Guadalajara is one of the best places to visit from Puerto Vallarta by car rental

Car Rental Guadalajara Airport – Your complete guide 2023

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article. 

Traveling to Guadalajara and have questions about Guadalajara Airport car rental? I got you covered! In this article, we will go over how you can rent a car in Mexico’s second-largest city, avoid common tourist pitfalls and have a great time exploring surrounding areas. 

Guadalajara is the cultural hub of the country and is home to some of the most famous Mexican brands like Tequila and Mariachi. After exploring the city for a few days, you can jump in the car and enjoy some of the best day trips from Guadalajara like Mazamilta, Tequila, and Ajijic

How far is Guadalajara Airport from the city? 

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) is 20 km (18 miles) from the Historic Center of Guadalajara and the ride takes about 20 minutes.

Read my complete guide to the best things to do in Guadalajara

Do you need a car in Guadalajara?

If you want to move around Guadalajara without relying on public transport, consider renting a car at Guadalajara Airport. While the Historic Center of Guadalajara is walkable, the rest of the city is not so much, and you will need a car to get around. 

Some travelers choose to use Uber in Guadalajara, which is a great option, if you are in the city just for a couple of days, or use public buses in Guadalajara, which is a great budget option. 

➡️ Did you know that Guadalajara is one of the cheapest places to visit in Mexico? Click here to learn about the best places to visit in Mexico on the budget.

Is Guadalajara a walkable city?

The Historic Center of Guadalajara is perfectly walkable, and if you plan to stay there, you can get around on foot.

Car Rental Guadalajara Airport: everything you need to know

Car Rental Guadalajara Airport is one of the best options of you want to take day trips in Jalisco

How long does it take to get through customs at Guadalajara airport?

If you are traveling to Guadalajara from the United States, you will go through customs after landing at the airport. The amount of time you need to get through customs depends on the time and date of your arrival, but it shouldn’t be more than 15-20 minutes.

How to find the best car rental in Guadalajara Airport?

To find car rentals in Guadalajara Airport, use DiscoverCars, the best platform for booking car rentals in Mexico and other countries. 

DiscoverCars work with major car rental companies in Mexico and offer some of the best prices on many types of vehicles. You can also add full Mexican insurance for your car rental for less than $10 per day when booking your car with DiscoverCars.

Do I need Mexican car insurance when renting a car in Guadalajara?

Car rental insurance is mandatory in Mexico for all drivers, and your car rental company will offer you to choose from several plans if you don’t have one by the time you arrive. Get your car rental insurance through DiscoverCars when booking your car. 

DiscoverCars allows you to add Mexican car insurance (which is mandatory) for just under $10, which is super cheap compared to many other car rental companies.


What documents do I need to rent a car at Guadalajara Airport?

Renting a car at Guadalajara Airport is no different than renting a car at any other destination in Mexico. You will need a valid driver’s license, a passport, a credit or debit card, and Mexican car insurance.

A passport 

When renting a car at Guadalajara Airport, you will need your passport. A representative of the car rental company will make copies of your passport before giving it back to you.

A driver’s license 

A valid driver’s license is required to rent a car at Guadalajara Airport. If you are traveling to Mexico from countries that don’t use the Roman language alphabet, you will need an international driver’s license.

Can I drive in Mexico with a US license?

Yes, you can drive in Mexico with a valid US driver’s license as well as driver’s licenses from Canada, and EU, and the UK. If your driver’s license is not in English, you might need to buy an International Driving Permit that is typically valid for two years.

A credit or debit card 

You can use a debit or credit card to rent a car at Guadalajara Airport. A car rental company will put a hold on your credit card ranging between a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. If you return your car rental with no damages, the hold on your credit card will go away. 

A Mexican car insurance

To rent a car at Guadalajara Airport or anywhere else in Mexico you will need Mexican car insurance. You can buy it from your car rental company to save time and avoid the hassle of buying it separately.

✅ When you book your car with DiscoverCars, you can buy your insurance through them, so when you arrive at the car rental office, all you need to do is show your reservation.

What to know about Mexico car insurance 

Car rental insurance is mandatory in Mexico, and you can choose from basic, medium, and full coverage when filling out your paperwork. Read my article about renting a car in Mexico to find out more about Mexico car insurance, since it’s a pretty big topic.

When renting a car in Guadalajara Airport, you can choose from three types of car insurance: basic, medium, and full coverage, with basic insurance offering only minimal protection and full coverage protecting you if your car is totaled or stolen.

Is it safe to drive in Guadalajara?

Guadalajara is the second-largest city in Mexico that’s fairly safe to drive, as long as you stay away from the sketchy areas. Stay cautious and limit your driving to daytime to stay safe. 

What is the safest part of Guadalajara?

The safest parts of Guadalajara are Centro Historico, Tlaquepaque, Zapopan, and Financial District. While these areas are relatively safe during the day, they are not free from crime, especially during the night.

Keep an eye on your belongings and be aware of who’s around you. Dress in plain clothes to avoid unwanted attention and don’t carry all your money and credit cards with you.

Can I book a long-term car rental at Guadalajara Airport?

You can book a long-term car rental at Guadalajara Airport through DiscoverCars. All you need to do is enter your travel dates and pick-up and drop-off locations.


Is it easy to drive in Mexico?

Driving in Mexico is pretty straightforward, as long as you are familiar with local rules. There are certain things you need to know before getting behind the wheel in Mexico. 

The best way to get from Puerto Vallarta to Sayulita is by renting a car in Guadalajara Airport

Tips for driving in Guadalajara 

Renting a car in Guadalajara Airport is not much different from other places in Mexico, but when you leave Guadalajara Airport, you need to know the rules for driving in Mexico to stay safe on the road.

Don’t pump your gas

Mexican gas stations have attendants who put gas in your car. Specify the amount of gas needed and clarify the price before they begin doing it. Many people who work at gas stations make only minimum wage, so leave a little tip before driving off.

PRO TIP: Pay close attention to how much money you are giving to a gas pump attendant. A gas pump scam is one of the most common petty scams in Mexico, and if you are not paying attention, you could easily get ripped off.

How do you pump gas in Mexico?

You do not pump your gas in Mexico. All gas stations in Mexico have attendants who will pump your gas for you, and also wash your windshield and check your tire pressure if you ask for it.

How to avoid gas station scams in Mexico?

Before you tell your gas station attendant how much gas you need, check that the pump is set to zero. It’s one of the most common scams in Mexico aimed at people who might not pay attention to the gas pump. 

Do you tip gas pumpers in Mexico?

It’s common to tip gas station attendants in Mexico. Most people leave 10-15 Pesos regardless of the amount go gas purchased. If you feel like you received excellnet service, leave more. 

Always carry cash

Speaking of tipping gas station attendants in Mexico brings me to my next point – carrying cash when driving in Mexico. You can give tips to gas pumpers, buy road snacks from local vendors, and pay people who might come up to wash your windshield when you are in traffic.

Mexico uses kilometers, not miles

Mexico uses kilometers, not miles. A mile equals about 1.6 kilometers, but when it comes to driving, your best bet is to follow the posted speed limit to avoid trouble.

Use toll roads (cuotas)

Toll roads are the most expensive, but the safest way to travel around Mexico. If you want to travel from Guadalajara to major cities like Puerto Vallarta, Morelia, or Mexico City, use toll roads, as they allow you to travel faster and avoid secondary roads, which are not always safe.

Be prepared to pay the bribe 

Mexican police do take bribes, and as a foreign tourist, you are not immune to this. If you get stopped for speeding or any other reason, you might encounter police who are offering you to pay a bribe to avoid the ticket. 

Whether you want to do it or not, depends on the situation. You can take a ticket and pay it later, or give in and just pay it off. My advice is to follow your instincts and do what looks to be the best way to avoid trouble.

Follow the posted signs 

Your best bet to avoid trouble is to follow the rules. Wear a seat belt, respect the signs, follow a posted speed limit, and put down your phone. It will help to avoid any unwanted attention and not get pulled over by police in the first place.

What is the speed limit in Mexico?

Speed limits vary in different areas in Mexico. For example, two-lane highways in Mexico usually have a speed limit of 90 km per hour (56 miles per hour), while major highways connecting bigger cities like Guadalajara and Mexico City have a speed limit of 90–100 km per hour (56–62 miles per hour). Rural roads in Mexico have a speed limit of about 70-90 km per hour (43-56 miles per hour).

Different jurisdictions might have their own speed limits, so do follow the posted speed limit, when you travel around the country.

Can you turn right on red in Mexico?

It’s illegal to turn right at a red light in Mexico unless there’s a sign that allows you to do so. 

Drive during the day

Limit your driving in Mexico to the daytime. Parts of Mexico are considered less safe than others, and you should check the most up-to-date information before planning your trip.

If you are traveling to Mexico from the United States, check the most recent information on the US State Department website ahead of your trip. 

Why is there a recommendation not to drive at night in Mexico?

Driving in Mexico at night is not recommended for several reasons. Certain parts of the country have a high rate of attacks against drivers at night, so depending on where you are, your chances of getting assaulted on the road could be exponentially higher in late hours.

In addition, many roads in Mexico are poorly lit and have potholes, and certain areas also have animals, so when you drive around in the dark, you could have an accident. 

Check my Mexico travel tips to stay safe on the road and avoid common mistakes

Watch out for topes (speed bumps)

The speed bumps in Mexico are called topes (toe-pe’s) and you can find them in many places. Speed bumps in Mexico are usually concrete and can be pretty high, so if you hit them at full speed, you could really damage your car. Watch out for topes around small towns and bus stops where they are common.

Tips for renting a car at Guadalajara Airport

  • Check reviews – When looking for car rentals in Guadalajara Airport, you can see what other customers say about a given company. DiscoverCars automatically finds the best rates, and you can check reviews before booking your car rental. 
  • Take photos of your car – When you sign all the paperwork and go outside to pick up your car, take photos and videos of the interior and exterior. It’s especially true if a car has scratches, dings, or any other visible damage, so you don’t get charged for them when you return the car.
  • Book your car rental at the airport – if you book your car in Guadalajara ahead of time, you will have a better chance to avoid high rates
  • U.S. car insurance is NOT valid in Mexico and car rental companies in Guadalajara will not accept it. Some credit cards in the United States cover rental car damage, but even if you have credit card offers that provide car rental coverage, you will still have to pay for car rental insurance in Mexico.

What car rental company to hire at Guadalajara airport?

If you want to rent a car at Guadalajara Airport, you can choose from Economy, Avis, Enterprise, Sixt, Green Motion, and Mex Car Rental.

How much does it cost to rent a car at Guadalajara Airport? 

It costs an average of $45 to rent a car at Guadalajara Airport for a day. If you want more than basic liability insurance, be prepared to pay extra. 

Cheap car rental Guadalajara Airport 

If you are looking for cheap car rentals in Guadalajara Airport, check out Economy, which has the best prices of all car rentals in GDL Airport. You can check their rates through DiscoverCars as they list their vehicles on this platform. 

Tequila is one of the best road trips you can take after renting a car in Guadalajara Airport

What places can you visit after renting a car at Guadalajara Airport: 

  • Tequila – A designated pueblo mágico located in the top producing region of tequila, this small town is one of the most popular days trips from Guadalajara. Many travelers come here to take tours of local distilleries and try the signature drink of Jalisco.
  • Ajijic – A small town along the shores of Lake Chapala, the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, Ajijic is just a short drive from Guadalajara and offers a nice reprieve from the busy streets of Guadalajara.
  • Tlaquepaque – part of the Guadalajara metropolitan area, Tlaquepaque is a small town where you can try Jalisco cuisine, and visit artisan markets. 
  • Mazamitla – If you want a break from the hot temperatures and traffic of Guadalajara, take a quick day trip to Mazamitla, a scenic town in the Sierra del Tigre mountains that boasts beautiful architecture, and great outdoor opportunities.
  • San Sebastián Del Oeste – a picturesque town high in the mountains (about 4,900 feet in altitude) in the state of Jalisco, San Sebastián Del Oeste is a closer to Puerto Vallarta than Guadalajara, but if you are headed toward the coast, it’s definitely worth a stop.

Car Rental Guadalajara Airport: FAQ’s

Renting a car in Guadalajara Airport will allow you to visit some of the best places in Jalisco like San Sebastian Del Oeste and Tequila.

What’s Guadalajara famous for?

Guadalajara is famous for its rich culture and traditions. It’s the birthplace of Mariachi music and tequila that hosts several annual events: the Guadalajara International Film Festival and Guadalajara International Book Fair.

Can a US citizen drive a rental car in Mexico?

As a US citizen, you can rent a car in Mexico. You need to present a valid US license and a passport and purchase Mexican car insurance required for all car rentals in the country.

What should I do if I get pulled over in Mexico?

If you get pulled over while driving in Mexico, stay calm, answer the questions, and be ready to provide proof of your insurance, a car rental agreement, or any documents that police might request from you. 

How many days are enough in Guadalajara?

Spend between 4-5 days in Guadalajara to explore the city and take a couple of day trips to places like Tequila and Lake Chapala.

What is the best month to visit Guadalajara?

The best month to visit Guadalajara is October when the weather is perfect with no rain and plenty of sunshine. It’s also when many festivals take place, so you will be able to enjoy a combination of perfect weather and cultural events.

What happens if you get caught drinking and driving in Mexico?

The consequences for drinking and driving in Mexico could vary, but generally, a DUI is punishable by a shot sentence of 36 hours in jail and a fine of up to a few thousand dollars. If you get caught driving under the influence twice within the same year, your driver’s license could be suspended for a few years.

Is Guadalajara safe for American tourists?

Guadalajara is generally a safe city, especially the Historic Center of Guadalajara. However, not all parts of town are safe, particularly at night, so always be aware of your surroundings when out and about in the city.

Car Rental Guadalajara Airport: the final word 

Renting a car at Guadalajara Airport is a perfect way to get out of the city and explore the surrounding areas without relying on guided tours and public transportation. Whether you want to visit the town of Tequila, enjoy a fun getaway to Mazamitla, or explore the scenic Lake Chapala, having a rental car will give you the most freedom. 

More resources for planning your trip to Guadalajara Mexico

  • – a great website for budget hotels in Guadalajara and other parts of Mexico.
  • WorldNomads – Great service for insurance coverage that will keep you safe on the road.
  • Safety Wing – Excellent insurance plan for long-term travelers that offers competitive rates is you are planning to stay on the road several weeks in a row. 
  • iVisa – the best website for getting help with your Mexico visa.
  • DiscoverCars – There’s nothing like exploring Guadalajara and surrounding areas at your own pace. Consider renting a car at DiscoverCars if you want more freedom exploring Central Mexico.
  • GetYourGuide – This is one of the best platforms for finding best tours in Guadalajara. Get Your Guide is my favorite platform that offers awesome tours and top-notch guides in many destinations in Mexico.
  • CheapoAir – One of the best platforms for saving money on flights within Mexico and beyond. 
  • Booking – a popular website with tons and tons of options for accommodations of all sorts.