Journey to Paradise: How to get to Chapala from Guadalajara

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November 29, 2023
6 min read

Chapala might be a small town, but it has a lot to offer. Located just 45 minutes from Guadalajara, Chapala is one of the most accessible spots for tourists. With its stunning views of Lake Chapala and the Sierra Madre Mountains, this little-known destination has become increasingly popular among travelers.

Where is Chapala?

Chapala is located in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. It's situated on the north shore of Lake Chapala, which is about an hour's drive south of Guadalajara. The town was founded in 1538 and has since become a popular tourist destination due to its warm climate and laid-back atmosphere.

Get to know more about this enchanting Mexican coastal town in our Chapala city guide.

How to Get There

If you're traveling from Guadalajara to Chapala, there are several transportation options available. Whether you prefer to take public transportation or rent your own car, there's a way to get there that suits your needs and budget. In this article, we'll be exploring all your options for making the journey from Guadalajara to Chapala.

We'll cover everything from bus schedules and routes to car rental prices and driving tips. So sit back, relax, and let us guide you on your journey through Jalisco!

Getting to Chapala from Guadalajara

If you're in Guadalajara and looking to visit Chapala, there are a few different options for transportation. Depending on your budget, schedule, and comfort level, one of these options may be more appealing than the others.

Options for transportation

The most common options for getting to Chapala from Guadalajara are taking the bus, hiring a taxi, or renting a car. Each option has its pros and cons that should be considered before making a decision.

Pros and cons of each option

Taking the bus is the most affordable option, with tickets costing around 40-60 pesos per person. That’s $3-5 USD, which is extremely cheap. However, you will need to be prepared for potentially crowded buses during peak hours. You can also reserve seats too if they are available.

Hiring a taxi is more convenient but also more expensive - expect to pay around 800-1000 pesos for a one-way trip. Renting a car provides the most flexibility in terms of schedule and itinerary but is also likely the most expensive option once you factor in gas and rental fees.

Cost estimates for each option

As mentioned briefly above, bus tickets cost approximately 30-40 pesos per person. If you opt to hire a taxi instead, expect to pay around $800-1000 MXN one way depending on your location in Guadalajara.

Renting a car can cost anywhere from $500-1500 MXN per day depending on the type of vehicle you choose. : if you're on a tight budget or not in any particular hurry, taking the bus can be an excellent way to get from Guadalajara to Chapala without spending too much money.

If convenience is your top priority and you're willing to pay for it, hiring a taxi is the way to go. Renting a car provides the most flexibility and control over your trip but comes with a higher price tag.

Taking the Bus

Bus Schedules and Routes

If you're looking for an affordable and convenient way to get to Chapala from Guadalajara, taking the bus is a great option. There are several bus companies that operate routes between these two destinations, including Primera Plus, ETN, and Autotransportes Chapala. I have always ridden with the latter.

Depending on your departure location in Guadalajara, some routes may make additional stops along the way. It's important to research your options ahead of time so that you can choose a route that best fits your needs.

If you are wanting to take the direct bus, it will be called the “Express” and will me more direct than the other route provided.

How to Purchase Tickets

Bus tickets can be purchased in advance online or directly at the bus station. If you decide to purchase tickets at the station, I recommend that you arrive early to ensure availability so that you can get on the bus you’re wanting to take.

Some companies also offer ticket purchase via mobile app or phone call. It's important to note that some routes may require cash payment only, so it's a good idea to have pesos on hand just in case.

Tips for Riding the Bus Safely

While taking the bus is generally safe in Mexico, it's always important to take precautions when traveling as a tourist. Make sure to keep an eye on your belongings at all times, especially when boarding and exiting the bus. Avoid displaying valuables such as electronics or jewelry while on board.

Additionally, pay attention to any announcements made by the driver regarding upcoming stops or changes in route direction. Another way is to use Google Maps to keep track of your route to ensure you get off at the correct stop. But if you are going terminal to terminal then you will know when you have arrived.

Renting a Car

Popular car rental companies in Guadalajara

If you're looking to rent a car in Guadalajara, you have a variety of options. Some popular car rental companies that are in the city and at the airport include Hertz, Enterprise, and Budget to name a few.

Each company offers different rates and packages depending on the length of your stay and the type of vehicle you're interested in renting. 

Cost estimates for renting a car

The cost of renting a car in Guadalajara will depend on several factors including the length of your stay and the type of vehicle you choose. On average, you can expect to pay around $40-60 USD per day for an economy or compact car rental. However, prices may vary depending on the time of year and availability.

Tips for driving in Mexico

Driving in Mexico can be an adventure, but it's important to take precautions to ensure your safety on the road. 

First and foremost, make sure you have all necessary insurance coverage before hitting the road. It's also important to respect local traffic laws and customs. For example, many Mexican drivers use their horns frequently as a means of communication on the road.

If driving at night or through rural areas, be aware that animals may be present on or near the roadway. 

When driving in Mexico, I also highly recommend that you stick to major highways as much as possible since back roads are often unmarked with little help if something goes wrong such as running out of gas or getting lost.

Additionally, if you do get off course or on smaller roads I suggest you have your route downloaded on your phone so that it will continue to give directions even when there is no cell service. I cannot tell you how many times I have been without service when traveling between cities.

Keep an eye out for speed bumps (called topes) which are used instead of stop signs sometimes especially within city limits; they may come up suddenly so slow down when approaching them. 

With several options to choose from and a range of prices, you can find the perfect rental car for your trip. Just keep in mind these tips for driving in Mexico, and you'll be on your way to a safe and enjoyable journey.

Things to Do in Chapala

Popular Tourist Attractions

Chapala is home to a variety of tourist attractions that visitors can explore. One of the most popular attractions is the Chapala Malecon, which is a boardwalk that runs along the edge of Lake Chapala. From here, you can enjoy stunning views of the lake and nearby mountains while exploring shops and restaurants. 

Another must-visit attraction in Chapala is Ajijic, a charming town located just a few miles away. This town is famous for its colorful buildings and cobblestone streets, as well as its lively arts scene. 

And last but certainly not least, Lake Chapala itself is an incredible destination that offers endless opportunities for outdoor activities such as fishing, kayaking, hiking, and more.

Local Cuisine and Restaurants Recommendations

One of the best things about visiting Chapala is getting to try out all the delicious local cuisine. There are plenty of great restaurants in the area where you can sample traditional Mexican dishes like tacos al pastor or chiles en nogada.

Cultural Events and Festivals

No trip to Chapala would be complete without experiencing some of its cultural events and festivals firsthand! From Dia de los Muertos celebrations to traditional mariachi music concerts - there are always plenty of exciting events going on in this area throughout the year.


Recap of Transportation Options

Whether you're on a tight budget or prefer the convenience and comfort of private transportation, there are various options for getting to Chapala from Guadalajara. Taking the bus is the cheapest option and offers a chance to see more of the local scenery. Taxis can be convenient if you don't want to navigate public transportation, while car rentals are ideal if you want flexibility and independence.

Tips on Getting Around Chapala

Once you arrive in Chapala, there are many ways to explore this charming town. Walking is a great way to get exercise and experience the local culture up close. It’s a small town so generally you will see a lot of people walking around. However, if you need a taxi they are generally cheap and will get you easily to where you need to go.

No matter which transportation options or activities you choose, visiting Chapala from Guadalajara is sure to be an unforgettable adventure filled with new experiences and memories. 

To explore further check out our latest article discussing safety in Chapala or you can read up on the top things to do in Chapala as well.


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Written by:

I consider myself a world-travelling nomad and a foodie at heart. Born in Germany and raised in East Tennessee, my passion for exploration has taken me all over the planet - exploring unfamiliar lands and cultures is what truly inspires my soul!
I live outside of Doha and consider myself an inside expert on all things Qatar. I love exploring all the country has to offer and look forward to giving you valuable insights of where I call home!
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