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Where to Stay in Ensenada

Where to Stay in Ensenada, Mexico – the haven for ex-pats and bohemians 

A coastal city of Ensenada is the third-largest city in Baja California, Mexico. Among the first settlements in the Californias, Ensenada is today one of the greatest cruise ship destinations in the world. Close to San Diego and the Valle de Guadalupe region, this city has established itself as the center of the region. 

Backed by small mountain ranges from the one side, and the Pacific from the other, Ensenada’s specific position allows tourist visits all year round both as the summer and winter resort. In 2015, the city has become a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network accompanying 245 world-wide cities that employ creativity in creating sustainable urban development.

Image source: benito_molina

Five best neighborhoods to stay in Ensenada 

Ensenada is such a diverse city. It contains the Guadalupe Island where you can see the white sharks, or whole elephant seals migrating from Alaska. It has a coastal area with pristine beaches, small desert, tropical valley, and all of these places are framed by mountains which contain several national parks. 

The city has numerous neighborhoods and a wide residential area. The most famous area is certainly Downtown, but other than that, there are a couple of more neighborhoods with interesting sights such as:

  1. Zona Centro
  2. El Sauzal 
  3. Puerta Del Mar
  4. Punta Banda III

As a coastal town, Ensenada is usually a favorite shortstop on the cruise so the tourists spend 1-2 days here. For the best experience of Ensenada, here are our recommendations of the neighborhoods to stay in according to the purpose of your visit: 

Neighborhood

Ideal for:

Why?

Zona Centro

First-timers 

Museums and bars are located here

Downtown

Nightlife

Many tavernas, restaurants, and pubs

Punta Banda III

On a budget

Affordable accommodation and activities

El Sauzal 

Bohemians and ex-pats

Fun and interesting activities

Puerta del Mar

Long-term stay

Not congested as other areas but with all the amenities necessary for everyday life

Where to stay in Ensenada for the first time – Zona Centro 

The central neighborhood in Ensenada is Zona Centro. As the hub of the city, it provides many dining, shopping, entertainment, and accommodation opportunities. Here, you can taste some of the most famous margaritas in some of the local bars, try out some of the finest dishes of the authentic local cuisine, or simply acquaint yourself with this sun-kissed town’s history by visiting some of the nearby museums. Whatever you decide, you will get the most memorable experience in this part of Mexico. 

Image source: omar.moreno9140

Things to see and do in Zona Centro 

The central neighborhood of Ensenada is home to various museums definitely worth visiting, but this area is more popular for some of the local bars where you can try out margaritas or some craft beers from local breweries. Here is what you should visit in this neighborhood: 

  • Hussong’s Cantina
  • La Guerrerense
  • Ensenada Museum of History
  • The Opal Mine
  • Sergio’s Sportfishing
  • Ensenada Brewing Company

Hussong’s Cantina

This is one of the historic places in Ensenada where you can try the famous margaritas, as it is believed they originated from this very cantina. In this really unique Mexican pub, you will experience the authentic vibe while enjoying some of the finest cocktails in Mexico. 

Image source: jelisaros

La Guerrerense

Another popular place in Ensenada is this food cart serving some of the freshest and most delicious seafood products in the whole area. Be prepared to stand in a long line just to order. 

Image source: saveurmag

Ensenada Museum of History

If you are a history enthusiast, then you will definitely pay a visit to Ensenada Museum of History, which mostly focuses on the history of the Baja Peninsula, and familiarize yourself with this island’s history. 

Image source: marlenne.ag

The Opal Mine

The Opal Mine offers truly unique local souvenirs. Here you can find a huge selection of hand-made pieces of jewelry containing opal, which is considered as the national stone of Mexico. 

Image source: opal.mine.ensenada

Sergio’s Sportfishing

Since 1997, Sergio’s Sportfishing has been offering fishing excursions to the nearby islands and reefs. Apart from sport fishing, you can rent the vessels and take a cruise to admire the scenery. 

Image source: sergiossportfishing

Ensenada Brewing Company

As the Best Brewery in Mexico, this brewery is well famous for artisan craft beers with authentic Mexican flavors such as agave nectar, vanilla, and piloncillo, Mexican sugar. 

Image source: ensenadabrewing

Where to stay in Ensenada for nightlife – Downtown

Image source: moon

Downtown Ensenada is a large area spreading from the deeper mainland all the way to the port. This neighborhood is close to the Zona Centro, and well connected with the port, so all the tourists who leave their cruisers can easily walk around these two areas. Some of the best restaurants, tavernas, and bars are located in this area. Whether you prefer the latest music hits or some samba experience, there are plenty of clubs where you can indulge your passion. Moreover, Downtown hosts some of the best hookah or shisha bars in Mexico. 

Image source: germancorralesarte

Things to see and do in Downtown

Home to numerous bars, pubs, restaurants and hookah bars, Downtown is a great place for nightlife lovers in search of the authentic Mexican fun. With so many energetic places to visit in this area, we had a hard time selecting only some of them. Here are our suggestions: 

  • Juan More Taco Food Tour
  • Cafe Torino 
  • El Rey Sol
  • Papas & Beer
  • Maya Cacao 

Juan More Taco Food Tour

If you are a foodie, don’t miss a chance to sign up for Juan More Taco Food Tour which not only presents you with some of the most delicious treats of Mexican cuisine but also takes you on a walking tour of Ensenada. This tour will take you through local neighborhoods where you can acquaint yourself with the local history and traditions while at the same time tasting some of the best Mexican food. 

Image source: cookinplaya

Cafe Torino

When you get exhausted from wandering around the city, take a coffee break at Cafe Torino, Italian-style coffee place, which aside from different types of coffee, serves delicious pastries and light meals. 

Image source: elcafetorino

El Rey Sol 

If you aren’t looking for a restaurant serving local food, then El Rey Sol, the oldest French restaurant in Mexico is the right place for you. With plenty of French specialties and desserts and live piano music, it is the ideal place for lunch or dinner with your loved one. 

Image source: ensenadabajacalifornia

Papas & Beer

There isn’t a better place for showing your mad dance skills than Papas & Beer. This energetic cantina plays great music, serves ice-cold beer, and large plates of french fries. Image source: djcheatos

Maya Cacao  

Visit Maya Cacao and embark on an adventure of finding out everything there is to know about the cacao bean and chocolate and at the same time taste some of the finest chocolate samples and drinks of Mexico. 

Image source: grittygastro