Your Ultimate Mazatlan Travel Guide 2023
Mazatlan is a vibrant and colorful city, perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer stay. Located on the Mexican Pacific Coast, Mazatlan offers plenty of opportunities to explore the area’s culture, history, and natural beauty. From vibrant nightlife and local markets to stunning beaches and outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone in Mazatlan. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an exciting city experience, this ultimate Mazatlan travel guide will help you plan the perfect itinerary for your trip. If you are staying on the Mexican Pacific Coast, make sure to check out our Puerto Vallarta travel guide.
Top 5 Things To See And Do In Mazatlan
- Visit Old Mazatlan: Also known as the Centro Historico, this part of the city is filled with old-world charm and colonial-era architecture. Walk around the streets and admire the brightly colored buildings, shops, and restaurants that line the streets. You will feel like you have stepped back in time.
- Go On A Whale Watching Tour: Mazatlan is a prime spot for whale watching, and taking a tour out to sea is one of the most popular activities to do in the area. Watch the majestic creatures as they breach and swim around your boat. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Explore Stone Island: This island is a hidden gem located just a short boat ride from Mazatlan. Take a day trip to explore the beaches, go kayaking, ride horses, or just relax and soak in the sun. You can also try fresh seafood at the local restaurants.
- Visit the Mazatlan Cathedral: Located in the heart of Old Mazatlan, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is a beautiful and impressive church with stunning architecture and artwork. Be sure to take a guided tour to learn more about the history of the cathedral.
- Experience Mazatlan’s Nightlife: Mazatlan is known for its vibrant and lively nightlife scene. Head to the Golden Zone to experience the best of Mazatlan’s bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Be sure to try the local favorite drink, the Pacifico beer.
Best Mazatlan Tours
Tours in Mazatlan are an excellent way to explore the sights and nearby areas. Unless you intend to rent a car in Mazatlan (which we don’t recommend), tours offer the most convenient means of transportation while keeping costs in check. The expenses for getting around can accumulate rapidly, making tours a wise choice for navigating the country.
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Where To Stay In Mazatlan
- Historic Centro: If you’re looking for a vibrant cultural experience, Historic Centro is a great option. This neighborhood boasts some of the oldest buildings in the city, including the beautiful Teatro Angela Peralta. You’ll find plenty of traditional Mexican restaurants and boutique shops, as well as easy access to the Malecon, a popular oceanfront boardwalk.
- Zona Dorada: Known as the “Golden Zone,” this area is packed with hotels and resorts, making it a great choice for tourists. The neighborhood is located on the beach and features a variety of dining and shopping options. It’s a popular destination for nightlife, with bars and clubs open late into the night.
- Nuevo Mazatlan: This newer development is located north of the city center and offers a more peaceful atmosphere. Nuevo Mazatlan is home to several high-end resorts and vacation rentals, as well as the Marina Mazatlan. This neighborhood is ideal for those looking for a more upscale experience.
- Olas Altas: Located in the heart of the historic district, Olas Altas offers easy access to the beach and a variety of bars and restaurants. This neighborhood is known for its lively nightlife and local charm. You’ll find plenty of street vendors selling everything from jewelry to handmade crafts.
- Cerritos: For those who prefer a more tranquil setting, Cerritos is an excellent choice. This neighborhood is located further north of the city center and features wide-open beaches and a quieter atmosphere. There are several vacation rentals available in Cerritos, making it a popular spot for families and couples looking for a relaxing getaway.
Top Mazatlan Hotels
- Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay Resort & Spa: This luxurious resort is situated on a secluded beach and features multiple pools, a full-service spa, and numerous restaurants. Each room has a private balcony or terrace and offers stunning ocean views.
- The Inn At Centro Historico: Located in the heart of Mazatlan’s historic district, this boutique hotel offers stylish and comfortable accommodations. Guests can enjoy a rooftop terrace with a hot tub and beautiful views of the city.
- El Cid Castilla Beach Hotel: This all-inclusive resort features a variety of amenities including multiple pools, a private beach, and numerous restaurants and bars. Rooms are spacious and feature balconies with ocean or garden views.
- Olas Altas Inn Hotel & Spa: This budget-friendly hotel is located just a block from the beach and features a rooftop pool and hot tub. The hotel also has a full-service spa and restaurant on-site.
- Hotel Playa Mazatlan: This family-friendly resort features numerous pools, a private beach, and a variety of activities for guests of all ages. Rooms are spacious and feature balconies with ocean or garden views.
Where To Eat In Mazatlan
Mazatlan is a food lover’s paradise, with a diverse range of culinary options that cater to all tastes and budgets. Here are the top 5 places to eat in Mazatlan:
- El Presidio: If you’re looking for a fine-dining experience, El Presidio is the perfect place. The restaurant’s elegant ambiance and extensive wine list make it ideal for a romantic dinner or special occasion. Their menu features a fusion of Mexican and international cuisine, with standout dishes like shrimp and coconut curry and slow-roasted pork.
- Mariscos La Sirenita: This seafood restaurant is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. They serve up some of the freshest and tastiest seafood dishes in Mazatlan, including ceviche, fish tacos, and shrimp cocktail. Be sure to try their famous grilled octopus!
- Pancho’s: If you’re in the mood for traditional Mexican food, Pancho’s is the place to go. This casual eatery serves up generous portions of authentic Mexican dishes like enchiladas, tamales, and chile rellenos. They also have a great selection of margaritas and tequila.
- Pedro y Lola: This charming restaurant is located in the historic center of Mazatlan and offers a unique dining experience. The building dates back to the 1800s and has been beautifully restored. Their menu features classic Mexican dishes like mole and pozole, and they also have an impressive selection of tequilas and mezcals.
- Topolo: This trendy restaurant is known for its innovative take on Mexican cuisine. Chef Marco Marín combines traditional Mexican flavors with modern techniques to create dishes that are both delicious and visually stunning. Their menu changes seasonally, but some of their standout dishes include tuna tostadas and pork belly tacos.
No matter where you choose to eat in Mazatlan, you’re sure to have a memorable dining experience. Be sure to try some of the local specialties like shrimp aguachile and pulpo al ajillo (garlic octopus) for a taste of the region’s culinary culture.
How To Get Around Mazatlan
Once you arrive in Mazatlan, you’ll want to start exploring this charming coastal city. Fortunately, getting around is easy thanks to the many transportation options available. Here are the most popular methods for getting around Mazatlan:
- Taxi: Taxis are widely available in Mazatlan, and they’re a convenient way to get around the city. Taxis are affordable and typically charge a flat rate based on your destination. Be sure to confirm the fare before you get in the cab to avoid any surprises.
- Pulmonia: The pulmonia is a popular mode of transportation in Mazatlan. These open-air, golf cart-like vehicles are easy to spot and can be a fun way to explore the city. Negotiate a fare with the driver before getting in.
- Bus: Mazatlan has an extensive bus system that covers most of the city. Buses are cheap and can take you to all the major tourist spots. Keep in mind that buses can get crowded during peak times.
- Car Rental: If you want more freedom to explore, renting a car can be a good option. There are plenty of rental car companies in Mazatlan, but keep in mind that driving in the city can be hectic.
- Bicycle: Bicycles are a fun and eco-friendly way to get around Mazatlan. There are several places in the city where you can rent bikes, and some hotels offer them as well.
Regardless of which transportation method you choose, be sure to take necessary safety precautions. Always wear a seatbelt in a car, keep an eye on your belongings, and avoid driving or walking alone at night. With a little planning, you’ll be able to explore Mazatlan with ease and have an unforgettable vacation.
Mazatlan enjoys a warm, tropical climate throughout the year, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking sunny skies and beach days. However, there are slight differences in temperature and rainfall depending on the season.
- – Spring (March – May): Spring is a popular time to visit Mazatlan, with temperatures averaging around 27°C (80°F). This season offers plenty of sunshine and mild sea breezes, making it the perfect time for water activities such as swimming, surfing, and sailing. While there is a chance of scattered showers, the rain is usually short-lived and followed by clear skies.
- Summer (June – August): Summer in Mazatlan is hot and humid, with average temperatures ranging from 29-32°C (84-90°F). This is the busiest season for tourists, as families take advantage of summer break to soak up the sun. The ocean temperatures are perfect for swimming, and the sea breeze offers some relief from the heat. However, the summer months also bring tropical storms and hurricanes, so be sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast.
- Fall (September – November): Fall in Mazatlan is characterized by warm temperatures ranging from 26-30°C (79-86°F), and a decrease in humidity compared to the summer months. This is also the rainy season, with occasional heavy downpours and thunderstorms. Despite the rainfall, the ocean is still warm enough for swimming, and the quieter beaches are perfect for those seeking a peaceful getaway.
- Winter (December – February): Winter in Mazatlan offers a pleasant escape from the colder climates of the Northern Hemisphere, with average temperatures ranging from 23-27°C (73-80°F). The ocean temperatures may be slightly cooler, but still perfect for swimming and water sports. The winter months bring the least amount of rainfall, and the clear skies and mild temperatures make it the perfect time for outdoor activities such as hiking or exploring the historic town center.
Overall, Mazatlan enjoys a warm, tropical climate throughout the year, making it a perfect destination for travelers seeking sunny skies and warm ocean waters. Regardless of the season, Mazatlan offers an array of activities and attractions for every traveler’s interests.
Best Time To Visit Mazatlan
The best time to visit Mazatlan is from November to April. During these months, the weather is warm, sunny, and pleasant with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s. It’s perfect for exploring the city’s historic landmarks, lounging on the beach, or enjoying outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and water sports.
Mazatlan has a subtropical climate with rainy summers, and the rainy season lasts from May to October. The temperature during these months ranges from the mid-80s to mid-90s, with high humidity levels and occasional thunderstorms. Although the beaches are still popular, the heavy rains and potential for hurricanes may affect your travel plans.
If you’re a budget-conscious traveler, you may want to consider visiting Mazatlan in May or September when the crowds are smaller, and prices are lower. However, keep in mind that these months are still considered part of the rainy season, so be prepared for some rainfall.
Overall, the best time to visit Mazatlan is during the winter months, when the weather is most favorable. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway, family vacation, or solo adventure, you’re sure to find plenty of activities and attractions to keep you entertained year-round.
How To Stay Safe In Mazatlan
Mazatlan is a relatively safe city for tourists, but it’s always important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some tips to keep in mind during your Mazatlan getaway:
- Stay Aware Of Your Surroundings: Pay attention to your surroundings and be aware of your belongings. Pickpocketing and petty theft can happen, so keep your valuables close and secure.
- Stay In Well-Lit Areas: Mazatlan has some darker, less-populated areas, especially at night. If you’re walking around after dark, try to stick to well-lit and busy areas.
- Use Reputable Taxis: Stick to using official taxis or ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft to avoid scams or unsafe rides.
- Avoid Drugs: Drug use is illegal in Mexico (especially marijuana and cocaine) and can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know what you’re taking.
- Don’t Flash Your Wealth: Keep your jewelry, cash, and other valuables out of sight to avoid becoming a target for theft.
- Don’t Wander Off Alone: Mazatlan is a fun and lively city, but it’s always best to have a buddy with you if you’re exploring off the beaten path.
By taking these simple steps, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your time in Mazatlan while staying safe and secure.
Mazatlan Customs and Etiquette
When visiting Mazatlan, it is important to understand and respect the local customs and etiquette. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Greetings: Mexicans are generally warm and friendly people, and it is common to greet people with a handshake or a hug (abrazo). It is also polite to use the formal titles “señor” and “señora” when addressing older people or people in positions of authority.
- Respect For Religion: Religion is an important part of Mexican culture, and it is important to respect religious customs and practices. When visiting churches or other religious sites, be sure to dress conservatively and behave respectfully.
- Punctuality: While Mexicans are generally laid back and relaxed, punctuality is still important. If you are meeting someone for a business meeting or other appointment, try to be on time.
- Tipping: Tipping is expected in Mazatlan, particularly in restaurants and bars. The standard tip is around 15-20% of the bill.
- Public Displays Of Affection: While Mexicans are generally warm and affectionate, it is not common to engage in public displays of affection. Holding hands is generally accepted, but kissing or hugging in public may be seen as inappropriate.
- Dress Code: Mexicans generally dress conservatively, particularly in more formal settings. It is best to err on the side of caution and dress conservatively yourself, particularly if you are visiting churches or other religious sites.
By keeping these customs and etiquette in mind, you can show respect for the local culture and enjoy a more enjoyable and authentic travel experience in Mazatlan.
Other Things To Know About Mazatlan
Before embarking on your Mazatlan adventure, there are a few important things to know about this beautiful city. First off, Mazatlan is located in Mexico, which is a country that boasts a rich cultural heritage, delicious food, and friendly locals. The currency in Mexico is the Mexican peso, which can easily be obtained at ATMs and currency exchange centers throughout the city.
Spanish is the official language in Mazatlan, and it is always helpful to know a few key phrases when communicating with locals. However, many people in Mazatlan speak English, especially those who work in the tourism industry. Mazatlan operates on Central Standard Time (CST), which is 6 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-6). This means that if you are traveling from the United States, for example, you will likely experience a time difference.
It is also important to note that Mazatlan has its own unique customs and etiquette that should be respected by visitors. For example, it is considered impolite to show up to someone’s house unannounced, and it is customary to greet people with a handshake or hug. Additionally, it is polite to address people with their proper titles, such as “Senor” for men and “Senora” for women.
Overall, Mazatlan is a vibrant and friendly city with plenty to offer visitors. By understanding the country, currency, language, and time zone, as well as the customs and etiquette of the locals, you will be better equipped to fully enjoy your Mazatlan getaway.
Mazatlan Travel Costs
Mazatlan can be an affordable destination, but the costs can quickly add up if you’re not careful. Here are some expenses you can expect when traveling to Mazatlan:
- Accommodation: The cost of accommodation in Mazatlan varies greatly depending on the type of lodging you choose. Hostels and budget hotels start at around $15-$20 per night, while mid-range hotels can range from $50-$100 per night. Luxury hotels and resorts can easily cost $200 or more per night.
- Food And Drink: Food in Mazatlan is generally inexpensive, with street food and local eateries offering budget-friendly options. A typical meal at a local restaurant can cost between $5-$10, while a fancy dinner at a high-end restaurant can range from $20-$50 per person. Keep in mind that alcohol and beverages can significantly add to your food bill.
- Transportation: Transportation costs in Mazatlan can vary depending on how you choose to get around. Public buses are the cheapest option and typically cost less than $1 per ride. Taxis are more expensive but are still affordable, with a ride across the city costing around $5-$10. If you plan on renting a car, expect to pay around $30-$40 per day.
- Activities: The cost of activities in Mazatlan depends on what you want to do. A visit to the famous Malecon boardwalk is free, while a ticket to a local attraction or tour can range from $20-$50 per person.
Overall, a budget traveler can expect to spend around $30-$50 per day in Mazatlan, while mid-range travelers should plan for around $100-$150 per day. Luxury travelers can expect to spend $200 or more per day. It’s important to note that these are just estimated costs and your expenses may vary depending on your travel style and preferences. To keep your costs down, consider staying in budget accommodations, eating at local eateries, and using public transportation instead of taxis. With some planning and budgeting, Mazatlan can be an affordable and enjoyable destination.
Finding Affordable Flights To Mazatlan
When planning your Mazatlan getaway, finding affordable flights is key. Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to save money on your airfare. First, be flexible with your travel dates. Flights to Mazatlan can vary in price depending on the time of year and day of the week. Consider flying on weekdays rather than weekends, and avoid major holidays and peak tourist seasons.
Second, search for flights on multiple airlines and travel booking websites. This will allow you to compare prices and find the best deals. Be sure to check for any discounts or promo codes that may be available. Third, consider alternative airports. Instead of flying directly into Mazatlan’s Rafael Buelna International Airport, you may be able to find cheaper flights to nearby airports like Culiacan or Guadalajara and then take a bus or shuttle to Mazatlan.
Lastly, book your flights well in advance. Flights to Mazatlan can fill up quickly, so the earlier you book, the more likely you are to find affordable prices. By using these strategies, you can save money on your flights and have more to spend on your Mazatlan vacation.
Backpacking Mazatlan Suggested Budgets
If you’re looking to travel to Mazatlan on a budget, then backpacking is the way to go. You can see all the sights, eat some delicious food, and stay in affordable accommodation. Here are some suggested budgets for backpacking in Mazatlan:
Low Budget: $25-$35 USD per day
With this budget, you’ll be staying in a hostel or budget hotel, eating street food and at local eateries, and taking public transportation. You can also enjoy some free activities like walking along the Malecon, visiting the Angela Peralta Theater, or checking out the Mazatlan Cathedral.
Mid-Range Budget: $35-$60 USD per day
This budget allows you to stay in a private room at a budget hotel or mid-range hotel, eat at mid-range restaurants and try some seafood, and take taxis or the occasional tour. You can also visit attractions like the Mazatlan Aquarium, the cliff divers at El Faro, or take a boat ride to Deer Island.
Luxury Budget: $60+ USD per day
If you have a bigger budget, then you can stay in a luxury hotel or Airbnb, dine at some of the city’s best restaurants, and take private tours or hire a car. You can also indulge in activities like spa treatments, deep-sea fishing, or golfing.
Remember, these budgets are just suggestions and can be adjusted based on your preferences and travel style. Mazatlan has something to offer for every budget, so don’t let finances stop you from enjoying this beautiful city.
Mazatlan Money Saving Tips
Mazatlan can be a budget-friendly destination if you plan ahead and know how to save money. Here are some money-saving tips for your trip:
- Eat Like A Local: Head to street food stalls and local markets for cheap and delicious eats. You’ll get a taste of authentic Mazatlan cuisine without breaking the bank.
- Bargain For Souvenirs: Don’t be afraid to haggle with vendors at the markets. Negotiating prices is common in Mazatlan, and you can often score a better deal if you’re willing to negotiate.
- Use Public Transportation: Taxis can be expensive in Mazatlan. Consider using the city’s buses instead, which are affordable and can take you to many popular tourist destinations.
- Drink Local: Instead of ordering expensive imported beers and spirits, opt for local options like Pacifico beer and tequila. You’ll get to experience the local flavors while saving money.
- Take Advantage Of Free Activities: There are many free things to do in Mazatlan, like visiting the Malecon, exploring historic sites, and strolling through the Old Town. Do some research ahead of time to plan out your itinerary and save money.
- Book Tours In Advance: If you’re planning to take any tours or excursions, book them in advance. This can often result in discounted prices and lower fees.
- Use Cash: While credit cards are accepted in many places, you may be charged additional fees for using them. Bring cash instead and save money on transaction fees.
By following these money-saving tips, you can enjoy your trip to Mazatlan without blowing your budget. Happy travels!
What To Pack For Mazatlan
When packing for a trip to Mazatlan, it’s important to consider the climate and the activities you’ll be doing. Here are some essential items to include in your packing list:
- Lightweight Clothing: Mazatlan has a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity. Pack lightweight clothing such as shorts, sundresses, and t-shirts. Be sure to bring clothes that are comfortable and breathable.
- Swimwear: You’ll want to spend some time soaking up the sun and swimming in the beautiful beaches of Mazatlan, so be sure to pack your swimsuits and beach cover-ups.
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: There’s a lot of exploring to do in Mazatlan, so be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes. Sandals or sneakers are ideal for walking around town.
- Sunscreen And Hats: With the high temperatures in Mazatlan, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Pack sunscreen with a high SPF and hats to keep your head cool.
- Insect Repellent: While Mazatlan is generally safe from mosquitoes, it’s still a good idea to bring insect repellent just in case.
- A Waterproof Phone Case: If you plan on taking photos near the beach or going on a boat tour, consider bringing a waterproof phone case to protect your device from water damage.
- Cash And Credit Cards: While many places in Mazatlan accept credit cards, it’s still a good idea to bring some cash for smaller transactions and tips.
By packing these essentials, you’ll be prepared for a comfortable and enjoyable trip to Mazatlan.
Can You Drink Tap Water In Mazatlan?
One of the most important things to consider when traveling is the safety of drinking water. In Mazatlan, it is generally recommended that tourists avoid drinking tap water. This is because the tap water in Mazatlan is not purified, and it may contain harmful bacteria and parasites.
To avoid getting sick, it is best to stick to bottled water. Bottled water is readily available in Mazatlan, and it is sold in most grocery stores, hotels, and restaurants. You can also bring your own reusable water bottle and fill it up at filtered water stations or purchase a portable water filter for convenience.
When it comes to food, it is also important to pay attention to how it is prepared. Choose restaurants and street vendors that have good reviews and use proper sanitation practices. Avoid raw or undercooked food, as well as food that has been left out for too long. By being cautious about what you eat and drink, you can reduce your risk of getting sick and enjoy your trip to Mazatlan to the fullest.
Other Things To See And Do In Mazatlan
If you have more time in Mazatlan or are looking for additional activities to add to your itinerary, there are plenty of other things to see and do in the area. Here are some options:
- Take A Sunset Cruise: Witness the stunning sunset in the Pacific Ocean with a relaxing cruise around the coast of Mazatlan.
- Visit The Plazuela Machado: This is the historic heart of Mazatlan. The plaza is surrounded by traditional buildings, cafés, and restaurants that reflect the city’s cultural heritage.
- Go On A Deep-Sea Fishing Trip: Known for its world-class fishing, Mazatlan offers visitors the opportunity to catch marlin, tuna, sailfish, and other big game fish.
- Explore The Local Markets: Head to Mercado Municipal José María Pino Suárez and Mercado Pino Suárez to get a taste of the local culture and buy handmade souvenirs.
- Take A Day Trip To Isla De La Piedra: This beautiful island is located just a short boat ride from Mazatlan. You can spend the day relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, or trying local seafood.
- Visit El Faro Lighthouse: The highest lighthouse in the Americas offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the city of Mazatlan.
- Explore Mazatlan’s Historic Center: Mazatlan’s Centro Historico is a fascinating area with colorful architecture, museums, galleries, and street performances.
- Enjoy The Nightlife: Mazatlan has a vibrant nightlife scene with numerous bars, nightclubs, and music venues that cater to all tastes and ages.
With so many things to see and do, it’s easy to see why Mazatlan is one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations. From its sandy beaches to its rich history, there’s something for everyone in this charming coastal city.
The Bottom Line
Mazatlan is a beautiful and vibrant destination that has a lot to offer to its visitors. From pristine beaches to cultural landmarks, delicious cuisine, and exciting activities, Mazatlan is a place that will surely make your vacation memorable. However, it is important to be aware of certain safety precautions and customs while you are there. You can always consult your hotel or tour guide for recommendations and tips on how to navigate the city safely. Overall, a trip to Mazatlan can be an affordable and rewarding experience if you plan accordingly. With this itinerary as your guide, you’ll be able to make the most out of your trip to this Mexican gem. So pack your bags, book your flights, and get ready to discover all the wonders of Mazatlan. Happy travels!