A guide to things to do in Puerto Vallarta

With a beautiful old quarter, fantastic beaches, watersports and a mountainous jungle backdrop, there’s so much to do in Puerto Vallarta for everyone. Enjoy relaxing days with your family, adrenaline filled adventures with a special someone, or fill your days with magnificent sights that cost you nothing. Puerto Vallarta offers an authentic taste of Mexico that shouldn’t be missed.

Top things to do in Puerto Vallarta

Let’s party

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 bust some moves 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.

On the water

There are thrilling adventures aplenty for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts in Puerto Vallarta – especially if it involves water. 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 rock formations. 

The sunsets here make the evening sailings one of the most romantic settings for a perfect date night, and an evening you won’t forget. It’s also perfect to enjoy with friends with some trips offering an open bar. Memories are made of this.

Canopy River zip line

If you’re an adrenaline driven, thrill seeker then we advise adding this into your holiday itinerary. There are twelve zip lines located in the rainforest of the Sierra Madre Mountains, some high, some low, some maybe even dipping in the river. You will be accompanied by experienced guides throughout your trip which lasts typically around four hours. Transportation is included and what is even better is that they offer free Tequila tasting at the end of the tour – presumably to calm the nerves. They also have a restaurant where you can enjoy traditional Mexican food to round off the tour.

Jungle tour

Explore the vast jungle that surrounds Puerto Vallarta on foot, in a 4×4 or on horseback. Amidst this green wilderness are numerous animals, some of which you may spot. They include monkeys, armadillos and ocelots. 

Puerto Vallarta Tours offer an awesome trip in a 4 passenger Jeep up into the Sierra Madre Mountains. You will visit a traditional Mexican hacienda and a tequila factory. The trip lasts approximately five hours and there will be time to swim and sunbathe and you won’t go hungry as there are plenty of Mexican snacks along the way. A jeep safari is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta to see the sights, get a taste of adrenaline and have fun!

Things to do for free in Puerto Vallarta

Stunning sands

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. The opportunity to take part in a variety of watersports including surfing, snorkelling, fishing and kayaking are all available too.

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. The latter is a purpose-built beach with all the facilities, bars and restaurants you could need for a beach day. Stay all day-long and then enjoy your food as the sunsets.

Zona Romantica

Puerto Vallarta Old Town, aka Zona Romantica, is set away from the main hotels and has a traditional, relaxed ambience. It is very popular and for good reason. The best part of the day to experience Zona Romantica is in the evening when it is cooler, which will make browsing the shops and strolling around much more comfortable. 

There are plenty of restaurants and bars for you to refuel if you wish to take out your wallet, or you may prefer to just take in the street music and enjoy the incredible street entertainers.

Stroll along the boardwalk

In a destination as beautiful as Pureto Vallarta, sometimes you just need to take it all in. A stroll along the boardwalk (promenade) is one of the best things to do to catch the views, snap some pictures and enjoy the culture. Dotted along the promenade are bronze sculptures created by talented artists – one of these is the ladder that leads to nowhere, made by famous Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante. The boardwalk comes alive once the sun sets and fills with street performers and tourists creating that lively but tranquil holiday feel. Run along the promenade as the sun rises or walk hand in hand with the one you love while the sun sets, either way, it;s a part of Puerto Vallarta you can enjoy for free.