I’m not going to lie, quite a few people I’ve met lately were surprised to learn that Tequila is actually a geographic destination. Tequila is not just a real town but a recognized UNESCO heritage site. Located in the deep valley of the Rio Grande River it is a unique region known for its endless fields of blue agave all coming together around a cluster of ancient industrial tequila facilities. Most people who live in this town are active members of the tequila production – herein lies the heart of tequila. Historically speaking, the region is home to the Teuchitlan culture which, according to UNESCO, shaped the Tequila area from AD 200-900 and much of their traditional arts can be seen in the local shops.

Tequila is often referred to as Pueblo Mágico, the magical town. The town is quite small with beautiful, colourful architecture, casual terraces and restaurants, and many small vendors selling souvenirs. Even if you are not a tequila connoisseur, a visit to a Tequila is a great overnight alternative in Jalisco because agave culture (and therefore tequila) is considered a part of Mexico’s national identity. Here are a few ideas on how to spend 24 hours in Tequila. Add your favorite activities in the comments once you visit 🙂

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A couple of quick tips:

  • Bring local cash, quite a few family-operated businesses here might not take credit cards and generally speaking using local money is better for the economy. 
  • Stay connected with an eSIM, my go-to are AirAlo* (more on that here) and GigSky* (more on that here), get 10% off with code: PATHSTOTRAVEL10.
  • Pack comfortable walking shoes and light, breathable clothing with some layers in case the weather cools down for the evening. 
How to spend 24 hours in Tequila: Casa Salles Hotel Boutique yard

The images below and above are from Casa Salles Hotel Boutique

Getting to Tequila from Guadalajara

The town of Tequila is located just a bit over an hour from Guadalajara. If you are already renting a car this is a beautiful drive, the closer to the town you get the larger and the more beautiful the agave fields get. We avoided renting a vehicle on this trip and took an Uber, which cost about $70 CAD. There is public transit available which will cost much less but, will increase your travel time to about 3 hours with two transfers.  

Check in at the Casa Salles Hotel Boutique

Casa Salles Hotel Boutique is located in the heart of Tequila and is a hotel adjacent to El Tequileño distillery. The hotel is a clean and modern, luxury retreat. There are 25 guest rooms many of which have balconies looking out into the farm fields. The rooms are spacious and comfortable with all the necessary amenities and a lot of storage space. The property also has a full-service restaurant, cocktail bar, an outdoor pool, and a spa. 

The interior spaces are thoughtfully decorated and generously air-conditioned. The exterior yard is a lovely garden with large trees, plants, and flower beds creating shade around the pool and dining areas. It is worth noting that Tequila is generally a safe town and very walkable but if peace of mind is needed Casa Salles is a gated property with 24/7 security at the gate. 

Book directly on casasalles.com or through your favourite partner: Booking.com | Expedia | TripAdvisor

Begin with a hearty lunch 

Drop your luggage off at the front desk and have lunch at Mango Cocina de Origen at the hotel. Your dining location choice is the interior lounge or the outdoor terrace. The restaurant has a fairly extensive menu highlighting Mexican classics and regional specialties. My eyes were drawn to the chilaquiles with eggs to line my stomach before the tequila tasting.

Tour and tasting at the El Tequileño distillery 

Reservations are strongly recommended. You can choose to do tasting only or tour and tasting. Since you are already in Tequila, tour and tasting is the recommended route. Your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby and take you through the El Tequileño distillery exposing the inner workings of the tequila making process. You will see the different states of agave plants (green, trimmed, toasted), walk the distilling facility and witness how this magical liquid comes to life (and it is, alive), and then end the tour in the tasting room. The tasting is also guided by a local expert who will talk you through the tasting best practices and how to tell the different tequila apart.

A few fun facts about tequila:

  • How is tequila made? In a nutshell, Tequila is made using agave plants, the core of which is called piña. This bit is roasted and juice is extracted from it. That juice is then fermented in barrels with yeast. The next steps of course are distillation, aging, and bottling.
  • The best tequila is made with 100% blue agave, the label will indicate the % of agave used. It is more pleasant to drink (even sip) and doesn’t give you violent hangovers like blended “tequilas” might.
  • There are 5 types of tequila: Reposado, European or American-made barrel aged for up to a year; Joven, less common and includes aged and unaged tequila; Blanco, also known as Silver tequila, made with blue Weber agave grown in Jalisco, which is where you are for this trip :); Añejo aged in American or European barrels for at least a year and Extra Añejo, which must be aged for at least 3 years, this aging process creates more complex, rich flavours and a a golden colour, both of these types are great for sipping.

Walk around & Dine in the town center

Unpack in the room, change for dinner and stroll through this historic town on foot. Wander into the small shops, take in all the colourful houses, take a peek inside the church, and have ice cream in the public square. 

For dinner, there are a few options. La Antigua Casona, for example, is an elevated restaurant concept located in Solar de las Animas hotel. There is a scenic terrace and a large beautiful courtyard. We opted for Fonda La Martina, a small family-owned traditional restaurant across the street. The service is great, the food is delicious, and something you will likely not find in other places. Their crispy taquitos, for example, are served in a cool broth, a welcome treat in the hot heat.

How to spend 24 hours in Tequila
How to spend 24 hours in Tequila, best places to eat in Tequila

Post-dinner drinks

There is a famous local tequila cocktail called Batanga, quite ingenious in its simplicity: tequila, lime juice, Coca-Cola, and a salt rim. The drink was invented by La Capilla owner Javier Delgado Corona in 1961 so La Capilla is where you got to enjoy the said drink. This casual, dusty bar is an institution with a row of awards nested on a tall shelf, covered in dust. People hang out, read, mingle, and play cards at this bar, it really is the most chill way to end the evening. 

Rise & Shine 

Begin with breakfast at the hotel followed by time by the pool before heading back to your next destination. Grab a fresh juice or a cocktail, spread out on the sunbed with a book, and enjoy that hot Mexican sun. If time permits, add a tasting at Tequila Arette (which you will need to request over email), Casa Sauza, or Tequila Fortaleza, both of which require reservations as well.

Restauratn Mango Cocina de Origen at Casa Salles Hotel Boutique. The pool area at the hotel is below.


In the gear bag: Fujifilm X-H2S with an XF50mmF2 R WR lens* and Fuji XF 23MM F2 R WR lens*.

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4 Comments

  1. I did a similar tour in Mexico to learn about agave farming and distilling. It was fascinating. I love this region of the country. It is so green.

  2. Oh my, I think I knew only that Tequila was made from the Agave plant! As I don’t drink spirits – and not much alcohol in general, I’d never thought much about it, never mind that there was a place with the same name.

    On the other hand, I do know that agave and many other cacti are pollinated by bats! That’s what comes from being involved in bat conservation and telling people about how useful bats are.

  3. This is a beautiful guide of a region I had not heard of before. I am saving it but I have a different question: How do you like the Fujifilm H2S as a travel camera? I am at a loss how to upgrade – I use a Nikon D7200 but had a FujifilmS5Pro before (it broke) and was in love with that camera except that its heavy. I am interested in Fujifilm but really unsure whether to continue with Nikon full frame or switch again.

    1. I like it a lot, haven’t done much video yet which is the idea. It’s an upgrade from XT100 which was also great, but an older smaller format camera.

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