Is Mazatlán Safe to Travel in 2023?

Mazatlán is a lovely city located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is known for its golden beaches, friendly people, and great food. But is Mazatlan safe to travel to?

Being a little off the beaten path compared to other Mexican beach destinations it’s fair that you are concerned.

In this post, I will try to clarify any safety concerns about Mazatlan, Mexico.

The city and the area around it are rich with culture and historical attractions, so this is one of the best places in Mexico for history buffs and for people who want to experience authentic Mexican culture.

In fact, many expats have chosen Mazatlan as their second home.

Mazatlan Colorful letters on the promenade - Is Mazatlan safe
Mazatlan Colorful letters on the promenade

Is Mazatlán safe to travel? An overview

When a lot of people think about traveling to Mexico, their first concern is safety. That’s why you’re here, after all. I’ll be covering this topic in detail below, but if you want a short answer: yes.

Mazatlán is quite safe to travel and is visited by thousands of people every year who have a great time here without any incident whatsoever.

Despite its general “Do Not Travel” advice for the Sinaloa state (where Mazatlán is located), US State Department Travel Advisory states US government employees can travel to Mazatlán.

Now that we’ve covered the short answer for whether Mazatlán is safe, let’s take a deep dive and cover this topic in detail.

Where is Mazatlán?

Mazatlan MAP
Mazatlan MAP – Photo © Google Maps

 Mazatlán is a port city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The city is located on the Pacific coast, about midway between the point where the Gulf of California meets the Pacific Ocean, and Los Mochis.

YOu may have heard of Los Mochis, the popular departing point of the famous train El Chepe that runs across the Copper Canyon.

Mazatlán is one of Mexico’s oldest and most popular tourist destinations. The city of Mazatlán was founded in 1531 by the Spanish army and the local indigenous people. Due to its location on the Pacific, it quickly became an important port city.

The city’s rich history can be seen in its architecture, which includes a mix of Spanish colonial and Art Deco buildings.

Mazatlán is a beautiful place with a lot to offer tourists. The city has a rich history and culture, and its beaches are some of the best in Mexico.

Visitors can also take boat tours to see dolphins and whales up close off the coast of Mazatlán.

If you are planning a visit to the pretty city you may want to check my post on where to stay in Mazatlan.

Is Mazatlán Safe to travel to? Travel restrictions

There are travel warnings for a lot of areas in Mexico due to crime and cartel violence. However, Mazatlán is a very safe city for tourists.

Violent crime is almost non-existent, and even on the rare occasions that it does occur, tourists are never targeted.

A handful of tourists do encounter petty crime, which is found almost anywhere in the world and can easily be avoided if you take a few safety precautions. I’ve included these precautions in the next section.

US State Department advises government employees to travel directly to and from Mazatlán, either by air or through a cruise.

Even though there are travel restrictions to the state of Sinaloa in general, those restrictions don’t cover the city of Mazatlán as it’s considered safe.

In fact, most visitors to the city would say that it’s safer than many American and European cities.

Now, let’s cover some safety tips to help you avoid petty crime.

Mazatlan in the evening
Mazatlan Promenade in the evening

How to stay safe in Mazatlán: travel tips

1. Get travel insurance

Nobody plans to get sick during their vacation, but keep in mind that healthcare in Mexico is quite expensive for tourists. It’s better to have insurance, and not need it during your visit, than to not have it. Besides, travel insurance is quite cheap and can potentially save you a lot of money if you get sick in Mexico.

2. Do ample research

Mazatlán is extremely safe, especially in the Old Town Center and the central metropolitan area. But it’s still a good idea to do research on the hotel you’ll be staying in. Luckily, thanks to the internet, looking up hotel reviews is easier than ever.

Also, if you plan on going off the beaten path, make sure to do extensive research about the area you intend to visit.

I have gone ahead and done the work for you so you can read the best areas to stay in Mazatlan and choose the best place for you.

Mazatlan central plaza old town
Mazatlan central plaza in the old town

3. Try to book organized tours and transportation services through a trustworthy platform

Especially if you are traveling alone, joining an organized tour with a local guide will help you learn about the surroundings besides meeting other travelers and going to remote areas where you wouldn’t go on your own.

Further down on this post I will share the best tours available with the highest rating. Here below you can find some examples.

4. Try to blend in

Pickpockets and other petty criminals often target tourists who are wearing flashy jewelry, wearing expensive clothes, expensive electronics, etc.

Blending in with the locals, and leaving your bling in the hotel room, will go a long way toward making sure that you don’t even become a target.

Mazatlan beach view
Mazatlan beach view

5. Keep a copy of your passport and ID separate from the originals

While traveling anywhere, it is important to keep a copy of your passport and ID separate from the originals.

This will help you in case you lose your documents while on vacation; you will be able to go to the consulate/embassy and get a replacement quickly.

If you do not have a copy, you will have to go through the process of getting a new passport, which can take weeks.

6. Be aware of your surroundings

Petty criminals often try to distract tourists by causing a scene or striking up a conversation while their accomplice steals their valuables.

Whenever you’re in public, always be aware of what’s going on around you and where your valuables are; never leave your valuables unattended, even for a few minutes, whether you’re at the beach or in the lobby of your hotel.

Also, try to steer clear of secluded areas where there are only a few people around; if you become aware that the general area you’re in has become deserted, it’s a good idea to leave.

7. Be careful walking alone at night

Mazatlán, like every other city, becomes less busy at night. Touristy and well-lit areas generally remain safe but try to avoid dark streets or places where there aren’t a lot of people around.

Mazatlan Sunset
Mazatlan Sunset

8. Be vigilant when using ATMs

ATM skimmers are a rampant problem in all of Mexico’s touristy cities like Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, etc., and Mazatlán is no exception.

Also, when tourists encounter crime during/after using ATMs, it’s almost always when they’re using one in a less crowded or poorly lit area.

To avoid this, only use ATMs in busy areas, preferably ATMs that are in a bank. Better if it’s during the day.

9. Only use credit/debit cards sparingly

Even away from ATMs, credit/debit card fraud is not unheard of in Mazatlán. Make sure to carry sufficient cash for the day in local currency. Only use your cards at a trusted place when there’s no other option.

10. Stay away from drugs

Some tourists encounter people who try to sell them drugs. It’s not a good idea to have anything to do with drugs in Mazatlán or anywhere else actually.

Not only do you compromise your safety and health, but there’s also a heavy law enforcement presence in the area, so you could get in a lot of legal trouble.

Mazatlan old town
Mazatlan old town

11. Don’t drink excessively

This tip especially applies to people who are traveling alone. Drinking sparingly is fine, but becoming unconscious puts you at a higher risk of encountering crime.

If you’re going to get seriously drunk, make sure that you’re part of a trusted group.

12. Don’t leave food/drinks unattended in public

While spiked drinks and food are rare in Mazatlán, it can happen. So make sure to consume your drinks/food fully before you leave.

13. Wear a good sunscreen

Mazatlán’s tropical climate means that you’ll need good sunscreen, even on cloudy days. A lot of people think that they don’t need to wear sunscreen in Mexico if it’s not sunny, but that’s not true.

There might be visible shade during those days, but the sun’s harmful rays still make it through the clouds and you can potentially still get sunburnt.

Make sure you use an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen when going outdoors during the day.

14. Avoid drinking the tap water

As a general rule, tap water in Mexico is not safe for drinking purposes. You can always buy disposable filtered water bottles wherever you go, but to avoid waste I highly recommend carrying an insulated reusable water bottle with you and getting it filled with filtered water at any restaurant or hotel you go to.

Top things to do in Mazatlán

Mazatlán is a beautiful coastal city in Mexico that offers travelers plenty of sun, sand, and sea. But there is more to Mazatlán than just its beaches. Here are the top things to do in Mazatlán.

► Swim with whale sharks and dolphins

There are many tours available from Mazatlán that take you up close to dolphins and whale sharks. For whale sharks, you’ll have to visit during the right season, which lasts from December to April.

Even if you miss whale season, it’s still possible to see dolphins, sea turtles, manta rays, and other marine life during these tours.

Mazatlan cathedral
Mazatlan cathedral

► Visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

With its beautiful golden exterior, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is one of Mazatlán’s most popular tourist attractions.

For good reason, too, as it’s the most beautiful and awe-inspiring cathedral in Mexico.

Built-in the late 19th century, this cathedral is a must-see for any visitor to Mazatlán. The exterior is covered in intricate carvings and features two massive towers.

The interior of the cathedral is just as impressive, with stained glass windows, marble floors, and an elaborately carved altar.

► Stroll along the Malecón

The Malecón in Mazatlán is a 21-km long boardwalk that runs along the city’s beaches. It is a great place to take a relaxing walk, go for a run, or just enjoy the views.

The boardwalk is also home to many restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening.

I highly recommend experiencing the Malecón both during the day and at night as it offers two different atmospheres.

Mazatlan malecon
Mazatlan malecon

► Explore the Old Town

If you’re interested in culture, history, and delicious food, the Old Town is a great place to be when visiting Mazatlán.

Also known as Centro Historico, the Old Town is an excellent area to explore on foot.

Although you can take tours that’ll show you around in a bus, my recommendation would be to do so on foot as almost every street in the Old Town is a wonder and it’s a completely safe area to explore.

Mazatlan old town
Mazatlan old town

Top tours in Mazatlán

👉 Mazatlán sightseeing tour

The sights in Mazatlán are truly unique. You will get to see many of them during your vacation, but if you really want to enjoy unforgettable Mazatlán sightseeing, you can take a dedicated sightseeing tour of the city.

This tour covers historic buildings like the Old Spanish Fort, the cathedral, and El Faro lighthouse, as well as the beach side of Mazatlán. You can also go shopping along the Malecon during this tour, and spend time relaxing on the beach.

➡️ Book your Mazatlan sightseeing tour on VIATOR

👉 5-hour guided ATV tour

There are lots of great landscapes to see in and around Mazatlán. If you want to enjoy these without the hassle of driving yourself, worrying about the food, and navigating the region on your own, this guided tour is perfect for you.

The tour lasts 4-5 hours, with hotel pick and drop included, and you get to see and learn more about the stunning landscapes as well as enjoy a mouthwatering variety of food and tequilas for lunch in a nearby town! What’s more, you also get to explore the local church and museum during the tour to top it off.

➡️ Book your Mazatlan sightseeing tour on VIATOR

👉 Ten islands expedition

The islands, rocks, and remote beaches on the famous Deer Islands near Mazatlán are worth seeing if you’re up for a bit of sailing and adventure.

These places are tricky to reach on your own, but with this boat tour, you can definitely explore them in a half-day trip and make some once-in-a-lifetime memories.

➡️ Book your Mazatlan sightseeing tour on VIATOR

👉 Half-day zipline and mezcal tour

Mazatlán has no shortage of natural beauty. This includes the thriving and lush green landscapes of the region as well.

This half-day zipline tour is an adrenaline-filled way of seeing the natural landscape from above and satisfying the adventurer in you.

It includes ziplining over the treetops, crossing a flex-walk bridge, and a nature walk. Additionally, you will get to visit a tequila distillery to see how traditional Mexican tequila is made and also enjoy tastings of the tequila.

➡️ Book your Mazatlan sightseeing tour on VIATOR

When is the best time to visit Mazatlán?

A lot of tourists planning a vacation to the area ask the question, “When is the best time to visit Mazatlán?”

The answer depends on what you’re looking for. The answer depends on what you’re looking for in your vacation. If you want to enjoy the beach and the nearly perfect weather, then the best time to visit is between December and April.

There are a ton of activities to do this season, including whale watching and the famous Carnaval (which occurs in February).

However, the prices for travel and accommodations will be at their peak during this season and you’ll encounter a lot of crowds.

Luckily the crowds usually thin out by the end of high season in late March to April, and the prices for accommodations and airfare become more affordable as well.

If you’re on a budget, the best time to visit would be from October to November. Peak season crowds are yet to arrive, and the prices are usually at their lowest during these months.

No matter when you decide to visit Mazatlán, one thing is for sure – you’re in for a treat!

Mazatlan sea promenade
Mazatlan sea promenade

Is Mazatlán Safe to travel FAQ

Is Mazatlán safe in 2022?

Yes! Mazatlán is a perfectly safe city for tourists. Whether you want a family vacation, romantic getaway, honeymoon destination, or something else entirely, Mazatlán has a lot to offer and is one of the safest cities in Mexico.

There’s a heavy law enforcement presence in the city and even petty crime is quite rare.

Thousands of tourists visit this town every year without any incident and have a great time. If you look at the crime statistics, Mazatlán is safer than many cities in the US.

Is Mazatlán safe to travel for a female solo traveler?

Even if you’re solo female traveler, you’ll find that Mazatlán is very safe. Just follow the basic safety recommendations I’ve given above, and you’ll have a great time during your vacation in the city!

Is Mazatlán safe from drug cartels?

A lot of people get worried about visiting Mazatlán considering that it is located in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The good news is that Mazatlán is not currently considered a priority for the cartels and there have been no recent reports of cartel activity in the city.

The Mexican government has increased security in Mazatlán in recent years and there are now frequent patrols throughout the city.

However, tourists should exercise caution when traveling outside of Mazatlán. If you can, avoid traveling alone or venturing into unfamiliar areas.

Is there crime in Mazatlán?

No place in the world is truly free from crime, no matter how peaceful it is. So yes, there’s some crime in Mazatlán, but almost all of it is petty crime.

As long as you follow the safety precautions I’ve listed above, you’ll significantly reduce your chances of encountering even that.

Mazatlan Panoramic view
Mazatlan Panoramic view –

What are the safest areas to stay in Mazatlán?

The safest areas in Mazatlán are the Old Town, the Golden Zone, and the Marina Zone. While petty crime is still present in these areas, it’s extremely rare and your visit will likely be without incident if you stay in them.

Do you need a Covid test to get to Mazatlán?

As of writing this article, a Covid test is not mandatory to visit any place in Mexico.

Where can I get a Covid Test in Mazatlán?

There are several places where you can get a Covid test in Mazatlán. The most convenient option is probably the airport, where there are tests available for both departing and arriving passengers.

There are also several private clinics in the city that offer to test, and some hotels/resorts also offer the facility for their guests.

Is it safe to leave the hotels in Mazatlán?

Absolutely! Overall, Mazatlán is a very safe destination for travelers. By taking some basic safety precautions, you can enjoy all that this beautiful city has to offer without putting yourself at risk.

Take the precautions that I’ve listed above and you can adventure in the city to your heart’s content!

Is Playa del Carmen or Mazatlán safer?

Playa del Carmen and Mazatlán are both very safe towns with relatively low crime rates. No matter which one you choose between two, you’ll have a great time.

Why is Mazatlán so popular?

In recent years, Mazatlán has become increasingly popular with international travelers. Its laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals are a welcome change from the more hectic pace of other Mexican destinations such as Cancun or Puerto Vallarta.

The beaches and resorts in the town are also some of the best you’ll find in Mexico. And, with direct flights from a number of major U.S. cities, it’s easier than ever to plan a trip to this charming Mexican town.

Also from Mazatlan, you can take the ferry to La Paz.

Mazatlan Mexico historical building
Mazatlan Mexico historical building

What is the safest place to visit in Mexico?

There are some areas of Mexico where crime is quite commonplace, especially cartel violence, so people often wonder which towns are the safest to visit in Mexico.

Luckily, the Mexican government does recognize tourism as one of the biggest revenue sources of the country’s economy.

As such, you’ll find that all “touristy” towns like Playa del Carmen, Mexico City, Cancun, Tulum, Merida, Sayulita, and Mazatlán, among others, of course, are very safe.

The Mexican government has been trying its best to make sure that these tourist destinations stay safe.

Of course, no place is completely safe from crime, and visitors to any city, within Mexico or not, should take precautions such as avoiding walking alone at night and keeping their valuables out of sight.

Do You Need to Be Vaccinated to Visit Mexico?

No vaccine is mandatory or necessary to visit Mexico.

Is it safe to travel to Mazatlán? Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Mazatlán is a very safe place to travel to. As long as you take the necessary precautions, which you need to take when traveling anywhere (even in the US), you’ll be perfectly fine.

There is a lot to see and do in Mazatlán, and it is a great place to relax and enjoy yourself. Just be sure to stay in well-lit areas, don’t carry large amounts of cash, and be aware of your surroundings.