The Mexican coastal city of Mazatlan is a bustling beach paradise rich in history and culture. On a 3-day stay, you can enjoy a range of activities in the city, then venture outside and spend a day exploring the Sierra Madre mountains and visiting colonial towns. Here are some things to do and see during your visit to Mazatlan:
Day 1: Mazatlan Sights
Get to know Mazatlan on your first full day by booking a guided sightseeing tour to explore the city by foot, Segway, bike, or bus. Most tours focus on the Old Town area and Machado Plaza, visiting major attractions such as the cathedral and the Old Spanish Fort. You can also stop to watch the city’s famous cliff divers, shop for souvenirs at Pino Suarez Market, and take a stroll down the boardwalk, known as the malecón.
Later in the day, set out for the beach. While many hotels boast their own beaches (or sit close to one), you can also opt for an excursion to Stone Island or the Estero Ecological Reserve. In the evening, swing by one of Mazatlan’s lively clubs or beach bars for a drink. Or, for a quieter evening, return to the cafes and bars around Machado Plaza. Either way, be sure to stop by the malecón to watch the sunset.
Day 2: On the Water
Pack your second day with activities and excursions in and on the water: Join a sailing tour to Deer Island to snorkel. Head out on a research expedition led by marine biologists and cruise the Mazatlan coastline to spot dolphins in their native environment, then jump in the water and swim alongside them. Take a guided sailing tour of the archipelago of Pájaros, Venados, and Lobos Islands where you can see dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, and coastal birds. Book a whale-watching excursion, and learn about the humpback whales that travel to the waters of Mazatlan to mate and give birth in the winter.
If you weren’t able to visit the Pájaros, Venados, and Lobos Islands at the start of the day, embark on a sunset cruise to the archipelago in the evening and hear about the local marine life from naturalist guides. Be on the lookout for dolphins and more as you watch the sunset over the water.
Day 3: Countryside Culture
On your third day, venture out of Mazatlan and into the countryside to explore colonial towns such as Concordia and Copala. Nestled in the Sierra Madre mountains, these towns boast colorful architecture, and you can watch local artisans make specialties like bread and handmade tiles. Or, head to the villages of La Noria and El Quelite and the La Vinata distillery. You’ll travel through a blue agave plantation before reaching a tequila distillery where you will learn about the production process and sample some product. Alternatively, you can experience the countryside in a different way—by riding high across it on a zipline course that offers panoramic views of the landscape.
Back in Mazatlan, head to the historic Angela Peralta Theater to catch a concert; ticket prices are relatively inexpensive. For dinner, check out the city’s restaurants and try traditional Sinaloan foods and seafood dishes like aguachile, a spicy shrimp ceviche.