Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide

This is more than just a coastal resort getaway. Somehow Puerto Vallarta — also known as “Vallarta” or just “PV” — maintains a small-town atmosphere, while still boasting one of the most unique and sophisticated ocean fronts in Mexico.

Sunbathing and sipping margaritas is just one of many ways to spend a vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Mexico’s prettiest resort town is also one of its most diverse. Old Vallarta, El Centro and the Zona Romántica, is a haven of quirky boutiques and winding cobblestone streets. In Marina Vallarta, shopping centers and deluxe hotels spread around the city’s yacht marina. In Puerto Vallarta you will find miles of sandy beaches and tons of highly-rated restaurants and lively nightclubs.  All surrounded by historic mountain towns, keep visitors returning again and again.  To learn more about all the beautiful beaches of the Mexican Riviera, visit here.  Now view our Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide to help plan your next Mexican Riviera vacation!

Puerto Vallarta Weather – When to Visit

The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is between April and June when the weather is pleasant and the room rates are affordable. During these months, rain is scarce and there are fewer tourists compared to the winter high season. If you’re interested in whale watching, however, visit from December to March. Just prepare yourself for the area’s most astronomical travel fares.

Best Puerto Vallarta Beaches

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A great place to experience the joys of a resort town.  If you have the time to spare, take a bus to this beach hideaway up the coastline for an afternoon of fishing, swimming, art gallery-gazing or beachside dining.  If you’re looking for a place off the tourist track, Bucerias is your secluded oasis.  Sometimes here, you can find yourself as the only ones on the beach.

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Conchas Chinas is the most romantic beach in Puerto Vallarta.  It’s laid back, quiet and fairly well hidden from tourists.  The sand is made up of tiny sea shells so wear flip flops.  The rocky seabed makes it less than ideal for taking a dip. But sunsets are sensational.

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This beach is a locals favorite.  It’s quiet, the water is beautifully blue and the sand is far softer than at other spots on the coastline. It’s also one of the best swimming beaches in Puerto Vallarta.  There are a handful of small places serving seafood and beers at this beach.

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Playa Gemelas is great for swimming, sunbathing with plenty of shady spots.  It’s very local and laid back, but has become pretty popular among Mexican families.

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Playa Mismaloya is one of Puerto Vallarta’s more iconic beaches.  The Night of the Iguana was filmed here in the 60s.  Mismaloya beach remains a reliable former fishing favorite that’s worth a visit if you want to take a dip, get a bite to eat on the beach.

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Puerto Vallarta Tours & Activities

Private Tour: Xochimilco, Coyoacan and Frida Kahlo Museum

Ride a traditional barge through Xochimilco canals, then visit Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera landmarks on an immersive private tour of Aztec history and Mexico City art. This tour includes round-trip hotel transfer and admission to Xochimilco, the Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, and Casa Azul, and features the mosaic murals at UNAM.  Read more about Xochimilco, Coyoacan, Frida Kahlo Museum Private Tour 

Puerto Vallarta Sunset Cruise and Candlelight Dinner Show

Immerse yourself in the magical mysticism of Las Caletas by night with an enchanting evening excursion from Puerta Vallarta. Watch the sun sink into the shimmering sea as you sail to a secluded beach surrounded by rugged rock formations. Dine upon a gourmet 3-course meal by candlelight before watching the renowned Rhythms of the Night show, a stunning spectacle that promises to transport viewers to a spiritual land that time forgot.  Read more about Puerto Vallarta Sunset Cruise and Candlelight Dinner with Show

Puerto Vallarta Outdoor Adventure Tour:  Zipline & Speedboat Ride

Satisfy an appetite for adrenaline on a thrilling 6.5-hour outdoor adventure tour from Puerto Vallerta. Enjoy an exhilarating ecological experience packed with challenges and fun on this Puerta Vallerta Adventure; ride on a super-fast speedboat; rappel down rushing waterfalls; ride powerful 4×4 jeeps; soar over the tree tops on zip lines and cross suspended rope bridges hanging high above the jungle. This tour is the ideal way to spend an exciting day outdoors on your Puerta Valletra vacation.  Read more about Puerto Vallarta Outdoor Adventure Tour

Puerto Vallerta Cooking Class

Feast upon the explosive flavors of Mexican cuisine during a cooking class in Puerto Vallarta.  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.  Read more about Puerto Vallarta Cooking Class

Canopy & Speed Boat Adventure in Puerto Vallarta: Los Veranos

Soar through the treetops of the rain forest straight into a tequila bar during this canopy tour, which begins with an optional speedboat ride. On Puerto Vallarta’s first-ever zipline circuit, you’ll cover 2 miles (3 km) on strong cables suspended 328 feet (100 meters) in the air and enjoy panoramic vistas. Conclude the exhilarating experience with time to swim, kayak, and race down a waterslide, or greet the diverse wildlife of the on-site menagerie.  Read more about Puerto Vallarta Zipline Tour and Speed Boat Ride: Los Veranos

Downtown Puerto Vallarta Food Tour

Get acquainted with Puerto 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. Read more about Puerto Vallarta Food Tour.

Best Puerto Vallarta Restaurants
La Palapa  $11 – 30

La Palapa takes beachfront dining to another level with efficient and personal service. This can all be enjoyed while feeling the sand between your toes. A family-owned and -run restaurant, La Palapa combines fresh, local ingredients with Asian and French elements. This makes for some tasty dishes, all at a reasonable price. The selling point here, however, is the combination of such good food with such an amazing view.   Telephone:  52-322-222-5225  Web:  La Palapa.

Playa Detox  $11 – 30

Playa Detox is a recently opened and locally owned vegan restaurant and juice bar. It has a focus on cutting the acidity from our diets. The coconut ceviches are a stand-out menu item, offering a fruity twist on the classic beachfront favorite. They are served piled high on a crisp tostada. Combine with a fresh, cold-press juice for a refreshingly healthy lunch. It’s handily located opposite a beautiful yoga studio, and regularly offers healthy living sessions on the premises. Playa Detox is a must-visit for both vegans and those feeling the effects of holiday overindulgence alike.  Telephone:  52-322-224-6714  Web:  Playa Detox.

El Coleguita  $11 – 30

A Puerto Vallarta institution, El Coleguita has three locations in the area, but the best views are offered down by the marina. Grab a table on the terraza to really take advantage of the stunning scenery, but don’t feel like you need to dress up for the occasion. El Coleguita has a relaxed, friendly vibe and excellent freshly caught and cooked seafood. There are also complementary tequila shots and banana desserts with every order. If the vegan ceviche from Playa Detox doesn’t float your boat, come and try the original down by the docks at El Coleguita.  Telephone:  52-322-167-8095  Web:  Mariscos El Coleguita.

El Arrayán  $11 – 30

Dine in comfort at El Arrayán, with tables surrounding the picturesque courtyard, whose trees more often than not provided the fruits for your delicious cocktails. Arrayanes are a little-known Mexican fruit, more subtle in taste than tamarind. This offers a lovely parallel to the offerings of the restaurant itself – still overwhelmingly Mexican, yet with a refined touch and are the inspiration for the restaurant’s name. Serving traditional almost gourmet Oaxacan-inspired cuisine, this atmospheric restaurant is located a few streets back from the malecón. It is accommodating for those following gluten-free diets and alters the common misconception that Mexican food is always cheese- and grease-heavy.  Telephone:  52-322-222-7195  Web:  El Arrayan.

Florios  $11 – 30

Florios has customers flocking in to try the delectable thin crust pizzas and pastas, generously topped with Mexican and Argentine-inspired salsas. The ever popular chimichurri comes highly recommended, accompanied by a refreshing agua fresca to combat the famous Vallarta heat. Located downtown, the brightly decorated, cozy Florios often has live music. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a break from exploring the malecón. Enjoy the excellent service, affordable food, and meet the friendly owner, Miguel. The 2-for-1 offers on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays only add to the appeal.  Telephone:  52-322-222-1765  Web:  Florios.

Best Puerto Vallarta Bars & Nightlife

Devil’s Bar

Devil’s Bar is right on a prime corner of El Malecon so you can enjoy your cocktail and the fresh ocean air at the same time. It’s a great sports bar if you’re away from home during the big game, and the perfect place to relax and make new friends. The staff is extremely friendly and the bartender will mix you whatever you want. Because of its location, it’s also a great place to hang back from the crowds and watch festivities on El Malecon like parades for Mexican Independence Day or Dia de Muertos.  Telephone:  52-322-223-8327  Web:  Devil’s Bar.

Mandala

Are you ready to get the party started? Because at Mandala you’ll be dancing all night long. The scene is relaxed and friendly, not what you’ll find at clubs in Hollywood. Everyone just wants to have a good time! It’s a great place to go with friends and they play a variety of music including Spanish language and popular American songs. Get a table and prepared to be treated like royalty. The staff is extremely attentive and will keep your drinks flowing and your cigarettes lit.  Telephone:  52-322-224-7437  Web:  Mandala.

Zoo Dance Bar

This place is crazy and memorable for sure. Climb the ladder to get on the back platform where they sometimes spray you with foam. They even have a wet t-shirt contest on Tuesdays! Don’t be afraid to check it out during the day time too. The food is great and you’re right on El Malecon for easy people watching. With the fun decor, your kids will love it too. Just be sure not to leave without taking a picture with the giant gorilla in the entrance. Telephone:  522-322-150-6574  Web:  Zoo Dance Bar.

Bar La Playa

If you want great cocktails, visit Bar La Playa. With fresh ingredients and unusual combinations, you won’t be disappointed. Beer and wine is also served, but do yourself a favor and try a fancy mixed drink instead. The craft cocktails are made to order without a bottled mix in sight. Happy hour is 3-5 but stay until 6 if you like more of a crowd. It’s the perfect place to start the night before hitting the town!  Telephone:  52-322-100-2272  Web:  Bar La Playa.

Andale

At Andale, there’s never a dull moment. It’s popular for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a great bar and entertainment. It’s also a perfect place to dance and meet new people. They even have a donkey at night. This place has it all! It’s loud and can get packed shoulder to shoulder, but the best part is that you can dance on the bar.  Telephone:  52-322-222-1054  Web:  Andale.

Best Puerto Vallarta Hotels

Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit


Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is a luxurious all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, featuring an award-winning spa, incredible dining and entertainment, playful activities, kids club, stylish event space, and a breathtaking landscape on the emera.

Hotel Mousai


Hotel Mousai is the first and only AAA Five Diamond rated resort in Puerto Vallarta and the state of Jalisco, where fresh flirtatious aesthetics and cutting-edge comfort will inspire you to live sensationally at the beach.

Casa Velas


Escape to a beautiful beach resort in Puerto Vallarta for an indulgent vacation refuge with sublime dining, a pristine beach, ocean club, golf courses, pools and a spa. Our spectacular resort is within walking distance of Puerto Vallarta’s sophisticated 500-slip marina and 15 minutes from the city center.

Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa


Spectacularly flanked by the vibrant blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the verdanant tropical forests of the Sierra Madre mountains, Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa nestles gracefully just minutes south of historic Puerto Vallarta, one of Mexico’s most dynamic and sophisticated vacation destinations.All Suites feature in-style decor that include marble floors, granite countertops, private terraces, whirlpool tubs and artisan in room amenities.Our ultra-chic gourmet restaurant is one of Puerto Vallarta’s most sophisticated and premier dining options, catering breathtaking ocean views, a stylish lounge, a 230 label award-winning wine cellar, and a selection of unique contemporary dishes tailored to scintillate your senses.

Grand Miramar All Luxury Suites & Residences


Situated 5 minutes south of the Puerto Vallarta Downtown, Grand Miramar, an intimate, elegant boutique resort with a Contemporary style, surrounded by the lush tropical Sierra Madre Mountains and facing those breathtaking bay views.ACCOMMODATIONSGrand Miramar features Residences of 4,3,2 and 1 bedrooms, contemporary concept with interior decor meets serenity and luxury accommodations, full size balconies with beautiful ocean views, granite countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, marble floor throughout, hard wood furniture, luxurious high thread – count linens, high-end appliances including microwave and dishwasher, and sophisticated colors that let you drift away into your own private world.

28 Comments

  1. Sarah Gaddes

    Puerto Vallarto sounds like a beautiful destination! One place my husband and I plan to visit for our next vacation is Mexico, however we are still trying to decide on the city. This article, as well as your many others, are currently helping us decide…do you know if there are any non-tourist-friendly places around the area? Just for safety reasons.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You know Sarah, I really don’t know of any non-tourist friendly places in Puerto Vallarta. That is not to say there isn’t any. I am just not familiar with any. Thank you so much for reading!

      Reply
  2. Mack

    Great article on Puerto Vallarta!

    I’m looking into planning a warm getaway for the winter so i’m glad I came across your site. Puerto Vallarta looks like an amazing place and you definitely give a lot of detail of the destination.

    Do you know of any good fishing charters for the area as this would be a activity I would most likely be partaking in.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Mack, glad you enjoyed reading the Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide. I have not been on a fishing charter in Puerto Vallarta, but if you go to fishingbooker.com, they have the charters and rating listed there. This is the best place to get set up for a fishing charter in Puerto Vallarta. Thanks for visiting the Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide!

      Reply
  3. Marlinda

    Wow! There’s so much to do in Puerto Vallarta! I am planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta with the girls. This gives us a lot of ideas for activities, and pretty much everything we need! Which hotel do you recommend for a group of girls?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Marlinda, you guys are going to have a blast! For the hotel, I am going to recommend Casa Karma Boutique Hotel. It can accommodate you well, and the price is right. Please let me know if I can help you plan your group vacation. Thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  4. Ruben

    Puerto Vallarta seems to be a great place. I visited this city a few years ago and it didn´t disappoint, but I can see that the city has been evolving over the years. This only makes me want to visit it again. In your opinion, what´s the best seafood restaurant on PV?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Ruben, Thanks for visiting the Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide. I would have to say that it is Joe Jack’s Fish Shack. Nothing fancy but great!

      Reply
  5. Vince

    Amazing and this place is now on my list of places to visit when I get to Mexico. I appreciate all the detail you’ve put in about this location, it really makes planing locations like this so much easier.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Great Vince 🙂 If you have any other questions while planning your vacation, please let me know. I would be glad to answer any that you have. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  6. Stefan

    Hi there, Mexico here I come.
    These white sandy beaches just look too good to be true. I think I will stick to the margaritas and beach fun for the first two or three days lol.
    How much money will I need for a week staying there in a rather not too expensive place?

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Stefan, Boy I cannot tell you how much you will need. I can say that it is a LOT less than say Cabo. It really depends on where and how much you want to eat out, that sort of thing. Puerto Vallarta is a bargain though and you will enjoy. That is exactly what I do for a few days, stick with my favorites…margaritas and beach or pool time 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  7. Jeremy

    Mexico is such a beautiful place! I think most people don’t realize because it’s covered by all the bad media which goes on about it but this looks amazing. Culture rich and full of life!

    Thankyou:)

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I agree Jeremy! There are a lot of safe places to visit in Mexico, the Mexican Riviera and Baja California. Both are amazing and both completely safe. As you say, so much culture and authentic Mexican food, along with amazing beaches. What more could anyone want? Thanks for visiting my Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide!

      Reply
  8. Alex

    Puerto Vallarta is an absolutely phenomenal place to travel to. I have been there multiple times and it is has been wonderful each and every trip. The long veranda is wonderful. The shops are great to pick up gifts for family. The drinks (hehehe) are excellent to sip on. Thank you for sharing this in depth article. I appreciate your thoroughness.

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      I agree Alex that Puerto Vallarta is a great destination on the Mexican Riviera. I am jealous that you have been there multiple times 🙂 Thank you for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com.

      Reply
  9. Melissa

    Wow! I have never been to Mexico, and this definitely puts it on my list of places to go! Very thorough and informative. Great post!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Melissa and glad you enjoyed!

      Reply
  10. Shannon

    Hi,

    I absolutely LOVE Mexico but haven’t been to Puerto Vallarta yet, I will be using this guide when I do! I really like how you have included info on the less touristy places, I always try to get a local vibe when I travel.

    Thanks for all the great information

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are so welcome Shannon. I am glad you enjoyed reading my Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide. Stay tuned for more great Mexico reviews to follow…thanks for visiting!

      Reply
  11. Gloria Darni

    Hello,

    Wow, you made me want to travel to Puerto Vallarta today!

    I have been to Cancun before, but you sold me on Puerto Vallarta, I will be taking my family away next year in the spring and I think we found our destination. I do like the fact that you do not need to go a counter when you arrive in Mexico to get your tourist card, it was a hassle when I went!

    Keep those destinations reviews coming!

    Gloria Darni

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Gloria,

      I know you will love Puerto Vallarta. Quite a bit more relaxed than Cancun for sure. I think you will enjoy the contrast and have a wonderful time. Please let me know if I can help you with anything else. Thanks for reading the Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide!

      Reply
  12. Eric

    Very informative article with a lot of goods sub-topics about places to go and things to do in Puerto Vallarta. I have been looking into a vacation here, and you have done all of the leg work for me! Thank you so much for all of this great information!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Hi Eric,

      I am glad you enjoyed reading the Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide. I am glad I could give you all the information you need to plan your trip to Puerto Vallarta. Thanks for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com!

      Reply
  13. Fred

    Wow, Puerto Vallarta looks like a great vacation spot for me! I have been considering a Mexican vacation, and hopped online to look for different alternatives. I am glad I found your website, as it is jam packed with information. Everything I need to start planning my trip is right there for me. I really am looking forward to going to Isla Río Cuale. Looks like a great place to get some nice authentic Mexican gifts to take back home. Not only that, but to learn more about the Mexican culture as well. You have done all the work for me, thanks!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      Thank you Fred, for taking the time to comment on my Puerto Vallarta article. I am glad that I could help with the planning for your upcoming vacation here. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me. I would be glad to answer any additional questions you have. Thank you for visiting BeachTravelDestinations.com!

      Reply
  14. Amy

    So glad I found your site, as I am planning my next vacation, and Puerto Vallarta sounds perfect for me! I especially like Isla Río Cuale, with all the shopping and restaurants. I’ve never been to Mexico, and your post was very helpful in providing some really great info to assist in my planning! I also love the idea that I can fly direct from New York. Makes things much easier. Thanks for the great info!

    Reply
    1. Leahrae (Post author)

      You are so welcome Amy! I am glad I could help in the planning of your vacation to Puerto Vallarta! If you need any additional information, please let me know. I would be glad to help in any way I can! Thanks for visiting the Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide!

      Reply

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