Here’s a guide to the best things to do in Tequila, Jalisco. Experience one of Mexico’s “best-kept secrets” and the staple spirit of Mexican culture.
Tequila, Mexico is a small town oasis nestled in the heart of Mexico’s western state of Jalisco. Near the foot of Tequila Volcano, the town not only possesses unmistakable features — from its sprawling agave fields and a colorful town square — but also offers an incredibly rich and vibrant culture. Tequila has recently become one of the most sought destinations for travelers, being named one of Mexico’s “best-kept secrets,” and one of the best places to visit in 2022.
The popularity of Tequila can be largely credited to tequila, the spirit. Just like champagne from the Champagne region of France, true tequila comes from Tequila, Mexico. As one of the only places in Mexico where you can drink in the streets, the party atmosphere can be encapsulating.
But it’s not just about drinking and partying — top-notch tours and day adventures showcase Tequila, Mexico’s history and stunning agave fields while sharing the stories of families who have been steeped in the tequila-making tradition for centuries.
Traveling to Tequila
Tequila, Mexico is 37 miles outside of Guadalajara, one of the largest major cities in Jalisco. For accessibility, it’s best to fly into the Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara Airport and take a secondary method of transportation to town.
Here are a few options:
For a more direct travel method, the Tequila Plus Bus is a great choice. Offering HD movies and reclining seats, the Tequila Plus Bus allows travelers to sit back and relax on their journey. Leaving from Colón in Guadalajara, this 55-minute bus ride provides direct access to the town of Tequila and flexible scheduling allows travelers to book their trips with ease.
If you’re looking for a more collaborative travel experience — whether you’re a solo traveler looking to make friends or prefer to be shown around by locals — BlaBlaCar service might be the best option for you! This carpooling app allows you to book a seat in someone’s car in advance — similar to Uber, but on a schedule.
Where to Stay
Where you stay depends on the kind of holiday you want — and there are plenty of options. Stay closer to the center of town to be in the heart of the action, cup of cantaritos in hand, swaying to the mariachi. On the outskirts, drinks and souvenirs are a bit cheaper and you will be in closer proximity to the town’s e beautiful agave fields.
While there are no major chain hotels in Tequila (sorry – no travel points here), the town embraces its family-centric culture with many boutique stays as alternatives.
For a luxury experience in the center of town, Hotel Solar de las Ánimas reflects old colonial Spanish architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. With balcony views out of a magazine that overlooks the town and sprawling Tequila Volcano, this hotel is sure to make you consider canceling your flight home. Its open-air hallways, painted tile floors, multiple resort-style pools and rooftop bar provide a stunning ambiance sure to please even the most discerning travelers.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Tequila and enjoy a unique stay, Matices Hotel de Barricas is the perfect place. Up to three people can stay in a private, detached building shaped like a wooden barrel, enabling you to “become one with the spirit.” The hotel also offers traditional Spanish architecture rooms for those looking for a unique stay without rustic characteristics. Tequila tasting, guided tours, massages and local horseback riding are also available for guests.
For a comfortable room without the theatrics, look no further than Hotel Villa Tequila.
This four-star hotel provides understated elegance and a calming atmosphere for a more modest stay.
This beautifully remodeled mansion is a former retirement home for Tequila’s residents and embraces the history of retired Jose Cuervo Tequila farmers who used to stay here.
Featuring large, well-kept gardens, decorative fountains, historic ironwork, and tall windows, Hotel Villa Tequila is the perfect place for those who prefer a quiet stay.
Things to Do
Whether you’re new to Tequila (the town or the spirit) or a seasoned enthusiast, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy. As a welcoming community that embraces all walks of life, Tequila residents will treat you as one of their own – no matter your interests.
Tequila Tours and Boutique Distilleries
Let’s face it. You’re in Tequila — they make tequila. For most, a tequila tour in Mexico is certainly in the cards.
Those who know exactly what type of tequila they like can book tours at individual distilleries. Due to the overwhelming popularity, it’s recommended that you book in advance before arriving in Tequila.
Distilleries like La Fortaleza offer four tequilas — Blanco, Reposado, Anejo, and Blanco (still strength) spirits. Hand-crafted in small batches, these high-quality tequilas are not for the faint of heart. La Fortaleza is known for its embrace of family heritage and tradition, including making tequila the same way it was made 100 years ago by its ancestors.
Casa Sauza offers tours from Tuesday through Sunday and provides a more hands-on experience for visitors. With three types of tours available, you can choose exactly how adventurous you want to be. From planting your own agave, preparing your own cantarito, and even having a tequila-grilled meal, Casa Sauza makes sure all visitors leave with their own story to tell.
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter — or just love locomotives — The Jose Cuervo Express is the option for you.
As the only fully-operational, old-style train left in all of Mexico, The Jose Cuervo Express departs from Guadalajara each Saturday and includes a tour of Jose Cuervo’s La Rojeña distillery, free access to Centro Cultural Juan Beckman Gallardo and a visit to the agave fields for an agave harvesting demonstration.
This 11-hour round-trip experience is the perfect, carefree way to visit Tequila and become immersed in the culture.
If that’s not enough, The Tequila Herradura Express immerses travelers in the full tequila experience. This luxury train ride takes visitors through the massive agave fields before reaching its final destination: the original Herradura distillery built in the 1870s. As the oldest tequila distillery in existence, visitors can witness where tequila originated.
This historic site is much more than tequila, though. Tours include visiting the original getaway tunnels that were constructed during the Cristero War so workers could escape the hacienda. After exploring the land, a guided tequila tasting, lunch, and a traditional mariachi show, it’s back on the train to Guadalajara.
If you’re looking for a more intimate, local experience and have a small group, The Agave Experience tours are very well-regarded. All Agave Experience tour guides are local to Tequila, Mexico. This tour prides itself on taking visitors to local, non-commercial spots, exposing you more to the local lifestyle and culture than other tours do.
Four tour guides make up a small yet mighty team that has deep tequila expertise; they’ve each studied for more than 500 hours to earn their Master of Tequila Processes degree from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara. Only 70 people in the world hold this degree, so you know you’re in good hands at The Agave Experience.
For those staying in Guadalajara and looking to get a taste of the town of Tequila, a private day trip would be a great addition to any vacation. Guadalajara’s private tours offer individualized itineraries for tours that are customized to your interests. With options for tequila tasting experiences at independent, local distilleries, dine in the Tequila Village Market or explore the Tequila town square.
These private day tours allow you to experience more than just the spirit that put Tequila on the map and are perfect for those who want just a taste of tequila.
Beyond the Spirit
I know, I know. Tequila this — tequila that. Does it ever end?
Even though Tequila is known for its spirit, not everything in town has to involve alcohol. There are many great options for those who don’t drink and/or those who simply want to learn more about the culture.
For the ultimate tequila education, visit the National Tequila Museum in the Tequila Town Hall. Located in one of the most historic buildings in Tequila, designed as a typical manor house of the ruling class of the 19th century, the National Tequila Museum brings you back in time to Tequila’s origin. Five permanent exhibits explain the history of Tequila, including cultivation and farming, industrial processes, and how tequila became a staple in Mexican culture.
The Tequila Volcano is a great adventure for those who enjoy hiking, camping, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Open year-round, trails on the volcano allow visitors to explore nature and discover native species. The Tequila Volcano is also an adventurous way for explorers to escape the Mexico heat, as it’s always cold at the top of the volcano; wind temperatures can reach close to 0 degrees Celsius.
If you’re looking to cool off but want to stay a little closer to sea level, put on your walking shoes and chase waterfalls at Cascada Los Azules. This waterfall is about 70 meters tall and is active all year round. For those looking for a little more adventure around the falls, make sure to look into the private canyoning and rappelling adventures available.
Best Places to Eat
Located on the cuff of town is La Posta Restaurant — the perfect place to indulge in local cuisine. Serving regional dishes that are getting harder to come by in the area, authenticism is the restaurant’s main focus. Famous for its chilaquiles, machaca and coffee, the restaurant offers adequate portions and top-tier presentations.
A family favorite among visitors, Fonda Cholula Restaurant is located in the center of town and views of the Main Square are almost as delightful as the food. This colonial affair provides an elegant and charming atmosphere that is popular among those who want a relaxing dining experience.
Fonda Cholula’s menu offers a fusion of traditional cuisine with a modern twist. Whether you dine in the outdoor garden or the main dining room, Fonda Cholula is a great place to enjoy the best authentic, original margaritas of Tequila and each other’s company.
Of course, what’s Tequila without its oldest bar — La Capilla? Recently recognized by World’s Best Bars, La Capilla is home to the “batanga,” a signature cocktail of tequila, lime juice and cola. In fact, you can still find 90-year-old Don Javier behind the bar serving the drink — which he invented.
In addition to many dining options around town, there’s plenty of street food available for those looking for a quick bite between tours. Tequila’s town center boasts a robust atmosphere with myriad food stalls — a great option for those in larger groups with different tastes.
From the town’s deeply-rooted history to its modern flair, Tequila is a must-visit destination for those looking to immerse themselves in Mexican culture. Whether you come for the spirits, the cuisine or the town’s natural wonders — there is something for every traveler in Tequila, Mexico. Salud!
Nicole Tj is CEO and Co-Founder of Travis — an influencer-led travel commerce platform. Spearheading a new era of creator-led commerce, Travis is a travel startup with a mission to empower a new generation of creators to earn through travel. With over 10,000 hotels available globally — including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and Four Seasons — Travis offers a range of hotels for different travel budgets, styles and destinations. With 10 years of experience as a creator, influencer manager and strategy consultant at Deloitte Digital, Nicole combines her industry experience with frustrations as a traveler, to pioneer a future for the $800B online travel industry.