Best Things To Do in Mazatlan
If you only have one day in Mazatlán you should take a taxi to Centro Histórico (Old Mazatlán) for some delicious fish tacos, to snap a few photos... READ MORE
If you only have one day in Mazatlán you should take a taxi to Centro Histórico (Old Mazatlán) for some delicious fish tacos, to snap a few photos of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and to stroll by the beautiful statues of the Malecón. But this city truly reveals itself over the course of a few days; then you'll have time for a morning sunset atop El Faro Lighthouse and an evening performance at the Angela Peralta Theatre. One thing to skip: the Museo Arqueológico de Mazatlán; included in many travel guides' top 10 but noticeably absent from the must-do lists of real-life travelers.
Updated July 29, 2020
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Some of Mazatlán's most beloved sights (such as the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception) are centered in Old Mazatlán. You won't need to make a special effort to enjoy this part of town, but you can rest assured that you'll spend plenty of time there. And if you only have one day in the area, this is where travelers suggest you come.
You should come hungry. You'll have plenty of food options from restaurants to a market where you can buy produce and tamales to taco stands. Walk off your meal with a tour of the Teatro Angela Peralta opera house or a stroll along the Malecón.
- #2View all PhotosfreeMalecón#2 in MazatlanFree, Neighborhood/Area, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDFree, Neighborhood/Area, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Mazatlán's gorgeous beachfront walkway spans 13 miles alongside neighborhoods, food vendors, bars, shops and resorts. This is also where you'll find the most daytime activity, starting around the Zona Dorada (where the bulk of high-end hotels can be found), snaking along the Paseo Claussen and through Old Mazatlán before ending at Playa Olas Altas. Residents and vacationers favor this stretch for jogging, cycling or just strolling.
Recent visitors raved about the path, often saying walking along it was a favorite part of their daily vacation routine.
- #3View all PhotosfreePlaya Olas Altas#3 in MazatlanBeaches, Free, CafesTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Free, CafesTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Mazatlán's residents don't bother with the tourist gridlock on Playa las Gaviotas; when they want a little beach time they head to Playa Olas Altas. Visit for yourself and you'll soon see why. This lovely pocket of golden sand and aquamarine waves is decidedly more tranquil. And the few cafes that corral the area aren't as overpriced. You will see the occasional beach vendor, but if you're not interested, just say a polite but firm, "No gracias." And be warned: Playa Olas Altas means "High Waves Beach" and its Pacific waters are usually better for surfing than swimming.
Recent visitors said this is a must-visit beach and loved its beauty and relaxing vibe.
- #4View all PhotosfreePlaza Machado#4 in MazatlanFree, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDFree, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Located in the historic district, Plaza Machado is a central hub for everything from restaurants to galleries and has been since 1837. Check out the French- and Spanish-influenced architecture, listen to local musicians perform and simply take in this public square, which is popular not only with tourists, but with locals as well. The stunning wrought-iron gazebo is an eye-catching landmark. This lively spot is fun for people-watching and shopping, according to recent travelers.
- #5View all Photos#5 in MazatlanFree, Churches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDFree, Churches/Religious Sites, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
Offset by canary-colored spires and Italian marble, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, built in the 19th century, is quite the sight to behold. Previous travelers say you most certainly have to stop by this church in Old Mazatlán to see its beauty and stress going inside to tour the building if you have time. Be respectful if you do decide to go inside: The basilica holds services several times each day. But since there's no official website for this Sinaloan beauty, it'll be hard to determine the Mass schedule. Our advice? Go at night when there are fewer services. That's also when you'll see the old church's evening lighting.
You’ll find the basilica in the heart of the historic district on Plaza de la República. There is no fee to visit the church.
- #6View all PhotosfreePlaya Brujas#6 in MazatlanBeaches, Free, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Free, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
This beach is said to have been a favorite spot among witches to perform their rituals, hence its current name (brujas means "witches" in Spanish). Today, the beach is popular with water sports fans, especially surfers who love big waves. This is also a less crowded beach, so you’ll have more room to spread out. Recent visitors say they love Playa Bruja’s beauty, but caution that swimming can be dangerous because of a sometimes tricky undertow. Therefore, be careful when taking a dip in the water and make sure there's a lifeguard on duty before you go in.
Playa Brujas is located at the northern end of Mazatlán, approximately 10 miles north of Old Mazatlán. The relatively secluded beach is open 24/7, but lifeguards are not always on duty.
- #7View all PhotosfreeZona Dorada#7 in MazatlanEntertainment and Nightlife, Beaches, Free, Cafes, Neighborhood/Area, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, Beaches, Free, Cafes, Neighborhood/Area, ShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Zona Dorada, or Golden Zone, features high-rise hotels, shops, restaurants and nightclubs, along with many of the city's best beaches in a 3-mile stretch. The Malecón connects this area with the historic center to the south. A big hit with visitors who love the shopping and browsing opportunities in the Golden Zone, many mention how friendly the locals are and how safe they felt. Others, however, felt this section of town was too touristy and that not all areas live up to its golden name.
You can stroll through the Golden Zone any time of day, though shops and restaurants have independent operating hours. Also know that when cruise ships are in town, this area can get quite busy as this is where many tours begin and end.
- #8View all PhotosfreeEl Faro#8 in MazatlanFree, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDFree, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Here's a little trivia: El faro means "the lighthouse" in Spanish, so tourists are calling this Mazatlán site "the lighthouse lighthouse." Redundancy aside, this is one of the town's best-known attractions. A jaw-dropping view awaits the brave soul that embarks on the strenuous 30- to 45-minute hike up roughly drawn trails to see the lighthouse up close. But if you can't or don't wish to climb, not to worry; there's plenty of great photo ops from afar.
Should you want to make the walk up to the lighthouse, pick the right time on a sunny day, according to recent visitors, or don't bother with the hike. For the best views (and nicest temperatures), make an early-morning trek or a late-afternoon journey that's just in time for the sunset. You'll need shoes with good treads and long pants (to ward off bug bites). Bringing a bottle of water is also a good idea. If you need a break, you're in luck: Recent hikers said there's several spots along the trail to sit and relax.
- #9View all Photos#9 in MazatlanZoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Mazatlán Aquarium (Acuario Mazatlán) is one of the best of its kind in Mexico. It boasts a variety of marine life spread across more than 50 tanks. Taking a look-see at this site's sea horses, sea lions, macaws and jellyfish makes for a great activity, whether you're only in Mazatlán for a day as a port of call or for a long vacation.
Another bonus: Recent visitors say this aquarium should appeal to several age groups. Exhibits include an interactive stingray pool, a lovebird aviary, a turtle museum and more. Various shows, which recent visitors say are entertaining and fun, cover everything from how divers interact with marine life to bird demonstrations to sea lion antics. Special packages, such as swimming with sharks or sea lions, are offered seasonally (for additional fees).
- #10View all Photos#10 in MazatlanBeaches, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Ditch the somewhat commercialized sands of Playa las Gaviotas and experience some true R&R on this skinny peninsula just a five-minute ferry east of southern Mazatlán. Once on Isla de la Piedra, or Stone Island, you could try horseback riding, fishing, or just sunning yourself on the expansive beach, a favorite activity of recent visitors. Travelers also prefer these sunny shores to those of mainland Mazatlán (as there are fewer crowds) and were pleasantly surprised by the food available nearby.
Isla de la Piedra is a popular tour company excursion offering, but previous vacationers say you're better off getting there on your own. You can also reach the island for considerably less: Ferry and water taxi fares start at about $2 while guided tours start at around $35. Ferries and water taxis depart from the Playa Sur embercado (the dock) multiple times daily.
- #11View all Photos#11 in MazatlanAmusement Parks, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDAmusement Parks, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Once the kids need a break from the sand, head to Mazagua. This water park boasts enough slides, pools and fun activities to keep the whole family busy for hours at a reasonable price. There are slides and pools for tiny tots, as well as more exciting water attractions for those looking for more adventure. Recent visitors say the park is fun for all ages, but especially those with younger kids, who can easily spend the whole day there.
Admission is 200 pesos (about $8.30). The park is generally open from 10 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m.; it is closed in the winter. For more information, visit the park’s website.
- #12View all Photos#12 in MazatlanEntertainment and Nightlife, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, SightseeingTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPEND
According to many, Mazatlán isn't just about delicious food and scenic seaside vistas, but culture, too. Case in point: the Angela Peralta Theater, located in Old Mazatlán's Plaza Machado. It was named after a Mexican opera singer who died in a yellow fever epidemic that swept through the city in 1883. City residents are very proud of their 19th-century opera house, which was restored in the 1980s to host live performances. Visit now and it'll be hard to believe that this grand building was once abandoned, dilapidated and nearly torn down.
Try to catch a show if you can, which is a highlight experience according to recent travelers. For more information and schedules, visit the official website.
- #13View all Photos#13 in MazatlanBeaches, Free, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Free, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
You'll probably hear this popular beach before you see it: At any time of the day the sounds of vacationers laughing and talking echo off the sands. Or the sound of vendors strolling along, hawking everything from jewelry to CDs. Welcome to Playa las Gaviotas – the worst-kept secret of Mazatlán. Recent visitors praised the beauty and cleanliness of the beach and appreciate the variety of activities.
As you can imagine, Playa las Gaviotas' constant activity is either loved or hated by visitors. This is definitely the spot for lively fun in the sun for all ages, as the waves are relatively calm, according to recent beach bums. For a little more seclusion try Playa Olas Altas, just off Old Mazatlán at the end of the Malecón.
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