Mazatlán is a laid-back, coastal Mexican city with a gorgeous Malecón, fantastic restaurants, and a colorful old town. I spent a week relaxing in this city and, at first, I wasn’t impressed. It seemed difficult for me to find things to do in Mazatlán as there isn’t a lot of information for tourists. But, I dug in my heels, and slowly the city charmed me. Below I’ve listed some of my favorite recommendations for Mazatlán. Whether you spend a week in the city, or just visit for the day on a cruise ship, I hope you’ll try a few of my suggestions on your future visit.
*Note: Although you can visit Mazatlán via a cruise ship or by staying at an all-inclusive resort, you will not see an authentic side of the city by doing this. You CAN venture outside of the Golden Zone, and you should!*
Top Things To Do in Mazatlán
Walk Around Old Town Mazatlán
Mazatlan’s Old Town is colorful, gorgeous, and very safe. You can visit day or night (at night they light up the cobblestone streets). In Old Town, you will see some of Mazatlan’s best architecture, such as the Catedral Basilica and a variety of vibrant colonial buildings. This area also has some of the nicest restaurants (see below) and best boutique shopping in the city. If possible, book your accommodations in this part of the city.
Eat at El Presidio
This restaurant is one of my favorite restaurants in the world! I love the vibe of the interior – which is in an open courtyard with pieces of the dilapidated building preserved in different fashions. And the food…. oh my god, it was so good. They do fancy variations of classic Mexican dishes, and they also offer cuisine from all over the world. The prices aren’t cheap by Mexican standards but, for an American, they were very reasonable. I went back to Presidio multiple times during my one week stay in Mazatlán, and I was never disappointed.
Visit Plazuela Machado for Nightly Entertainment
Unlike the Golden Zone – where the majority of tourists spend their time – Plazuela Machado offers a more authentic and cultural Mazatlán experience. Located in Old Town and surrounded by colorful, colonial-type builds, Plaza Machado offers several fantastic restaurants with live entertainment. On the weekends you can expect a band in the central courtyard as well as rotating street performers that will entertain you while you dine.
Enjoy the View at the Roof Top Bar at the Best Western Posado Freeman
Normally I would never recommend going to a Best Western in a foreign country, but in Mazatlán the tallest building happens to be a Best Western, and it’s located on the Olas Atlas beachfront. So order a beer from the rooftop bar, take in a gorgeous sunset, and relax while sitting poolside.
Get a Spa Treatment
Spa treatments abroad are a real treat! Not only are they a wonderful way to relax while on vacation, but in Mexico, they are also very affordable. I recommend Athina Spa for a massage or pedicure.
Rent Bikes & Ride the Malecón
Mazatlán’s Malecón is a 4-mile long boardwalk that runs along the coast. Several impressive bronze monuments line the Malecón, as well as a few scenic overlooks and soaking pools. Unlike Puerto Vallarta’s Malecón, Mazatlán’s is more laid back. You won’t find as many street vendors calling out to you, so you can enjoy a casual bike ride without being constantly harassed.
While you are riding down the Malecón, you’ll undoubtedly notice several tiki bars on the beach. Why not lock your bike and stop for a drink or appetizer? Many of the bars serve fresh shellfish, such as clams or oysters. This is also a good area to sunbathe, go for a swim, or listen to live music.
Hike to the Lighthouse (El Faro)
El Faro is an iconic lighthouse that claims to be the highest lighthouse in the Americas and one of the highest operating lighthouses in the world. The moderately strenuous hike up to El Faro is a great way to get a decent workout while on vacation. Be sure to do this first thing in the morning before it gets too hot! Bring water and sunscreen. To find the start of the hike, you can ask your taxi or Pulmonia driver to take you or walk from Olas Atlas over the bridge to Isla Creston.
The view from the top of El Faro the hike rivals the views at the Best Western, but with the sweat equity you’ve invested, it might be more rewarding!
Ride in a Pulmonia
No trip to Mazatlán is complete without a ride in a Pulmonia (Mazatlán’s version of a tuk-tuk). Feel the wind in your hair as you cruise down the Malecón. Some drivers even decorate their cars with strobe lights and big speakers that blast popular local music. It’s a lot of fun!
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* More Mexican Tourism Articles:
- Things to Do in Sayulita, Mexico
- Best of Costa Maya Cruise Port
- Where to Go in Cabo San Lucas on New Years Eve