Get some spins in with this approximately 90-minute GDL Centro tour
Guadalajara is surprisingly flat. And quite enjoyable to bike around. It’s mostly sunny, and if you manage to wake up early, and start pedaling - say 8:00am (which I highly recommend) - you can avoid the higher temperatures of the late morning.
So, Where to Go:
There’s a ton of bike lanes and interesting places to visit, but one of my favorite routes is from Glorieta Minerva to Centro. The reason I enjoy this route is it allows you to see Guadalajara’s evolution through it’s architecture. As Guadalajara grew from the Centro-outwards, this ride is like traveling back in time.
Glorieta Minerva is pretty car-oriented and not quite an enjoyable public space, so the precise starting point is Parque Mariano Azuela. From this park, you’ll be able to see the Minerva Statue (from her rear) and Arcos Vallarta, which in the olden days marked the entry to the city. Then, manage your way onto Calle Lopez Cotilla which starts out as a wide boulevard and then shrinks as you get closer to el Centro. Calle Lopez Cotilla has a bike lane on the right, just be on the lookout for obstacles like cars opening their doors onto the bike lane.
Until you get to Avenida Justo Sierra, you’ll notice the collage of architectural styles along the way. Some big post-modern buildings, other brutalist monsters, a few rather unfortunate contemporary mix-mashes and some small scale mid-century jems. Calle Lopez Cotilla has a lot of businesses, so if you decide to stop for a coffee along the way, I recommend Fitzroy. They have excellent coffee and delicious pastries, in case you have the early-morning wake-and-bake munchies.
After the coffee pit stop, continue heading east down Calle Lopez Cotilla. You’ll pass by Av. Chapultepec, with a wide tree-lined median. My grandmother once told me that she used to roller-skate when she was young (c. 1930’s). Nowadays, you’ll see people strolling, breakdancing and maybe shopping at the pop-up markets that take place here. Recently a bunch of loud bars that offer cheap beer have set up here, so I would try to stay clear of those spots and find something more authentic.
Once you pass Chapultepec, make a right on Calle Progreso. On the corner you’ll spot the United States Consulate, one of the more hideous-jail like buildings on the Colonia Americana. Rumor says they’ll soon relocate. Hopefully soon, and with a kinder gesture towards the city. Anywho, take a left on Av. Libertad. At first it is a wide one-way street, but then becomes two-lane with magnificent trees, wide sidewalks, and French-influenced manners that once housed Guadalajara’s elite society. Bike slow, or even hop down for a walk. You may be tempted to stop for breakfast at one of the many restaurants that line Av. Libertad. If so, Gabinete is my top choice, but it’s definitely a sit-down spot. There’s also a low-key mercado called Mercado Juarez, great for a quick snack, with stalls serving freshly squeezed juices (ask to be served on glass, not styrofoam. thx). Otherwise, suck it up and keep riding because we’re less than half way on the route.
Avenida Libertad bumps onto Av. Enrique Diaz de Leon. Make a left and scramble your way onto Templo Expiatorio, an iconic gothic-looking Catholic Church. Templo Expiatorio also offers Sunday veggie-friendly dinners along with other snack foods, so keep it on your radar. From Expiatorio, make your way once again to Lopez Cotilla. Keep heading down until you pass Parque Revolution. I often feel a counter-culture vibe here which is kind of cool.
Keep going east on Lopez Cotilla and you’ll pass Federalismo, a wide commercial boulevard. You’ll notice the street has narrowed and you are now amongst 19th century colonial buildings. Enjoy. Bike until you reach Av. 16 de Septiembre and turn left. This is Paseo Alcalde, a recently renovated public space that favors bikes and pedestrians - Guadalajara’s shift towards a more people-oriented city. Long overdue, and a joy to bike on, Paseo Alcalde passes through Guadalajara’s Cathedral. Check it out before it gentrifies.
Here bike north until you arrive at Parque Alcalde. Stop and chill for some refreshing views of the park, and get ready for your return westward. You’ll take Calle Jesus Garcia heading west - the street doesn’t have a bike lane but be smart and you’ll be okay. This will bring you into beautiful Santa Tere, a proud bustling commercial neighborhood. Be on the lookout for Calle Pedro Antonio Buzeta, which will lead you to some delicious tortas ahogadas at Ahogadas Beto’s. Stop there for breakfast, you’ll thank me later. You’re welcome : )
After your torta, continue west on Jesus Garcia until you reach Calle Luis Perez Verdia. Turn left and enjoy a shaded bike ride south. You’ll notice bike signs painted on the street but regardless, don’t be surprised if arrogant drivers honk. Change takes time my friends and Guadalajara is slowly, but steadily becoming more bike friendly. Continue south on Perez Verdia and you’ll find Morelos, where you can make a right and after a few blocks find yourself just north of Parque Mariano Azuela, our starting point.