There are many things you can see and do in Puerto Vallarta. Beautiful beaches in the city and in the Riviera Nayarita, restaurants in the full range of excellence and type of cuisine, historical sites and other attractions.
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You can enjoy everything in a city with world-class tourist services, where you will find the accommodation that best suits your desires.
Here are the 12 must-do things in Puerto Vallarta.
Located in front of the sea, the heart of Puerto Vallarta is the Malecón. It’s a mile-long walk that Vallartenses and visitors use for walking and relaxing. Along the breakwater you can encounter many attractions, such as a mime, a musical group or an artist displaying his work in full view of the public.
Walking along the boardwalk is like walking through a long open-air art gallery. The sculptures follow one another, from The Fountain of Friendship to The Unicorn of Good Fortune, through Nature as Mother and many others. The most photographed is The Little Horse, a bronze carving by Jalisco artist Rafael Zamarripa. On the sidewalk in front of the malecón there are shops, jewelry stores and cozy restaurants and cafes.
Temple of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Every city and town in Mexico has a temple that honors the Virgin of Guadalupe, the invocation of Mary that appeared to the Nahua Indian Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in 1531 on Tepeyac Hill, being engraved on his blanket.
The temple of the patron saint of Latin America is the most important religious building of PV and one of the main geographical references of the city, visible from the distance from the 4 cardinal points. Being a modern city, frequented by tourists looking for beaches, Puerto Vallarta dresses up in tradition and fervor during the first 12 days of each December, when the lively festival in honor of the also affectionately called Morenita del Tepeyac is held.
The Romantic Zone
Some time ago someone thought of calling Old Vallarta a Romantic Zone, the oldest area in PV, and the name stuck. The locals say that as soon as you cross the south side of the Cuale River, the atmosphere becomes ideal for lovers, with its narrow cobblestone streets that invite you to walk more closely. They also claim that their outdoor benches or cafés are ideal for sitting down to chat in good company, perhaps to plan a wedding and honeymoon on an upcoming trip to PV and the Riviera Nayarit.
If you want to be romantic to the max, you can stay or spend the night in one of the several small hotels in the area, which serve you in the traditional, more personalized way, far from the all-inclusive standard and the buffets at the precise time.
Cuale River Island
Between the historic center and the Romantic Zone there is a small island formed between two arms of the Cuale River, which is one of the most welcoming places in Puerto Vallarta because of its bucolic atmosphere, full of greenery and fresh air, naturally enlivened by the birds’ trill and the majestic iguana walk.
The most distinguished thing is to access the island through one of its hanging bridges, where you will surely want to take a picture or a selfie. On the island there is a market with small stands where you can buy some colourful pieces of traditional Mexican clothing or a handicraft. Or you can simply look at the landscape and relax sitting in a café in front of your favourite drink.
Los Muertos Beach
Puerto Vallarta offers one of the most complete beach tourism infrastructures in the world. Hotels for all tastes and in all types of accommodation. Classic international food restaurants, new kitchens and typical gastronomy of the Mexican Pacific and the whole country. Transportation facilities to move around the city and to go to the Riviera Nayarit. All the services of a first world tourist center.
The best known and most popular beach in PV is Los Muertos, where a hotel corridor is located with all its facilities for the visitor. Its curious name has persisted in spite of attempts to change it in favor of a more friendly denomination. It comes from an indigenous cemetery that used to be there. But despite the name, Playa Los Muertos vibrates with vitality.
It is a beach place somewhat hidden from the large crowds, ideal to go and watch the hours go by, leaving the small beach to get into the pool and the pool to fall into the jacuzzi of the simple but comfortable accommodations of the place.
The beach offers a green setting and you will enjoy it sitting down, reading a good novel, or lying down, sunbathing. The rest is eating and sleeping. We assume you don’t need any sleeping tips. But when you have an appetite, order one of the delights of Jalisco or Nayarit cuisine. For example, a rice with shrimp or a fish ceviche.
Boca de Tomatlán
Less than 20 kilometers from PV is a picturesque beach and fishing village called Boca de Tomatlán, not to be confused with Boca de Tomates beach. The Horcones River flows into the small bay. From the inlet, boats leave and return to several nearby beaches, such as Las Ánimas, Colomitos, Majahuitas and Quimixto.
The small town of Boca offers several options for you to stay and plan your visits to the beach and nearby places. Among these are the Botanical Garden and the place where a Mexican whiskey is produced, the first “Scotch” in the country. The village is mostly inhabited by fishermen who sell the seafood to restaurants and the public.
Boca de Tomates
This beach has the particularity that it cannot be used by the public for bathing due to the crocodiles that prowl around the place, coming from the nearby Boca Negra Estuary and the Ameca River. In addition, it has strong waves. In exchange, the visitor can sunbathe, enjoy the rich gastronomy and observe nature.
The estuary is an interesting habitat for birds, chelonians and reptiles, among them the crocodiles that annoy bathers. The predominant vegetation is the mangrove. They are species that you can go to see and photograph. When you are hungry, the best option in Boca de Tomates is its star dish, the “pescado sarandeado”.
May Cultural Festival
Every May, Puerto Vallarta presents a festival commemorating the city’s founding. The most popular shows are the musicals, which bring together the most important expressions of Mexican music, such as mariachi and norteña. There is also time for jazz, rock and other musical genres.
The film-oriented events showcase historic Mexican cinema, new cinema and internationally renowned films and documentaries.
During the festival, the main areas of PV present street animation events and circus shows. The theater and the lyrics also have their spaces, through performances, readings, workshops and conferences. Of course, as well as international cuisine, Jalisco and Nayarit gastronomy have a special program. It’s time to enjoy a lamb al pastor, a birria de Cocula or a Pacific lobster.
Puerto Vallarta International Gourmet Festival
This festival takes place in November in select restaurants in Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit, both independent homes and hotel kitchens. Internationally renowned chefs settle down in PV, some with a special ingredient in their bags, who do not want to leave the local grocery store to chance. It is a space for contemporary cuisine, including Mexican cuisine.
The festival was created in 1995 by chefs Thierry Blouet and Heinz Reize, with the aim of taking PV’s haute cuisine one step further. It is an opportunity for gourmet visitors to enjoy the culinary arts to the fullest, while new Mexican chefs learn from the great masters of their own country and from France, Switzerland, Italy, Indonesia and other nations.
When it comes to art, the walks are much longer than a marathon and the Puerto Vallarta walk takes 7 months, between October and May, usually one day a week. So you should take it easy to enjoy the different art expressions of local, Mexican and international artists, especially painting, sculpture, blown glass and ceramics.
Mexican ceramic art is particularly rich, a culture that comes from the pre-Hispanic era, highlighting the long tradition of places like Puebla, Guadalajara, Oaxaca and Guanajuato. Not far from PV, in the same state of Jalisco, is Tonala, a town internationally recognized for the quality and beauty of its ceramic and blown glass. The artists who come from abroad mainly show paintings and sculptures.
The Walk is the appropriate time for you to acquire a work of art from a Mexican or foreign artist in one of the participating galleries.
To the Charros!
We recommend that you attend a function of the Mexican national sport, which is not football, but the charros. The charro is the Mexican rider, man and horse dressed in the traditional way. They used to carry loaded guns, but this is no longer allowed. The charro’s wide-brimmed hat is one of the most authentic Mexican souvenirs you can imagine.
The tradition of the charrería began in Jalisco, the state of PV. Among the most exciting sorts are the colas, in which the rider takes a bull by the tail until he knocks it down, and the jineteo de toro, in which the man rides the angry animal for as long as possible. Don’t miss out on the charros at the Arena Vallarta!
There are still many beaches in Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit to visit and many restaurants to enjoy. See you soon for another tour of these magical territories.