Lakeside Guide to Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico

Trip to Tapalpa

At a Glance

Tapalpa, one of Mexico’s 121 “magic towns,” is located in the pine-covered mountains two hours southwest of Ajijic.

More Info

Tapalpa is a pueblo mágico located at 7,000 feet in the mountain pine forests that grow southwest of Lake Chapala. It’s a popular spot for weekend visitors from Guadalajara and is a good day trip from Ajijic.

The Pueblo Mágico Program was an initiative that was started in 2001 to attract visitors to certain towns due to their natural beauty, cultural significance, industry, historical importance, artistic value, and other qualities.

New towns were added every few years and those designated as pueblos mágicos received federal funding. The program was canceled in 2018 by President Obrador due to lack of clarity, general unfairness, and because money had become the driving factor as to why a town was or was not given the designation.

The town of Tequila is also a pueblo mágico, as well as Pátzcuaro in Michoacán. Both are trips you can take from Ajijic. Ajijic made a run at becoming a pueblo mágico in 2018 but was not included among the ten final towns selected for the program before its cancellation.

Tapalpa is a small but captivating town to take a stroll, visit the all-brick church on the plaza and a few shops, then have lunch before heading back to the lake. Or you can stay the night in one of the area’s many cabins called cabañas.

How to Get From Ajijic to Tapalpa

It takes about two hours to drive from Ajijic to Tapalpa. The quickest way is to take Highway 15 north once you get to Jocotepec and then take the 54D toll road. The most scenic route would be to take Highway 15 south once you arrive in Jocotepec and follow it along the south side of Lake Chapala until you connect with Highway 446.

Last updated September 21, 2019

Dane Strom

Dane Strom The Lakeside Guide

I moved to Ajijic in 2010 when I decided to quit my job of seven years as an editorial assistant at The Denver Post in Colorado. I'm the photographer, web designer, programmer, marketer, writer... the everything behind this website, The Lakeside Guide. All of the businesses on this website appear here for free at no cost to them. If you find this site useful, please consider giving a small donation to become a site patron. Learn more about The Lakeside Guide or check out my other website about photography of Mexico.

Photos of Trip to Tapalpa

Tapalpa's streets are lined with cobblestones and almost all its buildings are painted red and white.

Tapalpa's streets are lined with cobblestones and almost all its buildings are painted red and white.

La Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe) was built in 1950 to replace the damaged Temple of San Antonio, which was built in 1650 by the Franciscans.

La Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe) was built in 1950 to replace the damaged Temple of San Antonio, which was built in 1650 by the Franciscans.

Inside the all-brick Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe which sits next to Tapalpa's main plaza.

Inside the all-brick Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe which sits next to Tapalpa's main plaza.

Most of Tapalpa's buildings in the historic downtown area are made with adobe bricks.

Most of Tapalpa's buildings in the historic downtown area are made with adobe bricks.

A burro waits for its owner along one of Tapalpa's streets. Burros are still occasionally used in rural areas of Mexico to transport humans and cargo.

A burro waits for its owner along one of Tapalpa's streets. Burros are still occasionally used in rural areas of Mexico to transport humans and cargo.

Tapalpa's pine forests make it a welcome place for outdoors enthusiasts who enjoy camping or renting a wood cabin for the weekend.

Tapalpa's pine forests make it a welcome place for outdoors enthusiasts who enjoy camping or renting a wood cabin for the weekend.

Las Piedrotas (The Big Stones) are a popular tourist attraction just outside of Tapalpa.

Las Piedrotas (The Big Stones) are a popular tourist attraction just outside of Tapalpa.

Some claim they have extraterrestrial origin, but the most likely explanation is they were deposited here by a large source of water.

Some claim they have extraterrestrial origin, but the most likely explanation is they were deposited here by a large source of water.

Horseback rides are available at Las Piedrotas. Tapalpa is a popular place for outdoor recreation, including rock climbing, zip lining, and hiking.

Horseback rides are available at Las Piedrotas. Tapalpa is a popular place for outdoor recreation, including rock climbing, zip lining, and hiking.

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On the highway to Tapalpa.

On the highway to Tapalpa.

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