Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

Things to do in  Puerto Vallarta

Not just for spring break

A riot of colors, tastes, and experiences, Puerto Vallarta is a resort town with a soul. Nuevo Vallarta, toward the north, is home to all-inclusive hotels, high-end clubs, and the best beaches. Head south, and you’ll experience a vibrant city, famous for its mile-long (1.6-kilometer) Malecón boardwalk, queer-friendly Zona Romántica, and street vendors who slice pineapple for Al Pastor tacos with ninja-like knife skills. There are plenty of things to do in Puerto Vallarta beyond the beach, including day trips into the Sierra Madre, whale-watching excursions, and street food crawls.

Top 15 attractions in Puerto Vallarta

Marietas Islands (Islas Marietas)

star-4.53,069
The small, uninhabited Marietas Islands (Islas Marietas) are located in the Bay of Banderas off Mexico's Pacific coast. Making up a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve, the islands are famous for their abundance of flora and fauna. It's a great place to visit if you want to trade the crowds of the beach resort scene for some natural delights.More

Banderas Bay (Bahia de Banderas)

star-57,548
Located near Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific coast, Banderas Bay (Bahía de Banderas) is famous for its 42-mile (68-kilometer) stretch of picturesque coast. Jungle, sandy beaches, and rich aquatic life define this area, which is ideal for watersports and land adventures alike.More

Los Arcos National Marine Park

star-53,060
At Los Arcos National Marine Park in Puerto Vallarta there are islands to visit, reefs to dive, tunnels to swim through, and caves to explore, providing plenty of the arches that give Los Arcos (the Arches) its name. This protected area is famous for its abundant wildlife, both above and below the ocean’s surface, and is a popular snorkeling spot.More

El Malecon

star-56,523
Like most boardwalks, Puerto Vallarta’s promenade, known as El Malecon, is dotted with sightseeing opportunities, cafes, shops, galleries, and performers. Overlooking the Bay of Banderas, the mile-long stretch offers scenic views during the day. And in the evening, the waterfront nightclubs and discos open their doors to party-seeking locals and visitors.More

Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe)

star-4.51,147
Towering over the skyline of downtown, flanked by kitschy souvenir stores, and fronted by a charming, colorful plaza, the pink-hued Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a highlight of Old Town Vallarta. Laboriously constructed over a period of several decades in the early 20th century, the neo-baroque church is best known for its emblematic and intricate bell tower, and is the city’s most important Catholic attraction.More

Marina Vallarta

star-51,315
Recognizable for its entranceway whale sculpture, Marina Vallarta serves as a self-contained counterpoint to the sprawl of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Although technically a resort and residential development—complete with shopping centers and an 18-hole golf course—most visitors come to stroll the length of the yacht-lined boardwalk, dine at the surrounding restaurants, and browse the weekly craft market.More

Nuevo Vallarta

star-5565
The 13,045-foot (3,976-meter) Acatenango volcano towers over the colonial city of Antigua. While many travelers opt for the more-gentle ascent of the Pacaya Volcano, this twin-peaked volcano offers incredible views of its nearest volcanic neighbor, Fuego, which regularly spits out plumes of gas, ash, and hot lava.More

Zona Romantica

star-54,407
Puerto Vallarta's Romantic Zone (Zona Romantica)—also called the Old Town, South Side, or Old Vallarta—sits away from the hotel zone and just steps from Los Muertos Beach. With artisan shops, streetside taco stands, and lively cantinas, this area of winding cobblestone streets maintains a more traditional, laid-back feel than the rest of the city.More

Boca de Tomatlán

star-51,972
Swap the crowds of Puerto Vallarta for laidback Boca de Tomatlán, a quiet fishing village towards the south of Banderas Bay. Enjoy Boca de Tomatlán’s scenic and secluded stretch of shoreline—which is set against the picturesque backdrop of the Sierra Madre mountains—before using this coastal town as a jumping-off point to explore nearby beaches only accessible by boat.More

Vallarta Botanical Gardens (Jardín Botánico de Vallarta)

star-5442
Lush tropical foliage, hummingbird-watching hot spots, and orchid sanctuaries are just three of the attractions you’ll find at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens (Jardín Botánico de Vallarta). A rich and diverse array of flora and fauna—mostly native—dominates the 20-acre (8-hectare) expanse of jungle. Follow jungle paths, wander curated gardens, and marvel at the koi pond as part of a scenic Puerto Vallarta day trip.More
#11
Las Caletas Beach (Playa Las Caletas)

Las Caletas Beach (Playa Las Caletas)

star-00
Once home to director John Huston, Las Caletas Beach and Nature Reserve is a secluded stretch of Bay of Banderas shoreline, which has since become a dream day-trip destination for vacationers in Puerto Vallarta. Here, you can escape the hustle and bustle of busy central beaches and while away the hours swaying in a hammock, snorkeling, or enjoying a soothing massage on the shores of Las Caletas.More

Los Muertos Beach (Playa Los Muertos)

star-5387
For an authentic and lively Puerto Vallarta beach experience, Los Muertos Beach (Playa Los Muertos) can’t be beat. Located just south of Olas Altas Beach in the Romantic Zone, this gay-friendly stretch of sand fronts a pier and is lined with bars and restaurants. Locals and families also love this beach and its diverse crowd.More
#13
Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port

Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port

star-00
Sail into the calm Bay of Banderas for a warm Mexican welcome in Puerto Vallarta, a former fishing community turned vacation destination. A popular stopping point on ships bound for the Caribbean, Puerto Vallarta Cruise Port—which has the capacity for three liners at any one time—is the gateway to Puerto Vallarta and the coast of Jalisco.More

El Tuito

star-524
Escape the humidity of Puerto Vallarta or Boca de Tomatlán in charming El Tuito, a laidback, traditional town in the Jalisco mountains. Although overlooked by many travelers, here you can get an insight into local life, sample regional produce—such as panela cheese and raicilla (an agave spirit)—and relax in the main plaza.More

Gringo Gulch

star-563
Once home to Hollywood superstars Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Gringo Gulch is now a sleepy Puerto Vallarta neighborhood which spills down the hillside above the Cuale River. Characterized by red-roofed, whitewashed "Vallarta-style" mansions—including Casa Kimberly, Taylor’s one-time villa—Gringo Gulch has some of the best views over downtown Puerto Vallarta, as well as a distinctly colorful past.More

Top activities in Puerto Vallarta

Alma, by Rhythms of the night
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Alma, by Rhythms of the night

star-4.5
1092
From
$179.00
Puerto Vallarta, Luxury Sunset Sailing
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Taste of Pitillal Food Tour by Vallarta Food Tours
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Luxury Yacht & Snorkeling

Luxury Yacht & Snorkeling

star-4.5
576
From
$119.00
Outdoor Zip line Adventure
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Outdoor Zip line Adventure

star-5
1183
From
$129.00
Yelapa & Majahuitas Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Yelapa & Majahuitas Tour

star-4.5
594
From
$109.00
Luxury Sailing

Luxury Sailing

star-5
244
From
$129.00
Jet Ski Safari in Puerto Vallarta

Jet Ski Safari in Puerto Vallarta

star-4.5
158
From
$159.00
Las Caletas Beach Hideaway
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out

Las Caletas Beach Hideaway

star-4.5
601
From
$159.00
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

All about Puerto Vallarta

When to visit

Weather-wise, December to April are the best months when the days are sunny and clear. However, winter and early spring are also the most popular seasons to travel, as many North American and European visitors are fleeing colder temps back home; during this time of year, expect bigger crowds and more expensive flights and accommodations. Don’t discount the so-called “rainy” season, which lasts from July to December. You’ll often encounter just a short rain burst each day. Whale watchers have a shorter window: Humpbacks only tend to be visible this side of the Pacific from December to May.

Getting around

Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most pedestrian-friendly cities. The colorful and compact downtown, home to neighborhoods like the Zona Romántica, is supremely walkable. Not only that, but the scenic Malecón boardwalk covers 12 blocks of public beaches. Taxis and ride-hailing apps can easily connect tourists to the Hotel Zone. If heading outside the city, you’ll find a well-connected network of local buses. Many guided excursions also include hotel transfers.

Traveler tips

If you’re staying in the Hotel Zone south of the Puerto Vallarta Marina, chances are you’ve booked an all-inclusive. But even if your meals are all paid for as part of your accommodation package, do yourself a favor and venture outside the resort. Puerto Vallarta’s energetic downtown is a street food lover’s dream. You can spend a whole evening hopping between taco stands and sampling hot corn, tamales, quesadillas, and other tasty eats. Street food tours are available if you’re not sure where to get started.

Attractions
18
Tours
699
Reviews
38,923

A local’s pocket guide to Puerto Vallarta

Lauren Cocking

Born in Yorkshire and based in Mexico City, Lauren has lived in Mexico for close to a decade. Puerto Vallarta is one of the few coastal destinations she returns to regularly, despite sand being her greatest nemesis.

The first thing you should do in Puerto Vallarta is...

visit the Malecón, the lively boardwalk that runs the length of the Old Town. Watch out for the Voladores de Papantla performances and try tuba, a fermented coconut-y drink.

A perfect Saturday in Puerto Vallarta...

starts with brunch at a café in the Versalles neighborhood (or the Los Coapinoles buffet in the mountains), involves a stroll around the Marina, a seafood lunch, and drinks in El Faro bar at sunset.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Just a 45-minute coastal bus ride from the center, the gardens include a quiet river, nature trails, curated greenhouses, and even an orchid house. They’re gorgeous.

To discover the "real" Puerto Vallarta...

go beyond the central Los Muertos Beach. Head south down the coast to Conchas Chinas or Playa Palmares for quiet, sandy shores without the crowds.

For the best view of the city...

climb to the Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint. The slopes and steps are steep and unforgiving but the cool breeze and panoramic views make it more than worthwhile.

One thing people get wrong...

is that Puerto Vallarta is a spring break destination. For some people it is, but it’s also a beautiful and historic coastal city with more to offer than cheap booze, boat rides, and bars.

EN
cdef7ba1-a88a-4b3b-bed7-ed0c4d2bd078
geo_hub

People Also Ask

What is Puerto Vallarta best known for?

Puerto Vallarta, located in Jalisco state on Mexico's Pacific coast, is famous for its pristine beaches, nightlife, and colonial-era historical center. The former fishing village has options for every type of traveler: Expect everything from high-end coastal resorts to family-run backpacker inns, and up-market dining options right down to street taco stands.

...More
What should you not miss in Puerto Vallarta?

It may be tempting to find a beach and stick to it, especially if your accommodation boasts its own stretch of sand. But beach-hoppers will be rewarded with a range of diverse coastlines. Consider palm-fringed Las Caletas and Lover’s Beach on craggy, sun-drenched Marietas Island, both only reachable by boat.

...More
What is there to do in Puerto Vallarta for a day?

Head to the Zona Romantica, the quaint and colorful downtown area, to browse artisan markets and grab a boozy lunch in one of the LGBTQ-friendly restaurants. Soak up the scenery with a stroll along the pier and end up at Los Muertos Beach, a bar-lined coastline spot buzzing with tourists and locals alike.

...More
What is there to do in Puerto Vallarta for a week?

Alternate your beach days with an excursion to San Sebastian del Oeste, a mining village in the Sierra Madre mountains 37 miles (60 km) from Puerto Vallarta, and a whale watching tour on Banderas Bay.

...More
Is Puerto Vallarta good for partying?

Yes, Puerto Vallarta has great nightlife. Take a stroll down the 1-mile-long (1.6-km-long) boardwalk known as the Malecon after sunset and you’ll find a string of high-energy bars and nightclubs. Pop in for a spin on the dance floor and to taste local tequila or mezcal.

...More
Is Puerto Vallarta dangerous?

No, Puerto Vallarta is considered one of the safest areas in Mexico and is a popular destination for international travelers, expats, and retirees. That said, you’ll need to exercise the same caution you would in any big city, because common crimes like bag-snatching and pickpocketing can still occur.

...More
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the top things to do in Puerto Vallarta?
Q:
What are the top activities in Puerto Vallarta?
Q:
What are the top things to do near Puerto Vallarta?
A:
Check out things to do near Puerto Vallarta: