Nestled between the mountains of Baja California and the Pacific Ocean, Ensenada is a small city with a pleasant climate. This makes it a popular destination for visitors from across North America – not least because of how close it is to the border. Gorgeous scenery aside, Ensenada is one of the best wine regions in Mexico, and the beautiful beaches in the area are more secluded than you would expect from larger resort towns.

All that said, Ensenada still doesn’t have as many tourists as other, better known, cities. This means that guides online are pretty sparse, and figuring out where to stay when can be difficult. If you want to have a fun and safe time, it’s important you gather your bearings before you arrive.

That’s why we’ve built this guide! Combining personal experience with local expertise and online reviews, we’ve figured out the three best places to stay in and around Ensenada. Whether you’re here for wine, beaches, or laid-back cultural attractions, we’ve got you covered.

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Where to Stay in Ensenada

Ensenada is quite a small and compact city, so getting around is easy. Even when going towards wine country in Valle de Guadalupe, there are plenty of tour buses available. What’s more, it’s one of the safest destinations in Mexico! If you’re not too bothered about which neighbourhood you’re staying in, these are our top three overall accommodation picks.

Gorgeous Mountain Views in Ensenada – Casa Ensenada Bay View

Ensenada is known for its gorgeous views, and this villa up in the mountains means you’ll get to enjoy them from the comfort of your own pad! The architecture is rustic and traditional, giving the whole property a laid-back vibe. Centro is only a short downhill walk away, so you’ll be close to all the main attractions, restaurants, and beaches.

Luxury House in Ensenada – Independencia

Independencia is one of the more modern neighbourhoods in Ensenada and a short walk from both Zona Centro and Playa. This stylish apartment carries on the contemporary vibes, with granite countertops and a walk-in shower. It also has its own secluded patio area with a barbecue and large dining space – perfect for a quick getaway to the sun.

Lavish Hotel near Ensenada – El Cielo Winery & Resort

If you’re going on holiday to the heart of Mexico’s best wine region, you might as well splurge on a five-star experience! This gorgeous hotel in the heart of Valle de Guadalupe is right next to a winery, meaning you can roll straight out of bed and head to the tasting room. It’s surrounded by mountains and olive trees, giving you a stunning backdrop for those all-important Instagram photos.

Ensenada Neighbourhood Guide

FIRST TIME IN ENSENADA
Ensenada
FIRST TIME IN ENSENADA

Zona Centro

As the name suggests, Zona Centro is right in the heart of the city. This is where you’ll find many of the best cultural attractions, as well as the only nightlife worth visiting. If you want a livelier experience, you should definitely keep Zona Centro as your base.

ON A BUDGET
ON A BUDGET

Valle de Guadalupe

The Ensenada Region is often regarded as the best wine region in Mexico, with Valle de Guadalupe the epicentre of viticulture. Guadalupe is the main town, but if you can, you should totally drive right up the valley.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Playa

Playa Ensenada and neighbouring Bahia Ensenada are a little more laid-back than Zona Centro. This makes them a must-visit for those seeking a typical beach vacation.

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3 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Ensenada

Ensenada might be small, but each neighbourhood has something different to offer. If you’re backpacking Mexico and you’re in the area, make sure to stop over and explore the city.

Keep reading for our tips on the best places to stay, plus accommodation and activity suggestions for each.

#1 Zona Centro – Overall Best Place to Stay in Ensenada

  • COOLEST thing to do in Zona Centro: get your heart racing in this epic zip line and hanging bridges experience at the local eco-park.
  • BEST place to visit in Zona Centro: Ensenada is famous as the birthplace of fish tacos; by far the best place to try these is the local fish market, Mercado Negro.

As the name suggests, Zona Centro is right in the heart of the city. This is where you’ll find many of the best cultural attractions, as well as the only nightlife worth visiting. If you want a livelier experience, you should definitely keep Zona Centro as your base. There are plenty of local attractions in this area, as well as a few boat trips from the harbour.

Speaking of boat trips, you’ll also find some great tour operators in the area. Ensenada is quite small, but well placed for taking day trips elsewhere in Baja California. For first time visitors, Zona Centro is the place to be – especially if you don’t have your own car.

zona centro ensenada
source: Tetiana Tuchyk (shutterstock)

Things to See and Do in Zona Centro

  • Learn about local design, linoleum cut processing, and make your own print to take home in this fantastic two-hour workshop in the heart of the city.
  • Staying in Zona Centro but still keen to visit Valle de Guadalupe? This day trip to the best wine region in Mexico is definitely the best-priced option.
  • No night out in Zona Centro is complete without a trip to Cantina Hussong’s, the oldest bar in Baja California and the supposed historic home of the margarita.
  • Ventana al Mar is a small park hugging the city centre coastline that regularly hosts live events and has some scenic cycle lanes.
  • Sample some laid-back local cuisine at the many cantinas hiding around the back streets – we love Casa Marcelo in particular.

Gorgeous Hideaway in Zona Centro – Casa Obregon

Nestled right in the heart of Centro, Casa Obregon is an art deco lover’s dream with stylish architecture and equally inviting interiors. The master suite comes with a private balcony overlooking the city and the private swimming pool. Sleeping up to 13 people across 5 bedrooms, this is an excellent pick for large families and groups heading to Ensenada this year. It even has its own wine cellar and bar!

Rustic Holiday Home near Zona Centro – Casa Ensenada Bay View

We love this traditional Baja California colonial style home! Alongside stunning views, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the gorgeous architecture. Inside you’ll find spacious rooms kitted out with modern furnishings to create a bright and breezy atmosphere. The real star of the show is the outdoor terrace, with a large seating area and views of the city centre.

Laid Back Resort in Zona Centro – Hotel Cortez

This is an excellent hotel for those that want to kick back and relax with minimal fuss. Rated four stars, it is nevertheless well priced, so you definitely won’t break the bank with a short stay at Hotel Cortez. The outdoor pool area comes with plenty of sun loungers and a nearby bar offering a wide range of cocktails.

#2 Valle de Guadalupe – Best Place to Stay near Ensenada for Wine

  • COOLEST thing to do in Valle de Guadalupe: take a wine tour! We love this private sensory tasting experience, but most vineyards have their own tastings.
  • BEST place to visit in Valle de Guadalupe: Vinicola JC Bravo is an excellent winery, especially if you want some great photos to remember your trip with.

The Ensenada Region is often regarded as the best wine region in Mexico, with Valle de Guadalupe the epicentre of viticulture. Guadalupe is the main town, but if you can, you should totally drive right up the valley. It isn’t just about the wine; it’s also home to some gorgeous, unspoiled scenery.

The vineyards make this a firm favourite with couples, but we also reckon solo travellers will relish the unique experience that Valle de Guadalupe has to offer. Locals have refused to let tourism change the neighbourhood, so you’ll find local boutiques and cantinas lining the streets in Guadalupe.

Valle de Guadalupe Ensenada
source: Priscilia Salinas (shutterstock)

Things to See and Do in Valle de Guadalupe

  • Always fancied yourself a bit of a viticulturist? You can try designing your own wine to take home to friends and family in this unique experience.
  • Get back to basics with this wood-fired cooking experience on a working farm – you don’t get more locally-sourced than that!
  • Museo Comunitario Ruso is the only museum about the Guadalupe neighbourhood and is a quirky insight into the local culture.
  • More about tasting wine than seeing how it’s made? We get it – Viñedos de la Reina offer some excellent experiences, with unbeatable views to boot.
  • Speaking of gorgeous views, Almadraba Tapas Bar is only a short drive away and is the perfect spot for a date night feast.

Stylish Villa in Valle de Guadalupe – Periferia Suite

Looking for a secluded getaway near the best vineyards in Mexico? Look no further than Periferia Suite! This spacious villa has everything you could possibly need for a short stay in the heart of wine country. With one spacious bedroom, it is a favourite with couples looking for a romantic break. They also provide vegan skincare and haircare products, so you’ll leave with an enviable glow.

Luxury Glamping in Valle de Guadalupe – Campera Bubble Suite

Airbnb Plus properties are handpicked for their stylish settings and excellent customer service. This cute little glamping experience near Guadalupe lets you enjoy a stay out in nature without giving up your home comforts. Hosted within the Campera Hotel grounds, it comes with sturdy furnishings and a private bathroom. This is another great pick for couples, especially those with an adventurous side.

Extravagant Hotel in Valle de Guadalupe – El Cielo Winery & Resort

Enjoy wine tastings, vineyard tours, and gorgeous scenery right on your doorstep at this beautiful hotel nestled among the mountains of Valle de Guadalupe. They also offer their own winemaking experience, so you’ll get to carry your own piece of paradise home with you to show off to your friends. Transportation to Ensenada and Tijuana is included in the price.

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#3 Playa – Coolest Place to Stay in Ensenada

  • COOLEST thing to do Playa: explore the beach in style in this unforgettable horseback riding experience along the city centre coastline.
  • BEST place to visit Playa: the science museum, Caracol Museo de Ciencias, is a great choice for the rainier days.

Playa Ensenada and neighbouring Bahia Ensenada are a little more laid-back than Zona Centro. This makes them a must-visit for those seeking a typical beach vacation. Families will love the relaxing vibes of Playa Ensenada, while couples travelling alone will prefer the upmarket vibes of Bahia Ensenada.

Other than some of Mexico’ best beaches, Playa Ensenada is where you’ll find many of the museums in the city, including the impressive Caracol Museo de Ciencias. Heading towards Bahia Ensenada, there are some great companies offering watersports and boat hire, as well as a few tour companies with trips to Valle de Guadalupe.

playa ensenada
source: posztos (shutterstock)

Things to See and Do in Playa

  • Los Globos is the local flea market, home to quirky antiques, colourful bric-a-brac, and some local ingredients – you can even take a guided tour for some local tips.
  • Hugging the Pacific Coast, Playa Ensenada is an epic spot for surfing, but make sure you take a few classes if you’re a beginner.
  • Ensenada Cruiseport Village is the main dock for private yachts; however, you can also hire some boats and kayaks from the boat club.
  • Centro Estatal de las Artes is the main art gallery showcasing local talent; they also have regular cultural events throughout the year.
  • Visiting with the family? Broncos Steak House is a laid-back dining option with hearty portions and unbelievably good prices.

Family Home in Playa – Ensenada Hills

This is one for families on a budget! Nestled in the hills above Playa, it comes with three bedrooms, meaning it can comfortably accommodate most parties. The outdoor patio comes with a barbecue – perfect for self-catering in the sun. The interiors are a little basic, but add a traditional touch to complete this calm little oasis.

Modern Retreat in Playa – Independencia

We love this contemporary little apartment in neighbouring Independencia! The dazzling beaches of Playa are only a short walk away, as well as some of the most popular nightlife options in the city. It comes with a private garage that can fit up to three cars – a great choice for larger groups travelling down to Ensenada. All rooms come with their own en-suites.

Private Yacht in Playa – Carolyn V

Want something a bit more unique? Stay in your own private yacht in nearby Bahia Ensenada! It makes an excellent budget pick for solo travellers and couples, regardless of your sailing experience, but you’re also allowed to take the boat on fishing trips near the coast. Staying for a special occasion? Arrange meals and snacks with the host before you arrive.

Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Ensenada?

Looking for where to stay in Mexico this year? Look no further than Ensenada. This small but mighty city is packed with stunning scenery, impeccable cuisine, and unique cultural attractions just waiting to be discovered. It’s also where many people believe the best wine in Mexico is made – so bottom’s up!

We really struggled to pick one neighbourhood as our favourite, but Zona Centro is easily the best-connected part of the city. If this is your first trip to Ensenada, we recommend staying as close to the centre as possible so you can easily get to all the main attractions.

That being said, it’s pretty compact, and the transport between the main tourist areas is good. Wherever you choose to stay depends on what you want to get out of your trip, but for a truly unforgettable vacation, you should spend some time in all three of the neighbourhoods mentioned.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

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