Ajijic is a Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) on Chapala Lake, located just 35 miles from Guadalajara, making it an excellent day trip.
While it’s easy to rent a car and drive to Ajijic, taking the bus is a great option since you won’t have to deal with finding a parking spot. Plus, you can choose a direct bus that will have you arriving in Ajijic in a little over an hour.
I took the bus from Guadalajara to Ajijic in February 2022 and will share the information I gathered to help your trip run as smoothly as possible.
Accessibility Note: Unfortunately, the bus from Guadalajara to Ajijic isn’t wheelchair accessible.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, we’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Getting to the Bus Station
Guadalajara has a few bus stations, so Central Vieja is the bus station you’ll want to go to if you’re staying in downtown Guadalajara (Selina Guadalajara is a great boutique hostel if you haven’t booked your accommodation yet).
On the off chance that you’re staying on the west side of Guadalajara, it’ll be faster for you to head to Ajijic from the Zapopan bus station. The buses from Central Vieja make a brief stop there on their way to the lake.
Bus Schedule from Guadalajara to Ajijic
If you’re on the brink of heading to the bus station in Guadalajara and are trying to figure out the bus schedule, I’ve been in your shoes.
Here’s the good news: The buses from Guadalajara to Ajijic depart every hour.
Although it seems like this should be straightforward, there isn’t a Guadalajara to Ajijic bus schedule posted at the bus station.
However, upon asking the staff in Guadalajara about the start and end times of the bus to Ajijic, they told me the following about the direct buses:
- On weekdays and Saturdays, the buses depart from 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
- On Sundays, the buses depart from 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Should you need to travel to Ajijic before or after those times, you might be in luck—the regular service buses run earlier and later. Hang tight because I’ll talk about the differences between the direct and regular service buses soon.
July 2023 Update: Please see the comments section, where Chi comments on an updated bus schedule. I welcome any schedule/price/etc. updates you leave in the comments as well 🙂
Bus Schedule from Ajijic to Guadalajara
Once you’re ready to leave Ajijic’s shores, you’ll have plenty of bus options for returning. However, it might not feel that way when you arrive at the bus station.
The bus station in Ajijic was the first place in the Guadalajara region where I saw a semi-resemblance of a bus schedule posted for the public. This is what it looked like, as of February 2022 (the times in the bottom left corner are what you want to look at):
If this makes your head spin, I’m right there with you. I asked the woman at the Ajijic bus station ticket booth what it meant, and she pointed me to the 5:49 am – 10:30 am bus departures, saying that after 10:30 am, the buses from Ajijic to Guadalajara depart every hour until 7:30 pm.
Needless to say, as long as you’re not trying to depart Ajijic super late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, you shouldn’t have to wait more than one hour for a bus to Guadalajara.
As with the buses to Ajijic, you can expect the regular service buses to run earlier and later than these times.
Understanding Your Ticket
It’s important to keep the following in mind when you purchase your bus ticket between Guadalajara and Ajijic:
- You can’t buy a bus ticket from Guadalajara to Ajijic (and vice versa) in advance.
- Seats aren’t assigned, even though there’ll be a seat number on your ticket.
Let’s dive into these in more detail.
No Advance Ticket Purchases
It can feel frustrating to the planner, but it’s not possible to purchase your ticket in advance at the Guadalajara or Ajijic bus stations.
Instead, when you show up and tell the ticket attendant your destination, they’ll book you for the next departing bus.
From my limited experience, there wasn’t an issue with availability. However, as you’ll see next, availability is near-endless, given that they allow standing “seating.”
No Assigned Seats
When you get your ticket, there will be a number indicating where you’re supposed to sit on the bus. Many people follow these seating rules when boarding the bus in Guadalajara, given that it’s the starting point for the route.
So, I recommend sitting where your ticket says on the bus from Guadalajara to Ajijic until the bus departs. Then, feel free to get up and sit wherever you want.
In contrast, the bus from Ajijic to Guadalajara gets confusing for the unknowing bus-goer.
Many people will likely already be on the bus you board, given that it will have made stops at other towns along the way (yes, this includes the Chapala Plus “Direct” bus).
So, it’s likely that someone will be in “your” seat. And if that’s the case, don’t start an argument like what happened on my bus—it’s not the person’s fault, given that they boarded at a streetside stop that doesn’t give numbered seat tickets.
Therefore, when you board the bus to Guadalajara in Ajijic, pick any open seat.
If there aren’t any seats available, it’ll be an opportunity to embrace the Mexican way and stand for the duration of the 1+ hour ride.
Direct vs. Indirect Buses
Taking the bus to Ajijic is easy, given that there’s only one company that runs the route, which is aptly named Autotransportes Guadalajara Chapala.
When you arrive at the ticket counter, they’ll give you two bus options:
- Regular service
Unless there’s a massive availability issue for the direct (directo, in Spanish) bus or the direct bus just left, ask for it. Otherwise, the regular service (servicio regular, in Spanish) bus will add about 30 minutes to your drive and is an overall more uncomfortable experience.
One notable item about the regular service bus is that it leaves every 20 minutes. So, you could end up arriving in Ajijic sooner by taking it, depending on when the next direct bus will be departing.
All direct buses from Guadalajara to Ajijic are with the Chapala Plus line. These buses come with the following features:
- Air conditioning
- Plush seats
- Reclining seats
- More legroom
Psst! Check out my guide on Chapala vs Ajijic to decide which destination is right for you.
Price of the Bus Ticket from Guadalajara to Ajijic
The cost of the Chapala Plus bus ticket from Guadalajara to Ajijic is 65 pesos (about $3) as of July 2023.
There’s no discount for purchasing your ticket round trip, given that this isn’t an option—you can only book your ticket at the bus station for the next departing bus.
If you take an indirect bus, you’ll save around $1.
All About the Central Vieja Guadalajara Bus Station
The Central Vieja bus station in Guadalajara is old but serves its purpose.
It has two main wings. To buy a bus ticket from Guadalajara to Ajijic, you’ll need to look for the ticket booth labeled “Autotransportes Guadalajara Chapala” (as seen in the photo above).
Keep in mind that this bus ticket booth is inside the bus station. There’s an Autotransportes Guadalajara Chapala in front of where the buses to Ajijic park, but they don’t sell tickets.
The Central Vieja station is equipped with snack stands, seats, and restrooms (you’ll need to pay a small fee to use them).
All About the Ajijic Bus Station
The Ajijic bus station is the polar opposite of Central Vieja.
It’s small, without any snack stands or restrooms, and the single ticket booth employee may be at the desk or might be hanging with locals in front of the station.
That said, there’s some indoor seating where you can wait to catch your bus. But once it’s close to the time when your bus will be arriving, you’ll need to head outside to the public sidewalk in front of the station to hop on.
As I mentioned earlier, don’t worry about sitting in the seat that your bus ticket indicates. On the contrary, consider yourself lucky if you’re able to snag a seat instead of having to stand on the way back to Guadalajara.
The buses often continue on the highway after passing through Ajijic, so be on the lookout for when to get off. Many people usually disembark at the Ajijic stop.
A Volunteer Opportunity
If you love animals and want to give back while you’re in Lake Chapala, give Lucky Dog a visit.
Lucky Dog is an animal shelter run by a group of loving volunteers. Most volunteers are expats, so you won’t have trouble with a language barrier if you don’t speak Spanish.
Every day, the staff at Lucky Dog take the dogs on individual walks through Chapala’s countryside, passing by a field of grazing donkeys and cows.
You can learn more about Lucky Dog and how to get involved here: Volunteer with animals in Chapala.
Are You Ready to Visit Ajijic?
Taking the bus from Guadalajara to Ajijic is an excellent option for getting to Chapala Lake.
You can expect comfortable seats (if you get a seat) on the Chapala Plus direct bus, and once you get out of Guadalajara’s traffic, it’s a straight shot to arrive in Ajijic.
If you end up taking the bus from Guadalajara to Ajijic and/or vice versa and have a different experience than what I described here, please share it in the comments section. Bus schedules, ticket prices, etc. can all change, and your comments will help future readers stay up-to-date on the current situation.
Many thanks, and enjoy your time in Ajijic!
Psst! Are you interested in visiting another town in Chapala? If so, check out my post on taking the bus from Guadalajara to Chapala. I also created a guide on how to take the bus from Guadalajara to Los Guachimontones.