24 Top Things to Do in Mazatlan, Sinaloa: From Beaches to Culture
Planning a trip to Mazatlan Sinaloa? Good choice. It is the star destination for enjoying beautiful beaches and getting the most out of the Mexican Pacific.
Mazatlan is known for its large luxury marina and spectacular swimmable beaches.
It also has a beautiful historic “Centro,” a long boardwalk, and its lively atmosphere at any time.
Mazatlan is the perfect destination if you’re looking for fun, sun, beach, and emblematic monuments.
Where is Mazatlan, Sinaloa?
Again, Mazatlan is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, in the state of Sinaloa.
There are several ways to get to Mazatlan, depending on your location and budget:
By air: Mazatlan’s International Airport is served by several airlines offering domestic and international flights.
By bus: Mazatlan is well connected by bus with several cities across Mexico.
There are many first-class coach companies that offer regular services to and from Mazatlan, including Primera Plus, ETN, and Pacifico.
By car: If you’re traveling from within Mexico, you can reach Mazatlan by car via the Pacific Coast Highway (Mexican Federal Highway 15) or the Durango-Mazatlan Highway (Mexican Federal Highway 40).
Top 24 things to do and see in Mazatlan
1. Stroll through Mazatlan’s Historic Downtown
Although Mazatlan has made a name for itself as a beach destination, it is an old city founded in the 16th century by the first wave of conquistadors, who needed ports to send their exploited wealth back to Spain.
Old Mazatlan is a piece of heaven with its streets and traditional buildings, including the cathedral, several small squares, the Angela Peralta Theater, the Archeology Museum, and cozy outdoor cafes.
2. Cathedral Basilica
The city’s main Catholic temple is an eclectic building in the historic center.
It was completed in 1899 and has two bodied towers, three naves of the same height, and an octagonal dome.
The main facade has three pointed arches with neo-Gothic lines. The main altar is of Gothic style and shows beautiful images carved in Carrara marble.
At the back of the main altar is a magnificent sculpture of the Immaculate Conception, to whom the basilica was consecrated.
3. Angela Peralta Theater
The Mexican soprano Ángela Peralta Castera gained worldwide fame in the 19th century when she was called El Ruiseñor Mexicano (The Mexican Nightingale).
She toured Europe three times, taking her privileged voice to the great opera stages of Milan, Rome, St. Petersburg, Madrid, and other cities, and on her return to Mexico, she made national tours.
She died in Mazatlán at the age of 38, a victim of a yellow fever epidemic.
The Sinaloan city honored her by naming the town’s main theater after her, an imposing building in the historic center restored in the 1990s.
4. República, Machado, and Hidalgo Square
Mazatlan is also known for its small landscaped plazas located in the historic center.
The Plazuela República is the most emblematic and prestigious for its surrounding buildings, including the cathedral, the municipal palace, and the old Post and Telegraph buildings.
It has a beautiful kiosk of French lines. The oldest square in the city is the Machado, dating from 1837, with a kiosk installed in 1881.
Plazuela Hidalgo is the second oldest and was the site of the first market in the port of Mazatlan. It is also called Plaza de Los Leones because of its sculptures.
In its center, a kiosk was demolished to build two libraries.
The Plazuela Zaragoza was formerly called Puerto Viejo because of its proximity to the city’s old port and has a beautiful kiosk.
Domestic animals used to graze on the grounds of Plazuela Angel Flores, which is why it is also known as Plaza del Burro (Donkey Square).
5. Mazatlan Boardwalk (El Malecon)
The modern space that symbolizes Mazatlan is its long and active boardwalk.
In its 21 kilometers in front of the ocean, there are spectacular beaches, open-air art, natural formations, and all the establishments and services demanded by tourists.
One of its busiest sectors is the one in front of Olas Altas beach.
Here you can admire monuments such as the Sinaloa State Coat of Arms, El Venado, the Mazatlecan Woman, the Continuity of Life, and the one erected by the legendary singer and actor Pedro Infante, the best-known Mazatlecan.
6. Mazatlan Beaches: Can you swim in the ocean?
Mazatlan has paradisiacal swimmable beaches and a first-class hotel and service network to make your vacations in the Pearl of the Pacific unforgettable.
Olas Altas, the city’s most traditional beach, is in the Old Mazatlan sector, in front of the boardwalk.
Gaviotas Beach is very active in the Golden Zone because of its calm sea that invites you to swim.
Because of its width, Gaviotas is very frequented by those who practice sand sports, such as volleyball and beach soccer.
Camarón Sábalo, to the north of Gaviotas, is a beach with moderate swell that can occasionally become quite rough, good for surfing. Others are Playa Norte, Cerritos, El Delfín, Isla Venados and Isla de La Piedra.
7. Venados Island
It is the largest of 3 islands that are located off the city of Mazatlan, 2.3 kilometers off the coast.
It is colloquially called Isla del Medio for being in the center of the island group, guarded by Isla de Chivos and Isla de Pájaros, and has almost virgin beaches.
Venados is frequented for its clear and calm waters, ideal for underwater entertainment. It is also visited by birdwatchers and other species.
Typically visitors arrive by boat, although some people make the trip swimming or in kayaks, leaving from the beach of the hotel zone in front.
8. Tour Mazatlan in a Pulmonía!
Walking along the Malecon or anywhere in Mazatlan, you will surely come across the Pulmonia, special open vehicles similar to golf carts.
They are an icon of the port for point-to-point transportation and as a tourist attraction.
I’ll tell you a little about them so you can add them to your to-do list and try something new and different on your visit to Mazatlan.
Why is it called “Pulmonía”?
In 1965 the Mazatleco Miguel Ramirez saw some 3-wheeled motorized carts for sale that were used to deliver merchandise without success, and he immediately visualized them for transporting people.
This attracted the envy of other public transportation concessionaires, and they began a dirty war against these vehicles.
They started a smear and fear campaign telling users that if they got on these uncovered vehicles, they would catch pneumonia (pulmonia).
Far from dissuading the population, this awakened curiosity in the coastal population, making them more famous and capitalizing on their peculiar name.
9. The Aquarium
It is possibly the best Latin American space in the illustration and recreation of life in the water, both salt and fresh.
Fish of all types and sizes, including several species of sharks, turtles, jellyfish, sea lions, aquatic plants, birds, and much more.
It has a section of ecological games where children have fun while being educated in conservationism.
Diving exhibitions and a party palapa can also be rented for celebrations.
10. Mazatlan’s Lighthouse
It is the landmark of Mazatlan, located at the top of the Cerro del Crestón, and with its 152 meters, it is the highest active lighthouse located on a natural elevation in the world.
If you dare to take a 30-minute walk, you will have the best observatory you can imagine to see towards the four cardinal points.
From there, you can take spectacular pictures of the ocean, beaches, city, mountains, and other surrounding areas. It was put into service in 1879 and continues to assist sailors.
11. The Golden Zone
This exclusive area of Mazatlan stands out for its beaches, upscale hotels, jewelry stores, brand-name stores, classy restaurants, and entertainment establishments.
It is located along Gaviotas Avenue and was a place known as the Shrimp Lagoon, which was dredged to build the city’s most expensive area.
This is the place to go if you want to buy a diamond or a precious stone in Mazatlan.
12. Mazatlan Sinaloa Archaeological Museum
Inaugurated in 1989, this museum is housed in a neoclassical building built in the early 20th century.
It contains a sample of pieces belonging to the different pre-Hispanic civilizations of Sinaloa and nearby territories.
The museum exhibits a collection of petroglyphs, the funeral customs of the pre-Columbian peoples, their work tools and weapons for defense and combat, and their lifestyles.
13. Municipal Arts Center
This cultural space operates in an attractive building in the historic center and is the city’s central point for learning fine arts.
It started as a place for children and youth workshops in painting, sculpture, music, and ballet and has become a prestigious training center that currently offers degrees in 3 disciplines:
- Contemporary Dance
It is home to several orchestras and artistic groups of classical ballet, folkloric ballet, dance, choir, and theater.
14. Mazatlan Cultural Festival
This event is dedicated to plastic arts, music, theater, ballet, dance, song, and literature staged during the last quarter of the year at the Angela Peralta Theater and some outdoor sites.
The festival also touches the rural communities of the Mazatlán municipality.
Many tourists take advantage of the excellent weather at the end of the year to enjoy the beach and culture at the Mazatleco festival.
15. José Limón Dance Festival
José Limón was a Sinaloan dancer and choreographer of the 20th century, considered a precursor of modern dance, an innovator of choreographic art, and the first to highlight the male role in dance companies.
In his honor, a dance festival is held in the region, mainly in Culiacán, the artist’s birthplace, Villavicencio, Los Mochis, and Mazatlán.
In Mazatlán, the main stage is the Ángela Peralta Theater.
The festival, which takes place during a week in April, is attended by virtuosos, directors, and specialists from all over the world.
16. Baluarte Bicentennial Bridge
This work located on the Durango – Mazatlán highway is one of the most outstanding achievements of Mexican engineering, being the highest cable-stayed bridge in America and the second-highest in the world.
It is 403 meters above the Baluarte River, joining the two sides of a ravine of the Sierra Madre Oriental.
Its 520-meter span is also one of the longest in the world and is 1,124 meters long with four lanes.
It has become an attraction for domestic and foreign tourists visiting Mazatlan.
17. Dance with Sinaloense Music
The Sinaloan band is a wind music ensemble born in Sinaloa at the beginning of the 20th century.
It performs waltzes, mazurkas, polkas, and other genres of European origin, as well as the contagious rancheras and corridos of Mexican folk music.
A typical band comprises several trumpets, clarinets, trombones, a tuba, and some percussion.
If you are walking along the Malecon and see a crowd of people in the distance and hear the unmistakable sound of trumpets, it is undoubtedly a Sinaloan band.
If you are not lucky enough to run into a band on the street, check the cultural and entertainment program, and you are sure to find a place to go.
18. Mazatlan Carnival
Mazatlan’s carnival festivities have positioned themselves as the most colorful and exciting of all the American Pacific coast.
In fact, specialized publications place it in the top 3 of the best in the world.
Sunday’s parade attracts more than 600,000 people to the streets.
To the sound of music, mainly by Sinaloan bands, beautiful floats, and decorated wagons pass by and parade with their members adorned in bright allegorical costumes, with the streets decorated with giant puppets.
One of the events that most surprise foreign tourists is the “Quema del mal humor” (called in other places “Quema de Judas”), in which a monkey symbolizing a particularly harmful character or a calamitous event is set on fire.
19. Carnival of the Dead
The faithful departed also have their carnival in Mazatlan, celebrated in early November, coinciding with the Day of the Dead.
The celebration features large floats, and one of its most anticipated moments is La Callejoneada, a parade to the sound of Sinaloan band music, which runs through the main streets of the historic center and includes a symbolic show at the Angela Peralta Theater.
The event has become so attractive and massive that the authorities have been forced to hand out tickets to control access by schedules.
20. International Motorcycle Week
If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, you can’t miss the Mazatlan International Motorcycle Week, Mexico’s equivalent of the U.S. Sturgis.
The gathering of more than 15,000 motorcycles is the largest in Latin America, with bikers from all over Mexico and North, Central, and South America.
The main parade takes place on the Malecon, and in different areas, there are competitions of stunts, extreme routes, and other specialties.
The ideal complements are the music and the beaches. It usually takes place during the week between March and April.
21. Let’s go to baseball!
Baseball competes with soccer for sporting supremacy on the west coast of Mexico, and the Mexican Pacific League animates the main coastal cities or those close to the ocean between October and January.
Mazatlán’s team has the emblematic name of Venados (deers) and plays at the Estadio Teodoro Mariscal, a diamond with seating for 15,000 spectators.
The Caribbean Series, so-called “Little Latin American World Series,” in which the champions of the winter leagues of Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and recently Cuba compete, was won by the Venados in 2005 and 2016.
22. Pacific International Triathlon
The demanding discipline that combines swimming, cycling, and running, has an internationally renowned event in Mazatlan.
The Pacific International Triathlon is now in its 15th year after the last edition was held in June 2016.
Several categories are run, including the elite category, in which participants must swim 1,500 meters, cycle 40 kilometers, and run 10 kilometers.
The Monumento al Pescador is the starting and finishing point on the Malecón, which fills up with athletes and the public for the occasion.
23. Visit Copala Sinaloa
Copala is a small Sinaloan town from the XVI century, with cobblestone streets characterized by its beauty and tranquility.
It is nestled in the Sierra Madre Occidental, 70 kilometers from Mazatlan.
Its cozy houses are home to about 400 inhabitants, and its pleasant climate, with little change throughout the year, invites Mazatlan residents and tourists to visit the city for a weekend getaway.
The Church of San José is a small temple of baroque lines that is the primary architectural reference of the population and has a neoclassical altar with gold plating.
24. Taste Mazatlan’s Gastronomy
Mazatlan is a cosmopolitan city and has restaurants specializing in various cuisines, so you won’t miss your favorite food no matter how demanding your order.
If you prefer to eat Mexican, Mazatlan offers the best of Sinaloan culinary art, both coastal and inland.
Of course, being oceanfront, a natural selection is the fresh fruits of the Pacific, such as ceviches, seafood cocktails, zarandeado fish, and Gobernador tacos.
Another regional delicacy is Sinaloa-style chicken, in which the piece is grilled whole, open, and flattened after having been marinated for several hours with citrus juices and other ingredients.
And please, don’t forget to try Mazatlan’s seafood specialty: AGUACHILE!
Ready to enjoy Mazatlan’s beaches, festivals, and exciting live events?