Wondering what to do in Ensenada Mexico?
It’s a pretty small town not far from the US border and less than two hours from Tijuana, but it’s a world away when it comes to luxury, views, and alllll the wine.
There are tons of fun things to do in Ensenada whether you want an action-packed trip or a laid back vacation.
But first, I would highly recommend having access to a car on your trip to Ensenada. While the town itself is completely walkable, several of the best things to do in Ensenada require a vehicle.
You can rent a car in Tijuana, which is relatively easy to do from the airport.
You can also take your own car across the border and drive in Mexico that way (just be sure you have the right insurance).
Alternatively, you can take a few tours to some of the below-listed places. I’ll mention my preferred tour companies for each below.
Where to Stay in Ensenada Mexico
There are so many great hotels in Ensenada Mexico. It depends whether you want to stay in the downtown area or up around the vineyards, but there’s a little something for everyone.
Airbnb in Ensenada Mexico
We stayed in an amazingly located Airbnb while we were in Ensenada.
If you are traveling as two or more, this place has two bedrooms with comfortable beds. It has a great kitchen if you want to self-cater. The living room was great and had a smart TV in it with Netflix so we could just chill in the evenings when we wanted to.
If you’ve never stayed in an Airbnb before, you can sign up with this link and get up to $35 off of your first booking.
Hotels in Ensenada Mexico
- Torre Lucerna Hotel: This is one of the more luxury-style hotels in Ensenada, but it’s still incredibly affordable. The rooms are modern and comfortable and there is plenty of parking, which tends to be a problem with other hotels in the area. There’s an outdoor pool to enjoy during the warmer months and it’s within walking distance of all the best restaurants in Ensenada. Rooms start at $120 per night. Book a stay at Torre Lucerna Hotel here.
- Hotel Las Dunas: Hotel las Dunas is one of the better budget options in Ensenada. If you want a cheap and cheerful room with parking and close to all the action, this is a great option. It doesn’t have tons of amenities, but it’s clean and well priced. Rooms start at $75 per night. Book a stay at Hotel Las Dunas here.
- Punta Morro: For a real luxury resort, look no further than Punta Morro. Depending on when you plan to visit, rooms here are an absolute steal for the quality. There are several pools, a cliffside view over the ocean, modern rooms, and an indoor spa pool. Rooms start at $175 per night. Book a stay here.
Hotels in Valle de Guadalupe Mexico
- Cuatro Lunas Boutique Hotel: These gorgeous cabins line the outside of a peaceful and beautiful pool in what looks like an otherwise flat area. You will get perfect uninterrupted views of the surrounding wine region. Rooms start at $200 USD per night. Book here.
- La Villa del Valle: La Villa del Valle will make you feel like you’ve stepped into an Italian Villa. The views over the valley don’t get much better and there’s a pool and a hot tub for relaxing after a strenuous day of touring around the valley and Ensenada. Rooms start at $280 USD per night. Book here.
- Casa Mayoral: Casa Mayoral is made up of studio apartments that look like glamping cabins, but better. It also happens to be on the same property as the Casa Mayoral winery, so you don’t have to travel far to start sampling the best wine in the region. Rooms start at $150 USD per night. Book here.
- Encuentro Guadalupe: This is without a doubt one of the most popular hotels in Valle de Guadalupe, and for good reason. Encuentro is made up of cabins on the hill that overlook almost the entire valley. There’s a pool, a spa tub, a wine tasting room, a restaurant, and even nice walking trails. Book at least a month in advance, if not more to get a space here. Rooms start at $250 USD per night. Book here.
Things to Do in Ensenada Mexico
1. Drink at the Oldest Cantina in Baja California
One of the first things we did when we got to Ensenada was walk over to Hussongs. It’s definitely one of the most well-known bars in the city and you’ll no doubt hear lots of different languages being spoken there.
The number of tourists that visit the Cantina doesn’t seem to put the locals off. It’s by far the busiest bar in the city every night.
We actually rang in the new year here and it was SO much fun. They also sell really big bags of peanuts and you simply throw the shells onto the floor. They sweep them up at the end of every night.
Despite being one of the most popular bars in the city, they still keep their prices down (or perhaps because they’re so busy they can keep the prices down).
Bottles of beer are incredibly affordable. During the week, they run different deals on cocktails like two-for-one margaritas. Besides peanuts, they also serve some bags of chips, but no other food.
2. Eat at the Best Seafood in Ensenada Mexico
Ensenada has a street stall called El Guerrerense.
For several years in a row, the stall has been named the best street stall in the entire world.
While I have to say, the seafood tostadas are absolutely delicious, it wasn’t the best street food I’ve had in the world. In fact, it isn’t even the best street food I had in Ensenada.
However, it’s still worth a visit. All of their normal ceviche tostadas are only 25 pesos and they are packed with flavor. I particularly loved the mixto ceviche, which has fish, octopus, and clams in it.
Thanks to the popularity of El Guerrerense, lots of different seafood street stalls have cropped up around Ensenada.
Others that I really loved include El Guerro and Mariscos Yiyo’s which is located in an Oxxo parking lot near Playa Hermosa (seriously, this is the best seafood we had in Ensenada, it’s well worth the drive).
4. Walk Along the Malecon in Ensenada Mexico
The Malecon in Ensenada isn’t exactly the most beautiful Malecon in Mexico (the one in Puerto Vallarta is utterly spectacular). A Malecon is simply a boardwalk that runs along the waterfront.
Ensenada is a port town, so the Malecon runs along the port.
This is where you’ll see the fishing boats and cruise ships sitting side-by-side. The city seems to be doing a lot to revive this area and around sunset, it really comes to life, especially on weekends.
There is a bandstand with live music you can enjoy for free. There’s a musical fountain and it’s nicely lit at night.
This is also where you’ll find tons of cheap and delicious seafood restaurants. At the far end is Mercado Negro – the local fish market.
You can buy it raw to cook at your own place or you can simply go into one of the restaurants. I highly recommend Tacos Lily for delicious Baja style fish tacos. Their shrimp tacos are some of the best I’ve ever had.
5. Dance the Night Away
There are a surprising number of clubs in Ensenada for the size of it. On New Year’s Eve we rang in the night at Hussongs, but after midnight they closed, so we had to look elsewhere to carry on the party.
A few places that have reasonable drinks and great DJ’s were Beer & Wings (very casual), Ryerson 51 (more upscale), and Hendrix Club. Other places that are just nice for a few drinks and nice music are Mango Mango.
6. Sample Some Local Craft Beer
Ensenada has SO many great craft beer spots. I didn’t know before coming to Baja California how many amazing breweries come from Tijuana and Ensenada.
The three best breweries that you’ll find in Ensenada are Transpeninsular, Wendlandt, and Agua Mala. Of the three, Transpeninsular was my favorite bar. It also had a really nice food menu.
However, my favorite beer of these three was Agua Mala. It’s a bit of a drive, about 15 minutes, from the center of Ensenada. If you think you’re going to have a beer you can take an Uber which is available all along the coast between Tijuana and Ensenada.
7. Take a Boat Tour in Ensenada Mexico
One of the biggest things to do if you visit Ensenada during the winter months is to go whale watching. Any time of year there are charter boats available for fishing trips or just general joy rides around the coast.
There are boats all along the Malecon that you can book tickets with.
There are also a few tour companies in the center of town where you can book tours. Alternatively, if you stay at a hotel, the front desk can probably recommend a good place to book with (or they can book it for you directly).
8. Walk Along Playa Hermosa
The beach in Ensenada, much like the Malecon, isn’t the most beautiful beach in Mexico.
The water is dark and the sand is coarse. But for the few days that I spent in Ensenada, even in the blustery January mornings, I loved walking along the beach.
My boyfriend and I would put our jackets and sneakers on and walk from one end to the other.
During low tide the beach is wide and long and you’ll spot plenty of people doing yoga, running, and fishing along the shore.
It’s a nice place on a sunny day and during the summer months, it’s a great place to head for a tan. There are several parking lots along Boulevard Castero. I prefer the spots next to Oxxo so that I can enjoy seafood from Mariscos Yiyo’s.
9. Get Sprayed By a Marine Geyser
One of the most popular things to do in Ensenada Mexico is to visit La Bufadora, which translates to Geyser. This isn’t some sort of underwater volcanic landform.
A marine geyser is formed when waves crash into a small space like a cave. When the pressure builds up too much, the cave then shoots the water back out in a big way.
The best times to visit La Bufadora are during high tide, so check the tide tables before visiting.
While I enjoyed La Bufadora, my favorite part was actually the road to the geyser.
It is windy and coastal and the views are just stunning. Even the lookout point that’s next to La Bufadora is breathtaking. So if you can only come during low tide, not to worry, it’s still worth the trip for the views alone.
Visiting La Bufadora is free, but if you drive expect to pay about 50 Pesos for parking (most people also accepted US dollars).
It takes about 45 minutes to drive from downtown Ensenada to the parking area of La Bufadora. Just follow the signs.
10. Visit Some Wineries in Ensenada Mexico
Of course! One of the main draws to Ensenada Mexico is the neighboring wine region, Valle de Guadalupe. I’ve written an entire article about the best wineries in the region which you can read here:
It’s very easy to self-drive as long as you have a designated driver.
There are so many fantastic wineries and many are close together so you can do two or three tastings in one short visit. We spent two days exploring the wine region and we barely scratched the surface.
You can opt to actually stay in the wine region rather than in downtown Ensenada. There are tons of stunning hotels in Valle de Guadalupe where you can enjoy views of the vineyards and total and utter solitude.
It just depends on how much you want to drive and what food you are most interested in eating (have I mentioned all of the amazing seafood in downtown Ensenada?)