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Free Things To Do in Mazatlan

If you have extra time, Playa Olas Altas is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Mazatlan
    View all Photos
    #1 in Mazatlan
    Free, Neighborhood/Area, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

  • #2
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    #2 in Mazatlan
    Free, Neighborhood/Area, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Neighborhood/Area, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME 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.

  • #3
    View all Photos
    #3 in Mazatlan
    Beaches, Free, Cafes
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Cafes
    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 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.

  • #4
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    #4 in Mazatlan
    Free, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Parks and Gardens, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME 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.

    Plaza Machado is open at all hours year-round; however, individual shops and restaurants will have their own hours. The plaza is just around the corner from the Teatro Angela Peralta in Old Mazatlán.

  • #5
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    #5 in Mazatlan
    Free, Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME 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.

  • #6
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    #6 in Mazatlan
    Beaches, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME 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.

  • #7
    View all Photos
    #7 in Mazatlan
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Beaches, Free, Cafes, Neighborhood/Area, Shopping
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Beaches, Free, Cafes, Neighborhood/Area, Shopping
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME 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.

  • #8
    View all Photos
    #8 in Mazatlan
    Free, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Free, Sightseeing
    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. 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.

  • #13
    View all Photos
    #13 in Mazatlan
    Beaches, Free, Recreation
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Free, Recreation
    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 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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