Mazatlan Travel Guide

Mexico  #6 in Best Beaches in Mexico
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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 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.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated October 2, 2017

  • #1
    Old Mazatlán
    View all Photos
    #1 in Mazatlan
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Some of Mazatlán's most beloved sites are centered in the Centro Histórico, or Old Mazatlán (sites like the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception). So 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. 

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    Malecón
    View all Photos
    #2 in Mazatlan
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Mazatlán's gorgeous four-mile boardwalk could give Puerto Vallarta's a run for its money, especially as this Malecón is also decorated with several unusual yet beautiful statues and monuments. This is also where you'll find the most daytime activity, starting around the Zona Dorada (hotel zone), 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. What you can't do here, however, is sunbathe: Most of the Malecón's "beach" is too short for lounging. Head north to the Playa las Gaviotas or south to Olas Altas if you want to lie about.

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  • #3
    Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
    View all Photos
    #3 in Mazatlan
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Offset by canary-colored spires and Italian marble, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is quite the sight to behold. Previous travelers say you most certainly have to stop by this church in Old Mazatlán, if not to tour the insides, then to at least snap a picture or two of the exterior. 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 masses. That's also when you'll see the more than a century-old church's new evening lighting.

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Playa Olas Altas
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    #4 in Mazatlan
    Beaches, Cafes, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Cafes, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME 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 cafés 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 sometimes better for surfing than leisurely swims.

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    El Faro Lighthouse
    View all Photos
    #5 in Mazatlan
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME 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, and a jaw-dropping view awaits the brave soul that hikes the 30 to 45 strenuous minutes up roughly drawn trails to see it up close. 

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  • #6
    Mazatlán Aquarium
    View all Photos
    #6 in Mazatlan
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Mazatlán Aquarium is one of the best of its kind in Mexico. It boasts more than 200 species of fish spread across more than 50 tanks. Taking a look-see at this site's sea horses, sea lions, macaws and eels makes for a great activity, whether you're only in Mazatlán for a port of call afternoon or for several days. 

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Isla de la Piedra
    View all Photos
    #7 in Mazatlan
    Beaches, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME 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. The Isla de la Piedra is  rustic, but according to a Virtual Tourist, "It ends up being very inexpensive and is a very relaxing day away from the downtown crowds." 

    ...Read More »
  • #8 in Mazatlan
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    According to many, Mazatlán isn't just about delicious food and scenic seaside vistas, but surprisingly, a little culture, too. Case in point: the Angela Peralta Theatre, located in Old Mazatlán's Plaza Machado. 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 just a parking garage before its renovation. It was named after a Mexican opera singer who died in a yellow fever epidemic that swept through the city in 1883. 

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  • #9
    Playa las Gaviotas
    View all Photos
    #9 in Mazatlan
    Beaches, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    You'll probably hear this popular beach before you see it: At any time of the day the sounds of Top-40 tunes are practically vibrating off its 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.

    ...Read More »

Explore More of Mazatlan

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