This is a complete guide to visiting the town of Tequila, Jalisco in Mexico. In this post I outline the top things to do in Tequila, including where to stay, how to get there and what it all costs.
I love Mexico and have visited several times. On my wanderings around this deceptively large country, I passed through the small and charming town of Tequila four times.
Tequila is a small town in the western part of Jalisco state, which is famed for the production the spirit Tequila. The town is surrounded by fields of agave which is the key ingredient in making Tequila. Top things to Tequila include touring a distillery, exploring the main church, visiting the Tequila museum and seeing the town hall mural.
With so many visits to this Pueblo Magico, it feels only right to share my suggestions about what to do in Tequila.
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Tequila The Town and Tequila The Drink
Did you know that for tequila to be officially recognised as such, it needs to be derived from blue agave plants grown in specific regions of Mexico?
They even have a law relating to the production of this signature spirit – “de Calidad para el tequila”
In one of these regions, the state of Jalisco, there sits a town named Santiago de Tequila, or Tequila as it’s commonly known. This famed town is the birthplace of tequila and was designated a UNESCO world Heritage site in 2006. No visit to the western central plains of Mexico would be complete without a trip to Tequila.
The Best Things to do in Tequila, Mexico
1. Visit a Tequila Distillery
But of course! No visit to Tequila would be complete without a visit to a tequila distillery and there are several options to choose from.
José Cuervo Distillery
Based in Tequila is the José Cuervo distillery known as La Rojena. This is the oldest distillery in the world and the largest producer of tequila. Everyday, on the hour, between 11am and 5pm, the distillery run classic tours of their site. The tours are offered in Spanish or English and last around 90 minutes.
Be sure to check if the tour is running in English when you book – its usually the 5pm tour! The tour costs 260MXN.
After watching a short video, a guide leads you around the distillery and explains every step of the tequila making process. After learning of the factories strict standards, visitors have the opportunity to taste the spirit for themselves.
Once the tour is finished you can enjoy any tequila based drink in their beautiful courtyard and perhaps purchase a bottle for your onward journey. I mean come on, you have to buy a bottle of tequila from Tequila don’t you?
As a tour leader I visit tourist sites multiple times, so I don’t always find the energy to revisit temples or mosques or churches for example. However, I always managed to find the energy to join in for a visit of this famous tequila distillery – funny that!
Casa Suaza Distillery
A more budget friendly option is a visit to Casa Suaza. This distillery has a variety of tours available which even include things like planting your own agave tree! The tour around their La Perseverancia distillery lasts around 1 hour and costs 170MXN.
For more information and prices check out the Casa Sauza website here!
2. Take a Train Ride on the Cuervo Express
Another option offered by Jose Cuervo distillery is a train ride through the beautiful blue agave landscape. Every Saturday The José Cuervo Express sunrise tour departs Guadalajara and takes one hour to meander its way to the town of Tequila. A tour of La Rojena distillery is included in the José Cuervo Express ticket cost, along with a tour of the agave fields.
A ticket for a full day tour on the Jose Cuervo Express costs 2250MXN – ouch! But this does include tons of things and lasts for an epic 11 hours! For more information on the tours they offer, take a look at the Jose Cuervo website.
3. Visit the Main Square in Tequila
Tequila is a charming town to simply enjoy wandering along the cobblestone streets. The street that leads to La Rojena distillery is a particularly pretty example. Stop by the Plaza principal de Tequila (the main square) and watch the world go by from one of the cafes. Be sure to try some birria which is a spicy stew originating from the state of Jalisco.
In the main square you can visit the 18th century La Parroquia Santiago Apóstol (Our Lady of the Purísima Concepción). This parish church has a bell tower and a statue of Our Lady of the Conception.
4. Enjoy a Charreria (seasonal)
Jalisco state is the home of Mariachi music and Charreria. And tequila, obviously. Charreria is a Mexican style rodeo involving both men and women. Every year from the end of November to the middle of December you can catch one of these shows in Lienzo Charro del Tequila, near the centre of town.
In the main plaza you can also often see a Voladores dance, whereby performers spin around a big wooden pole attached by some rope tied to their ankles! I haven’t seen it myself but it looks pretty epic!
5. Visit the National Museum of Tequila
For more information on Mexico’s national spirit, pop into the national museum of tequila. This small museum has exhibits that detail the history of tequila, including photos, drawings and various artefacts.
There aren’t too many English explanations though so you need a little Spanish understanding for this one. The entrance cost is 15MXN and being a museum, is closed on Mondays.
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6. See the Town Hall
On the south side of the main plaza you can find the Municipio de Tequila or the Town Hall. This, free to enter courtyard, is tucked away in the corner and is home to a mighty impressive mural.
This mural depicts the belief that the importance of the agave plant was shown to pre-colonial Mexico when a bolt of lightening struck the agave and split it in half, thus revealing the sweet nectar within. Afterwards the Spaniards came along and introduced distilling and hey presto, tequila was born.
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Where to Stay in Tequila
Since any visit to Tequila is likely to involve lots of tequila tasting, I recommend spending one night here before (groggily) moving on to your next destination. Since we’re obviously on a tequila theme, why not spend your night in Tequila in giant tequila barrel shaped cabin?!
Well at Matices Hotel de Barricas you can do just that.
The hotel is located in a hacienda about a 10 minute walk from the town (probably more like 20-30 minutes after all the tequilas, lets be honest). It also probably goes without saying that the hacienda has its own distillery, which offer tours and tequila tasting sessions.
It’s not the cheapest place to stay but is surly worth paying extra for the novelty factor?! Depending on the time of year a room here will set you back around $150-$200 USD.
For those on a smaller budget you won’t go far wrong with Hotel Boutique Quinta Tequillan. Again this is about a 10 minute walk from the town and has good sized rooms rooms with A/C. They even have a small pool if you need to cool off with a dip. A room here costs around $30 USD.
Where to Eat in Tequila
In and around the main square there are a multitude of restaurants from which to choose, all offering typical Mexican food. But venturing away from the square will produce some more tranquil options.
The Restaurante Bar La Jima is a great option for combining your dining and drinking needs. All drinks are served with yummy snacks and guacamole, and they have a fabulous garden patio from which to enjoy them.
Why not enjoy your food with a cantarito – a fruity beverage made from tequila (of course) and fizzy citrus fruit juices.
Where to Drink in Tequila
La Capilla (The Chapel) is Tequilas’ oldest cantina and birthplace of the La Batanga cocktail, which consists of white tequila, lemon juice and cola. A legendary little watering hole to consume yet another variation of this celebrated spirit.
How to Get to Tequila
From the East
Travel to Tequila is very straightforward from the city of Guadalajara, where there are more amazing things to do. A return ticket from Guadalajara to Tequila on the Tequila Plus bus, costs 107MXN and takes around 1.5 hours. The bus departs from the Zapopan Terminal, which is on the western edge of the city.
The last bus back from Tequila departs at 8pm so thats worth bearing in mind before you get merrily stuck into the tequila tasting!
From the West
Getting to Tequila from the popular beach town of Sayulita, as we did, is a little more involved as there is no direct bus. First board a bus to Zapopan Terminal on the outskirts of Guadalajara, which takes 3hrs40. Then take the Tequila Plus bus back towards Tequila.
Final Thoughts on Things to do in Tequila, Jalisco
Tequila is a Pueblo Magico in the Mexican state of Jalisco. This small town is known for its production of the famed Mexican spirit and there are several distilleries open to tourists. On a visit to Tequila you can take a ride through the blue agave fields on the Jose Cuervo train, spend the night in your very own tequila barrel and of course, enjoy a few samples of delightful drink.