, its ceramics, and its azulejo tiles.
There are all manner of wonderful stores on Calle Independencia to suit every budget. Some sell your typical Mexican souvenirs and knick-knacks, but others sell truly gorgeous home decor items and dinnerware sets.
You should also check out Calle Juarez which runs on the parallel street and is also home to some interesting stores and galleries.
Visit the local museums and art galleries
There are a couple of museums in Tlaquepaque that are well worth visiting if you are interested in learning more about the local culture. The Museo Regional de la Ceramica (Calle Independencia 237, Centro) is housed inside a beautiful grand old house.
It contains a collection of handicrafts made by artists from the local area and explains the process of making them. The view is to preserve and promote the Tlaquepaque handicrafts industry.
Equally interesting is the Pantaléon Panduro Museum of the National Ceramics Contest (C. Prisciliano Sánchez 191). The museum shows the different styles of ceramic art and pottery from across the country – from Oaxaca to Jalisco and everywhere in between.
Enjoy contemporary art at the Sergio Bustamente Gallery
If you are interested in art, you may enjoy meandering through the Sergio Bustamante Gallery (Independencia Eje 238, Centro). The gallery is free to enter and has a lovely leafy garden at its rear.
Sergio Bustamante is a Mexican Artist from Culiacan, Sinaloa whose colorful, modern sculptures have gained acclaim around the world. If you want to buy art pieces for your home, the price tags range between $2,000 and $4,000 USD a piece on average.
There are also little trinkets available for sale in the store that make nice gifts for loved ones back home.
Browse the stalls at Mercado Benito Juarez
The Mercado Benito Juarez is a traditional local market named after the beloved Mexican president that guided Mexico through its quest for independence. First inaugurated in 1979, this is where locals come to shop for fresh produce and groceries and wandering through its aisles makes for a great people-watching opportunity.
There are perfectly polished fruits and veg piled high in the produce market, butchers selling prime cuts of beef, pork and other types of meat that they prepare in front of you, wielding cleavers that narrowly miss fingers, fishmongers, spice sellers, and vendors selling household cleaning products and accessories.
A crafts market more catered to tourists sits on the upper level. If you want to experience a traditional Latin American market but you are a little intimidated by the likes of Mercado San Juan de Dios in Guadalajara, this is the place to come.
Head to Tonala
If you want to search for more crafts, ceramics, and household decor items, you can continue from Tlaquepaque to the nearby city of Tonala. This area is far less touristy and you will see only domestic travelers here, but it provides plenty of excellent shopping opportunities which are perfect for if you are looking to purchase gifts or furnishings for your home, etc.
Check the local events schedule
Throughout the year, there are all manner of traditions and festivities celebrated at Tlaquepaque. Since the city is widely considered as being the birthplace of mariachi, there are often mariachi festivals and concerts where bands perform with the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra.
On Dia de Los Muertos (November 2nd), families head to the local cemeteries to decorate the graves of loved ones lost and to create alters of offerings. A parade of catrinas passes through the city and Tlaquepaque can be a nice place to experience the occasion if you want to join in the festivities somewhere a little more low-key than Oaxaca or Mexico City.
The Feria de Tlaquepaque
All over Mexico, different towns, cities and barrios have “ferias” which are essentially local celebrations of the culture and heritage of that particular place. If you happen to be in Jalisco in June, you can catch the “Feria de San Pedro Tlaquepaque 2024”.
In 2023, more than 500,000 people attended the festivities which featured live Mexican banda music, mariachi performers, salsa dancers, and Mexican comedians, as well as fairground rides and street food stalls.
Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque and the wider region of Jalisco are famous for charrerias – equestrians fairs and events that are essentially the Mexican version of the US rodeo.The Expo Ganadera is more of an industry event than something catered to tourists but it is worth checking out if you happen to be in town around October when it takes place.
Expect to see various horse riding contests, bull riding, live music and dancing, animal auctions and dancing horses. (Yes, dancing horses!)
The atmosphere at the Exp is as fun as the events themselves, and people often wear traditional dress, sip tequila cocktails and enjoy corn chips doused in hot sauce.
How to Get to Tlaquepaque from Guadalajara
It is pretty east to get Tlaquepaque from Guadalajara. The two cities are so close to each other that it really only feels like you are heading into another Guadalajara suburb.
The journey should only take 10-15 minutes by road, depending on where in Guadalajara you are starting out.
Take an Uber
Arguably the easiest and most comfortable way to make the journey is to take an Uber. Ubers are generally safer than street taxis in Guadalajara and wider Jalisco and you will find plenty of reputable drivers.
The prices to and from Tlaquepaque may fluctuate depending on the demand and the traffic at the time you order the car. You can generally expect to pay between 90-150 pesos ($4.50 – $7.50) each way.
Take the bus
Buses from Guadalajara to Tlaquepaque depart every 45 minutes from the Central Viaje bus station (C. Los Ángeles 218, Las Conchas).
This bus station is in a part of town that is slightly rough around the edges. So, you may prefer to take a cab here from your hotel, and you certainly shouldn’t consider walking here at night.
The bus between Guadalajara and Lake Chapala departs every 45 minutes and stops at Tlaquepaque. Tlaquepaque is the only stop before the lake, so it is easy to know when you need to get off, but it is also worth following your journey on Google Maps so your GPS shows you when you are close to Tlaquepaque.
Take the Guadalajara metro
Guadalajara is home to an underground light rail network known as “SITEUR” which has been operating for several years, although “Linea 3” (line 3) which connects Guadalajara with Tlaquepaque is new, and only started running in 2020.
The trains are modern, comfortable and in excellent condition and a journey costs just 50 cents each way. You can reach Tlaquepaque in approximately 20 minutes by train, but do note that the station is about an 8 minute walk away from El Parian and the main downtown area of Tlaquepaque.
FAQs about Visiting Tlaquepaque Jalisco in 2024 and beyond
Do you have any further questions or concerns about visiting Tlaquepaque Jalisco? The answers to some frequently asked questions about the city are detailed below.
Hopefully, you will find the information you are looking for there but if not, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Is Tlaquepaque safe?
The El Parian and Calle Independencia area of Tlaqupaque is perfectly safe for tourists to visit during the day, and even during the evenings since you will see lots of people heading out to the bars and restaurants in the area. This is the main area that you are likely to visit as a tourist.
However, the Cerro del Cuatro area is not safe and is best avoided. Crime is higher in the southern part of the city and there is little of interest in this area anyway.
Is Tlaquepaque worth visiting?
Tlaquepaque is well worth visiting and can easily be a highlight of any trip to Guadalajara. If you are really short on time, you can just stop by for a couple of hours in a morning or afternoon and it is so close to Guadalajara (just 10km east) that it doesnt feel like you are making a lot of effort or leaving the city to get there.
There are some great mercados and shopping streets that are just as interesting as the traditional markets in Guadalajara. (If not moreso).
What is Tlaquepaque famous for?
Tlaquepaque is famous for its hand-crafted artisanal goods and ceramics, including ceramic tiles. You can purchase some unique one-of-a-kind pieces here and if you live in Mexico and are decorating your home, the azulejo tiles on sale here make wonderful additions to any kitchen or bathroom space.
Where are the umbrellas in Tlaquepaque?
The Tlaquepaque umbrellas are a popular “Instagram famous” image of Tlaquepaque and are currently found in the Plaza de Artesanias. Though they make for a great photo opp, there are tons of other murals and contemporary art installations in the area that are equally spectacular and worth looking out for.
Where to stay in Tlaquepaque Jalisco
There are several reputable hotels in Tlaquepaque to suit every budget. This is actually a great alternative place to stay during your trip to Guadalajara too.
You have tons of excellent bars, restaurants and cantinas right on your doorstep and you can easily get in and out of Guadalajara each day as you please. Because it is so popular with tourists, the Calle Independencia/El Parian area of Tlaquepaque is arguably much safer during the evenings than choosing to stay in the historic center of Guadalajara.
- Quinta Don Jose Boutique Hotel – Gorgeous independent property with traditional decor
- Casa Tlaquepaque Hotel Galeria – Grand old mansion with a pool converted into eclectic, unapologetically Jaliscan-style lodging
- La Villa del Ensueno Boutique Hotel – Spectacularly colorful hacienda-style property with spacious rooms, private hot tubs, and balconies
Final thoughts on visiting Tlaquepaque Jalisco
Tlaquepaque Jalisco is just as fun to visit as it is to try and pronounce! The touristic part of the city is safe and easy to get to, and I am sure that you will have fond memories of the time that you spend here.
As I mentioned, I live here in Mexico so if you have any questions about planning your trip, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.
If you are planning a trip to Mexico for the first time, you may also enjoy reading these tips to know about Mexico before you go. Safe travels and enjoy Mexico!
Buen Viaje! Melissa xo