Mazatlán is an incredibly easy city to get around, as there are tons of options for transportation, and they’re all affordable!
No matter if you are a tourist or an expat, this guide will help you learn all the different routes, prices, and types of transportation in Mazatlán.
When my husband and I moved to Mazatlán we left our car in Canada, so one the first things I needed do learn was all the different ways of getting around the city. No word of a lie, Mazatlán has to be one of the easiest cities I’ve ever lived in when it comes to transportation. I’m actually so glad we DIDN’T bring our car because I find it easier and cheaper to use all the alternative methods to navigate the city.
In this Mazatlán transportation guide I am going to cover ALL the ways to get around, including:
- How walkable the city is
- Hopping in the back of a red trucks (called “Aurigas”)
- Taking a Pulmonia up and down the Malecon
- Using ride-share apps like Uber & DiDi
- Calling a Taxi
- Hiring a Private Driver
- Renting a bike with a bike share app
- Taking the public bus
In addition to all the different ways you can get around town, I’m also going to answer questions like:
- Can I take an Uber from the Mazatlán Airport?
- Do I need a car in Mazatlán?
Mazatlán Transportation Guide
I want to start this blog off with one of the coolest ways to get around Mazatlán, and that is in a Pulmonia. If you are a tourist, this is a must do!
A Pulmonia is an open-air taxi made from a souped-up golf cart. They are all custom and differ in size and features, but all usually have music blasting from them at all times. They ride up and down the Malecon and are very easy to flag down. You’ll see one every few seconds.
How much does a Pulmonia cost?
The price differs for each Pulmonia driver, but here are some rough estimates:
Let’s say you want to travel from the Malecon in centro to the Golden Zone, expect to pay about $150-200 pesos. ($10-$14 CAD / $8-$10 USD)
If you want to hire one for an hour, you’ll likely be quoted anywhere from $300 to $500 pesos for the hour. ($20-35 CAD / $16/27 USD)
If you are a new expat, you’ll quickly learn that Pulmonias are more of a novelty for visitors, and while they are very cool, they are easily 10x’s the cost of normal day-to-day transportation. You’ll want to take these with your visitors, but not to get around town for errands.
Aurigas (the red trucks)
Another unique mode of transportation in Mazatlán are the aurigas trucks (otherwise known as the red trucks).
They are usually a red 2WD truck fitted with a bench and a canopy in the bed of the truck that can take 8-10 people around at a time. Mazatlán is big on domestic tourism and Mexican nationals usually visit with lots of their family members. The aurigas are a great way to be able to travel around town with large groups of people, without having to grab 3 separate taxis.
Just like the pulmonias, they are usually blasting music from them at all times and can always be found driving up and down the main streets of town. You can call these guys ahead of time (the phone number is on the side of the trucks) or you can flag down an empty one as you please.
Unlike pulmonias, the aurigas can go outside of town and on highways, so you can use them for further or more complicated trips. Expats and locals also hire aurigas to move furniture or buy heavy items that won’t fit in taxis or the bus.
How much does an Auriga cost?
From Cerritos (north of the city) down to Plaza Machado (in centro historico) fully loaded with 8 people, you can get a rate as low as $250 pesos one way. Again, pricing is negotiable and based on each individual aurigas driver. ($17 CAD / $13 USD)
To hire for the hour, you’ll find rates between $350-$500 pesos. ($24-$34 CAD / $18-$26 USD)
Ride Share (Uber, Didi and more)
Uber in Mazatlán
YES, Uber works in Mazatlán and is how I get around 80% of the time! It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it uses the exact same app and payment system you already have set up on your phone.
The one thing you will find different about Uber in Mazatlán is how much cheaper it is than what you’re used to!
Currently in Mazatlan they only use UberX (which is the budget option) and they don’t have options for Uber Select or Uber Black, etc. The cars are usually newer and clean, as Uber has more strict rules than some of the other ride share programs.
How much do Ubers cost in Mazatlán?
- Cerritos Beach to Centro (about 30 min ride) $100 pesos ($7 CAD / $5 USD)
- Golden Zone to Centro (about 15/20 min ride) $65 pesos ($4.50 CAD / $3.25 USD)
- Shorter trips to Walmart, Malls, Groceries (about 10/15 min ride) $30-$50 pesos (30 pesos = $2 CAD / $1.50 USD)
I think the average I spend on Uber is about $45 pesos a ride.
(p.s.- yes, Mazatlán also has Uber Eats!)
An example of a ride I took recently. From my house to the mall (just about 2km) was only $30 pesos. The car only took 3 minutes to get to my front door to pick me up.
DiDi is exactly like Uber, but is a local Mexican version of the app. It comes in a little cheaper than Uber (usually $5 to $10 pesos less for the same ride length) and doesn’t have surge pricing like Uber. Also with DiDi you have the option of paying cash, or charging your card.
With DiDi, you usually get the same level of car as Uber, but they have slightly less strict rules, you might get picked up in something a little older than with Uber.
This is an example 4.5km ride from Plaza Machado to Gran Plaza mall. It tells me it will take the car 3 minutes to pick me up, and will be $44 pesos for the ride! CHEAP!
Another app that is just like Uber and DiDi, only with a live bid system. You name the price of what you are willing to pay for the ride, and the drivers can agree or come back with a higher bid. If you have a favorite driver, you can also request them on the InDriver app.
Yes, yet another ride sharing app. I have never used bolt, but I’m told it’s just like all the other apps, but this one can also dispatch a taxi.
The good ‘ol taxi! Yes, of course Mazatlán has a lot of taxis you can call or hail down as well.
On another note that we will get into later in this blog, you will likely need to use a taxi when you land at the airport, as Ubers are prohibited.
There are two taxis you will see driving around town. One is green, and one is red. Both are not metred, and you will have to agree on a fare before-hand. You will find that they are around the same price as an Uber, maybe slightly more.
You can either call this taxi at 669- 986-1111 or request a car on on the Taxify App
You can call 669-985-2828 to request a car
The bus system is actually great in Mazatlán and I take it to get to Centro or when I am running errands that I don’t need a car for.
The most common route that a tourist or even as expat will use is the Sabalo-Centro bus route. This bus is really easy to spot because it’s the only one that’s big and green! You can’t miss it. The inside in airconditioned and it’s always clean and comfy.
The route runs from just past the Marina area in the North, all the way down to past Centro in the south. It mainly runs alongside the malecon and is very easy to flag down. You will see many bus stop canopies along it’s route, but if you happen to not be at one, you can still raise your hand up and it will stop for you.
How much is the bus in Mazatlán?
The Sabalo-Centro bus is $11 pesos. So cheap! ($0.75 CAD / $0.57 USD)
The bus runs around every 10 minutes or so.
Here is one tip I had to learn by mistake. The fair you pay on the Sabalo-Centro bus does not run in a ‘loop’, meaning you can’t just pay once and ride the route as many times as you want. At each tip of its route the bus stops and takes a break. There is always another bus waiting there that you can hop back on, but you will have to pay the fair again.
When I first moved here I flagged a green bus down (going the opposite way) thinking it would just loop at the end of its route and I could just remain on. Nope! At the end of the line the driver told me I had to leave and pay to get on a new bus. Whoops!
Not a big deal, but something to be aware of for new bus riders.
Other bus routes in Mazatlán
There are many other bus routes in Mazatlán besides the Sabalo-Centro. These other bus routes will take you to many different areas of town including the Gran Plaza Galerias Mall, the stadium and most markets. The fares on the other lines are a little cheaper ($8 to $10 pesos), but know that only SOME are air-conditioned, while others are not.
(Other routes with AC incude: Alarcon-Sabalo, Joaquin-Sabalo, and Dorados)
Here’s a PDF map of all the bus routes in Mazatlan
Mazatlán is a place of entrepreneurship and many of the ride-share drivers also offer private driver services and tours.
Many people find a private driver through friends who have been to Mazatlán before, expat Facebook groups, or through word of mouth.
Depending if you want a tour, or just a quick ride around town, prices will vary driver to driver.
We use Christian Blancarte of Mazatlan Travel Club from anything from day trips, to longer region tours, to helping us pick up oversized items from stores that won’t fit in taxis. You can send him a message on WhatsApp at +52 669 142 3699
The rates for a Vbike rental are only $10 pesos per hour. ($0.70 CAD / $0.52 USD)
You pay through the app and a signal gets sent to ‘unlock’ the bikes tire so you can use it. For frequent users they have monthly and semi-annual plans available.
Walking Around Mazatlán
Yes, it’s safe to walk around Mazatlán. Yes, even at night. Especially if you are in Centro, the Malecon, or in the Golden Zone.
Coming from living in South East Asia for 2 years, I have learned to appreciate a little thing called ‘sidewalks’, of which Mazatlán has plenty. (Walking around in Indonesia and Vietnam usually means walking on the road, as sidewalks are either non-existent or completely unusable.)
Mazatlán has plenty of well lit, well kept, sidewalks in all of its major areas. Where we live, in the Golden Zone, we can pretty much walk to anything we need.
In the case of the malecon, you can walk for hours on end if your heart desires! Mazatlán’s malecon is one of the world’s largest boardwalks and it’s immaculate! They even have a separate lane for people who want to walk, and others who want to bike. It’s the place to be, especially after the sun goes down.
Walking around is much easier to do during the winter and early spring months when the weather in Mazatlán is very comfortable.
Mazatlán Airport Transportation
When you land at the Mazatlán International Airport (General Rafael Buelna) you don’t have a lot of options when it comes to transportation. This airport is controlled by an airport taxi union and the use of aurigas, Uber, or pulmonias is strictly prohibited.
You basically have two options: A shared shuttle van or an airport taxi.
Shared Shuttle Van
The cost of the shared shuttle van is $125 pesos ($8.50 CAD / $6.50 USD) to almost anywhere in town. If you are the first drop off, this is a very inexpensive and fast way to get from the airport to your hotel/rental. However, if the shuttle van is packed and you are the last one to get dropped off, you might be in for a 2-3 hour ride.
The taxis at the airport come with a pre-negotiated and set rate. As of Nov 2019 ,expect to pay $400 pesos to Centro, $430 pesos to the Golden Zone, $500 pesos to Cerritos.
You need to buy a taxi voucher from the authorized stand before grabbing a car. You will find the counter after you exit the luggage carousel on the right-hand side.
In case you didn’t pick up any pesos before your trip, they will except CAD and USD for the payment of the taxi, but you must pay in CASH ONLY.
Airport Private Van for Large Groups
If you have a large group arriving at the MZT airport, you might want to pre-book your own private van. Christian Blancarte of Mazatlan Travel Club has a 17 passenger van and is licensed to do airport transportation.
Should I bring my car to Mazatlán?
That will really depend on where you end up living!
If you settle in El Cid or another similar gated community, then yes, you might want to consider having your own car.
If you are going to live in the Golden Zone or Centro, you will likely find you don’t have a need for one. Parking in both neighborhoods is not the easiest thing to do, however some of the most popular restaurants will offer valet.
Also, those neighborhoods have frequent buses running every few minutes, lots of Ubers, taxis, and pulmonias in the area, and have very walkable communities.
Personally, I am so glad we did not bring our car (which is actually a full-size Dodge Ram truck) down here because we would never use it. It would sit parked until the end of time. For us, it’s much easier to call a $40 peso Uber to run an errand than to try and drive a big truck around and find parking.