The town of Tequila is a small but unique destination that should not be missed and I've included some of the best things to do in this pueblo. With its lush countryside and vibrant culture, being in the middle of tequila country is an exciting experience. In this article I'll cover the top things to do when visiting the magical town of Tequila.
From the iconic views of the agave plantations to sampling some of the country's finest tequilas ( including the home of Jose Cuervo), there are plenty of activities to keep visitors busy. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you travel to this magical place, it's not only a pueblo magico but also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
A Designated Pueblo Magico
The Mexican towns known as "pueblo mágicos" have a special charm that sets them apart from other destinations in the country. These magical towns are recognized by Mexico's Secretary of Tourism for their historical, cultural, and natural importance. Each one offers something unique; from picturesque colonial architecture to breathtaking gardens or archaeological sites, these gems of Mexico are sure to captivate all visitors.
Much like many small towns in Mexico, pueblo mágicos usually feature cobbled streets lined with colorful buildings and local markets selling specialties like traditional handicrafts and tasty treats. Here you can immerse yourself in local culture while admiring stunning landscapes, whether it's a valley surrounded by mountains or an old-growth forest filled with exotic plants and animals.
Designated UNESCO World Heritage Site
Tequila Mexico has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of its unique agave landscape and ancient industrial facilities. The protected area covers an area of approximately 34,600 hectares around the city of Tequila, Jalisco which is located in western Mexico. UNESCO has described the site as:
"The 34,658 ha site, between the foothills of the Tequila Volcano and the deep valley of the Rio Grande River, is part of an expansive landscape of blue agave, shaped by the culture of the plant used since the 16th century to produce tequila spirit and for at least 2,000 years to make fermented drinks and cloth. Within the landscape are working distilleries reflecting the growth in the international consumption of tequila in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the agave culture is seen as part of national identity."
The area’s landscapes feature steep hillsides covered with thousands of century-old agave plants and larger fields based on colonial-era land division systems called ‘ejidos’. Nature conservation and sustainable economic development have been key to protecting this cultural landscape since the late 19th century when it was first developed as an agrarian zone providing food, shelter and employment opportunities for local people.
How to Get to Tequila
The town is situated nearly 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco in Mexico. Generally speaking the route between Guadalajara and Tequila is a little over an hour. You can travel by bus or taxi or hop on the tequila train (Cuervo Express) for an unforgettable journey.
By Bus or Taxi
You will most likely travel to Tequila from Guadalajara. You could hire a taxi to take you on the hour journey outside of town. It will likely cost around $50+ one-way. You can also catch the Tequila Express bus from Central Vieja in Guadalajara’s main older bus station. This will cost you around MX$80. It will drop you off near downtown Tequila. From there you can walk to your destination if you just have a backpack.
The Cuervo Express
The Cuervo Express is a one-of-a-kind journey that takes passengers through Jalisco state to the tequila region. This unique experience provides visitors with an immersive, educational look into the history and culture of tequila. From tasting various types of tequila to learning about its production process, this train ride is sure to please both experts and novices alike.
Start your adventure in Guadalajara, where passengers board the Cuervo Express and make their way south toward Amatitán — home of La Rojeña Distillery, owned by Jose Cuervo since 1795. Along the way, participants can enjoy delicious Mexican cuisine while listening to lectures about tequila’s past by expert guides. When they arrive at La Rojeña Distillery, guests get exclusive access to witness firsthand how master distillers produce their famous beverage.
History: The Birthplace of Tequila
Tequila is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the blue agave plant, native to western Mexico. The famed drink has been produced in the country since as far back as 16th century and is culturally significant to Mexican people. Tequila production began in the small Mexican village of Tequila, located near Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. It was here where Spanish conquistadors first discovered a fermented beverage made by native Aztecs using the maguey plant.
Tequila has a rich and fascinating history, one that stretches back over 500 years. It began in 1530 when the Aztecs fermented agave to make a drink called “pulque” which was used for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes in pre-colonial Mexico. Over time, Spanish settlers took note of the properties of this beverage and began adding yeast to it in order to create an alcoholic version known as mescal. In 1606, the first commercial distillery of mescal was founded in Jalisco, Mexico, giving birth to what we now know today as tequila.
Over the centuries tequila has developed a unique production process that is exclusive to Mexico with specific regulations governing its creation and sale. The tequila industry offers employment to hundreds of thousands of agricultural workers across rural Mexico and accounts for more than US$1 billion annually in export sales.
Popular Attractions: Agave Fields and Tequila Tasting
For those looking to explore the cultural heritage of Mexico, and drink tequila, a visit to Tequila is a must. Here, visitors can explore the vast agave fields and learn more about the production of tequila. Additionally, many of the local tequila distilleries offer tastings of their tequila and mezcal products in a unique setting. Whether you are looking for a chance to learn more about Mexican culture or just want to sample some of the country's finest spirits, Tequila Mexico has something for everyone.
Yes, you can drink in public here.
There is a good chance that a lot of tequila makers will let you taste their products and provide guided tours of their facilities. This is the home of the national drink and each distillery is proud of their heritage and will be eager to show you their process in making tequila. If you intend to discover more about the primary stages in the tequila making process and get an insight into the tools and methods they use, then be sure to take a distillery tour.
Jose Cuervo's La Rojena Factory is a popular destination included in many tours of the area. Situated in the heart of town, it is easily accessible but may be pricey, with entry fees ranging from MX$440 (plus gratuity) and upwards for private tours. However, even if unable to take a tour of the factory, a visit to the factory’s gift shop is highly recommended.
For a cheaper alternative, you can visit you can consider visiting the Tres Mujeres Distillery. The fee for the distillery is only MX$50 (plus gratuity), which is significantly more cost-effective compared to Jose Cuervos factory. However, it is located about 20 kilometers south of Tequila after the town of Amatitan. Fortunately, Tequila Plus buses offer a MX$50 ticket to Amatitan, afterwards you can purchase a return ticket to Guadalajara if you plan on returning. This is a great place to visit on your way back or first thing on your way to Tequila.
Visit the Tequila Museum
As a tequila enthusiast, I recently had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Tequila (Museo Nacional del Tequila). It was an incredible experience that I won't forget.
The museum is situated on the grounds of Don Julio's Hacienda (the famous tequila producer) and it offers visitors an amazing look into the history and culture of tequila production. As I toured through the various areas, I learned about how tequila is made, where it comes from, and how it has evolved over time.
It was truly fascinating to see all of the artifacts related to tequila production, including old bottles and stills used by past generations to make this popular spirit. It gave me a great appreciation for its long-standing tradition in Mexico as well as its important role in Mexican culture today.
Local Cuisine: Traditional Tacos and More
There are plenty of places to eat in Tequila and experience an authentic Mexican cuisine. Local restaurants serve up traditional tacos made with freshly-grilled meats and homemade salsas. There are also a variety of other traditional dishes like torta ahogadas, pazole, and carne en jugo that are sure to tantalize the taste buds. For those looking for something a bit sweeter, Tequila's delicious desserts like tres leches cake and Mexican-style flan are sure to satisfy. No matter what type of food you're in the mood for, Tequila's wide selection of local cuisine is sure to please.
Nightlife: Agave Spirits & Music
There's not as much to see and do in Tequila, as you would find in Guadalajara, but you can enjoy the finest agave spirits from the region, as well as traditional Mexican music and food. This iconic destination will provide an unforgettable evening of food, drinks, and music. La Catrina Cantina Cafe is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends and family having drinks. They offer lots of Tequila and plenty of other mixed drinks as well.
Shopping & Activities: Craft Markets, Hiking Trails and Volcanos
This the perfect destination for those looking for a memorable vacation experience. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including shopping in the many craft markets, and exploring the numerous hiking trails that the area has to offer. Whether you're looking for unique souvenirs, or just want to take in the stunning scenery, Tequila is sure to provide an unforgettable trip.
Cascada los Azules
When it comes to the outdoors, there are plenty of things to see. Cascada Los Azules, located just outside the city, promises an incredible nature experience for adventurers of all levels. The hike takes you up and down several hills before leading to a breathtaking waterfall surrounded by lush foliage. It’s here where hikers can enjoy a quick dip in the pool before continuing on their journey back down.
At just under three miles long and with an elevation gain of only 600 feet, this moderate trail is perfect for those looking to break away from urban life without having to plan too much in advance. However, keep in mind that the trail is not clearly marked and you may need to rely on GPS for directions. Find the trail here at alltrails.com. From its start at the entrance of La Montaña Park, visitors will pass through dense vegetation and tropical forests as they make their way towards the falls. Beware that it is steep climbing down into the falls area.
Tequila Volcano National Park
Volcán de Tequila is an extinct stratovolcano located near the town of Tequila. With an altitude of 2940 meters, it is the fourth-highest volcano in the region, following Volcán Nevado de Colima, Volcán de Fuego, and Cerro Viejo. As part of the Eje Neovolcánico or Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt that traverses west to east across central Mexico, Volcán de Tequila last erupted approximately 220,000 years ago and has remained inactive since then.
How long should you stay in Tequila?
If you’re planning a trip to Mexico, a stop in Tequila is absolutely essential. This small town has become an iconic destination for its namesake spirit, with hundreds of tequila brands now produced in the area. But how long should you plan on staying there?
I recently took a quick trip to the city of Tequila and found that one or two days was more than enough time in Tequila to get the full experience. Of course, if you’re looking to sample all of the different tequilas available or even take part in some of the distillery tours, then you may want to extend your stay. But I think it’s perfectly possible to visit Tequila and get a good feel for it in just 24 hours.
If you do plan on making it longer than a day, here are a couple of places to stay in Tequila.
Is it safe to drive to Tequila from Guadalajara?
Yes the road between Tequila and Guadalajara is safe and driving is the quickest and best way to get to the city. Be mindful of road laws and driving habits which are usually aggressive. You can read more by visiting our guide on safety in Tequila.
Conclusion: Exploring the Magic of Tequila
In my trip to Tequila, I found the pueblo a small but charming. I was fortunate enough to visit and have the opportunity to explore the heart of tequila country. It was memorable and I highly suggest anyone to make the trip. There's so much to see, learn and discover. It can easily be done as a day trip from Guadalajara to Tequila. Pack your bags and get ready to taste some amazing spirits!
Now that you know all the things to do, check out our article on how to get to Tequila. Here we'll discuss the various ways to can travel to this magical city.
Discover more about this spirited destination by reading our Tequila city guide filled with top attractions and best rated stays.