Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach town that became popular with tourists after being one of the settings for the film The Night of the Iguana, filmed in 1964. Today it is a modern town with a lively nightlife and a popular LGBT destination.
To discover the most passionate side of the city there is nothing better than strolling through the Zona Romántica and shopping at the flea market. On the other hand, to see the more modern side of Puerto Vallarta we encourage you to explore the bars and clubs on the Malecón and its surroundings.
After visiting such attractive places as Cuale Island, the Naval History Museum and the Belle Epoque buildings, the best thing to do is to eat seafood in one of the great restaurants.
- Top 5 reasons to visit Puerto Vallarta
- What to do in Puerto Vallarta
- When to visit Puerto Vallarta
- How to get to Puerto Vallarta
- Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta
- How to get around Puerto Vallarta
- Cost of living in Puerto Vallarta
- Where to eat in Puerto Vallarta
Top 5 reasons to visit Puerto Vallarta
The narrow cobblestone streets and tiled roofs that characterize the traditional villages of Mexico have a presence in this wonderful city. If you like architecture from the early 20th century, the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Saucedo Theatre are two magnificent examples.
Puerto Vallarta is located near two beautiful beaches: Los Muertos, whose rock formations of El Púlpito and Las Pilitas are spectacular; and Conchas Chinas, more secluded and relaxing. The Los Arcos Marine Park, located just over 10 kilometers south of the city, is ideal for watching pelicans and snorkeling.
Cerro de la Cruz Viewpoint
The accesses to the viewpoint on the Cerro de la Cruz, which used to be difficult and heavy, have been renovated and equipped with chairs, sunshades, stairs with handrails and, in the last stretch, a funicular railway. The ascent takes between 15 and 40 minutes, but once up, the panoramic scenery is wonderful.
The Isla Cuale and Municipal Cuale markets, located in the downtown area, offer souvenirs, handicrafts and traditional clothing. In the Pueblo Viejo area, buying jewelry or traditional clothing and trying street food are recommended entertainments.
Cycling and golf
Exploring the tropical nature surrounding Puerto Vallarta by bike is an unforgettable experience, while the Marina Vallarta and Vista Vallarta golf clubs are quality courses where you can improve your handicap.
What to do in Puerto Vallarta
Here’s our detailed guide about the best Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta.
Enjoy the boardwalk
The Malecón is a promenade that comes to life in the afternoon. Have a coffee in its surroundings, discover El Caballito de Mar and the sculptures of Sergio Bustamante, Alejandro Colunga and other artists. Do you dare to visit it on the Day of the Dead?
Discover new maritime shades
Puerto Vallarta’s rich waters are home to charming fishing villages all along the coast, where you can dive and sail between isolated coves. Further inland are the Marietas Islands and Los Arcos Marine Park, whose unique geological formations and marine life are splendid. And, between December and March, you may be able to see whales in search of shelter!
Tour Vallarta’s Botanical Garden
Vallarta’s botanical garden has 26 hectares of tropical habitat, whose flora and fauna are admirable. After a little more than a decade, it has become world famous and offers a perfect day of serenity and delight.
Admire the Romantic Zone
Puerto Vallarta’s old town, known as the Romantic Zone, is always full of locals and tourists. Its great restaurants, the pier and Los Muertos beach are part of this incomparable scenery. Complete your visit by traveling to Cuale Island, where families of cats live between suspended bridges.
Regenerate in a unique church
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is an icon of the central district. With a clock tower visible from all directions and a distinctive sound of bells, its interior offers an unparalleled experience of peace and solitude.
When to visit Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarte enjoys a tropical climate with high temperatures from July to September. Read more about the Best Time To Visit Puerto Vallarta.
The high season starts in November and ends in April so, if you want to avoid crowds, it is best to travel between April and June. The Electro Beach Festival in March, the Cultural Festival in May and the celebration of the Day of the Dead in November are emblematic dates. The average annual temperature is 25.7 ºC.
How to get to Puerto Vallarta
The international airport Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (PVR) is only 15 minutes away from the center. There is a local bus that takes you to the marina or downtown for Mex$ 6.50. You can also take an Aeromovil taxi, which will cost you about Mex$ 180 to the Marina and Mex$ 195 to Centro. A cheaper option is to take a collective van, which will cost you about Mex$ 75 to Marina and Mex$ 90 to Centro.
Puerto Vallarta is located along the coast of Banderas Bay, so Highway 200 will take you there. From the north, follow Highway 150 south until you reach Highway 200. From Guadalajara, take Highway 70 until it becomes Highway 544. From Guadalajara, it will cost you about Mex$ 2400; and from Manzanillo, about Mex$ 2000.
ETN and Primera Plus connect Puerto Vallarta with other coastal cities and towns. Traveling by bus from Guadalajara costs Mex$ 600; and from Mazatlan or Manzanillo, between Mex$ 400 and Mex$ 600.
Airports near Puerto Vallarta
PVR Pto Vallarta International Airport
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta
Here’s our detailed guide: Where To Stay in Puerto Vallarta
Interesting neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta
The Malecón is a popular walkway between the historic center and the beach. You will find many cafes and bars, as well as live music in the Plaza de las Armas.
Zona Romántica is the centre of the old town. It is characterized by its cobblestone streets, the presence of the cathedral, the flea market, excellent bars and fabulous seafood restaurants.
Centro is the area located to the north of the Romantic Zone. Built on a hill, this neighborhood has small shops that sell art, clothing and souvenirs, as well as highly recommended gastronomic options.
How to get around Puerto Vallarta
Ixtapa, Mismaloya and Pitillal offer public buses that move through the center and the Romantic Zone. Their tickets cost between Mex$ 7.5 and Mex$ 8. Using a bus between Centro and Nuevo Vallarta costs about Mex$ 12.
It is easy to find taxis in Puerto Vallarta. Their rates are set in advance and are calculated by zone. The minimum fare is Mex$ 35 and, between Centro and the Marina, around Mex$ 80.
Driving in Puerto Vallarta is not easy, due to the narrow streets, the numerous dirt roads in residential areas and the scarcity of parking. It is possible to rent a car for between Mex$ 400 and Mex$ 800 per day, plus an additional Mex$ 300 for insurance. Available airport branches are Avis, Budget and Mex Rent a Car.
Cost of living in Puerto Vallarta
To buy souvenirs, art, traditional clothing and food, there is nothing better than a walk in the Zona Romántica or an afternoon at Mercado Isla. In the shopping center located in Plaza Caracol you will find modern Mexican fashion stores. Also the art galleries and clothing stores in the Plaza Neptuno in the Marina guarantee good shopping.
Groceries and others
Sam’s Club and Walmart are good places to buy food at affordable prices. The usual is to pay Mex$ 14 for a liter of milk, Mex$ 29 for a dozen eggs and Mex$ 17 for a loaf of bread. A beer in a bar, finally, will cost you Mex$ 30.
Where to eat in Puerto Vallarta
Be sure to try the local specialties: red snapper marinated in peppers, meat threaded with hot sauce and lime, and raw fish cured with lemon juice.
Read more about Where To Eat in Puerto Vallarta.
Restaurants like Le Kliff, Vista Grill and La Leche are perfect for savoring Mexican food and seafood. If you’re looking for something economical, the tacos at Pepe’s Tacos and Pancho’s Tacos are great.
As for steakhouses, BocaDos STK and Asador La Vaca Argentina are great. A meal usually costs between Mex$ 160 and 240, while eating at a fancy restaurant would be worth about Mex$ 700.
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