Have plans to travel to Puerto Vallarta? Well, you’re in the right place! This article will help you find the Top 10 things to see and do in Puerto Vallarta. We have also included links in the post so that you book directly any of the options presented.
The resort city of Puerto Vallarta sits on the Pacific Ocean’s Bay of Banderas in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Once a thriving mining town before it is now a world-renown international tourist destination. The beaches, the scenery, and the rich cultural history are just a few of the reasons why Puerto Vallarta has grown into the tourism and vacation mecca that it is today.
So what are the top 10 things to see and do in Mexico?
1. The Malecon
The Malecon or boardwalk of Puerto Vallarta is one of the best ways to start your trip to Puerto Vallarta. While it’s nice to visit the Malecon anytime, Sunday evenings are when you will find it at it’s busiest. On Sundays, you will find the locals out enjoying the area right along with the tourists. As long as crowds do not bother you, Sunday is the perfect day to come out and explore the different food stands, art vendors, and sidewalk entertainment. If you prefer to be around fewer people then try visiting on one of your evenings during the week.
2. Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Malecon continues for about a mile in its entirety. Along the journey, you will be able to make a detour to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in El Centro. La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe as it is in Spanish is a catholic church built between 1930-1940. The beautiful church (which you can see in our featured image) is a must-stop location on any tour of El Centro. Right off of the main plaza in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is Los Arcos Amphitheater. This is a popular spot to make a quick Instagram-worthy photo op. Los Arcos (The Arches) is infamous and a symbol of Puerto Vallarta that you may recognize from travel and marketing photos.
3. Isla Cuale
Isla Cuale is an area of different outdoor markets and the perfect place to pick-up a wide variety of souvenirs from Puerto Vallarta. If you look at a map you will notice a green area where the river splits and forms an “island”. You can access this area via short hanging bridges along the Cuale River. You will find open-air stalls with local vendors, artisans, and souvenir shops. There’s also an art gallery, fountain, and a restaurant.
4. Zona Romantica / Old Vallarta
Nestled just south of the Río Cuale, Zona Romántica is home to more cobblestone streets, quaint cafes, bakeries, intimate restaurants, art galleries, and traditional Mexican pueblo-style architecture. If you’re visiting from November to May, be sure to stop by the weekend farmers’ market at Lázaro Cárdenas Park for artisanal chocolate, organic fruits, cheese, soap, handmade items, and much more.
Old Vallarta or “The Zona Romantico” as it is known to seasons travelers to Puerto Vallarta is packed full of cobblestone streets, charming restaurants and friendly bars to grab a drink and people watch. The narrow cobblestone streets are busy but very walkable, just be advised to be prepared for the many stairs and hills when exploring the area. While you don’t have to walk up, it is worth it to see the town from the beautiful viewpoints with ocean views that you are afforded once you reach the higher points.
These places can be explored on your own, or you can visit all of these destinations in this 3 hour Puerto Vallarta Local-Style Walking Tour (from $41.00 per person). If you prefer to take a full-day tour of Puerto Vallarta that includes a visit to the countryside then opt for this 6 hours Puerto Vallarta 360 City Tour (from $65.00 per person ). This tour is the perfect mix of city and countryside with a visit to Nogalito Eco Park, plus tequila tasting and a chef-prepared lunch.
5. Food Tours
Mexico is world-renowned for its cuisine. While we are sure that you won’t run short of options while in Puerto Vallarta, it is often great to learn the history of the food and discover unique gems that you may otherwise pass over. Downtown Puerto Vallarta Food Tour (from $55.00 per person) is a great introduction to Vallarta’s delicious food scene on this 3.5-hour food and eating walking tour. With an expert foodie leading the way, sample the diverse array of the city’s edible delights, from tacos to sweets on this culinary adventure. Stop at 10 different spots to sample the food. And while going from place to place, see some of the highlights of the town and learn about the history of Puerto Vallarta. This small-group tour is limited to just 10 people, ensuring plenty of personalized attention.
Prefer to be a bit more hands-on? Feast upon the explosive flavors of Mexican cuisine in this Puerto Vallarta Cooking Class, Market Tour, Lesson and Tasting (from $90.00 per person). Shop in a vibrant market for colorful produce; visit a traditional tortilla factory; and learn of regional culinary customs with a knowledgeable guide. Gain insight into customary cooking techniques with a local master chef, discovering recipes like fish ceviche, and taste tantalizing samples of tequila on this insightful and interactive culinary tour.
6. Los Arcos
Los Arcos is located 7 miles out from Puerto Vallarta in Banderas Bay. It is a protected area and it is perfect for snorkeling, swimming paddle boarding, kayaking, and much more. This 8-hour Full-Day Experience in Banderas Bay (From $78.00 per person) is more than just a boat ride. In addition to Los Arcos, this tour makes the following stops:
Las Animas Adventure Park
7. ATVs & Ziplining
Sierra Madre ATV Adventure from Puerto Vallarta 4 hours from $59.00 per person
Drive an ATV through the Sierra Madre Mountains on a half-day adventure from Puerto Vallarta. You’ll splash through jungle rivers, pass quaint villages, and get a glimpse of the real Jalisco, far from crowded resorts. Choose between a 3- and 4-hour trip by ATV, and spend the day exploring the Puerto Vallarta countryside, with both morning and afternoon departures available.
Zipline with Ocean View 2.5 Hours from $87.00 per person
Experience a side of Vista Paraiso rare to visitors on a zipline adventure with convenient round-trip transport from centrally-located hotels. After a brief safety overview, your guide sends you off on one of the longest zipline courses in the region, which offers panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding mountains. Bottled water is included and souvenir photos are available for purchase.
If you’re interested in both ATVs and Ziplining it makes a lot of sense to do them together. Check-out these great combo excursions that include both activities.
ATV and Zipline Adventure Combo Tour with Tequila Tasting 5 hours from $150.00 per person
This half-day tour near Puerto Vallarta combines several adventures in the morning or afternoon. After an ATV tour, take a dip in the Canopy River, then ride a zipline course through the treetops with the Sierra Madre Mountains as your backdrop. A short mule ride to Jalisco ends with a tequila-tasting session.
8. Hidden Beach
Playa Del Amor or as it is more commonly referred to, Hidden Beach is located in the Marietas Islands approximately 22 miles off the shore of Puerto Vallarta. The beach has beautiful blue water within the hidden cavern on one of the islands of Marieta.
Please note that Hidden beach access is available from Wednesday through Sunday only. Only so many visitors are allowed per day, book your day in advance.
Check out this Marietas Islands Snorkel and Hidden Beach Tour. From $99.00 per person
9. Surf Lessons & Scuba Diving
Ride the waves on this private surfing lesson from Puerto Vallarta. After an easy drive to Punta Mita, receive tailored instruction according to your level of experience. Learn maneuvers on the beach and then hit point break! After the lesson, dial down your adrenaline with drinks and snacks at a local bar. Transport from a central location in Puerto Vallarta included.
Private Surf Lessons in Punta Mita $80.00 per person, minimum two people
Perfect your diving skills in Puerto Vallarta. Delve into the region’s renowned waters to explore undersea tunnels, hidden caves, and reefs brimming with tropical fish. Experienced certified divers have several dedicated dives to choose from, including the technical El Morro and a night dive at Los Arcos National Marine Park.
Scuba Diving with a 5-Star PADI Center in Puerto Vallarta 7 hours (from $110.00 per person)
10. Whale Watching
If you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta between December and February, you have to add whale watching to your list of must-dos! Each winter, humpback whales are seen migrating down to Mexico’s Pacific coast to give birth to their calves before making the trek back up to Alaska. Many local tour companies offer whale-watching cruises, where you’ll learn all about their annual migration and other cool facts. Seeing these massive sea creatures in person is surely an experience you’ll never forget!
Small-Group Half-Day Whale-Watching Tour in Puerto Vallarta
Depending on the conditions, you might watch for whales in the Bahia de Banderas or out in the Pacific Ocean. Learn about the majestic animals from your marine biologist guide as you ride on a small boat that is equipped with a restroom. Your tour includes lunch served on board the boat and accompanied by non-alcoholic beverages.