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34 Absolute BEST Things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

34 Absolute BEST Things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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Puerto Vallarta is without a doubt one of my favorite places in Mexico. I have not only lived in Puerto Vallarta but often visit the city for amazing beach getaways!

For first-time visitors though, the only problem with going to Puerto Vallarta is choosing all the amazing activities you want to do. There are a lot of great activities, but many are unknown to visitors.

Luckily, after many visits to Puerto Vallarta, I’ve just about done it all. From ATV tours to exploring nearby beaches, the list of activities I’ve done in Puerto Vallarta just keeps growing.

To help you plan your trip, here are the 34 best things to do in Puerto Vallarta including free activities, cheap activities, and even some really cool and interesting tours!

34 BEST Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

1. Go to Rhythms of the Night show

the Rhythms of the Night show, Puerto Vallarta
This is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta!

The Rhythms of the Night dinner show is the most highly rated show in all of Puerto Vallarta, and therefore, one of the absolute best things to do!

But it is so much more than just a show.

The Rhythms of the Night tour is a full-on evening experience. It starts with a sunset dinner cruise in the Bay of Banderas. On this 1 hour cruise, you can enjoy a drink (or many drinks, as we did) onboard a catamaran while enjoying the famous PV sunset.

During certain times of the year, you may even see whales!

Then, when you arrive at Las Caletas (a private beach), you’ll be seated in the amphitheater to watch the show. The Rhythms of the Night show was actually conceived by the co-founder of Cirque de Soleil, so it is an impressive combination of acrobatics, theatrics, and music and dance. However, it also has a Mexican spin on telling historical legends and stories. Honestly, it’s so impressive, and during some parts, you’ll be on the edge of your seat.

After the show, you’ll be taken to one of the many restaurants on the beach to enjoy a romantic candle-lit buffet dinner. The food is fantastic, and there are cocktails, spirits, beer, and wine on offer. We were very impressed with the dinner.

This is truly an experience unique to Puerto Vallarta and one you shouldn’t miss out on! Tickets do often sell out, so be sure to book online in advance!

Once you arrive at the port, you can upgrade your ticket to “all you can drink” for $10 USD or “VIP” for $40 USD. I myself got the all-you-can-drink package and certainly got plenty of use out of it. The VIP section just gives you closer seats and a fancier restaurant as well as the drink package.

The tour begins with a 7 pm check-in at the port, and we arrived back at around 1 am – it’s a long night but great value for money. In fact, to me, it is one of the best things to do in all of Mexico!

2. Visit Islas Marietas National Park & Hidden Beach

Hidden Beach in Islas Marietas National Park
Hidden Beach is so cool!

Islas Marietas, or The Marieta Islands, are simply stunning! This is an area of several untouched pristine tiny islands – the perfect place to relax and explore some of the best natural beauty Puerto Vallarta has to offer. Because they are islands, you’ll need a boat to get there and check them all out.

This full-day tour will take you out to the national park, where you will enjoy a fun and relaxing day of traveling on the catamaran, kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling.  

Some of the highlights are exploring different caverns and archways by kayak or paddleboard and then seeing fish, turtles, and other sea life while snorkeling! You’ll also stop at Majahuitas Beach which is very secluded and tranquil.

If you can, try to book the tour that also visits Hidden Beach (pictured above.) This is by far the highlight for most people but with the new restrictions, not every tour visits. In fact, even tours that advertise a visit to Hidden Beach don’t always get to see the beach.

The specific tour actually visits Hidden Beach and includes snacks, water, and an English-speaking guide. Although there are cheaper options, these DO NOT GUARANTEE a visit to Hidden Beach.

3. Go on a food tour

The tour group!

One of the best tours I have ever done was actually in Puerto Vallarta – a taco food tour!

We came hungry and left stuffed! This taco tour weaved its way through the less touristic streets of the La Zona Romantica in Puerto Vallarta visiting individual families’ street stalls as well as local hot-spot restaurants (check out the restaurant Cisneros for the best seafood tacos!)

We learned that families pass down recipes through multiple generations, and that being the one who held the recipe secrets was an honor.

We tried beef, pork, and seafood tacos. All different, but all amazing! We were even treated with a visit to a tortilla factory, bakery, and ice cream shop to end the day. I never expected a food tour to be so great, but it was. My mouth is still watering talking about it!

We highly recommend the taco tour we did with Vallarta Eats Food Tours. It was so much fun and the food was incredible. Also, considering the amount of food we got, it was really great value! You must book this tour in advance and you can do so here.

The same company we did our tour with also offers an evening tour. This is a great alternative to walking around in the hot midday sun. You can book this evening tour in advance online also.

4. Visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Feeding a humming at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Feeding hummingbirds was the highlight for sure!

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is one of the best ways to enjoy the flora and fauna of Puerto Vallarta. The gardens are actually privately owned and were set up to showcase the diversity of the region and to protect it.

I took a trip out to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens for brunch one morning, and I really loved the experience. The entrance to the gardens is 200 pesos ($10 USD) per person, and once in, you can explore the many hiking trails and even enjoy a meal at the restaurant.

My advice is to go in the morning and enjoy breakfast before exploring the gardens. We got to watch hummingbirds and listen to the rainforest with a coffee in hand – it was magical! On top of that, they have personal hummingbird feeders, so we got to watch them eat right from our hands!

Afterward, we grabbed a free map and wandered the gardens checking out gorgeous flowers, vanilla plantations, and interesting trees. It’s the perfect day out for nature lovers.

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens are located around 30 minutes from the Romantic Zona and 45 minutes from central Puerto Vallarta. You can either get a local bus to the gardens, a taxi, or Uber. From the Romantic Zone, a taxi costs 350 pesos ($17.50 USD).

You can also visit the Bontanical Gardens on this guided tour. For $69 USD you will get a guide, transport to and from the gardens, entrance to the gardens, lunch, as well as a tequila tasting. It is a 6-hour tour and seems like great value if you ask me!

5. Enjoy a meal at La Iguana

Two people pose as a couple at La Iguana, Puerto Vallarta
Some photos at sunset before our meal! Just look at that view!

If you love to enjoy a beautiful meal out while on holiday, then a visit to La Iguana restaurant is a must. This gorgeous restaurant overlooks Banderas Bay and serves up delicious contemporary Mexican food. It’s a fine-dining experience, and the attention to detail is unmatched by other restaurants in Puerto Vallarta.

On top of that, La Iguana is located in the old house of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (Casa Kimberly) – two famous actors you may already know. The restaurant’s architecture is stunning and a must-see attraction all on its own.

The restaurant is tucked away off the busy streets in central Puerto Vallarta, a few blocks back from the Malecon. Reservations are essential at La Iguana and make sure to ask for a table with a view.

Meals at La Iguana cost around 500+ pesos ($25 USD) and cocktails are around 230 pesos ($12 USD). Although not cheap for Puerto Vallarta standards, you’re guaranteed a delicious meal and fantastic service. They also have an extensive wine list as well as tequila. We stuck to cocktails and a bottle of wine when we visited, but other tables around us were ordering some very fancy bottles of tequila.

You can also stay in the same building as the restaurant at the luxurious Casa Kimberly hotel. Unfortunately, there are only nine luxury suites available, so be sure to book in advance!

6. Walk the Malecon

A statue on the Malecón in Puerto Vallarta in
Salsa anyone?!

The Malecon is the main boardwalk along the ocean in the center of Puerto Vallarta. There are various nice restaurants here but also huge dance nightclubs and famous bars such as Senor Frogs.

Along the Malecon, vendors set up stalls selling everything from street food to souvenirs. There are gorgeous statues and a central square which always seems to boast some sort of celebration.

A walk along the Malecon during sunset is an absolute must-do. It is a vibrant time of day and the sunsets are almost always spectacular!

7. Hike to Mirador de la Cruz

Bailey at Mirador de la Cruz
The view is so gorgeous!

Mirador de la Cruz is the absolute best viewpoint in Puerto Vallarta. The hike starts at the foothills just outside of downtown and there are signs along the way. Just head to the end of Abasolo Street and you will see the stairs.

The hike will take just about 15 minutes, but you’ll definitely want to take some time at the top to enjoy the panoramic views over Puerto Vallarta and the ocean. There are a lot of steps up to the viewpoint (over 200 to be exact), so bring some water and take a few rest stops along the way.

I went at sunrise with Daniel and some friends and we actually got a taxi right to the bottom of the stairs. This meant it was only a 10-minute walk up. I recommend doing this as the taxi cuts off a lot of the uphill walking. There is also a funicular there, but it was not going when we arrived at 8:00 am.

Also, this area in Puerto Vallarta is very safe so don’t worry about walking if that’s what you want to do.

This is one of the best free things to do in Puerto Vallarta, so be sure to check it out!

8. Go skydiving

Skydive puerta Vallarta
Daniel, jumping with the best views over Puerto Vallarta.

Anyone who knows Daniel knows he skydives as a hobby. So naturally, when we arrived in Puerto Vallarta and Daniel discovered that there was a skydiving club, he was signed up to jump the very next day.

Though Daniel skydives by himself, this same company specializes in tandem jumps for people who want a thrill of a lifetime attached to an experienced professional.

We spend quite a bit of time hanging out at the drop zone while in Puerto Vallarta. Daniel jumps and I watched landings at sunset on the beach. It is definitely one most beautiful places to skydive in the world.

I was surprised at the wide variety of nationalities and ages of the people who decided to jump out of an airplane for the first time in Puerto Vallarta. It clearly is a very popular thing to do for tourists from all walks of life in Puerto Vallarta!

Every single person seemed to have a great time. Watching all the nervous jumpers reminded me of the first time I skydived and brought back memories of thrill and excitement. Skydiving sounds scary, but that’s the point! Skydiving in Puerto Vallarta is a must-do if you’re looking for a bit of a thrill.

Daniel did all of his Jumps with Skydive Vallarta. They follow the American standards for skydiving which means they have excellent safety standards.

These guys were also very professional and fun! To book your jump in advance you can do so here with Skydive Vallarta!

9. Ride an ATV in the jungle

ATV in Puerto Vallarta

Going on an ATV tour is always a fun way to spend a couple of hours. But, in Puerto Vallarta, it is even more special as you ride through the jungle and remote villages!

The ATV tour in Puerto Vallarta we did took us along a dirt road that was really muddy in places (it was the wet season.) This made the tour super fun, and we got a little dirty.

Luckily, our tour stopped at the same place “The Predator” with Arnold Swaranegar was filmed. Here we got to have a few beers and enjoy a swim. On the way back, we also got to enjoy a really cool tequila tasting!

You can ride your own ATV (no experience required as the experts will give you a lesson) or, you can go in a pair. Regardless though, riding an ATV in the jungle near Puerto Vallarta is really one of the most exciting things to do!

You can book the same tour we did or check out other ATV tours available.

10. Watch a drag show

A drag show in Puerto Vallarta
Enjoy the show!

The Romantic Zone is the place I often choose to stay in Puerto Vallarta. Not only is it a fun and lively place with lots of great restaurants, bars, and hotels but it’s a very inclusive area with the LGBTQ+ community. One of the best things to do here is to head out and watch a drag show.

Drag shows are fun and entertaining and involve someone dressed in drag usually lip-syncing to music. On top of that, many of the performers are very talented making for a great show.

There are a few places to watch drag shoes around Puerto Vallarta including the Blue Chairs Resort and The Palm Cabaret and Bar. The shows usually last for around 1 to 2 hours.

Please note: Many of the drag shows I have been to in Puerto Vallarta are not suited to those under the age of 18.

11. Visit Sayulita

A beautiful beach in Sayulita
You’ll need to read our Sayulita blog to find this secret beach!

Just over an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta is the beachside town of Sayulita. Sayulita is famous for its cobblestone streets, range of trendy cafes and shops, as well as gorgeous beaches perfect for swimming or catching a wave or two.

You can easily visit Sayulita on a day trip from Puerto Vallarta. You can ride the local bus to get there which is the cheapest option, but not the most comfortable or quickest. Or, you can rent a car and drive yourself, or take a tour!

If you rent a car and drive yourself you’ll be able to spend as much time as Sayulita as you want! Heck, if you want, you could even spend a night or two as we did. Some of the best things to do in Sayulita include surfing, a day trip to San Pancho, hiking, and eating lots of delicious food.

If you don’t want to go to Sayulita on your own, you can also book a tour! This particular tour includes comfortable (air-conditioned) transport to Sayulita and back. It also stops at San Pancho (another gorgeous beach) and includes an hour’s surf or boogie board rental in Sayulita! For a full day tour it is well priced at $49 USD!

12. Go scuba diving

scuba diving is one of the best things to do in puerto vallarta
We love scuba diving!

Scuba diving is one of my personal favorite things to do! Exploring the ocean underneath the surface is nothing short of amazing!

Around Puerto Vallarta, there are some pristine bays, reefs, and marine reserves where you can see marine life and colorful coral.

There are some really great scuba diving companies in Puerto Vallarta that are PADI-certified. You can choose between going on a fun dive or you can even join a course to get certified!

Of course, snorkeling is always a blast too and a great alternative to scuba.

For those who are experienced divers, this company offers an amazing scuba tour! They come highly rated and visit some of the most beautiful and remote spots. The tour also includes lunch!

If you’ve never scuba-dived before but want to learn, you can sign up for this introductory dive with a highly-rated company. You’ll get to go on your first-ever scuba dive experience with a divemaster in one of the most beautiful bays in the area!

13. Day trip to Tequila

day trip from puerto vallarta to tequila
Me, visiting the birthplace of tequila – the town called “Tequila!”

Did you know that the spirit “tequila” was actually named after the town where it was first created? That’s right, there is a town in Mexico called “Tequila” (with a capital -T) that is the birthplace of tequila (the alcoholic drink!)

And what’s better, the town of Tequila is located only about a 3.5-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta!

To be completely honest, I loved the town Tequila. I actually spent two nights there so I could really experience what it had to offer visitors. I learned all about the making of tequila as I toured distilleries and Blue Agave farms.

If you do have the time, I highly recommend renting a car, driving to Tequila, and then staying at least one night (you’re not going to be in any shape to drive after a tequila sampling, that much is for sure!)

However, it is possible to go to Tequila on a day trip from Puerto Vallarta. Although a long day, it is definitely worth it! Touring the oldest tequila distilleries in the world is still one of the best things I did in Mexico!

Visiting Tequila on a day trip isn’t the most popular thing to do in Puerto Vallarta. And for that reason, your only option is to go on a private tour. This particular private tour to Tequila includes a distillery tour, premium tequila sampling, as well as time to explore the town!

If the long drive to Tequila and back doesn’t sound like fun to you, you can still enjoy tequila right in PV! You can join a tequila tasting tour that’s guaranteed to leave you smiling (you can thank the tequila for that!)

14. Go deep-sea fishing

Fishing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Trying to catch something good!

You can go sport fishing in Puerto Vallarta and have the chance to catch fish such as wahoo, sailfish, skipjack tuna, and dorado. Some of the fish people can catch in the area are just huge – it’s crazy!

Of course, if you catch any massive sport fish, it is catch and release. But if you want, you can also try and catch something tasty and can bring it back for dinner!

This fishing tour takes you out on a specialized speed fishing boat with your own group (4 people max.) That’s right, this is a private fishing charter! All gear and bait are provided and your expert guide will teach you everything you need to know! It costs $752 USD to rent the boat for 4 hours and since it’s a flat rate if you can bring 4 people the more you will lower the individual cost.

The boat is also licensed for whale watching so you might get lucky enough to spot a humpback whale while you’re out on the water too!

15. Go ziplining

zip lining through the jungle in Puerto Vallarta

Ziplining is one of the most popular excursions in Puerto Vallarta. You’ll get a bit of an adrenaline rush as you soar high above the jungle canopy. It is exciting, but it’s also beautiful!

Some of the longest ziplines in all of Mexico are located not far from Puerto Vallarta, making it the perfect place to give it a try!

This adventure tour includes more than just zip lining, it also includes a speed boat ride, riding on a 4×4 through the jungle, and the chance to repel down a waterfall! It is the ultimate adventure full-day experience in Puerto Vallarta and comes highly recommended by many travelers!

Bundling all these activities into one tour also helps to cut the price down. Instead of paying individually for each activity, you’ll only pay $129 for everything mentioned above.

Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!

If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)

It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!

16. Beach hop

Turtles are an amazing thing to do in Puerta Vallarta
Seeing baby turtles hatch at the beach was amazing!

Of course one of the main things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to check out the many surrounding beaches. There are a few different options around for beaches depending on what you are looking for.

The main beach in Puerto Vallarta is near the Romantic Zone. It’s a nice beach as there isn’t much for waves and it is within walking distance from both the Malecon and central area. For an easy beach to hang out at this is the one.

One downside to this beach is how busy it is. Some people would enjoy the many restaurants lining the beach as they provide services and lounge chairs/umbrellas for rent. But for those looking for some peace and quiet, I would recommend heading to a different nearby beach.

Another option is to head North towards the Hotel Zone. Behind hotels (like the Plaza Peninsula) there is a large stretch of beach that is never very busy. There are limited restaurants and vendors making this beach area much more relaxing than the beach near the Romantic Zone.

For something even more remote, catch an Uber or local bus to the beaches to the south of Puerto Vallarta. Some of these beaches include Playa Palmares and Playa Esmerelda. These beaches will be empty most of the time and allow for some real “RnR”.

Make sure to bring your own shade and snacks as buying these things will be nearly impossible here.

Getting to any of these beaches is as easy as catching a local bus heading out of the Romantic Zone. Just ask any of the drivers the name of the beach and they will either take you there or point at the correct bus. Most people in Puerto Vallarta speak some English so getting around is quite simple.

17. Party!!!

Out with friends in the Romantic Zone
At Margarita Grill!

Puerto Vallarta has quite a vibrant nightlife. Every day there are clubs and bars open for business and bustling with locals and tourists alike.

There are two main areas of Puerto Vallarta which are great for nightlife: the Romantic Zone, and the Malecon.

The Romantic Zone is more inland from the Malecon and consists of fewer tourist (still touristy though) restaurants and bars. There is a huge welcome for the LGBTQ+ communities in this area. Rainbows are painted on the outside of restaurants showing that they welcome all visitors!

The nightclubbing scene in this area is happening. Every night of the week there are various clubs and bars open. There is everything from Cabaret to karaoke to sports bars. One of the most popular spots is The Flamingo which always has a full dancefloor, or, head to The Margarita Grill for live music and a seat at their bustling bar. The people are friendly and the drinks are cheap, so it easily makes for a fun night out on the town.

If you head to the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, you will find the larger nightclubs. Some of the most popular include La Vaquita and Zoo Bar. Believe me, you can’t miss them as you will hear their music a mile away. Expect stages for dancing, free shots for the ladies, multiple levels, and even bottle service. These are not low-key by any means, perfect for anybody looking to dance.

I’m warning you now, drinks are not cheap at these large clubs and you can expect to pay 2-3 times more than you would at other bars in Puerto Vallarta. So, maybe do a little pre-drinking before you go.

Hot Tip: To save some money, you can buy VIP passes to popular nightclubs in Puerto Vallarta that allow you to skip the line and have an open bar! If you plan on drinking a lot, then this option is probably best!

18. Swim with wild dolphins

boat of tourists ready to swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta
Are you ready to jump in?! Photo Cred: giuseppemasci on Deposit Photos

Swimming with wild dolphins is a magical experience. This particular excursion from Puerto Vallarta gives you the chance to swim with dolphins in their own natural environment.

The company is committed to the research and conservation of the dolphins in this area so you can feel good about this ethical tour. Plus, you will be guided by an expert biologist to learn more about the animals!

The tour will provide snorkeling equipment and take you out on a boat to visit a resident bottlenose dolphin group. On the way out to see dolphins, you may also get to see whales, turtles, or even orcas.

Prices for the tour are around 1,743 MXN ($87 USD). This is one of the most popular things to do in Puerto Vallarta, so it is highly recommended that you book well in advance.

Related Read: Swimming with wild dolphins is also one of the best things to do in Puerto Escondido, Mexico.

19. Go snorkeling at Los Arcos National Park

Los Arcos National Park in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Do you understand was it is called “Los Arcos” now?

There are a lot of great snorkeling areas in and around Puerto Vallarta, but Los Arcos National Park is one of my favorites! The best way to experience this gorgeous park is with a tour group where you can be guided by a marine biologist guide and learn about the diverse wildlife that you are going to see.  

This half-day tour will take you out on a boat and provide snorkeling equipment. The tour also offers drinks and a light lunch after the snorkeling adventure! Prices for the tour are around 2,846 MXN ($142 USD) and the tour leaves from the Los Muertos Pier in Zona Romantica.

20. Cruise in a pirate ship

pirate ship cruising on the ocean in Puerto Vallarta at sunset
The ship really does look exactly like a pirate ship!

One of the most popular tours in Puerto Vallarta is the Pirate Ship Cruise and Show. Now I’m going to be honest, Dan and I didn’t get a chance to do this one (yet) simply because we opted for the Rhythm of the Night show instead. However, some close friends of ours did it and absolutely loved every second of it!

This tour involves boarding a huge pirate ship (yes, it looks like an actual pirate ship) where you will be treated to drinks and dinner with a show. The show is spectacular! Expect canons and fireworks and people jumping overboard. It’s theatrical and a whole lot of fun. The cruise sets off just in time to enjoy that magical PV sunset from out on the water too.

Expect to pay around $150 USD per person, but remember, that includes the cruise, show, dinner, and drinks!

21. Join a cooking or chocolate-making class

making chocolate at the chocolate museum
If you want, you can join a chocolate-making class as we did!

You probably already enjoy eating Mexican food, so why not add a new skill and learn to make some?! A cooking class is a fun activity in Puerto Vallarta that’ll have you impressing your friends back home with tasty traditional recipes.

This cooking class includes a tour of the local market to pick up ingredients and then a hands-on lesson to make classic dishes like ceviche, tacos, or mole. The price is about 2,084 MXN ($104 USD) and includes all ingredients for a 3-course meal, copies of the recipes, and a tequila and mezcal tasting!

If you have more of a sweet tooth, try out a chocolate-making class instead! This class takes you through a bean-to-bar workshop! You’ll learn all about how chocolate is made and make your own unique creation. The price is about 980 MXN ($50 USD) and includes trying plenty of chocolate.

22. Drink craft beer

two men drinking beer at Los Muertos Brewing in Puerto Vallarta
Dan and a friend enjoying some craft brews at Los Muertos Brewing in Puerto Vallarta.

Tequila may be the most famous Mexican drink, but you should not forget about Cerveza (beer!) Puerto Vallarta has a large craft beer scene, so the options are endless to try some unique brews!  

Some top locations to stop at are Monzon Brewing located in Zona Romantica, Los Muertos Brewing (just down the street), and El Terrible Brewing, located downtown.

We personally love Los Muertos Brewing. Not only do they serve amazing beer (try their IPA), but the food is incredible too and we consider them to be one of the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. The pizzas are huge and easily can feed 3 or more people. They have TV screens too that play popular sports games and you’ll often find the place packed.

Wherever you end up, get a flight and try a few kinds! Make sure to ask about the brewing process, inspirations, and favorite brews to learn a bit more about what makes Mexican beer unique.

23. Explore Puerto Vallarta on a hop-on-hop-off tour

The Malecón is one of the stops
Go and explore the city!

If you want to see more of Puerto Vallarta without walking all day in the heat, the hop-on-hop-off tour is a perfect choice! You’ll enjoy exploring the city and scenic views from the top of a double-decker bus.

The hop-on-hop-off tour stops at 20 official stops around Puerto Vallarta and you can choose where you want to get off and explore. It’s a convenient, flexible way to see the city! Prices are around 400 MXN ($20 USD) for the day, so it’s one of the more affordable things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

24. Eat the best Al Pastor tacos at Panchos Takos

Al Pastor tacos at Panchos Tacos
Al Pastor tacos with cheese at Panchos Tacos!

I’ve had a lot of great Al Pastor tacos in my time – including at the first-ever Al Pastor tacos restaurant in Mexico City. However, there is one place in Puerto Vallarta’s Romantic Zone that just about trumps them all.

Panchos Takos (no, “takos” is not a typo, that’s actually the name of the place) is a small taco joint that sells huge Al Pastor tacos. If you’ve ever walked past, you probably noticed the huge line out the door that’s there for a good reason. The tacos are that good.

A taco at Panchos will cost you around 20 pesos ($1 USD) but they’re loaded with meat. In fact, I usually only eat two, and Daniel eats three. So it’s a pretty cheap place to enjoy dinner!

Even if you aren’t staying in the Romantic Zone, Panchos Takos is worth the taxi or Uber ride there. Trust me!

Did you know: Al Pastor tacos are a traditional type of taco in Mexico? They are made with pork that is cooked on a rotating spit (kind of like a donair.) They are usually served in small tortillas with grilled pineapple as well as fresh cilantro and onion. Oh, and a variety of salsas!

25. Visit Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe  

Can you spot the church?

Puerto Vallarta’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) is a gorgeous cathedral that dominates the skyline of the city – truly postcard perfect. It was built back in 1903 and has been an important part of the cultural and spiritual life of the city.  

The church is located in the downtown historical area, and you’ll be able to see it from anywhere in the city. You are welcome to go inside and check it out if you’re interested, or just enjoy looking at the beautiful architecture and taking some pictures from the surrounding streets.  

26. Go horseback riding

people riding horseback through the jungle
Going riding through the jungle!

Horseback riding is such a fun and unique experience! You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy this horseback tour, which brings you through the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountain range. This tour transports you from Puerto Vallarta and provides an expert guide to lead you through the tropical jungle area on horseback. It includes lunch and free drinks (yes, alcoholic drinks too) all for around $82 USD.

The neighboring town of Sayulita is also a good place to join a horseback riding adventure. This tour leads you through beaches, jungles, and the village of Higuera Blanca. The cost for either tour is around $2,285 MXN ($114 USD) and includes the guide, equipment, and water.

27. Go on a free walking tour  

a city street in downtown puerto vallarta
A walking tour downtown is a great way to learn about Puerto Vallarta.

A free walking tour around Puerto Vallarta is the perfect activity to learn about and explore the city! This walking tour meets at the Municipal Tourism Office downtown and runs twice a day at 9 am and 12 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and then again at 9 am on Saturdays.

It takes about two hours and you’ll be led by a certified guide through the historic downtown area. It’s the perfect way to learn more about the culture and history, including some great insider secrets about the city! It’s free to join and no registration is necessary.  

28. Spoil yourself at an all-inclusive resort  

a birds-eye view of the Grand Fiests Americana in Puerto Vallarta
Staying here is pure paradise! Photo Credit: Grand Fiesta Americana

There are a ton of all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas. While they may not be the best way to experience the culture of a new place, they offer pure relaxation! Pools, all-you-can-eat and drink, towel service, spas… they have it all!

You can either book a few nights at an all-inclusive or even just book a day pass to use the amenities like pools, open bar, or buffet. While there are a ton of great options in the area, I recommend Grand Park Royal Luxury Resort if you are with a family or Grand Fiesta Americana for an adults-only retreat.

29. Enjoy a sunset!  

couple poses at sunset at the Sky Bar in Puerto Vallarta
The Sky Bar is a great place for sunset drinks with a view!

Puerto Vallarta is located on the west coast of Mexico and so the sunsets every night are simply stunning. There are a few ways to make the most of these magical nights. I definitely recommend taking a stroll along the Malecon (boardwalk) or relaxing at Playa Los Muertos, one of the best beaches in the city.  

You can also head to a rooftop bar, such as the Sky Bar (pictured above) to enjoy the sunset with a drink in hand! They have some of the best cocktails and drinks at this rooftop lounge – the perfect addition to a romantic evening looking at the sunset. This would be the perfect place to drink if you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta on your honeymoon.

If you go for Happy Hour, 5:30-8:30 pm daily, you can get 2-for-1 cocktails!

Note, the Sky Bar is located at the top of an apartment building at Pulpito 220. Just ask the receptionist how to get there when you arrive and he will show you to the elevator. It’s a lesser-known spot in Puerto Vallarta, but totally worth a visit!

30. Go Parasailing

Go Parasailing
You get really high! Photo credit: Vallarta Parasailing

One of the most popular water activities in Puerto Vallarta doesn’t even get you wet. Parasailing is when you get toed by a boat and sail through the air. Not only does this activity get the blood pumping but it’s also incredibly scenic.

Parasailing can be done all over Puerto Vallarta from the Romantic Zone all the way to the Hotel Zone. A parasailing tour costs around $65 USD per person and they last for around 15 minutes. You can book a tour in advance here.

31. Check out the markets

Cuale Island Flea Market
Cuale Island Flea Market!

One thing I love about Puerto Vallarta is all the markets. On just about every street around the Malecon, you can find tons of vendors selling everything from jewelry to clothing. One of my favorite places to shop, though, is at the Cuale Island Flea Market in town.

This small market sits between central Vallarta and the Romantic Zone and is filled with vendors. You can pick up souvenirs, gifts, and even items you’ll need on your trip, like beach blankets. They also sell a lot of knock-off sports memorabilia.

32. Go whale watching

A humpback whale tale in Puerto Vallarta
Such a cool experience!

Whale watching in Puerto Vallarta is another activity on the water that’s very popular. The whale watching season in Puerto Vallarta runs from December to April with multiple tours in Banderas Bay running every day during this time. On the tours, you’ll head out for around 4 hours in search of Humpback Whales. You may also see dolphins and seals too.

This specific tour includes lunch and drinks and takes you out to view these large creatures. Your marine biologist guide will teach you all about these beasts as you cruise. Of course, seeing whales is not guaranteed, however, if you are visiting during January and February it’s very likely. Expect to pay around $100 USD for this tour.

33. Eat lots of seafood

Seafood in Puerto Vallarta
Yum! Prawns and lobster tacos at Tuna Azul!

Puerto Vallarta is a coastal city so it should come as no surprise that seafood is one of the many ingredients used for cooking. While here, be sure to get out to taste some of the local’s seafood such as whole fried fish, garlic prawns, fish tacos, and seafood platters.

You can get meals like these at most places but my favorite is Mariscos el Colera in the Romantic Zone. Pretty much everything they serve is amazing and they even have a takeaway taco stand out the front for cheap eats like tacos, burritos, and tostadas.

Another place I love is called Tuna Azul. Their specialty is a raw tuna dish and it’s amazing. They also do delicious prawns and lobster tacos!

Related Read: Read our blog about the absolute best tours and excursions in Puerto Vallarta for our personal tour recommendations!

34. Learn about butterflies

The Butterfly Sanctuary Mariposario Jardin Magico in Puerto Vallarta is a stunning subtropical habitat you can visit if you want to see and learn about butterflies up close.

One of the workers will guide and explain to you the different life cycles of butterflies and will even be able to show you some real-life examples of butterflies in these stages up close.

You can visit the sanctuary on your own or you can book this small group guided tour that will allow you to release a newly hatched butterfly. As you can see, this is a very cool and interactive experience in Puerto Vallarta!

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

the outdoor pools at the Grand Fiesta Americana in Puerto Vallarta
This adults-only resort is pure relaxation! Photo Credit: Grand Fiesta Americana

The hotel options in Puerto Vallarta seem endless, there is so much to choose from for every budget! That’s why deciding where to stay in Puerto Vallarta can be so challenging.

Here are some of the best hotels you should consider in Puerto Vallarta:

Low-Budget Hostel – Oasis Original Hostel

This hostel offers dorm beds as well as private air-conditioned rooms (for less than $30 USD!) It’s in a great central location, the staff are incredibly helpful, and breakfast is included! You can book it on either Hostelworld or

Low-Budget Hotel – Posada de Roger

We love this hotel! It is located in the heart of the Romantic Zone and is super affordable. All rooms have to air-conditioning and they even have a pool that gets tons of sun. There is a shared kitchen that guests can use too which is a huge bonus. Honestly, this is our go-to place to stay in Puerto Vallarta. If you want to stay here, be sure to book in advance because it is almost always fully booked.

Lady swimming in the pool at Hotel Posada de Roger in Puerto Vallarta
Me, swimming in the pool at Hotel Posada de Roger.

Mid-range Budget – Amapas Apartments Puerto Vallarta

This adults-only hotel offers self-contained apartments. It is located in my favorite area (Zona Romantica) and is very close to the beach, restaurants, nightlife, and shops. They have a pool on-site and all rooms are air-conditioned. A studio apartment goes for less than $100 USD a night, but book quick, this place almost always books out!

Luxury – Grand Fiesta Americana

This all-inclusive adults-only resort has it all! It is located right on the beach and also offers an outdoor pool and on-site restaurant. They also have a late-night club with a DJ, tennis court, and gym. The reviews are impeccable and the location is still close enough to town to easily access!

Browse all hotels in Puerto Vallarta here! Or, read our blog about the best areas and hotels in Puerto Vallarta for a ton of detailed info!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel in Puerto Vallarta
Thanks for reading!

I hope these amazing things to do in Puerto Vallarta keep you busy and help you have the best vacation possible! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or reach out!

We love Mexico and have traveled all over Mexico (on a couple of different occasions!) Here are some of our other Mexico blogs that you might be interested in:

Interesting things to do in Mexico City

Guide to Palenque (and the waterfalls!)

BEST Things to do in Mexico

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Friday 17th of February 2023

Great list - thank you!


Saturday 18th of February 2023

Hey Steven,

So glad you like the list. It's taken a whole lot of visits to come up with it but I hope it is helpful!

Thanks Daniel


Saturday 10th of December 2022

Your article is very helpful. Thanks.


Saturday 10th of December 2022

Hey Daisy,

So glad you like it!



Wednesday 22nd of June 2022

Great article. Headed to PV in 3 weeks and we now feel equipped with a couple things to do on our two week beach holiday.


Wednesday 22nd of June 2022

Hey Rik,

Glad to hear.

Enjoy your trip!


Monday 23rd of May 2022

Thanks for the useful info, great description on things to do in Puerto V.! I'm planning a trip in August. Olivia.

Karen Harway

Sunday 6th of March 2022



Monday 7th of March 2022

Hey Karen,

So glad you love the blog.

Enjoy Puerto Vallarta, it's such a beautiful city.

Thanks Daniel