Why Puerto Vallarta, Mexico?
This was our first visit to Puerto Vallarta and we only stayed for 3 days after visiting Sayulita. This place has been always been highly recommend by Mexican friends and they know what they were talking about. Puerto Vallarta is definitely a fun town to visit even with family. I have to share our favorite things to do in Puerto Vallarta from our 3 day trip.
This town has such good weather and delicious food. The best time to visit according to locals is November to March. We always love to try new food when we travel, and Puerto Vallarta didn’t disappoint us.
This amazing part of the Earth was discovered by Europeans around the 1500, but became famous because it is where the scandalous tryst between the actor Richard Burton and megastar Elizabeth Taylor happened while filming the movie Night of the Iguana in the 1960’s. Puerto Vallarta has grown at spectacular rate since them.
What to Expect in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is located on the Pacific coast of Mexico along the Bahia de Banderas (Bay of Flags). Locals say that the Bahia de Banderas is the most biologically diverse body of water in the world. The Bahia is 100 kilometers long and one of the deepest the world! It is a natural world treasure and Mexico knows it!
Puerto Vallarta doesn’t have the feeling of a small beach town – it’s actually a small city. However, it is still gorgeous and fun to explore. The cobblestone streets lend a colonial style in a city that mixes Mexican and Spanish styles together with the modernity that the big resorts have brought with them. Luckily, the downtown, despite its growth, has made an effort to keep the Mexican traditional style.
Things to do in Puerto Vallarta
Due to its unique natural beauty, Puerto Vallarta is a place of adventure. This is due in no small part to their gorgeous beaches with amazing swimming, snorkeling and surfing spots. We wish we could have spent more time, but here is what we did:
Itinerary Day 1
Walk the Malecon or Boardwalk: the malecón is located at Paseo Díaz Ordaz S/N, about 12 blocks starting around Hotel Rosita to the Amphitheater and the Arches. It is across the street from the main square plaza.
It runs parallel to Puerto Banderas and it is perfect to go for a stroll at any time of the day and appreciate the beauty of this bay. There, you’ll find street vendors, local cuisine and at the Arches Amphitheater, you can find street performers such as mimes, musicians and Mexican folk artists.
Also, at the boardwalk you find the colorful Puerto Vallarta Sign to get a traditional picture.
- Centro Neighborhood – Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for the first time!
- Hotel Zone – Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta if you’re on a budget.
- Romantic Zone (Old Vallarta) – Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for the best nightlife.
Main square plaza or Plaza de Armas: located in the Zona Centro or Old town Vallarta. It has a bandstand and plenty of benches to spend a relaxing time admiring the colonial Style of this area and with a View of the Our Lady of Guadalupe church at the very far end of it.
Visit the Parroquia Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe or Our lady of Guadalupe Church this is the iconic symbol and landmark of Puerto Vallarta which has miraculously survived a number of earthquakes and stands tall today.
The Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival is held December 1st-12th, which according to our guide is impressive with dances and processions. Apparently it took more than 40 years to get this church completely built! It sure is a big church for such a small city and features a unique mix of styles.
Zona Romatica: People look for this area for the best night life. If you keep walking past the malecón, a few blocks ahead you will find the bridge to Rio Cuale which extends until Playa de Los Muertos.
This area has plenty of restaurants, clubs and shopping opportunities. It is vibrant and fun. It is super walkable and full of young people looking to party or older people who still like to be in the heart of the action.
Check the Puerto Vallarta Colorful Pier: this architectural beauty is located on Playa de Los Muertos and was built in 2013. It resembles a sail at the end of the pier. it was built with colorful lights to be seen from miles away. There are benches around so people can sit in quiet contemplation – it is really a very nice place!
This pier is the place to pick up and drop off people to different tour to go to nearby islands like Yelapa and he Marietas!
The Zona Hotelera is an area is full of restaurants, bars and hotels with an intense nightlife.
Itinerary Day 2
If you’re looking to just chill out and relax, it really his hard to beat one of the big hotel resorts.
We spent a full day at the resort we stayed zipping delicious drinks and playing by the pool. The kids really just wanted an opportunity to do nothing, so that’s pretty much what we did on Day 2.
Itinerary Day 3
Do a food tour. As I told you, we love food and trying food from local places is a must in our trips. I was lucky to partner with Puerto Vallarta Tourism and get a food tour in downtown.
Check the itinerary down below. It’s worth it to spend a day walking in old town trying delicious food, desserts and drinks.
Itinerary for more days
I know this is a 3-day guide, however there is so much to see in Puerto Vallarta so here are some other things you could do:
- Take a trip to Sayulita! We visited Sayulita and here is a bunch of things to do in Sayulita.
- Take a Day Trip To Yelapa
- Go whale watching
- Explore the Marietas Islands
- Swim with dolphins in their natural habitat. Wildlife Connection offers this service and it is an amazing experience.
Where to Stay In Puerto Vallarta
We stayed at the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort in in Puerto Vallarta. The ocean view was amazing and the pools warm and not crowded!
Find more hotels here
Getting around Puerto Vallarta
It is easy to grab a taxi around Puerto Vallarta – usually the hotel has a list of the prices usually charged per trip. The taxi drivers usually speak English and they are very friendly and helpful.
Puerto Vallarta is a very touristic area and they live off tourism. You will find the local people to be very charming and nice.
Where to eat
As I mentioned, thanks to Puerto Vallarta Tourism we did a food tour during our visit Puerto Vallarta. It was great, delicious and very safe. The tours are currently are being held in small groups mostly of family members.
We met our tour guide Bernardo from Vallarta Tour Food Tour at Lazaro Cardenas Park. At this park they hold the Old Town Farmers market -Tangui Cultural that blends the old Mexican tanguis and the North American Style market. This is held on Saturdays from November to March form 9:30 am to 2:00 pm. You find so many different products made, baked and grown…it is paradise for foodies!
After we met our food tour guide there we started our food tour:
The first place we walked to was the Malecón to visit Tuba by Conception. Tuba is a delicious drink made out of walnuts, apples and nuts fermented for about 20 days. It is made with distilled water and just sooo refreshing and delicious that even my picky eater loved it! Conception is such a nice man super friendly and has worked for decades selling this beverage downtown. You can find Conception roaming through the old town and Malecón. Here is a picture of him. Do not miss this!
Our second stop was Tacos el Cuñado (cuñado means “brother in law”), named because it was founded by a group of brothers. We tried their delicious Taco Asada. This is a street stand whose ownership has passed through generations since 1968 and it is located in Francisco Rodriguez Street. It has been there for 35 years with the same family recipe and delicious flavor. It is open Monday to Sunday from 9 am to 12 am!
Next Tacos Robles is a taqueria located in Calle Constitution with the speciality of Tacos Dorado and Birria. This was my husband’s favorite and I was hesitant to try, but man it was so good! Also, they have pozole that is to die for! This restaurant has been here since 1986. You can find it open Monday to Saturday from 3 am to 3 pm. They close earlier if they run out! The service is fast and clean. These days everyone is following the health protocols of wearing a face mask.
The only problem it was indoor but the restaurant keep people space out.
Dulceria Leal at this Mexican candy store we found the Mexican Willy Wanka! At this place they made this delicious candy from scratch and what a show it is. He is super friendly and explained the process to the boys in a super fun way.
Here, we found these amazing candy flavors like passion fruit, spicy mango and guanabana gummies and flavored cocadas. We bought so many because they were such a explosion of flavor and have never before had a gummy with natural exquisite flavor like this. This shop also had mango-flavored tequila, and I bought a bottle to bring home too.
Then, we headed to Vallarta Factory Chocolate. Located in Calle Libertad or Liberad Street #100. Here we tried different chocolate seeds and chocolate with different flavors such as peanut with chocolate, and more.
A must visit for chocolate lovers. my kids were ecstatic.
Mariscos Cisneros here I tried their specialty stuffed tacos, it is absolutely delicious if you appreciate spicy food like I do. We ate outside and there were people indoors too. However, the whole restaurant crew wore face masks.
The restaurants is located in Francisco Madero Street #271
Our next stop was Carnitas La Santa Cruz. By this time I was getting full and kids were a little tired after the sugar rush and the miles-long walk. These carnitas tacos were again super delicious with many sauces to try for your pleasure. The stand is located un Calle Alzaro Cardenas Street #409.
Our final place was Gaby’s restaurant and Bar. This restaurant has a great ocean view from its patio. We sat at the second floor terrace that use to be a common area for the neighbors next to the restaurant.
It is located at Calle Mina 252. We tried delicious mole, really the bet I have ever tried, tequila shots (with Mexico colors) and flan.
They first brought out the mole and it was too much for my picky eater who instead chowed down on the flan. I got a double portion because It was so good.
Our guide Bernardo was super friendly and knowledgeable of the history the he shared that with us. We were lucky to be able to visit and try these delicious foods. We ran out of time and energy, however before we parted company, he recommended us the best churros in town. It luckily was located close to our hotel so after we rested we adventured out at night to check this place out. Remember, Puerto Vallarta is pretty safe so walking around at night is no biggie. These churros were easily the best we’ve ever had!
I hope this helps you on your next trip!
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