A guide to things to do in Puerto Vallarta
With a beautiful old quarter, fantastic beaches, watersports and a mountainous jungle backdrop, the beach-resort city of Puerto Vallarta offers the traveller a rich variety of things to see and do during holidays in Mexico.
Discover the old-town's treasures
Wander through the maze of cobbled streets and you’ll find bars, restaurants, tiny street-markets, traditional brick buildings and galleries that showcase the work of local artists.
Visit the early 20th-century Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which towers over the neighbourhood – and if you’re here in December, you can enjoy the 12-day festival held in her name. Processions and festivities form part of one of the city’s most important celebrations, commemorating the appearance of the Virgin Mary to a peasant in the 16th century.
One of the highlights of a visit to the old part of the city is a stroll along the Malecon, a seaside boardwalk lined with restaurants, bars, jewellery shops, boutiques, galleries and public sculptures by prominent artists.
See why life can be a beach
Travel to Mexico and you’ll be greeted by some of the finest beaches in the world. Puerto Vallarta sits along the Bahia de Banderas – Bay of Flags – one of the world’s largest bays. Consequently, the city benefits from a clutch of beautiful beaches where you can chill out under the hot Mexican sun, cocktail in hand, bathe and swim in the transparent water of the Pacific Ocean and take part in a variety of watersports. They include surfing, snorkelling, fishing and kayaking.
Among the most popular beaches are the two downtown sandy expanses of Playa Olas Altas and Playa de Los Muertos – the Beach of the Dead, named after a pirate raid in the 19th century.
Revel in nature's splendour and beauty
Mother Nature’s blessed Puerto Vallarta with some terrific beaches, but she also shows off her design skills in the Vallerta Botanical Gardens. This floral wonderland is situated on the outskirts of the city in the Sierra Madre mountains. Here you can visit orchid and vanilla conservatories, check out the tropical fruit orchard and marvel at the beauty of the rose gardens.
Get sporty on land
Improve your swing with a round or two at any of the city’s three golf courses. All benefit from excellent facilities and the scenic backdrop of the Bay of Flags.
Embark on a jungle tour
At Puerto Vallarta, there are thrilling adventures aplenty for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. You can go whale watching in the bay to spot humpback whales. Or swim, snorkel and scuba dive at the Los Arcos Marine Park, a collection of small granite islands to the south of the city that are characterised by their arched shape rock formations.
Explore the vast jungle that surrounds Puerto Vallarta on foot, in a 4×4 or riding a horse. Amidst this green wilderness are numerous animals, some of which you may spot. They include monkeys, armadillos and ocelots. If you like your outdoor activities to come with a bit of adrenalin, thrill to a zip-line adventure in a tropical forest just outside the city.
Party from dusk 'til dawn
Puerto Vallarta is a city that knows how to show a good time to residents and visitors alike. Once the sun has set on your day it’s time to embrace an exhilarating, diverse and lively nightlife. Pitch up at bars, restaurants and nightclubs in the city’s hotspots along the Malecon, or in public squares such as the Plaza de Armas.
Book a seat at Teatro Vallarta to watch concerts, dance shows and dramatic performances by popular Mexican actors. In addition to its shows, the theatre offers the Viva Tequila Experience, which features a guided tour of the Tequila Museum and tequila tasting with experts.
If you’re looking to get down and dirty on the dance floor, follow the in-crowds to venues such as the Zoo and Mandala in the downtown Malecon neighbourhood, and Xrtine Club and Strana nightclub in the hotel zone on the north side of the city.
If we’ve managed to peak your interest, take a look at our great range of cheap trips to Mexico.