Puerto Vallarta is a beach resort city that became popular with tourists after it was used as a backdrop for the 1964 movie "The Night of the Iguana". The city has evolved into a modern hotspot with rich nightlife and an EDM festival. It is also a popular LGBT destination.
You can discover the more traditional aspects of the city as you walk through the Zona Romantica and shop at the flea market, and see the more modern side of Puerto Vallarta as you explore the bars and clubs that border the Malecón.
Plan out your itinerary to see the Belle Epoque buildings, try the best seafood restaurants, or simply go explore the Zone Romantica and let Puerto Vallarta surprise you!
The tight cobblestone streets and tile roofs that are characteristic of traditional Mexican towns. The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Saucedo Theatre are worth checking out if you are interested in early 20th-century architecture.
Puerto Vallarta is located near two gorgeous beaches. Spend an afternoon at the Los Muertos Beach to enjoy the rock formation of El Púlpito and Las Pilitas or head to Playa Conchas Chinas if you want to relax in a more secluded area. The Los Arcos Marine Park, located seven miles south of Puerto Vallarta, is the perfect place to see pelicans or go snorkeling.
The Malecón is a boardwalk that comes to life in the evening. You can take a stroll to admire El Caballito and other sculptures by artists such as Sergio Bustamante or Alejandro Colunga, or sit down at one of the many cafes for a few drinks.
You will find Mercado Isla Cuale and the Mercado Municipal Cuale as you head towards the Centro area. Shop for souvenirs, crafts, and traditional clothes before heading to the Pueblo Viejo area to shop for jewelry, traditional clothes, or to try street food.
Cycling is the perfect way to explore the tropical wilderness around Puerto Vallarta. If cycling is not your thing, you can go golfing at the Marina Vallarta Club de Golf or at the Vista Vallarta de Golf.
The Malecón waterfront embodies the soul of the city, with public art and social events flourishing accordingly, including an unparalleled Día de los Muertos. Free performances follow one another at the ruins of Los Arcos, sculptures and frescoes from the likes of local favorite Manuel Lepe dot the entire twelve-mile stretch. Also, amazing beaches.
The rich waters off Puerto Vallarta are host to charming fishing villages along the coastline, where adventurous hearts will find never-ending opportunities for snorkeling and sailing to secluded coves and sandy inlets. Further away from the shore, the Marietas islands and Los Arcos Marine Park showcase unique geological formations and marine life in all its splendor. For an even rarer sight, look out for whales seeking shelter in the bay from December to March!
Inland, Puerto Vallarta's flora and fauna prove as rich its waters, and a trip to these tropical gardens immerses the visitor in the diversity of our world. Established a little over a decade ago, the gardens have already become world-renowned, lending to a full day of serenity and exploration. More active minds will revere in the myriad of bird-watching, swimming, and hiking opportunities.
The most popular part of Puerto Vallarta is always abuzz with locals and tourists alike. The restaurant scene is a huge draw to this friendly neighborhood, together with the popular Los Muertos pier and beach. To reach the district from the north of the city, cobbled streets will lead patrons over Isla Cuale, a green island home to adorable families of homeless cats living among suspended bridges.
This charming church towers iconically above the central district. The delicate crown atop the clocktower serves as a guiding beacon from every direction. Visitors are magnetically drawn towards this centerpiece through the small side streets bustling with vendors, churchgoers and locals donning Aztec garb. Take in the chiming bells before entering the monument for a moment of peaceful solitude.
Puerto Vallarta has a tropical climate and temperatures can be high from July through September. The high season typically starts in November and ends in April. Traveling between April and June is ideal if you want to avoid crowds. The Electro Beach festival is held in March and attracts large crowds. The Cultural Festival in May is worth the trip, as is the Day of the Dead celebration in November.
The Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR) is only 15 minutes away from the Centro. You can drive from the airport to Puerto Vallarta by heading south on Avenida Francisco Medina Ascencio. There is a local bus that leaves from the airport and will take you to the Marina or to the Centro for Mex$6.50. You can also take an Aeromovil taxi, which should cost Mex$180 if you are heading to the Marina and Mex$195 if you are staying in the Centro area. If you are traveling on a budget, take a colectivo minivan instead of a taxi. This trip should only cost Mex$75 if you are going to the Marina and Mex$90 to go to the Centro.
Puerto Vallarta is located along the Bahia de Banderas coast and can be reached by driving up or down Highway 200. If you are coming from further north, follow Highway 150 south until it turns into Highway 200. If you are coming from Guadalajara or another eastern city, take Highway 70 until it turns into Highway 544. You can easily reach Puerto Vallarta by taxi from any major city in the area. Taking a taxi between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta should cost Mex$2,400 and a taxi between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta should cost Mex$2,000.
You will find the Central Camionera station near the Modelo building in the airport area. ETN and Primera Plus connect Puerto Vallarta to other major cities in the area and to smaller coastal towns. Taking a bus between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta will only cost Mex$600 and taking a bus between Mazatlán or Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta should cost between Mex$400 and Mex$600.
The Flamingo Vallarta Hotel & Marina or the all-inclusive Velas Vallarta are ideal options if you want to stay in the more modern area of the Marina. If you are looking for comfort, the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort is located a little further south on the beach. The Encino Hotel and Hotel Rio Malecón are more affordable options that are closer to the Malecón. If you want to stay in the Zona Romantica, consider the Hotel Eloisa, the Hotel Playa Los Arco, or the Hotel Posada de Roger.
El Malecón - the Malecón is a popular promenade between the historical center and the beach. You will find many cafes and bars as well as live music on the Plaza de Las Armas.
Zona Romantica - this is the old downtown area with cobblestone streets and tile roofs. You cannot visit Puerto Vallarta without taking a walk through this part of the city, seeing the cathedral, and shopping at the flea market. You will also find a lot of great bars and seafood restaurants.
El Centro - the Centro is the area north of the Zona Romantica. This neighborhood is built on a hill and you will find many small shops that sell art, clothes, and souvenirs as well as dining options as you go up and down the narrow streets.
There are three different bus unions that provide public transportation services in Puerto Vallarta, including Ixtapa, Mismaloya, and Pitillal. Bus fare only costs Mex$7.5 or Mex$8 within the Centro and Zona Romantica area. Taking a bus between the Centro and the Nuevo Vallarta area should cost Mex$12. Buses typically run every 10 minutes.
You will easily find taxis around Puerto Vallarta. Rates are established in advance and are calculated by zones. The minimum fare is Mex$35 and fares between the Centro to the Marina should cost Mex$80.
Driving in Puerto Vallarta is not ideal between the lack of parking spaces and the narrow streets of the Centro area. You will also find that most residential areas have dirt roads. You can rent a car at the airport for Mex$400 to Mex$800 a day and will have to pay an additional Mex$300 a day for insurance. You will find an Avis, Budget, and Mex Rent A Car location at the airport, among other options.
Go for a walk in the Zona Romantica or spend an afternoon at the flea market on Mercado Isla if you want to shop for souvenirs, art, traditional clothes, and food. There is a mall on Plaza Caracol just south of the river with modern Mexican fashion stores. You will find more shopping options in the Marina area, such as the art galleries and clothing stores on Plaza Neptuno.
There is a Sam's Club and a Walmart near the Marina and another Walmart located east of the Centro area. Groceries are very affordable and you should pay Mex$14 for a quart of milk, Mex$29 for a dozen eggs, and Mex$17 for a loaf of bread.
Make sure you try local specialties such as red snapper marinated in peppers (Huachinango Zarandeado), skewered meat with hot sauce and lime (Mahi-mahi), and raw fish cured with lime juice (Ceviche). Head to Le Kliff, Vista Grill, or La Leche for Mexican fare and seafood. If you want a cheaper meal, Pancho's Takos and Pepe's Tacos are excellent choices. You will also find that Puerto Vallarta has some excellent steakhouses such as BocaDos STK and Asador La Vaca Argentina. A meal will typically cost Mex$160 to Mex$240 and eating at an upscale restaurant should cost Mex$700.