Ensenada Visitors Guide

Share this!

Ensenada is a bustling coastal city located in the Baja California Norte region of Mexico. It’s known for its rich culture, delicious food, and stunning natural beauty. If you’re looking for a destination that offers the perfect blend of relaxation, adventure, and gastronomy, Ensenada is the perfect place to visit. Let’s explore some of the top reasons why you should add Ensenada to your travel list.

Where is Ensenada located? Ensenada is 67 miles, or about a one or two hour drive south of the border -depending on traffic. Scroll down for information on getting to Ensenada and getting around!

Because of the proximity, many people from the USA will drive their own vehicles to Ensenada via Tijuana for a daytrip or weekend getaway. Cruise ships also frequently dock there. Ensenada is a great place to stop if you are planning to travel in your RV or campervan down the peninsula.

Baja Fish Tacos - foods you should try in Baja

What to Eat in Ensenada

Ensenada is a seafood lover’s paradise. One of the best places to sample Ensenada’s famous seafood is at Mercado Negro. This bustling market is home to dozens of vendors selling everything from tacos de pescado (fish tacos) to ceviche. Following are a few local spots to get a delicious snack or meal.

  • To satisfy that seafood craving, Tacos Fénix is a famous streetside stand selling fish and shrimp tacos to locals and tourists since 1970! Add your own toppings from the salsa bar to make it just how you like it. Personally I go for lots of cabbage, salsa verde, a squeeze of lime and chipotle crema.
  • La Guerrerense is a popular spot for seafood tostadas and ceviche. We recommend hitting up the stand but they also have a restaurant across the way called Sabina.
  • A favorite for sit-down dining nearby is Muelle 3. This small fish restaurant is always packed and reservations are highly recommended. People rave about the fresh seafood, especially the excellent ceviche and the pulpo con huitlacoche. Note that this restaurant is only open from noon to 6:30pm. Enjoy a late lunch!
  • Another sit-down place to try is Villa Marina. They have an ocean view and serve a variety of seafood specialties including octopus and oysters. Villa Marina is open from noon to 9pm.
  • Want to try a margarita in a place that is famous for (maybe) inventing the delicious drink? Head to Hussong’s Cantina and enjoy the fun historic ambiance while sipping tasty margaritas. Read more about the crazy history of this place here.

If you’d like to learn more about Ensenada’s food scene why not take a culinary tour? Check out the Ensenada Eats tour with Baja Test Kitchen or an Ensenada Taco Tour with Juan More Tacos. You can also take a culinary tour out to Valle de Guadalupe. Read more below!

Valle de Guadalupe wine tasting near Ensenada

Wine Tasting Near Ensenada

The Ensenada region is also known for its thriving wine scene. The Valle de Guadalupe, located just a short drive from Ensenada, is home to around 200 wineries. The region is known for its robust red wines, but also produces some excellent whites and sparkling wines. French, Spanish and Italian grape varietals grow well here, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Carignan and Tempranillo. Blends are very popular with winemakers in this area.

How far is Valle de Guadalupe from Ensenada? The valley lies just 20km (12 miles) northeast of Ensenada via Highway 3, La Ruta del Vino. Keep in mind that the side roads in the wine region are mostly dirt and can be very rough with ruts and potholes. Take it easy and drive carefully.

One of the best ways to experience the Valle de Guadalupe is on a guided wine tour so that you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving. Most tours include tastings at multiple wineries, as well as a delicious lunch. Check out these tours below. Some leave from Ensenada while others will transport you from San Diego or Tijuana. Winery tours are also offered as shore excursions by the cruise ships that dock in Ensenada, or you can always arrange your own.

  • Club Tengo Hambre offers intimate fun tours of Valle de Guadalupe that include food and wine. They pick you up at the border crossing and whisk you on your way in a comfy van.
  • Arrange your own Valle de Guadalupe private tour with a group of friends or family. A driver will pick up your group at your lodging in Ensenada and take you on a personalized tour of three wineries and a stop for lunch.
  • Take a tour of four wineries and have lunch in Valle de Guadalupe with this private group tour. The tour includes round-trip transportation from your lodgings in Ensenada.

You can also visit Valle de Guadalupe during the harvest festival (Fiestas de la Vendimia) or another special event. For more information on Valle de Guadalupe be sure to check out our guide here!

La Bufadora blowhole Ensenada Baja California Norte
La Bufadora Photo by Emmanuel Olguín

Ensenada’s Best Beaches

Ensenada is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. Playa Hermosa is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The long, wide beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. Playa La Misión is another great option, with its soft sand and clear waters. For those looking for something more secluded, Playa Salsipuedes is a hidden gem. It requires a short hike to reach, but the stunning views and secluded cove make it well worth the effort.

Surfers will love visiting San Miguel Beach, California Trailer Park, Stacks and 3 Ms. Or if you are really serious, grab a boat to Todos Santos Island for some of the best big wave surfing around.

Things To Do in Ensenada

As mentioned above, the Ensenada area is famous for seafood and wine, and has some great beaches for swimming, sunbathing and surfing. But there is a lot more to do! Here are some top tips:

  • If you are into off-road racing then you have definitely heard of the Baja 500 and Baja 1000.
  • Whale watching is another popular activity in Ensenada from December until May when the gray whales migrate between Alaska and the Sea of Cortez. Amazing!
  • Check out the blowhole at La Bufadora.
  • Walk along the Malecón and take in the sea air while eating an ice cream or other snack.
  • Visit Ensenada for a festival, holiday or event. Check out the Ensenada Beer Fest, Carnaval in February, the Festival de Conchas y El Vino Nuevo in April or Dia de Muertos in November.

Places to Stay in Ensenada

Whether you are looking for Ensenada hotels on the beach, cheap hotels in downtown Ensenada, or the best Airbnbs in Ensenada – we have options for you!

  • One of Ensenada’s best resorts is Hotel Coral & Marina. This oceanside hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool and jacuzzi, and has a popular weekend brunch.
  • Another oceanfront hotel is La Rosas, which boasts an infinity pool overlooking the rocky coastline and the Pacific.
  • If you are searching for Ensenada hotels on the beach consider staying in an Airbnb or VRBO apartment instead. There are many more options with better quality than the dated beach hotels. This two bedroom house is located right on Playa Hermosa. Or take a look at this loft overlooking the beach and right off the Malecón.
  • Looking for cheap hotels in Ensenada? Check out Hostal Edka, Costa Mar or Capital O where you can get a small room for one or two people for under $50US.
Photo by Roman Lopez

Getting To Ensenada and Getting Around

Most visitors to Ensenada drive their own vehicle across the border from Los Angeles or San Diego. Ensenada is only 67 miles from the border so this is a quick trip. However if you prefer not to drive and want to take public transportation that is possible too. Check out our visitor guide to Tijuana to read more about this fabulous city and get lots of useful information about crossing the border by car, on foot or with public transport!

There are currently no commercial flights directly to the small Ensenada airport. However, if you are coming from far away you can fly into the Tijuana airport or other airports in Southern California like San Diego, Orange County or LAX.

The ABC Autobus runs trips from Tijuana to Ensenada daily. The trip takes approximately two hours and costs $200MXN. If you are traveling from San Diego to Ensenada you can take the Trolley to the border, walk directly to the Tijuana airport, and catch the ABC bus from the airport to Ensenada.

You can also take a private shuttle, taxi or use a ridesharing app like Uber to get there and get around.

Having your own car allows you to explore the area and take side trips to places like Valle de Guadalupe and Tijuana. But you can also arrange a private tour to the wine tasting region. And you can even take the ABC bus to the Valle or other areas of Baja California like La Paz or Los Cabos.

Ensenada is a destination that has something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie, a wine lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, this coastal city is sure to impress. From the delicious street food to the stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Ensenada is a must-visit destination.