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Things to do in Puerto Vallarta

Things to do in  Puerto Vallarta

Welcome to Puerto Vallarta

Travelers seeking sun-drenched coastal beauty and outdoor adventure, look no further—Puerto Vallarta has it all. After spending a day on dazzling white-sand beaches or wandering the town’s quaint central streets, it’s easy to see why it ranks as one of Mexico’s most popular coastal destinations. Traditional markets and fragrant street-food stands make for delicious food tours, while nearby rainforests and the Sierra Madre mountains create opportunities for horseback riding, ziplining, and ATV driving. For water lovers, the reefs surrounding the Marietas Islands and Banderas Bay teem with tropical fish and bottlenose dolphins, ideal for scuba diving and snorkelling. El Malecon, Puerto Vallarta’s hip-and-happening oceanfront boardwalk, and Zona Romantica (Old Town) are ideal spots for sunset strolls. Once the sun has set, revelers flock to the neon glow of Marina Vallarta, a modern strip pulsing with restaurants, bars, and clubs. Dedicated party animals take a VIP nightclub tour of Puerto Vallarta to enjoy an open bar and skip-the-line entry to the city’s trendiest venues. With summer comes the chance to observe humpback whales on a whale-watching cruise while in the tropical paradise of Las Caletas, jungles and caves harbor wildlife year-round. Guided day trips to traditional Mexican villages and tequila distilleries offer an opportunity to get to know the local culture.

Top 15 attractions in Puerto Vallarta

El Malecon

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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

Banderas Bay (Bahia de Banderas)

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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

Marietas Islands (Islas Marietas)

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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 abundant wildlife and provide a chance to escape the crowds of many Mexican beach resorts, hop on a boat, and explore the islands’ natural delights.More

Los Arcos National Marine Park

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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

Nuevo Vallarta

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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

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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

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

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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

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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

Vallarta Botanical Gardens (Jardín Botánico de Vallarta)

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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

Las Caletas Beach (Playa Las Caletas)

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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 wile away the hours swaying in a hammock, snorkeling, or enjoying a soothing massage on the shores of Las Caletas.More

Boca de Tomatlán

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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

Los Muertos Beach (Playa Los Muertos)

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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

Gringo Gulch

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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

El Tuito

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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
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Aquaventuras Park

Aquaventuras Park

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With a host adrenaline-fueled activities both in and out of the water, swimming areas suitable for all ages, and a dolphin and sea lion park, there’s something for the whole family to get excited about at the Aquaventuras Park. Just minutes from the beach in Neuvo Vallarta, the park centers around a gigantic swimming area, equipped with 10 thrilling water slides and toboggans, a rafting river, and a children’s play zone with a pirate ship, paddling pools, and mini slides.After making a splash at the aqua park, visitors can also tackle Mexico’s tallest climbing wall, pick up speed on the zip-line course, or take on the ‘Challenge’ obstacle course. Poolside sunbeds and lounge areas, plus a restaurant, cafe, and snack bar are also available.More

Trip ideas

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Puerto Vallarta

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A day excursion and we’ll worth it!
Charles_M, Jan 2023
Hop On Hop Off Tour with Free Stops in Puerto Vallarta
Wonderful way to see Puerto Vallarta!
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Relaxing, fun experience!
Laurie_M, Jan 2023
Hop On Hop Off Tour with Free Stops in Puerto Vallarta
Very fun, relaxing way to see Puerto Vallarta and the south shore!
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Awesome time
Jennifer_L, Jan 2023
Mountain Tour Puerto Vallarta Electric Bikes
Definitely worth the money got to see some off beat places outside of Puerto Vallarta
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Best tour in Puerta Vallarta!
Kris_T, Jan 2023
Sun Buggy Sightseeing Shared Tour
The guides and hosts were fantastic, spoke great English, and made sure we had an excellent experience.
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These guys definitely went above and beyond our expectations.
Bradley_L, Jan 2023
Shaded Hot Spring, Massage and Mex Grill in Puerto Vallarta
Hot springs were amazing, food was delicious and the massages were very relaxing.
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Delicious and Authentic Experience
Stan_B, Dec 2022
Signature Taco and Street Food Tour in Puerto Vallarta
Great was to see and taste your way around Puerto Vallarta.
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Foodie
Karah_E, Dec 2022
Downtown Puerto Vallarta Food Tour
Did this on my first full day in puerto Vallarta and it was a great opportunity to see Zona Romantica while eating delicious food.
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This was a fantastic...
Jessi_D, Dec 2022
Puerto Vallarta ATV ZIP LINE Combo Adventure
Excellent way to see Puerto Vallarta
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All about Puerto Vallarta

When to visit

During the summer months of December through February, migratory humpback whales flock to the warm Pacific waters of Puerto Vallarta, bringing hundreds of nature lovers and sun worshippers with them. For fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and lower room rates, visit in April just before the rainy season begins.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Puerto Vallarta information

Number of Attractions

19

Number of Tours

641

Number of Reviews

25,452

Currency

USD
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