Mazatlan Travel Guide

Mexico  #14 in Best Cheap Winter Vacations
Credit

Courtesy of Holly Kuchera/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Free Things To Do in Mazatlan

If you have extra time, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Mazatlan
    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. 

    And you should come hungry. Recent TripAdvisor travelers litter their endorsements with food recommendations; you'll have the option for taco de cabeza (tacos prepared from the head of a cow) or papas locos (giant baked potatoes) from a street side vendor, or delicious shrimp tacos at a Plaza Machado café. Walk off your meal with a tour of the Teatro Angela Peralta opera house or a stroll along the Malecón.

  • #2
    Malecón
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    #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.

  • #3
    Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
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    #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.

  • #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.

  • #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. 

    Just make sure to pick the right time on a sunny day. Several TripAdvisor travelers say cloud cover could seriously dampen your experience. For the best views, 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), and bringing a bottle of water is also a good idea. Nothing says "no fun" quite like a muggy, dehydrated hike uphill.

  • #9
    Playa las Gaviotas
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    #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.

    As you can imagine, Playa las Gaviotas' constant activity is either loved or hated by recent visitors. Beachcombers who love activity gushed to Virtual Tourist about the variety of watersports available to try. But more reserved vacationers recall: "There wasn't more than 2 minutes when someone was peddling us something … It was horrible, couldn't read a single page in my book because they would not move until you acknowledged them." It's true that peace and quiet is nonexistent here (especially as this beach flanks the hotels of Zona Dorada). For a little more seclusion try Playa Olas Altas, just off Old Mazatlán at the end of the Malecón.

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