With the holidays approaching, now is the ideal time to book a shopping vacation to Guadalajara – one of Mexico’s top cultural hubs and home to the largest indoor markets in Latin America. Considered the shopping capital of Mexico due to the sheer size and variety of its markets, malls and stores, Guadalajara offers a plethora of unique handicrafts such as woven baskets, bright ceramics, and custom leather shoes, belts, and bags that are ideal for gift giving.
As they search for “that perfect gift,” visitors can appreciate the city’s culture while strolling along the colonial streets, haggling prices with street vendors, and meeting local craftsmen. For the most authentic shopping experience, travelers can plan a visit to the three most famous markets – Mercado Libertad, also known as San De Dios, Galeria del Calzado, and Magno Centro Joyero:
- Mercado Libertad is largest enclosed market in Mexico, featuring three themed floors and more than 2,800 vendors. If local ingredients are on the list, the best starting point is the first floor, where vendors sell fresh produce, sweets, and a variety of spices. Keep a close eye out for Garapiñados, a sweetened nut covered in rich caramel, a traditional dessert that is the perfect combination of sweet and salty. While the second floor features smaller restaurants that can curb any appetite, the third level is the market’s most recent addition, where vendors sell items such as hand painted masks, colorful blankets (the ultimate picnic accessory for loved ones who like to dine al fresco!), terra cotta bowls that are great for serving guacamole, and regional clothing to add flare to any wardrobe. The market is open from 7am until 8pm daily.
- Located in the heart of the city, Magno Centro Joyero is the largest jewelry marketplace in Latin America, made up of four levels and more than 700 stores including metal laboratories and repair shops. As visitors explore the mall, their eyes will be captivated by the colorful stones that glow through the store windows such as sapphires, emeralds, and diamonds. Within these stores, customers can find exclusive pieces of gold and silver, costume jewelry, precious stones, and watches, providing endless options for special gift needs. The mall is open Monday through Saturday from 9am until 7pm.
- The perfect pair of shoes awaits at Galeria del Calzado, a mall entirely dedicated to shoes. Guadalajara is known for its shoe craftsmanship – especially custom leather loafers and colorful woven flats, and a visit to the city is not complete without the purchase of a custom pair. Whether it is a new set of heels or a chic new set of flats, each of the 60 stores offers a selection of traditional designs and styles, leaving visitors in shoe heaven. The mall is located in the district of Zappopan and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am until 9pm and on Sunday from 10:30am until 8pm.
Shopping in Guadalajara goes beyond the city center. Bordering downtown are two colonial towns that serve as the traditional handicraft centers of this region: Tlaquepaque and Tonala. Tlaquepaque, which means hills of clay, is a small town located about 20 minutes from downtown and is home to some of the best handicrafts and decorative arts in Mexico. The main shopping stores are located on a pedestrian-only street, Independencia, where visitors can go door to door to see boutiques selling handmade jewelry, pottery, glassware, and home goods. To create a truly personalized gift to take home, visitors can participate in a pottery making class, where they will learn the style and techniques from a local craftsman and leave with their own work of art. Located just 10 minutes from Tlaquepaque is Tonala, well known for its ceramics, glass, and other native arts and crafts. The best time to wander around is Thursdays and Sundays when the towns holds their open air markets.