Located in the Mexican state of Jalisco on the Pacific coast, the friendly city of Puerto Vallarta is known as one of the most important resort destinations in Mexico, and the top favorite among the gay community. There are so many things to do in Puerto Vallarta that even when I was living there I didn’t have time to do everything, but I have selected my top 16 amazing activities.
I had the chance to live like local, trying different restaurants and visiting the surroundings and hanging out in the best beaches and having a ball eating in the best vegan restaurants in Puerto Vallarta
I was lucky also to live in Puerto Vallarta old town, at walking distance from everything, including the beach and Malecon Puerto Vallarta.
In this article, you will find a long list of all the things to do in Puerto Vallarta, including what I haven’t done myself, also a brief personal history of the city, how to get to Puerto Vallarta and how to move around, including the best options to get from the airport to the city.
If you are undecided about where to stay, you can read my guide to the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta. Yes, I have checked them out and reviewed them. I am sure it will be helpful if you are looking for the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta.
MAP OF PUERTO VALLARTA
16 THINGS TO DO IN PUERTO VALLARTA
There are so many things to do in Puerto Vallarta that it’s difficult to choose if you have limited time. I have selected my favorite things to do when I was living there for a month and 15 days, while I was housesitting.
Walk on the Malecòn
Among the Puerto Vallarta attraction, the Malecon is definitely the cheapest and the most accessible. In fact, walking along the Malecon is one of the many free things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Do it early morning when the sun is not hitting so strong and you can enjoy the gentle breeze while meeting other early raisers walking their friendly dogs or jogging.
Admire the spectacular and unique Sculpture by Sergio Bustamante a worldly renowned Mexican artist.
Watch the sunset at night while trying some delicious street food.
Hike to the Mirador Cerro de la Cruz (in the Map here below)
At the sunset would be better, to take one of the most stunning pictures of the entire bay. SAFETY TIP: make sure you check out if there are other people either local or foreign tourists walking up. If you see it’s too deserted don’t go. It’s always safe to avoid isolated places. For other safety tips, in general, you can check out my post on safety in Puerto Vallarta.
Enjoy the food
Enjoy the rich local food displayed on the inviting stalls of the Malecòn at night, especially the shrimp sticks and the Tejuino, a local drink.
Admire the sand sculptures
Check out the sand sculptures on the beach by the Malecon and the rock sculptures as well. So much patience is required to make them. I couldn’t even try it.
Check out the artisan market
Walk around the tourist market on the Cuale island, check out funny T-shirts, beautiful local colored dresses, local amber jewelry, paintings and manufacturers.
Enjoy the swinging wood pedestrian bridges connecting the Cuale island with the rest of the city.
Check out the art galleries
Among my favorite cool things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Art Galleries have certainly a special place. There are so many, all scattered around the Zona Romantica and in the old Vallarta. I could get lost in them.
Free art walking tours
Take a free walking tour of the art sculpture on the Malecon. This is available only in winter, from October through May, the high season. The interesting art sculptures are made by the famous Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante. If you happen to be in Guadalajara you can also check out his amazing gallery. I was just there and I was almost crying before such beauty.
Enjoy the beach
Enjoy the beautiful beaches located all along Bandera Bay and beyond it.
Free walking tours among the highlights of the city
If you are wondering what to do in Puerto Vallarta that is interesting and free, the free walking tours are a great idea to start.
Here you can get the real feeling of the city, its history, and what makes it so charming. At the time I am writing this post the schedule is every Thursday and Wednesday at 9 am or at 12 am and every Saturday at 9. The tours in the mornings are different from the ones in the afternoon. Departure time in the municipal office in front of the PUERTO VALLARTA colored sign on the Malecon. You can confirm your schedule at the Puerto Vallarta Tourist office in Calle Hidalgo, closed to the Church of Guadalupe.
Visit the nearby towns
Check out Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan by bus and it’s beaches
Yelapa is the most famous beaches among the ones close to Boca de Tomatlan. I didn’t like it though and in this post, I will tell you why.
Differently from Yelapa, Quimixto is a nice beach where you can relax and have a delicious meal after an energizing walk up to a waterfall.
I loved it so much that I wrote an article on how to get to Quimixto and make the most of your day.
Spend a day in the Botanical garden
Among the best attractions nearby Puerto Vallarta, the Botanical Garden is my favorite. I love to visit the botanical garden of every place I go where it’s available. The one in Puerto Vallarta is one of the most beautiful I have seen. It’s totally worth a visit. And you can also have a lovely lunch while watching the birds and the beautiful landscape.
Check out the opening time and prices on their site.
Take a boat tour
Among the amazing activities in Puerto Vallarta, joining a boat tour is definitely a must. There are so many tours available for snorkeling or to explore the nearby bays. Here below in the next section, I have selected a few for you.
Join a street food tour
Among the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, testing the local food is one of my favorites. There are free food tours available where local guides take you to check out the best street food vendors. It totally worth it if you are a food lover like me and you are not vegan or vegetarian. (important detail)
JOIN A TOUR IN PUERTO VALLARTA
Besides the above-mentioned activities and things that you can do on your own, there are amazing tours available, especially by boat. They will take you to places that you cannot reach on your own, and are super recommended by other travelers.
Check them out, by clicking on the pictures here below.
FOR FURTHER READING
- The 14 most beautiful Airbnb in Puerto Vallarta
- San Pancho – Mexico essential travel guide
- The Top 8 Restaurants in Sayulita
- Where to stay in Sayulita
- The top 5 Airbnb in Sayulita