Acapulco Introduction Walking Tour, Acapulco

Acapulco Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Acapulco

Acapulco de Juárez, commonly known as Acapulco, is a vibrant port of call for ships and cruise lines operating between Panama and San Francisco, California. The city's name, originating from the Nahuatl language expression "where the reeds were washed away," reflects its historical roots. Added to it, in 1885, "de Juárez" honored Benito Juárez, a former Mexican president.

Located on a semicircular bay on Mexico's Pacific coast, Acapulco has been a crucial seaport since the country’s early colonial period. Historically, by the 8th century, it was a cultural center influenced by the Olmecs, Teotihuacan, and Maya civilizations, and later the Aztec Empire. European discovery occurred post-Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, with the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés founding the settlement in the early 16th century, making it a pivotal part of the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade.

From the 17th to the 19th century, Acapulco faced various challenges, including pirate attacks and an earthquake. It was a vital node during the California Gold Rush. In the 20th century, Acapulco emerged as a prominent beach resort, popular among Hollywood stars and millionaires throughout the 1940s-1960s. During that time, the city experienced substantial growth, with notable infrastructure developments and celebrity visits boosting its status. This growth continued with the construction of new hotels and tourist facilities well into the 1990s.

Known primarily for its stunning beaches and lively nightlife, Acapulco also holds a rich colonial heritage, most notably seen in the Fort of San Diego, a historic 17th-century fortress, now housing the Acapulco Historical Museum.

Another cultural gem is the Cathedral of Our Lady of Solitude, presenting an unusual blend of architectural styles, reflecting the city’s eclectic character. This cathedral stands near the bustling Zocalo (also known as Plaza Alvarez), the heart of Acapulco, where locals and tourists alike gather for leisure and festivities.

The city's main boulevard, Costera Miguel Aleman Avenue, stretches along the bay, lined with shops, restaurants, and bars, making it a perfect spot for an evening stroll.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the vibrant Diego Rivera Mural, created by the famed Mexican artist himself, which adorns the facade of a house not far from La Quebrada, an iconic spot renowned for its daring cliff divers who plunge from towering heights into the narrow sea cove below—a spectacle that encapsulates the adventurous spirit of Acapulco.

Acapulco is a city of contrasts, where historical richness blends with modern allure, and cultural sites coexist with natural beauty. If you're ready to dive into the vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes of Acapulco, plan your visit now and discover all that this enchanting city has to offer.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Acapulco Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Acapulco Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Mexico » Acapulco (See other walking tours in Acapulco)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: irenes
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Fort of San Diego and Acapulco Historical Museum
  • House of the Masks
  • Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude Cathedral)
  • Zocalo (Plaza Alvarez)
  • Tlacopanocha Beach
  • Costera Miguel Aleman Avenue
  • Diego Rivera Mural
  • Sinfonia del Mar (Symphony of the Sea)
  • La Quebrada (The Gulch Cliff Divers)
Fort of San Diego and Acapulco Historical Museum

1) Fort of San Diego and Acapulco Historical Museum (must see)

The Fort of San Diego, boasting a pentagonal shape and a rich history, is dating back to the 17th century. Initially constructed with the purpose of safeguarding the port and protecting the valuable cargo arriving on ships, the fort served as a crucial Spanish stronghold along the coast. Despite its strategic significance, the fort faced adversity when a Dutch fleet invaded Acapulco in 1615, resulting in widespread destruction of the town and the fort itself. However, the fort was resilient and rebuilt after being damaged by an earthquake in 1776, with reconstruction efforts completed in 1783.

Today, the Fort of San Diego serves as the location of the Acapulco Historical Museum, offering visitors a captivating journey through the city's rich past. The museum, which opened its doors to the public in 1986, is housed within the walls of the fort and features 15 exhibition rooms showcasing various aspects of Acapulco's history. Exhibits within the museum encompass a wide range of topics, including archaeological artifacts from the Mezcala culture, relics associated with the Manila galleons, insights into piracy, and displays highlighting the Mexican War of Independence. Additionally, the museum provides informative exhibits dedicated to the fort itself, offering visitors a deeper understanding of its historical significance and architectural features.

With its diverse collection of artifacts and engaging exhibits, the Acapulco Historical Museum offers visitors a comprehensive exploration of the city's rich cultural heritage. From ancient archaeological treasures to exhibits highlighting pivotal moments in Acapulco's history, the museum provides a captivating glimpse into the past of this vibrant coastal city.

Why You Should Visit:
Fantastic displays of early success with trade partners from the East going back to 1450 to 1600.
The signs are in both Spanish and English and there is plenty of information on all the boards.
Air-conditioned, inexpensive, well-kept, and in a great location, this is a wonderful museum.
All areas of the fort easily accessible & display rooms are air-conditioned.
However, its privileged views are what makes the fort a landmark of the Acapulco Bay.

Bring a pair of sunglasses and an umbrella!
House of the Masks

2) House of the Masks

The House of the Masks is a remarkable testament to Mexican artistry and cultural expression. Originally conceived as a splendid Mexican-style residence, this historic home has since been transformed into a captivating museum showcasing an extensive collection of masks. Nestled within its walls are more than 500 pieces of art, each representing a unique and diverse form of artistic expression.

Visitors to the House of the Masks are treated to a mesmerizing journey through the rich tapestry of Mexican culture and tradition. The museum's collection features an array of masks, each meticulously crafted and imbued with its own distinctive character and symbolism. From ceremonial masks used in ancient rituals to intricately designed theatrical masks, the collection offers a comprehensive exploration of the many facets of Mexican mask-making traditions.

As visitors meander through the museum's halls, they are invited to marvel at the creativity and craftsmanship displayed in each mask. The House of the Masks serves not only as a repository of artistic treasures but also as a vibrant cultural hub, where visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Mexico's rich cultural heritage.
Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude Cathedral)

3) Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude Cathedral) (must see)

Initially constructed in 1930, Our Lady of Solitude Cathedral is one of the most renowned landmarks in Acapulco. The cathedral boasts a unique and eclectic architectural style influenced by Moorish, Spanish, and native design elements. Originally built as a film set, the cathedral later transitioned into a place of worship, becoming an iconic symbol of faith and culture in Acapulco.

One of the cathedral's most distinctive features is its striking blue dome and Byzantine towers, reminiscent of the architectural style found in traditional mosques. This blend of architectural influences creates a visually captivating structure that stands out against the backdrop of the cityscape. As visitors approach the cathedral, they are greeted by the grandeur of its façade, adorned with intricate details and adorned with colorful glazed tiles.

Stepping inside Our Lady of Solitude Cathedral, visitors are treated to an awe-inspiring interior adorned with golden mosaics and adorned with ornate religious artifacts. The cathedral's interior design reflects a harmonious fusion of artistic influences, creating a serene and sacred atmosphere for worshippers and visitors alike. Throughout the cathedral, visitors can explore an extensive collection of religious items, further enriching their experience and offering insight into the cathedral's rich cultural and spiritual significance.

Why You Should Visit:
Located in the heart of the Zocalo square and very picturesque, with splendid valuable metals and artwork inside.

They have an excellent vocal choir on Sundays, should you wish to attend the Eucharistic celebration.
Zocalo (Plaza Alvarez)

4) Zocalo (Plaza Alvarez) (must see)

Shaded by a canopy of multi-branched trees and verdant plants, the vibrant Plaza Alvarez offers a welcoming respite from the bustling streets of the city. As Acapulco's main public square, Plaza Alvarez serves as a focal point for both locals and tourists alike, drawing visitors with its lively atmosphere and array of attractions.

At the heart of Plaza Alvarez lies Acapulco's Cathedral, a majestic architectural gem that adds to the plaza's allure. The cathedral's imposing presence serves as a reminder of the city's rich history and cultural heritage, attracting visitors who come to admire its intricate design and ornate façade. Surrounding the cathedral, visitors will find a picturesque scene dotted with charming fountains, where they can pause to soak in the ambiance and take in the sights and sounds of the plaza.

Zocalo is also home to a variety of craft and souvenir shops, offering visitors the opportunity to browse and purchase unique mementos and gifts. From intricately crafted artisanal goods to vibrant local artwork, the shops lining the plaza showcase the creativity and craftsmanship of Acapulco's talented artisans.

Why You Should Visit:
Traditional, beautiful, with excellent atmosphere; not necessarily the definitive classic party & clubbing hotspot but still fun.
Good place to take snapshots, buy souvenirs, try out shops and restaurants or just sit and people-watch.
Friday evenings from 6-8pm there is a live orchestra with ballroom dancing and the cutest elderly dancers around.

Don't forget to visit the boardwalk!
Tlacopanocha Beach

5) Tlacopanocha Beach

Tlacopanocha Beach, nestled in the heart of Old Acapulco, offers a unique charm distinct from the more commercially popular beaches in the area. Located directly across from the bustling zócalo and along the scenic Avenida Costera Miguel Alemán, this small stretch of sand is an integral part of Acapulco Tradicional, a zone celebrated for retaining the historic essence of this famous port city. While Tlacopanocha may not be the premier choice for swimming due to its modest size and busy setting, it serves as a pivotal hub for bay cruises and a vantage point to immerse in local maritime activities.

Tlacopanocha Beach is conveniently situated about 290 meters from Plaza Álvarez, the main square of the port, making it easily accessible to visitors looking to explore Acapulco’s traditional core. The beach spans approximately 100 meters, providing a compact but vibrant seaside experience. Despite its urban backdrop, Tlacopanocha offers gentle waves akin to those found at the nearby Caleta and Caletilla beaches, making it an ideal spot for families with children or older individuals seeking a tranquil beach outing without venturing far from the city’s amenities.

The beach is also a focal point for local fishermen, adding a layer of cultural richness to the visitor experience. It is common to see a variety of boats moored nearby, from small outboard motorboats to larger sport fishing yachts. This constant buzz of marine activity not only enhances the scenic value of Tlacopanocha but also provides insight into the everyday lives of Acapulco’s fishing community. Tourists can observe the daily catches and even partake in fishing activities, offering a more interactive experience compared to the typical beach visit.

Tlacopanocha Beach thus stands out as a cultural and recreational gem within Acapulco’s urban landscape, offering both a departure point for exploring the bay and a quaint locale for experiencing the city's maritime tradition.
Costera Miguel Aleman Avenue

6) Costera Miguel Aleman Avenue (must see)

The Costera Miguel Alemán Avenue is the main road and tourist artery of the port of Acapulco. It stretches over a length of 12.2 km, traversing the extensive coastline of Acapulco Bay from the west to the east.

Along it, there is a concentration of a wide variety of hotels, condominiums, restaurants, shopping centers, supermarkets, and other services and tourist attractions. Parallel to the avenue are the main beaches of Acapulco Bay. In 1947, the first rock cuts were made to adapt the highway to a definitive route.

In the Tlacopanocha peninsula, it was necessary to slice through the Pinzona hill and replace the road that led to the beaches of Caleta, which originally climbed and circled around the hill to create a new one almost at sea level. Near the Farallón del Obispo, other cuts were made at a location known as La Piedra Picuda, in front of Condesa Beach.
Diego Rivera Mural

7) Diego Rivera Mural (must see)

The Diego Rivera Mural, created in 1956, stands as one of Acapulco's most cherished cultural treasures. Situated on the facade of a house, this mural captivates viewers with its vibrant colors and intricate design. Composed of multi-colored mosaics, stones, and seashells, the mural depicts significant cultural and mythological symbols.

At the center of the mural, viewers are greeted by the majestic figure of Serpiente Emplumada Quetzalcóatl, the Aztec god symbolizing wisdom, creativity, and the cycle of life. This representation of Quetzalcóatl, adorned with feathers and serpentine features, evokes a sense of reverence and awe. Surrounding Quetzalcóatl is the enigmatic sphinx, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human, embodying mystery and wisdom across various ancient civilizations.

As a prominent landmark in the city, the mural continues to inspire awe and admiration among locals and tourists alike, preserving the spirit of Acapulco's artistic expression for generations to come.

Editor's Note:
Currently, the public is not allowed on the property as the house and garden areas are under renovation (but you can still see it from the street).
Sinfonia del Mar (Symphony of the Sea)

8) Sinfonia del Mar (Symphony of the Sea)

Symphony of the Sea, a historic amphitheater perched atop a hill in Acapulco, offers visitors a breathtaking panoramic view of the ocean. This iconic venue boasts an atmosphere that blends historical significance with romantic allure, making it a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike. While occasional performances grace the stage of Symphony of the Sea, the highlight of any visit is undoubtedly the spectacular sunset views that paint the sky in vibrant hues each evening.

Situated not far from the renowned La Quebrada Cliffs, Symphony of the Sea serves as a picturesque vantage point from which to witness the natural beauty of Acapulco's coastal landscape. As the sun dips below the horizon, casting a golden glow over the tranquil waters of the Pacific Ocean, visitors are treated to a mesmerizing display of colors that evoke a sense of wonder and awe.

Beyond its scenic vistas, Symphony of the Sea holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and tourists, offering an immersive experience that captures the essence of Acapulco's charm and allure. Whether strolling through its historic grounds, enjoying a live performance, or simply basking in the splendor of a sunset, visitors to Symphony of the Sea are sure to create lasting memories against the backdrop of one of Mexico's most captivating coastal destinations.

Both the seating and the sunset are free. It is best to arrive here about an hour before sunset so that you can enjoy the cliffs as well.
La Quebrada (The Gulch Cliff Divers)

9) La Quebrada (The Gulch Cliff Divers) (must see)

The Gulch Cliff Divers are a group of skilled professional high divers who captivate audiences with their daring performances. Daily shows are held for the public, showcasing the divers' remarkable feats as they plunge from the towering cliffs of The Gulch into the sea below, a staggering height of 35 meters (125 feet). These dives require precise timing and skillful execution, as the divers must wait for the perfect moment to leap, ensuring they avoid serious injuries by timing their descent with the incoming waves.

The depths of the water in the "Gulch" below the cliffs can vary dramatically, ranging from 6 to 16 feet depending on the waves, with an average depth of 12 feet. Despite the challenges posed by the ever-changing conditions, the cliff divers demonstrate exceptional control and bravery as they execute their dives with precision and grace. As spectators gather to watch the performances, they are treated not only to the breathtaking dives but also to the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, with pelicans often seen diving for fish in the waters below.

The Gulch Cliff Divers have been thrilling audiences since 1934 and have become one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Acapulco. The cliff divers gained international recognition after being featured in the 1963 film "Fun in Acapulco," starring Elvis Presley, bringing their remarkable talents to a worldwide audience. Today, visitors to Acapulco have the opportunity to witness firsthand the awe-inspiring spectacle of the The Gulch Cliff Divers, an experience that combines adrenaline-pumping excitement with the natural beauty of the Mexican coastline.

You can join hundreds of people who watch the diving from the roadside, or you can pay a few dollars to view the clavadistas from a lower platform, or you can pay a pretty handsome amount at La Perla restaurant to get a better view.
There is a dive session during the day plus one at night.