Getting around Guadalajara is easy.. if you know what the best modes of transportation are for you. If you're wondering which one to use you're in the right place.
Guadalajara, Mexico vacations are so much fun. Guadalajara is a very special city and very large. It is meant to be explored and there are tons of things to see and do.
It can be pretty overwhelming when you wonder how you'll get around, as if the language barrier isn't hard enough, right?
Well lucky for you, Guadalajara is very easy to get around. It really has to be, with over 4,100,000 people in the metro area which includes nearby towns such as Zapopan, shopping towns of Tlaquepaque and Tonalá to name a few.
There has to be a good mass transit system to move those crowds.. and there is.
Some of the most popular ways to get around Guadalajara for visitors are cabs, buses, tren ligero (light train) and rental cars.
They all vary in price.. but which one is right for you? Like us you'll probably end up using each one. The more time you spend in Guadalajara the more comfortable you'll become getting around and wheeling and dealing for the best rates.
A very favorite way to get around Guadalajara for me is the Tren Ligero (Light Train).
The Tren Ligero along with local buses are extremely inexpensive, efficient and easy to use. When I saw the Tren Ligero for the first time, I said to Antonio, "Oh, it's a subway!" He promptly corrected me, "No, we don't call it a subway, it's called a Tren Ligero."
Oh okay then, Tren Ligero it is. Guadalajara is very unique so why should their subways..errr..Tren Ligeros be the same as those all over the world. There are approximately 28 stations between the two lines.
The train makes a stop at each station, so you need to be on the lookout for your stop. It helps to have a map of all the stops. You'll find one here. (opens new window)
Currently there are only 2 lines for Tren Ligero.
Linea 1, which runs North to south of Guadalajara and Linea 2, which starts at Juarez station and then runs eastward.
Trains run about every 15 minutes from 6am to around 10:30pm. To ride the Tren Ligero you'll deposit your pesos into the token dispenser.
It costs about $4.00 pesos which is around 0.40 U.S cents. Once deposited, you'll receive a brass token (ficha) which is good for one ride on the Tren Ligero and a transfer.
The Tren Ligero is a Guadalajara version of a subway with style. Something really unique about the Tren Ligero is that it offers Cultura to Go (Culture on the go).
Culture on the go?.. Yes, you read that correctly.
In an effort to showcase talented artists and promote cultural awareness, you'll find pieces displayed at the Juárez station, located on cross streets Calzada del Federalismo and Avenida Juárez and right beneath Parque de la Revolución (Revolution Park).
There will be different pieces of art on display for all commuters to enjoy. And speaking of talented artists, don't forget to pop into the Hospicio Cabañas which houses spectacular murals by Jose Clemente Orozco. If art is what your looking to see then this is the place.
Also, read more about a non-profit art show in the neighboring village of Ajijic which celebrates the famous and undiscovered folk art of Mexico here.
Catching a taxi is pretty easy in Guadalajara. They're pretty much everywhere. If for any reason you have trouble finding one (highly unlikely) you can always ask "¿Disculpe, donde esta el sitio taxi, por favor?" Excuse me, where is the taxi stand please?
Taxi drivers in Mexico are required to use the meters, although some might not. If you want them to use the meter you should ask them politely- "¿Puede usar el taximetro?" Can you use the meter please?
Or, you could settle on the fee before you get in. This is where you'll get used to bargaining. You'll need to ask- Cuanto cuesta por llevarme /llevarnos al _____. Which means..how much to take me or us here.
If it is too much, you always have the option of catching another cab.
There are lots more always waiting around the corner with a better deal.
You need to make sure your driver uses the meter or settle your price beforehand. If you just jump in without asking it could cost you more than expected! It might send the message that you don't care how much it costs. Remember, make sure you find out how much it will be before getting in or use that meter.
Taking the bus in Guadalajara is a real adventure. You just have to hop on and hope for the best. Just kidding!
The local buses are a lot slower because they stop almost every block.
One thing I did notice is that they do drive fast, so be sure to find a seat or if none are available then hold on to something.
It helps to know which direction your heading so be prepared. Disculpe, cual camion va a ______. Excuse me, which bus goes to_______. Also helpful is "¿Donde puedo tomarlo? Where is it?
FYI: Camion means "big truck" in English, but Tapatios use it to mean bus.
Remember that when you exit, try to do so from the rear since passengers will be boarding from the front.
One great thing about buses is that they are really cheap and it helps if you're on a budget, plus you really get a great feel for the city this way.
If you're trying to save money and searching for a place to stay, you might also want to search for cheap hotels in Guadalajara here.