Guadalajara on a small budget still offers a ton of historic sites, gorgeous photo opportunities, outdoor adventures, and even local culture to absorb and enjoy. Guadalajara is among the largest cities in Mexico and as such offers a wide range of attractions from extreme adventure parks to shopping and dining to reconnecting with nature. Whether you want to visit a historic public plaza, learn about the local culture, or just explore an urban park, you'll find the opportunity here.

    This is a city that offers ancient and medieval architecture, winding pedestrian streets, and vibrant covered markets. Check out just a few of the best cheap things to do in Guadalajara if you're on a small budget.

    1

    Plaza de la Liberación

    Catch a free concert downtown

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    • History

    Plaza de la Liberación is one of four public plazas in the heart of the city, offering food vendors, free concerts, unique stone fountains, and a giant statue. The fountains in the plaza are both shaped like wine glasses and offer a cool mist on hot days. The statue commemorates Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the leader who abolished slavery here. Free concerts are held here regularly, and the plaza is lined with food trucks where you can enjoy some authentic regional street food.

    The square was laid out and begun in 1952 and has been a meeting place for locals and visitors alike ever since. It's only about a 12-minute drive north from the center of downtown.

    Location: Jalisco, Mexico

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    2

    Rotunda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres

    See the tombs of famous historic Jaliscans

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    • History

    Rotunda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres in the heart of the historic district is a historic location offering bronze statues and grand stone monuments to famous local figures. The centerpiece is a giant, circular, columned monument flanked by the most important cultural figures in the history of the state of Jalisco, from philosophers to architects and artists. The rotunda was designed in 1952 and has become a cherished monument throughout the city. It includes an etched inscription on the frieze that reads, "Jalisco a sus hijos esclarecidos", or "From Jalisco to its enlightened sons".

    The monument also serves as the final resting place of 96 famous Jaliscans. This is a beautiful park where it's impossible not to get lost in history.

    Location: Av. Fray Antonio Alcalde 108, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

    Open: 24/7

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    3

    Mercado Libertad

    Visit a vast indoor market where you can buy everything

    Mercado Libertad is a gigantic covered indoor market that covers well over 131,000 square feet of space and offers everything from produce to housewares, arts, crafts, antiques, and clothes. The market is a staple of local culture and a destination for visitors and locals alike. You can shop for movies on DVD, pick up electronics gadgets and handmade arts and crafts by local artisans, get farm-fresh produce and prepared foods, and even find antiques and collectibles among the nearly 3,000 stalls here.

    This sprawling market is somewhere between an enormous flea market and an outlet mall, offering up just about anything you can imagine. It's worth a visit to browse and see what you can see.

    Location: C. Dionisio Rodríguez 52, San Juan de Dios, 44360 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +52 33 3618 0506

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    4

    Plaza de Armas

    Sit and rest in the city's oldest public square

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    • History
    • Photo

    Plaza de Armas is one of four plazas for public use in downtown Guadalajara that offers ornate art nouveau structures, statuary, and a stunning palace backdrop. The plaza regularly hosts free concerts and performances at the central bandstand and is bordered by a 19th-century palace and 16th-century cathedral that offer outstanding photo opportunities for your social media accounts. You can kick back on wrought-iron benches to just relax, watch people walk by, and soak up some local culture. It's also just steps away from tons of options for shopping and dining.

    Plaza de Armas is the oldest public square in Guadalajara. It's a mere 15-minute drive north of the central downtown area.

    Location: Av. 16 de Septiembre s/n, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

    Open: 24/7

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    5

    Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento

    See a modern church built with ancient methods

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    • History

    Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento is a historic church offering Italian mosaics, stunning and colorful stained glass windows, and a clock tower. The church is a 20th-century construction but appears fully Gothic, like something out of Europe in the Middle Ages. Every hour when the clock strikes, the elaborate mechanics parade miniature statues of the 12 apostles around in a mock march. The stained glass windows are world-renowned, as is the architecture. The church was actually built using authentic Gothic methods dating back hundreds of years.

    While it is still an active church, it's also a monument to centuries past. It's in the heart of downtown, just 11 minutes north from the center of the city.

    Location: C. Manuel López Cotilla 935, Col Americana, Americana, 44160 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

    Phone: +52 33 3825 3410

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    6

    Barranca de Oblatos

    Go hiking in a vast canyon nature reserve

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    • Adventure

    Barranca de Oblatos is a vast canyon carved by the Rio Grande de Santiago River, offering 2,810 acres of unspoiled nature and reaching a depth of 2,000 feet. The canyon is notable for being home to several ecologies, including tropical forest, riparian forest, and deciduous forest. It is a nature reserve that is home to species such as collared peccaries, great horned owls, bobcats, opossums, gray foxes, and vampire bats, among others, making it a destination for people interested in wildlife viewing.

    The canyon itself offers few amenities; you won't find restaurants or shops. At the eastern side of the canyon, however, you can find eateries and some urbanized areas and recreational facilities, including an outdoor theater.

    Location: Av. Perif. Pte. Manuel Gómez Morin s/n, Tetlán Río Verde, 44720 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 6.30 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +52 33 3606 8645

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    7

    Calle Independencia

    Walk a long street in the upscale shopping district

    Calle Indepencía is a long, historic street in Tlaquepaque offering stunning architecture, local arts and crafts, galleries, shopping, and dining just 13 minutes north of central downtown. Many of the stores here are upscale boutique shops that can be pricey. If window shopping is something that appeals to you, however, this is a great budget-friendly destination. You won't know whether to look at the store windows or take photos of the actual buildings. Many of the structures here date to the Middle Ages.

    The street is extremely long, and at one end, the buildings are less well-kept but still have a sense of deep history. You can catch a Macrobus or take a tour to explore the entire area.

    Location: Jalisco, Mexico

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    8

    Instituto Cultural de Cabanas

    See a historic orphanage filled with colorful murals

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    • History

    Instituto Cultural de Cabanas is a World Heritage Site offering a selection of modernist murals housed within a classically historic building with gorgeous architecture. Today, it's the home of 57 murals painted by local artist José Clemente Orozco. Among the highlights is the Man of Fire mural on the ceiling. The site does include a nominal entry fee, but a tour is included where outstanding guides can point out the perspectives and historic importance of each part of the structure.

    The building itself was originally erected as an orphanage, workhouse, and hospital in 1791 and once housed up to 500 children. It is locally known as Hospicio Cabañas, in recognition of its original purpose.

    Location: C. Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, 44360 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +52 33 3668 1645

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    9

    Parque Agua Azul

    Catch a live concert or visit a butterfly house

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    Parque Agua Azul is an urban park offering green space, picnic areas, playgrounds, outdoor concerts, sports fields for pick-up games, and many other attractions. Onsite here you can walk through a butterfly house, get in a good run on the jogging trails, and visit a greenhouse filled with fragrant, colorful orchids.

    It's in the very heart of the city, but the vast green space offers tons of clean air where you can take a deep breath and relax as you escape from the hustle and bustle of sightseeing. There is a very small admission fee to get into the park, but it's worth it for the serenity and beauty present, all without leaving the city.

    Location: Calz Independencia Sur 973, Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +52 33 3619 0328

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    10

    Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco

    Visit the offices of the Jalisco state government

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    • History

    Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco is the seat of Guadalajara's Municipal Council and offers neo-Colonial architecture famed for its murals, façade, grand arcade, and coat of arms. The murals inside were painted by local artists José Clemente Orozco and Gabriel Flores. Among the highlights is a massive image of famed leader Miguel Hidalgo y Costillo just above the main stairway. As a public building, it's free of charge to go in.

    The artwork is themed around the struggle between fascism and communism, a common theme among local art. You can even book a half-day tour here to learn all about post-revolution muralism in Mexico and the importance it holds in local culture.

    Location: Av. Ramón Corona 31, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +52 33 3668 1825

    Map

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