By Soren Rivero
Puerto Vallarta is a resort-style town whose whistling seaside air, crashing waves, and unique culture attracts visitors from all over the world. While enjoying the beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta is highly recommended, there’s so much more to do in this popular tropical paradise! Here are the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
1. Zona Romantica (Old Town)
First up, you’ll definitely want to see the historically-rich and colorfully decorated streets of Old Town Puerto Vallarta. Filled with ancient cobblestone streets and alleys, this unique area is a near-perfect resemblance of what Puerto Vallarta was like centuries ago. Stroll around Old Town and view the colorful, traditional homes showcasing vines growing over the old houses and wrought iron balconies.
Zona Romantica (the Romantic Zone in English) is the Old Town’s historic district. Feel free to browse through the enormous array of different galleries, boutiques, shops, or simply marvel at the beauty of it all. Before you leave, visit the Pier and enjoy some delicious dining.
2. Hike to the Mirador Cerro de la Cruz
El Mirador Cerro de la Cruz is the perfect place to see Puerto Vallarta from an aerial perspective as opposed to looking up from the beaches to the cityscape. The most famous spot (and also one of the highest peaks) is the Cerro de la Cruz lookout, from which you can see a view of the city and nearby beach in a totally new perspective. The climb to the top is only about 40 minutes from Old Town!
Nothing screams 'iconic’ more than Puerto Vallarta’s world-famous boardwalk, El Malecon. This popular hotspot combines beachside scenery with a pueblo-style background, which is often the picture used for many postcards found across the city. The boardwalk stretches about a mile long, so you can comfortably reach one end of the boardwalk to the other (from El Centro to Zona Romantica) while enjoying the beautiful scenery. The area is also closed off to public transportation, which makes walking much easier and safer.
As for what there is to do… Well, everything! Live music, shops, food, drinks, beach activities, sculptures, museums, and so much more. You can probably spend a whole day here and still not have visited everything.
4. Islas Marietas
Situated right off the coasts of Puerto Vallarta near the Bay of Banderas is Las Islas Marietas. Here you’ll encounter some of the city’s most unique wildlife that inhabit both land and sea. Simply looking at a picture of this natural wonder isn’t enough to encapsulate the true beauty – one has to actually see it in person to experience its true magic. Unfortunately, it’s closed off to public access, however, you can take a tour to the islands which provide you with snorkeling, kayaking, and paddle boarding options.
5. Los Muertos Beach
There’s tons of beaches that surround Puerto Vallarta that all offer something different. Feel free to visit whichever you want, though a highly recommended one is La Playa de Los Muertos. Translated to ‘the deadman’s beach’, this beach is named after some of the more notorious and frequent pirate raids Puerto Vallarta had ever seen.
6. Municipal Market of Colonia Emiliano Zapata
If there’s one thing you can experience in Mexico that’s hard to find in other places, it’s their markets. Puerto Vallarta is no different, as there’s a vast selection of markets at every corner. One of the best is the Municipal market of Colonia Emiliano Zapata. It’s colorful, vibrant, full of life, and open all the way until 3:00 A.M!
7. Rhythms of the Night
This festival-type performance is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, and surely shouldn't be missed. You’ll start off with a cruise across Banderas Bay to Las Caletas, a private cove near the shore. Here, tons of performers dressed in colorful attire will greet you alongside flaming tiki torches. The performance happens after the sunsets, and is performed on a wide outdoor stadium. Dinner is also served with the performance, which makes the experience all the more noteworthy.
8. Visit the Magic Towns
In Puerto Vallarta, many towns still retain their roots in cultures from centuries ago that are still reflected in the way people live today. The government has recognized this and deemed these towns as ‘Magic Towns.’ Two of the more well-known Magic Towns are Talpa de Allende and Mascota. They’re quite different from one another, so do yourself a favor and visit both!
So, where will you go on your trip to Puerto Vallarta?