Jalisco Travel Guide

Mexico is always a good idea!

Where is Jalisco Mexico?

Jalisco is located in south-central Mexico, one of the Mexico Pacific States that sits on the Pacific Ocean.

These states have some of the best beach towns in Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta and Yelapa, as well as Jalisco’s capital, Guadalajara, and the the pueblos magicos (magic towns) of Tequila, Ajijic and San Sebastian del Oeste.

Jalisco map

Top Jalisco Travel Destinations:

colonial buildings in old town puerto vallarta beach in jalisco mexico (jalisco travel)

Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico

This amazing Pacific coastal city, located on Banderas Bay, welcomes millions of visitors each year. In fact, Puerto Vallarta is among the most visited Mexico destinations, and one of the most popular for LGBTQ+ travel.

Is Puerto Vallarta worth visiting? Unlike many popular Mexico beaches, Puerto Vallarta still has strong ties to its cultural roots. It is unique in that it offers visitors a nice combo of beaches, culture, and posh Puerto Vallarta resorts!

large colonial church in guadalajara jalisco mexico (jalisco travel)

Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico

There are so many amazing things to do in Guadalajara! From exploring Centro Historico’s famous Plaza Guadalajara, Guadalajara Cathedral and Hospicio Cabanas, to shopping for artesanias (artisanal crafts) in the San Juan de Dios market.

Is Guadalajara worth visiting? As the second largest metropolitan city in Mexico, behind Mexico City, those who appreciate historic cities will love traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico. Though a large city, it has a much smaller town feel and calmer vibe than Mexico City.

Ajijic Jalisco Mexico, located on Lake Chapala

Ajijic, Jalisco Mexico

Part of the Chapala Riviera, Ajijic sits on Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala. It is famous for charming cobblestone streets lined with bougainvillea and colorful buildings, lakefront restaurants and cafes, tropical weather and lush vegetation.

Is Ajijic worth visiting? For those who want to escape the crowds, head 35 miles south of Guadalajara to the Ajijic pueblo magico (magic town). It is a popular place for Mexico expats, and ranks among the best places to live in Mexico.

Best things to do in Jalisco:

Jalisco travel has so much to offer! The coastal cities of Puerto Vallarta and Yelapa have both beautiful beaches to one side and mountains to the other, whale watching in winter, a lively party scene and gorgeous resorts. The inland cities, like Guadalajara, Tequila and Ajijic, offer culture, amazing food (and tequila!), history, colorful cities and more.

Best Jalisco Mexico tours:

Jalisco Travel Blogs

Jalisco Travel FAQ

Is Jalisco safe for travel?

Jalisco has both safe parts, and frankly, unsafe parts. If you’re planning to venture off the beaten path from any of the places listed below, exercise caution or go with a group tour.

The beaches of Jalisco — including Puerto Vallarta and Yelapa — are safe and very popular for visitors. Further inland, the pueblos magicos (magic towns) of Ajijic, San Sebastian del Oeste and Tequila, and the second biggest city in Mexico, Guadalajara, are also considered safe for travel.

As with traveling anywhere, you’ll want to follow general travel safety guidelines — like not walking home alone at night, watching your alcohol consumption and staying aware of yourself and surroundings. For an added safety measure, pack these travel safety items, dress in a way so your Mexico outfits blend in with the locals, and buy a Mexico SIM card.

Want to hear about Mexico travel safety from the experts? Check out my Is Mexico Safe for Travel? article.

If you’re headed to Puerto Vallarta, check out this article, Puerto Vallarta Itinerary: 3, 4 or 5 Days in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It offers several itinerary options for shorter trips, though you could spend months on the beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding Banderas Bay, Nuevo Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit areas.

Inland, you could see Guadalajara, Ajijic, Tequila and Tlaquepaque with full days of travel time.

🏝 Jalisco Beaches

As with nearly all beaches of Mexico, November to April is the time to visit Puerto Vallarta and Yelapa and all Jalisco beaches — when the temperatures are mild, and the humidity and mosquitoes are at bay.

This is also during the annual whale migration, which takes place from January to March. During these months, pacific gray, humpback and blue whales swim along the coast of Jalisco en route to their breeding grounds.

💒 Northern Jalisco state

The best time to visit northern Jalisco is from late-October to March during the dry season.

The northern part of the state, including the popular pueblo magicos (magic town) of Tequila, and Ajijic, and the state’s capital, Guadalajara, take on Central Mexico’s “Eternal Spring” climate. This means you can expect mild springtime temperatures year-round — though you will see heavy rains during the April to October Mexico rainy season.

On the beaches, you’ll want to fly into Puerto Vallarta International Airport (code: PVR), and for central to northern Jalisco, use Guadalajara International Airport (code: GDR).

If you’re visiting both, you can drive a rental car between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. This is considered a safe drive (when done during the day), and will take about five hours.

📍 best JAlisco Travel sites & Cities

Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Yelapa, Islas Marietas, Tequila, Ajijic

📍 Jalisco Off the Beaten Path

San Sebastian del Oeste, Las Caletas, Lagos de Moreno, Tapalpa, Quimixto

🗣 Mexico Language

Mexico Fun Fact: There’s actually no official language of Mexico!

Spanish is the most widely-spoken, so some mistakenly say Spanish is the official language of Mexico. However, the government actually recognizes 68 national languages, including the Nahuatl Aztec language, and the Maya language.

💰 Mexico Currency

Mexican Peso — Exchange rates vary, but have hovered around $18-21 pesos to $1USD for about the last decade. You will find some places that take U.S. dollars, but usually at an unfavorable rate, so stick to using pesos in Mexico.

☀️ Mexico Weather

Mexico is a big country — the 7th largest on Earth, in fact! It’s hard to generalize the weather in Mexico, because it will vary greatly by where you’re traveling.

In general, temperatures are mostly mild everywhere all year long, though summers on the coast are hot and humid, and winters in Central and Northern Mexico are on the colder side. Throughout the whole country, the rainy season runs from (about) April through September.

✈️ Mexico Busy Season & Slow Season

• Mexico Busy Season: The busy season in Mexico runs October to March, as this is the dry season and you’ll get the best weather. December is the busiest month for tourism in Mexico.

Mexico Slow Season: If you don’t mind some rain, you’ll often find the best travel deal during the Mexico slow season of April to September. Do keep in mind that June 1-November 1 is Hurricane Season, and Mexico beaches are all susceptible.

Mexico Shoulder Season: The shoulder season is that magical time when prices are still low and the weather is good. The Mexico shoulder season is from about mid-October to November and January to early-April.

🧳 Download your FREE Mexico Packing Checklist!

Check out this ULTIMATE Packing List for Mexico — so you know what to pack and what NOT to pack for Mexico! This article offers advice on packing for Mexico City (and all cities), and packing for a Mexico beach vacation.

Beyond what Mexico outfits and clothing you’ll want to bring, here are a few extra things to consider:

• Filterable Water Bottle: Mexico is close to the Equator, so you’ll need to stay extra hydrated.

A filterable, refillable water bottle not only keeps you hydrated, but also filters your water so you don’t get sick in Mexico.

The LifeStraw Refillable Water Bottle and Britta Filtered Water Bottle are both great options.

• Mexico SIM Card: Want to be able to use your phone in Mexico?! Of course you do! Pick up a TELCEL Mexico SIM card before your trip, and swap it out on the plane while you’re waiting to exit, so you have phone and data service the second you arrive in Mexico!

• Anti-Hangover Meds: Planning to party hardy?! Make sure you’re not wasting any of your precious travel time with a hangover. Liquid I.V. has about 70,000 reviews on Amazon, and is considered the best defense against a hangover.

• Sun Hat: No matter if you’re headed to the beach or a city, you’ll want to wear a hat to shield yourself from the strong Mexican sun. This cute sun hat is the perfect stylish and practical accessory for your Mexico vacation.

 Sunscreen: As you’ll want to reapply a few times throughout the day, a light, Mineral-Based Sunscreen is ideal. Headed to the beach? Do your part to practice responsible tourism in Mexico by only using an eco-friendly Reef Safe Sunscreen while swimming. You can even ditch the sunscreen altogether and opt for a Long Sleeve Swimsuit instead.

 Bug Repellent: Mosquitoes are common throughout Mexico — especially on the beaches! REPEL Insect Repellent is an eco-friendly brand that’s DEET-free and plant based, with a pleasant lemon and eucalyptus scent. Don’t want to use a spray? Pick up some Mosquito Repellent Bracelets.

No — U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to travel to Mexico. For non-U.S. citizens, head here to see if you need a Mexico travel visa.

When you go through Immigration and enter the country, you’ll receive your Forma Migratoria Multiple, or FMM Tourist Card. If you’re coming by plane or cruise ship, there is no charge; for those driving across the border, the FMM costs about $30USD. In most circumstances, all visitors get a 180-day (six month) visa — so you can legally stay up to six months!

🚨 Have your FMM on you at all times

Keep in mind that though it’s called an FMM card, it’s actually just a small piece of paper. Keep your FMM on you at all times in your wallet, as this proves your legal status in Mexico. It’s rare, but if an officer stops you, they can ask to see your FMM.

🎫 Don’t lose your FMM!

Be sure to keep track of your FMM, as you’ll have to give it back to an Immigration officer at the airport, cruise port, or land crossing when you’re leaving the country.

If you lose your FMM, there is a $600 peso ($30USD) cost to replace it, and some paperwork you’ll need to fill out before you can leave the country. If you’re flying home, plan to arrive at the airport about one hour earlier than you normally would to do the paperwork and pay the fine.

As this question doesn’t have a yes/no answer (I wish it did!), I do my best to answer it in depth in this article, Is Mexico Safe for Women: 20 Mexico Solo Travel Tips You Need. However, for the most part, Mexico is actually statistically quite safe for all travelers — including solo travelers! Check my Solo Female Mexico Travel page for more info.

Mexico solo travel guides

Mexico is a big country, and it has plenty of amazing solo female travel destinations — like the ones featured in this article, Mexico Solo Travel: 20 SAFE Destinations for Female Travelers. In it, you’ll get recommendations of places to visit in Mexico, from solo travelers who have actually been to them.

🎧 solo travel podcasts

• Ep. 34 | Planning your first Mexico solo trip
• Ep. 40 | Tips for safe solo travel in Mexico
• Ep. 53 | 30 Solo female travel tips, Pt. 1

To answer the question, Is it safe to drive in Mexico?YES, it’s considered safe to rent a car and drive in Mexico. As the country is quite large, road trips are a great way to see a lot in a little time, and especially popular in the Yucatan Peninsula and Baja California Peninsula.

The one caveat to Mexico driving safety is that you’ll be in a foreign country, unfamiliar with their laws and customs. Head here for a complete guide to Renting A Car in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know, where you’ll also get 10 useful Mexico driving tips!

🚙💨 Looking for the best Mexico car rental company? Discover Cars works with both local Mexican companies and international companies to get you the best rates. Not only do I recommend them — I also use them!

As a general rule, you’ll want to know at least a few words of Spanish when visiting anywhere in Mexico. This is both a sign of respect, and will also help you have a better, smoother trip.

If you stick to the more touristic places in Mexico, you should be fine with basic Spanish. For those planning to venture off the beaten path, be advised most people in pueblos (small towns) speak little to no English.

Here are some options:

  • Brush up on your Spanish: Use a language-learning program like Rocket Spanish, so you’re confident, and conversational, before your trip.
  • Download the Google Translate App: For this to work at all times, you’ll need a Mexico SIM card with data — as the app won’t work when you’re off-WiFi.
  • Travel with a Mexico phrasebook: This Lonely Planet Spanish Phrasebook is an Amazon best seller, and a great non-digital language assistant!
  • Save the infographic below as an image on your phone. This way, you have access to these common words, phrases and questions even when you’re off-WiFi.
List of useful spanish words and phrases