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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 33 best things to do in Puerto Vallarta, including free activities, cheap activities, and even some really cool and interesting tours!
- 33 BEST Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- 1. Go to Rhythms of the Night show
- 2. Visit Islas Marietas National Park & Hidden Beach
- 3. Go on a food tour
- 4. Visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens
- 5. Go whale watching
- 6. Enjoy a meal at La Iguana
- 7. Walk the Malecon
- 8. Hike to Mirador de la Cruz
- 9. Go skydiving
- 10. Ride an ATV in the jungle
- 11. Swim with wild dolphins
- 12. Watch a drag show
- 13. Visit Sayulita
- 14. Go scuba diving
- 15. Day trip to Tequila
- 16. Go deep-sea fishing
- 17. Go ziplining
- 18. Beach hop
- 19. Party!!!
- 20. Go snorkeling at Los Arcos National Park
- 21. Cruise in a pirate ship
- 22. Join a cooking or chocolate-making class
- 23. Drink craft beer
- 24. Explore Puerto Vallarta on a hop-on-hop-off tour
- 25. Eat the best Al Pastor tacos at Panchos Takos
- 26. Visit Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
- 27. Go horseback riding
- 28. Go on a free walking tour
- 29. Spoil yourself at an all-inclusive resort
- 30. Enjoy a sunset!
- 31. Go Parasailing
- 32. Check out the markets
- 33. Eat lots of seafood
- Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
- Thanks for reading!
- Renting a Car in Mexico
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
33 BEST Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
1. Go to Rhythms of the Night show
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 here!
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
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 a catamaran from Puerto Vallarta and enjoying kayaking, paddleboarding, 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
One of the best tours I have ever done was actually here – a taco food tour in Puerto Vallarta!
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
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 300 pesos ($15 USD) per person, and once in, you can explore the many hiking trails and even enjoy a meal at the restaurant. You can purchase your skip-the-line ticket here in advance.
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 400 pesos ($20 USD).
You can also visit the Bontanical Gardens on this guided tour. For $85 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. Go whale watching
Whale watching in Puerto Vallarta is another very popular water activity. 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 $105 USD for this tour.
6. Enjoy a meal at La Iguana
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!
7. Walk the Malecon
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!
If you want to dig a little deeper, this Highlight Treasures and Hidden Gems walking tour is a top choice. The tour is 2 hours long and your expert local guide will not only share with you his knowledge of Puerto Vallarta but also show you some hidden gems most visitors never get to see.
8. Hike to Mirador de la Cruz
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!
9. Go skydiving
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!
10. Ride an ATV in the jungle
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! It ended up being like a 2-for-1 experience with a Puerto Vallarta tequila tour and ATVing!
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!
11. Swim with wild dolphins
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.
12. Watch a drag 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 also 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.
Please note: Many of the drag shows I have been to in Puerto Vallarta are not suited to those under the age of 18.
13. Visit Sayulita
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, and gorgeous beaches perfect for swimming or catching a wave or two.
You can easily visit Sayulita 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 in Puerto Vallarta 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 $53 USD!
14. Go scuba diving
Scuba diving in Puerto Vallarta 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!
15. Day trip to 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 is that the town of Tequila is located only about a 3.5-hour drive from Puerto Vallarta!
To be completely honest, I loved the town of 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, and 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 Puerto Vallarta! You can join this 4-hour tequila tasting tour at Finca 18 Distillery that’s guaranteed to leave you smiling (you can thank the tequila for that!). It will take you through the gorgeous farm and the impressively large distillery as you learn about the process – and then sample tequila made right there! It’s only $48 USD and you can easily book it online here!
16. Go deep-sea fishing
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 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 $500 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!
17. Go ziplining
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.
18. Beach hop
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.
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 that 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 join this VIP tour 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!
20. Go snorkeling at Los Arcos National Park
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 2,860 MXN ($162 USD) and the tour leaves from the Los Muertos Pier in Zona Romantica.
I enjoyed it and although the snorkeling is the main event, the rest of the tour was just as enjoyable. In fact, the highlight for me was relaxing at Playa Las Ánimas – a secluded beach only accessible by foot or boat!
21. Cruise in 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!
22. Join a cooking or chocolate-making class
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.
23. Drink craft beer
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 to try some unique brews are endless!
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 can easily 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.
For first-time visitors, I highly suggest doing a brewery tour. The one we did in Puerto Vallarta is this Craft Brew and Bites Tour which visits multiple breweries in Puerto Vallarta and includes snacks at every stop. We also learned a ton about the brewing process, which I loved! The tour costs $85 USD, but considering what it includes it’s great value for money!
24. Explore Puerto Vallarta on a hop-on-hop-off tour
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! The best part is that you only have to decide where to stop so no planning is required.
Prices are around 400 MXN ($20 USD) for the day, so it’s one of the more affordable things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
25. Eat the best Al Pastor tacos at Panchos Takos
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!
If you’re not a seasoned visitor to Puerto Vallarta, then I highly suggest doing a taco street tour. I did one when I first visited all of them years ago and it gave me so many more places to return to! The trick from me is to book an evening taco food tour such as this one if you want to try Al Pastor tacos (yep, certain tacos are for certain times of the day.) The tour includes all your tastings and visits only small taco stands as opposed to restaurants.
If you want to try an entirely different style of tacos, do this morning taco tour. What I love about the morning tours is tasting the original hard shell tacos – you don’t see them very often!
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!
26. Visit Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
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.
27. Go horseback riding
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 $103 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 $2,200 MXN ($124 USD) and includes the guide, equipment, and water.
28. Go on a free walking tour
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.
29. Spoil yourself at an all-inclusive resort
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.
30. Enjoy a sunset!
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 it’s totally worth a visit!
31. Go 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.
32. Check out the markets
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.
33. Eat lots of seafood
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!
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
There are TONS of great hotels in Puerto Vallarta – no matter your budget or preferences. From luxurious budget resorts to cozy boutique hotels, deciding where to stay in Puerto Vallarta is super exciting, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite spots with you!
Oasis Hostel – $
Who said you couldn’t live the dream on a budget? The Oasis Hostel offers both dorms and private rooms, which all have air conditioning with traditional Mexican decor. It’s around 5 km (3 mi) to get downtown, but that’s really easy with a taxi, or you can also rent a bike straight from the hostel.
Rooms here are super affordable, starting at just $19 USD including breakfast! Whether you’re backpacking through Puerto Vallarta or prefer to spend your money on experiences over accommodation, this is a great choice. You can book your space on either Hostelworld or Booking.com.
Posada de Roger – $
Another superb budget choice is the Hotel Posada de Roger that’s right in the heart of the Romantic Zone. All rooms here have AC, and they even have an outdoor pool that gets tons of sun. If you fancy making up some packed lunches, they also have a shared kitchen which is free for guests to use. No wonder it’s our go-to place to stay in Puerto Vallarta!
A one-night stay here at Posada de Roger starts at $64 USD per night, but it is pretty popular, so I’d recommend making your reservation in advance on Booking.com. You can always cancel the stay for free if you change your mind, so it’s a win-win!
Amapas Apartments Puerto Vallarta – $$
The Amapas Apartments in Puerto Vallarta are a series of adult-only, self-contained apartments, located in my favorite area of town – the Romantic Zone. It’s really close to the beach, restaurants, as well as tons of shopping and nightlife options. They even have a pool, with all rooms being air-conditioned too!
With one and two-bedroom apartments available, a stay here typically starts around $96 USD per night, which I think is a great deal considering the size of the apartment and its location! This is another really popular spot though, so don’t forget to book your stay online in advance.
Hilton Vallarta Riviera – $$$
The Hilton Vallarta Riviera is one of the best resorts in town – it’s all-inclusive, so you’re free to have plenty of peaceful downtime. They also have 7 restaurants, a private beach, a pool, a spa, and a gym. Rooms have super comfy beds and can include a terrace, balcony, and a private jetted tub overlooking the ocean! There’s evening entertainment and a kid’s club to keep the little ones happy
Rooms here at the Hilton Vallarta Riviera average around $350-$650 USD per night, but you can often get a good deal (on the lower end of that range) if you book in advance.
Note: For more options, you can also browse all the hotels in Puerto Vallarta here!
Renting a Car in Mexico
Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car.
I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically.
I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend.
The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too.
Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit.
Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)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!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
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: