Puerto Vallarta in Mexico is a relatively easy city for first-time visitors to discover, but having some basic information is essential to enjoying an unforgettable stay. To explore this beautiful seaside town with complete peace of mind, I share practical information, based on my own experiences, in order to help you prepare your trip.
This is a complete travel guide with my advice and recommendations to prepare your trip to Mexico and discover Puerto Vallarta! Here you will find good tips for eating, where to sleep, as well as the best activities.
Why Visit Puerto Vallarta
Beaches and tourism in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
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Puerto Vallarta is one of those places, where as soon as you arrive, you feel like you want to stay forever. This charming town, located on the Bahia de Banderas on the Pacific coast, is an important tourist destination. Seaside Mexico.
The spectacular landscape between the Sierra Madre Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, remarkable gastronomy, numerous activities, walkable downtown and independent neighborhoods make Puerto Vallarta a unique city.
Puerto Vallarta is an endearing city, where you can make great discoveries. This city has everything you need to keep you busy! I had the chance to settle in Puerto Vallarta for three weeks and a few small recommendations were essential for discovering Puerto Vallarta and enjoying this seaside town!
Why Go To Puerto Vallarta, Mexico https://promovisionpv.com/why-go-to-puerto-vallarta-mexico/
Location and history
On Mexico’s Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta is a seaside resort in the Mexican state of Jalisco. The city is located in Bahia de Banderas and has become a world-famous tourist destination in Western Mexico.
Unlike Cancun, in the northeast of the Yucatan Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea, known for its mass tourism, Puerto Vallarta was a traditional Mexican village before attracting tourists from all over the world.
This small fishing village has developed to accommodate the growing number of national and foreign tourists attracted by the charm, friendliness and beautiful beaches of the region.
It was also the large investment in infrastructure at the end of the 1960s and the film industry which allowed the development of the tourist economy.
Puerto Vallarta is positioned as one of the 10 “Friendliest Cities in the World” 2023 https://promovisionpv.com/puerto-vallarta-is-positioned-as-one-of-the-10-friendliest-cities-in-the-world/
Today, tourism is the main economic activity in the region. Despite the presence of numerous tourists, Puerto Vallarta has also managed to maintain its local life and coexist well with tourism.
In Marina Vallarta there is also a wide variety of international and Mexican cuisine restaurants, which is a nice change from the restaurants in the center.
Restaurants in Puerto Vallarta are positioned among the best 50 in Mexico. https://promovisionpv.com/restaurants-in-puerto-vallarta-are-positioned-among-the-best-50-in-mexico/
Puerto Vallarta Hotel Zone
The next area is the Hotel Zone. This area is renowned mainly for its beautiful beaches and of course, as the name suggests, its numerous hotels and all-inclusives. Also, it is in this area that you can find many shopping center options, such as La Isla or Plaza Caracol.
On the seaside side are the hotels. Crossing the main road, Francisco Medina Ascencio Boulevard establishes a very local part of the city with shopping centers, big box stores, restaurants, banks and other services.
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Given the wide variety of hotels in the area, this area can accommodate families, couples and groups. It’s probably a gamble on first-time visitors, given the good dining options and beautiful beaches just a short drive from central Puerto Vallarta.
We decided to take a hotel in this part of town. I found it to be a perfect place to have the tranquility of being by the sea, while still being close to everything you needed.
If you are not looking for an all-inclusive option, you will find an affordable luxury hotel with a large comfortable room, a rooftop swimming pool, a gym and above all splendid views towards the city, the sea and the mountains.
Street Food is very numerous and varied in Puerto Vallarta and around the Bay of Banderas. https://promovisionpv.com/street-food-is-very-numerous-and-varied-in-puerto-vallarta-and-around-the-bay-of-banderas/
5 of Diciembre
This district is located between the Hotel Zone and the city center. Mainly a residential area, it is possible to find accommodation within walking distance of the center. A very good option to stay in Puerto Vallarta, given the easy access to the square and the hustle and bustle of the city center. El Centro (The city downtown)
Malecon Promenade in Puerto Vallarta
Between the hotel zone and the Rio Cuale, downtown Puerto Vallarta is the living, beating heart of the city. This is where a lot of the action takes place.
This neighborhood is the perfect place for long, enjoyable exploratory walks to discover the unique local features. Here you can find an abundance of restaurants, bars and shops whose style, colors and ambiance are unique in the world.
A visit to Puerto Vallarta cannot be done without a walk along the Malecon, a charming seaside promenade that gracefully traces the edges of the beach and the ocean.
Palm trees, bronze sculptures, local vendors and restaurants and shops not to mention breathtaking views and sunsets mark the walk.
The brightly painted walls, flower-decorated terraces, and red-tiled roofs of colonial-era buildings are the architectural charm and historical legacy of Puerto Vallarta.
You will also find the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish downtown, the most famous symbol of Puerto Vallarta. Opposite the church is the Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square.
Because of the Malecon, there aren’t many hotel options directly on the beach. Despite this, you’ll never be too far from the beach and you’ll be just steps away from Puerto Vallarta’s best restaurants, bars, and shops. This makes this area one of the best places to stay.
Zona Romantica (The Romantic Zone)
The Romantica Zone, also called the old town, is found once you cross the Rio Cuale and the small island in the river. The hipster vibe and popularity among LGBT travelers and expats make this neighborhood famous.
Here are traditional shops, numerous restaurants, bars and clubs. A very popular area among travelers, it has a wide variety of accommodation. It is a very lively part of the city.
One of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta is in the Romantic Zone, Playa Los Muertos. You will also discover the emblematic sail-shaped pier with a splendid view of the Bahia de Banderas. Here you can take water taxis to southern beaches such as Las Animas or Yelapa.
In the very south of the city, right next to the Romantic Zone, is Conchas Chinas, a more affluent neighborhood marked by high-end condominiums. The strong point of this district is the original landscape marked by the enclave between the tropical vegetation of the Sierra Madre and the coasts of the Pacific Ocean.
What to do in Puerto Vallarta
Here are some activities to discover to have a good time and to get to know the culture of Puerto Vallarta. To see my complete list, in more detail, of places to visit in Puerto Vallarta, I recommend this article.
Puerto Vallarta Beach Front Club Restaurants and Bars https://promovisionpv.com/puerto-vallarta-beach-front-club-restaurants-and-bars/
To go to the beach. The first thing I love to do when arriving at a “sun destination” is to go see the sea and put my feet on the sand. Nothing better to discover Puerto Vallarta than to visit its beaches. You will find a huge choice of beaches, each offering something unique. Visit Playa Los Muertos, Playa Conchas chinas, Playa Flamingos.
Beaches in Puerto Vallarta
See the sunsets. On the edge of Banderas Bay the city has many places to see magnificent sunsets. Every day, taking the time to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean is an activity in itself.
Walk around the Malecon. The Malecon is my favorite place in Puerto Vallarta. I was able to spend several afternoons strolling, having an ice cream while looking at the sea and local life.
PUERTO VALLARTA’S TOP ATTRACTIONS THINGS TO DO https://promovisionpv.com/puerto-vallartas-top-attractions-things-to-do/
Malecon Puerto Vallarta
Discover the village of Sayulita. The village is about a 30-minute drive north of Puerto Vallarta. This charming fishing village is a place to discover, beautiful beaches, typical restaurants and a relaxed atmosphere.
Where to eat in Puerto Vallarta
One of the most exciting things about experiencing Puerto Vallarta is going out to sample the local cuisine. Here, whether it’s a sidewalk taco truck, a seaside dinner or a dinner with a panoramic view of the city, you’re spoiled for choice.
The best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta, you will find the 2 mentioned above and other tasty gourmet experiences.
Here are my two favorites in Puerto Vallarta, the restaurants that you absolutely must not miss.
Dee’s Café is the perfect place. For those looking for a great atmosphere, excellent service and above all delicious food, this restaurant is one of the ones that stood out during my stay in Puerto Vallarta.
The restaurant is also known for its delicious coffee and the unique menu with healthy options. They offer a nice mix between typical Mexican cuisine and international cuisine. Without forgetting, the restaurant offers excellent value for money.
For a late lunch or dinner, I highly recommend Restaurant located at the Romantic Zone in Puerto Vallarta.
Versalles The NEW “IN” neighborhood, restaurant list, Puerto Vallarta https://promovisionpv.com/versalles-the-new-in-neighborhood-restaurant-list-puerto-vallarta/
This restaurant is a must! It offers typical Mexican dishes, undoubtedly the best tacos and quesadillas I have eaten! I recommend taking the Tacos Al Pastor, it’s an authentic classic of Mexican cuisine.
Be prepared for the long queue! The location in one of the most popular areas, the quality of the food and the unbeatable price, it’s worth the long queue. My advice is to arrive early for the late afternoon opening at 4 p.m.
Costs of living
The official currency of Mexico, the Mexican Peso (MXN), is equivalent to 1 Canadian dollar to 12-13 Mexican pesos (Dec 2023). Some businesses accept US dollars (16-17 Dec 2023) and Canadian dollars, but at a less advantageous exchange rate. We used it all the way through the pesos.
It is important to have cash with you during your stay since the majority of restaurants and businesses only accept cash. Some establishments accept credit cards, more often Visa and Mastercard.
First of all, it must be said that the cost of living in Mexico is generally 47% cheaper than in Canada and 55% cheaper than in France. This is especially when it comes to food and accommodation, but it must be recognized that it also varies depending on the region, the season and the desired style of travel.
We had the opportunity to try simple and popular restaurants as well as more touristy or even considered high-end restaurants.
Puerto Vallarta named one of “The Best Small Cities in the World” by Conde Nast. https://promovisionpv.com/puerto-vallarta-named-one-of-the-best-small-cities-in-the-world-by-conde-nast/
From a transportation and travel perspective, it has been pretty easy to do trips on foot or by Uber. Although the city is very well served by taxis, we opted to travel between the hotel zone and the city center by Uber for the ease of payment.
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For example, rides between the hotel zone and the center (journey of approximately 15 minutes) vary from 50 pesos to 100 pesos, depending on demand on the mobile application.
Find your way around and Discover Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. https://promovisionpv.com/how-you-can-go-around-and-discover-puerto-vallarta-and-riviera-nayarit/
The Vallarta Botanical Garden has grown to become one of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico’s most important landmarks https://promovisionpv.com/the-vallarta-botanical-garden-has-grown-to-become-one-of-puerto-vallarta-mexicos-most-important-landmarks/
So, are you ready to discover Puerto Vallarta in Mexico?
I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Mexico. I also hope to inspire you to experience the culture of Puerto Vallarta. I loved my stay in this little corner of paradise so much, I’m sure you will love it!
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