Free Things To Do in Mazatlan
- #1View all Photos
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 MazatlanSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 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, Cafes, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Cafes, FreeTYPE2 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 MazatlanParks and Gardens, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Free, 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 MazatlanChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess 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, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 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 MazatlanBeaches, Cafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Cafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 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 MazatlanSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, FreeTYPE1 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.
- #13View all Photos#13 in MazatlanBeaches, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 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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