How to Get From Guadalajara Airport to Downtown: A Guide to Transportation Options
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October 5, 2023
6 min read
Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco state in Mexico, is a lively and culturally rich city situated in the western part of the country. It attracts numerous tourists who are eager to explore its fascinating history, impressive architecture, mouthwatering traditional cuisine, and vibrant nightlife.
To reach this vibrant destination, travelers from across the globe usually rely on Guadalajara International Airport (GDL), which serves as the main entry point. Located approximately 16 km away from downtown Guadalajara, this airport hosts numerous domestic and international airlines.
However, navigating your way from GDL airport to downtown can be a bit challenging if you're unfamiliar with the available transportation options or if it's your first visit. In this article, we'll provide you with some handy tips on how to make the journey from GDL airport to downtown hassle-free.
Get to know more about the heartland of Mexico with our Guadalajara guide on the top rated places to stay and best things to do.
Transportation options from Guadalajara airport to downtown
When it comes to getting from Guadalajara airport to downtown, travelers have several transportation options to choose from. Depending on your budget, travel preferences, and the size of your group, you may find that one option is more suitable than the others.
Taxis to Downtown Guadalajara
One of the most convenient ways to get from Guadalajara airport to downtown is by taxi. Taxis are available 24/7 at the airport and can be found outside of the terminal's arrivals area.
Buses to Downtown Guadalajara
Another option for getting from Guadalajara airport to downtown is by bus. Buses depart frequently from the airport and offer an affordable way to get around the city.
The most common bus service used by travelers is Route 380 Airport Express Bus. It departs from Terminal 1 every half hour and stops at several locations throughout downtown before terminating at Central Camionera (the main bus station).
Rental Cars from the GDL Airport
If you prefer the freedom and flexibility of having your own vehicle, renting a car at Guadalajara airport may be a good option for you. The airport has several rental car companies located in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. The cost of renting a car in Guadalajara varies depending on the type of vehicle and rental period.
You can expect to pay around MXN 800-1,000 (around USD 45-55) per day for an economy-sized car. Keep in mind that driving in downtown Guadalajara can be challenging, especially during rush hour traffic.
Additionally, parking can be difficult to find and expensive. If you do decide to rent a car, I recommend that you have experience driving in Mexico and are comfortable navigating unfamiliar roads and traffic patterns.
Overall, each transportation option has its pros and cons depending on your travel needs. Whether you prefer to take a taxi or bus or rent a car, all three options provide convenient ways to get from Guadalajara airport to downtown.
Taking a Taxi from Guadalajara Airport to Downtown
Finding a taxi at the airport and pricing
One of the most convenient ways to get from Guadalajara airport to downtown is by taking a taxi. After arriving at the airport, you can easily find taxi services located outside of both terminals. The taxi booths are located at the end of the international arrivals section. You will find one directly to the right of the exit (just past car rental booths) and the other facing it near the exit door. You can pay via card or cash and then they will give you a receipt, which you will need to keep to give to the taxi attendant outside.
The Guadalajara airport taxis are white a green and orange stripe on the side of the doors. You will notice them since they are the only cars in the first thoroughfare and usually have a long line of people waiting for them.
There will likely be regular city taxis there as well (you can see them in the background behind the GDL taxi). These taxis are usually white and yellow in color and have official logos displayed on their doors. These drivers will be waiting in the drop-off area and looking for a ride back to the city. Your voucher will not work for these taxis so be mindful, and you will need to negotiate and pay the driver directly with cash.
The cost of taking a taxi downtown isn’t terribly expensive. The average fare will range from 350-400 pesos (about $20-25 USD) depending on the zone/distance traveled.
You will pay at the taxi booth if you are traveling with the airport taxi. If you use the regular taxis, I advise you to confirm with the driver before hopping in. They will likely be in a mood to haggle since they are not supposed to be parked outside the airport drop-off area.
Travel time and tips for safety
The travel time between Guadalajara airport and downtown varies depending on traffic conditions, but it usually takes around 30-45 minutes without traffic. During rush hour traffic, however, it can take up to an hour or more.
When taking a taxi in Guadalajara, there are some safety precautions you should keep in mind. Firstly, always choose an official authorized service instead of unmarked taxis that could be unsafe or unreliable.
Using Public Transportation from Guadalajara Airport to Downtown
The Bus System in Guadalajara
If you are looking to save money on transportation, the bus system in Guadalajara provides a viable option for getting from the airport to downtown. The bus system is run by SITEUR, which operates several lines that connect various points within the city. To take a bus from the airport, travelers must first walk outside of Terminal 1 and look for the SITEUR booth.
Here, they can purchase a ticket for Line 380 or 275, both of which will take them directly into downtown Guadalajara. The cost of a one-way ticket is around $10 MXN (about $0.50 USD), making it an extremely affordable option for budget-conscious travelers.
Challenges and Drawbacks of Using Public Transportation
While using public transportation can be cost-effective and convenient in some ways, there are also certain challenges and drawbacks to consider when getting from Guadalajara airport to downtown.
One thing to watch out for is that buses can get pretty packed during busy times, so it can be tough to find a seat or even just some standing space. On top of that, you might have to figure your way around since they don’t announce their stops or even have a map listed. Beware you may need to switch between different buses to get where you're going depending on the distance.
Another downside is that buses don't always stick to their schedules and can get delayed by traffic or other things they can't control. I’ve even seen them pass by the bus stop without stopping. So, if you're relying on public transportation, it's a good idea to plan ahead and give yourself some extra time to avoid missing your flights or appointments.
Renting a car at Guadalajara Airport The Benefits of Renting a Car in Guadalajara
Renting a car from the Guadalajara airport is an excellent option for anyone who wants flexibility. By renting a car, you are free to explore the city of Guadalajara and its surrounding areas at their own pace. Additionally, renting a car provides comfort and convenience as it allows you to avoid the hassle of public transportation or negotiating with taxi drivers.
Another advantage of renting a car is that it can often be more cost-effective than other transportation options in certain circumstances. For instance, if you plan to stay in Guadalajara for several days or intend to visit attractions outside the city center, such as Tonala or Tequila, renting a vehicle may be more affordable than relying solely on taxis or public transportation.
Where to Find Rental Cars at Guadalajara Airport
The rental car services are located inside the terminal building near baggage claim area B on the ground floor. Several international and local rental companies have branches at this airport.
Some popular choices include Hertz, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Europcar and Sixt among others. Make sure you reserve your rental car before your arrival since availability may vary depending on supply and demand.
When picking up your rental car at the airport make sure you have all required documents including your passport (if you are not Mexican), driver’s license, credit card (as deposit) and any additional documentation requested by the rental company.
Tips When Renting a Car in Guadalajara
It’s important to note that driving in Mexico can be quite different from driving in other countries, so it's useful to familiarize yourself with local traffic laws and customs before renting a car.
Also, consider purchasing additional insurance coverage at the time of rental to ensure that you are fully protected in case of an accident or theft. Check with your insurance provider as well to see if they will cover you while driving abroad.
Remember that parking spaces in downtown Guadalajara can be limited and expensive. Consider using the parking facilities provided by your hotel or renting a car only for days when you need it for longer trips outside the city.
Additional Tips for Getting from Guadalajara Airport to Downtown
Plan Ahead for Rush Hour Traffic
If you're planning to take a taxi or drive yourself from Guadalajara airport to downtown, it's important to be aware of rush hour traffic. Heavy traffic can result in lengthy delays, so it's best to plan your trip accordingly.
Rush hour in Guadalajara typically occurs during weekday mornings and evenings when people are commuting to and from work. If possible, try to schedule your arrival outside of these peak times.
Bring Mexican Pesos for Transportation Costs
While some taxis and transportation services may accept U.S. dollars or credit cards, it's always a good idea to have Mexican pesos on hand.
This is especially true if you plan on taking public transportation such as the bus, which typically only accepts cash payment. Exchange money at the airport or withdraw pesos from an ATM to ensure you have enough cash for your transportation needs.
Be Mindful of Safety When Traveling Alone
Traveling alone can be a wonderful experience, but it's important to stay safe while doing so. When traveling from Guadalajara airport to downtown alone, consider taking a taxi instead of public transportation.
Always make sure that the taxi is licensed and has official identification displayed prominently in the vehicle before getting in. If you do choose to take public transportation alone, sit near other passengers and avoid carrying valuable items or being flashy.
Whether you're visiting Guadalajara for business or pleasure, getting from the airport to downtown can be stress-free with these helpful tips. From taking a taxi or rental car service for more independence and privacy, there are several options available depending on your preferences and budget.
Planning ahead by researching beforehand about prices, schedules or any danger signals, carrying pesos, and being mindful of safety can help you fully enjoy your trip to this beautiful city. Enjoy your stay in Guadalajara!