Tequila, Jalisco is a pueblo magico home to the famous agave spirit — tequila. The town of Tequila is quite small and concentrated making it a super fun place to visit on a day or weekend trip. Especially if you’re a lover of tequila (like us).
Tequila, by nature, is a party town with most crowds arriving on the weekends, especially Sundays. Navigating around the town is easy and everything is within walking distance, which is good considering you will probably be drinking Tequila all day.
In this travel guide to Tequila, Jalisco Mexico, we’ll show you how to make the most of a trip to Tequila town including what to do, where to drink, and what to eat.
Where is Tequila, Mexico?
Tequila is located in the western state of Jalisco, about an hour northwest of the metropolitan city of Guadalajara. Its proximity to this bustling city and its small size make it a perfect day trip. As you make your way on the Tequila Trail from Guadalajara towards Tequila, you will immediately be surrounded by large fields full of blue agave plants, the liquor’s main ingredient.
How to get to Tequila, Mexico
There are several options for getting to Tequila Mexico from Guadalajara, the closest major city. We drove our vehicle to Tequila since we were RVing across Mexico. However, if you don’t have your own vehicle you can take a guided tour to Tequila, Jalisco Mexico with a local tour group.
This will include round-trip transportation and a tasting at a distillery. This is a more expensive option but is very convenient for those who don’t have their own vehicle or don’t want to drive after all of those tequila tastings.
If you want ease and convenience with a unique twist, hop on the Tequila Train operated by Jose Cuervo. This train takes you to and from Tequila with all-you-can-drink tequila and cocktails. Of course, you will visit the Jose Cuervo distillery before you hop back on the train to return to the city.
If you want to stay overnight in Tequila to make the most of your trip you can take a bus. This is by far the most economical option. The public bus station with three tour buses headed to Tequila can be found in the center of town at Estacion de Autobuses Central Vieja. There are three buses to choose from Tequila Bus, Tequila Plus, and Tequila Platino. Each departs from Guadalajara every 30 minutes from around 6 am to 8 or 8:30 pm depending on the day.
The bus will take around an hour and thirty minutes to get to Tequila Jalisco after stops. And tickets will cost around $220 pesos roundtrip (roughly $11 USD).
The best time to visit Tequila Jalisco
Summer is one of the most popular times to visit Tequila, Jalisco Mexico but it’s also rainy season. When we visited a storm rolled through and caused the entire city to flood. Water even started entering buildings!
We made the most of it by drinking canteritas (more on that in a bit). But if you want to avoid rained-out afternoons, then it’s best to come in winter or early spring, or late fall. Winter time brings the coolest weather, making it a win all around.
The history of Tequila
The native people of Mexico have been making and enjoying fermented beverages made from sacred agave plants since prehispanic times. After Spanish colonization in the 1500s, the distillation process of the agave juice was introduced.
Mature agave plants are harvested by cutting off the long spiny leaves and extracting the heart, called the piñas for its similar look to a pineapple. The piñas are roasted & mashed, the sugary juice is extracted then fermented, and finally distilled multiple times to make mezcal.
There are over 40 types of mezcal-producing agave plants grown throughout Mexico, each with its own distinct flavor profile. Tequila is a special kind of mezcal because it can only be produced using the blue agave plant and it can only be made in a few states of Mexico (Jalisco, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas).
Most Tequilas are made in and around Tequila, Jalisco. It was in the town of Tequila that the Cuervo family created the first commercially sold Tequila in 1758.
Tequila became immensely popular throughout Mexico and later in the United States during prohibition where the spirit was smuggled across the border. In 1974 the Mexican government created regulations around the word “Tequila” legally defining the liquor and limiting its production to authorized regions.
Things to do in Tequila
Tequila tours are by far the most popular thing to do when visiting Tequila, Jalisco. Since the spirit is the reason for visiting you can opt to take one or two (or more tours) during your visit. There are many different Tequila distilleries, both in Tequila and on the outskirts of town offering tours and tastings.
1. Go on a tequila tasting tour
Below are a few of the most popular tequila tours you can take.
Mundo Cuervo, La Rojeña
Jose Cuervo is perhaps the most famous name in Tequila. Their La Rojeña factory is by far the largest and most popular distillery tour in Tequila.
Located centrally in the town with well-structured timed visits, this distillery is one of the best if you are looking to learn about the history and production of Tequila. Jose Cuervo also provides a special round-trip train service from Guadalajara on weekends.
Just a few blocks away from Mundo Cuervo is Casa Suaza, the second oldest distillery in Tequila, Jalisco. Casa Suaza offers a variety of production tours including one where you can plant your own blue agave in their botanical garden.
Casa Herradura is located only a few minutes outside of Tequila, in the neighboring town of Amatitán. Spanning 256 acres, this tequila-producing hacienda gives guided tours and offers special train tours aboard the Tequila Herradura Express which departs from Guadalajara.
Another production facility in neighboring Amatitán, Tres Mujeres offers distillery tours in a more rustic environment with walk-ins welcome. Free of chemicals and commercial yeast, Tres Mujeres introduced organically-produced tequila to the area.
If you’re looking for a more natural take on tequila making, visit Tequila Herradura. This small distillery makes tequila in small batches, using wild fermentation, clay pots for distilling, and takes a more holistic approach to cultivate agave. This is how most small makers would make tequila or mezcal and gives you a glimpse at a super authentic and historic way of making the beloved spirit.
Reservations are not required in order to visit a distillery, but the distillery may only offer tours at certain hours. So it’s a good idea to call ahead or visit their website to learn more (including tour pricing).
If you’re not into visiting a distillery (although we highly recommend it), you can visit a local bar to try a variety of tequilas. La Capilla is a super fun dive bar that captures the essence of Mexico perfectly.
2. Explore the historic town
The historic center is small but well worth exploring. As you walk the cobblestone streets you’ll find tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and several historical buildings. Highly recommend admiring the church in the center of town. This is also where you’ll find the colorful letters “Tequila” for the city. These signs can be found in every major city and town across Mexico and are a great spot for a photo opportunity.
If you want to learn more about the history of Tequila, visit Juan Beckmann Gallardo Cultural Center in the center of town. The cost of entry is $70 pesos without a guide and $100 with a guide. It’s a smaller museum but has some really interesting artifacts and history about the region.
3. Eat tasty food
There’s a good chance you’ll need to eat in between all of your tequila tastings. Grabbing a tasty taco or another traditional dish will ensure you’re able to keep tasting (and don’t get too drunk) while doing it. Thankfully, Tequila, Jalisco is home to amazing regional cuisines.
Below are a few of the must-try foods when visiting Tequila, Jalisco.
Birria is a popular stewed meat dish from the state of Jalisco. Traditionally made from goat (birria chivo) you will also see it made with beef or lamb. The meat is marinated with adobo and chiles and cooked in a broth called consume.
The meat can be served in the broth or with the broth on the side, accompanied by tortillas, onions, cilantro, and lime. Birria vendors will also make tacos or quesabirras (like a quesadilla) with delicious birria meat.
Head to Plaza Principal in Tequila to find amazing street tacos vendors. You really can’t go wrong but a word of advice is to head to the vendor with the biggest crowd. You might have to wait longer to get your tacos, but you can trust the crowds are there because the food is worth it.
The first thing you will notice in Tequila are little bars along the streets selling a cocktail called cantaritos. Cantaritos are made with tequila, grapefruit soda, orange, lime, and salt, and served in a festive clay pot that makes a fun souvenir. They cost around $50 pesos ($2.60 USD) and are great to have in hand while you wander around Tequila’s cobblestone streets.
Tequila ice cream
Make sure to try some Tequila flavored ice cream or nieves. It’s amazingly refreshing on a hot day and something you won’t find in many other places in Mexico.
Whether you’re taking a day trip to Tequila, Jalisco Mexico. Or exploring Mexico’s tequila town for a weekend this guide should help you make the most of your trip. If you visit any of these places or enjoy any of these foods make sure to let us know in the comments below.