Lake Chapala

Lake Chapala, the largest lake in Mexico, is located less than an hour south of Guadalajara.

Stretching about 50 miles east to west, the lake is home to a string of villages, especially on the north shore, where Mexicans and expatriates live. Artists, artisans, and furniture makers abound, and weekly street markets offer a chance to find bargains.

Ajiic and other villages boast wonderful architectural and cultural attractions, not to mention one of the best and mildest climates to be found. You can wander the streets and shores, drinking in the colors, encountering pleasant surprises at every turn.

Chapala

The town of Chapala, the largest town on the lake, with over 40,000 inhabitants, is a bustling regional center. Like Ajijic and Jocotopec, it boasts a handsome new boardwalk or malecón, where visitors gather to stroll, shop, and enjoy the beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains. The town offers the real flavor of Mexico.

Ajijic

If not the most populous, Ajiic is the most popular town on the lake. Locals and tourists love the cobblestone streets, the colorful houses, the weekly markets, the local crafts, not to mention the way it’s cradled between lake and mountains. In the last 20 years or so, Ajijic has attracted a sizable community of expatriates. People come to look, fall in love, and stay.

Jocotepec

On the northwest corner of the lake, the village of Jocotepec gives the authentic Mexican flavor. It’s a bustling city of almost 40,000 people — and a crossroads for travel both north, toward Guadlajara, and south, to the south side of the lake and the mountains beyond. Joco, as it’s sometimes called, is well known for its goat stew or birria, which is available in every restaurant around the main square. The new pier and walkway, or malecon, on the eastern edge of town are a source of pride.

Tour time

A full tour of Chapala and Ajijic lasts at least four and a half hours. Add more time for Joco and other villages on the string of villages of the north shore. It all depends, really, on what you want to see. And you can see just about anything you want.