- Lies on the Pacific coast of Baja, California, and has a population of around 700,000.
- Located just 125 km south of San Diego, it is the heart of Mexican wine country.
- A commercial port city known for its fishing and tourism industries.
- Nickname: La Cenicienta del Pacifico (“The Cinderella of the Pacific”)
- Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN).
- Spoken languages: Spanish.
- Best time to visit: anytime (mild, Mediterranean climate). Winter nights can get chilly.
- Arriving from the airport: Ensenada has no airport – the most frequently used airport to get here is San Diego Airport. There are two options on how to get from the airport to Ensenada. The first is to drive across the San Ysidro border, and then follow the signs through Tijuana to Ensenada, which takes around 1.5 hours. There are 3 toll roads on the way, each costing 30 pesos. Another option is to cross the border and take a bus from Tijuana for around 200 pesos.
WHERE TO STAY
Downtown Ensenada has every type of accommodation you could want, from upscale hotels to budget dormitory rooms.
- Taxis are all over Ensenada and will take you just about anywhere, for a reasonable price.
- Ensenada’s buses serve mostly the central/suburban areas – a single ride is just 8 pesos.
- Hiring a car can be a fantastic option, as parking is free.
- You can get to most of downtown Ensenada by walking – however, be aware that some of the best attractions cannot be accessed by foot.
- Drinking age is 18, last call is 3 AM.
- Downtown is the hub for all of the best clubs, whether you prefer chart-music experience or samba-class style night out.
- For those wanting a chilled bohemian night out, Ensenada has plenty of hookah (shisha) bars.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- La Bufadora, located around 19 miles from the center of Ensenada, is a blowhole that reaches up to 100 feet. The views are incredible and the road leading to the blowhole is lined with Mexican craft shops and food stands.
- Take a day trip to visit some of the Ensenada wineries, on the outskirts of the city. Tours and tastings are available.
- Go whale watching (December to May). Witness the gray whale’s annual migrations from Alaska to Baja California, and back again.
- Centro Social, Civico y Cultural Riviera (Riviera Social, Civic and Cultural Center) is a beautiful building with local artistic and historical exhibits.
- Hiking is abundant in the hills surrounding Ensenada. Try the Canon de Dona Petra Hike and take the bus back to Ensenada once you’re done.
- Walk along the seafront and around the port, right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. See if you can catch a glimpse of the seals sunbathing on the docks!
- The San Carlos Hot Springs are a hidden treasure in Ensenada, just 5 miles south of the town. Nestled into a hilly valley, the site also has camping facilities.
- Ensenada’s Carnaval is one of the country’s largest and lasts for six days and nights – parades take place in the streets and there are circuses, concerts and fun fairs along the seafront.
- The longest international off road race in the world called the Baja 1000, taking place in November – on even numbered years, it ends in Ensenada. The Baja 500 takes place in June, and always ends in Ensenada.
- Where to find good cheap food: Ensenada has many taco vendors and the fish tacos are a must-try. Affordable restaurants can be found almost anywhere in the city.
- Dangerous areas to avoid: while Ensenada is not especially dangerous, be careful with personal belongings. Don’t go out alone at night to areas you are not familiar with.
The Best Ensenada Guide Books:
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days