Are you looking to book a trip to Puerto Vallarta but don’t know where to start? Puerto Vallarta is a city filled with life, culture, delicious Mexican cuisine and friendly people. There are many amazing things to do in Puerto Vallarta during your trip, from thrill-seeking options to laid-back relaxation choices this city has something for everyone.
One thing’s for sure; you won’t run out of options to choose from in Puerto Vallarta! Our detailed option guide is here to help you choose how your dream trip to this Mexican paradise – let’s dig in!
A Bit About Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is situated on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The history of Puerto Vallarta dates back to its pre-hispanic era, inhabited by the Cuixmalan and Pitahayan Indigenous peoples.
With time, Puerto Vallarta became a small fishing town as well as a shipping port. From there, both a mining company was built, and a Hollywood movie was filmed in the area, increasing the city’s popularity. A surge in popularity has been built over time, making Puerto Vallarta into what it is today; a beautiful, sunny and charming travel destination.
The Best Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta
Walk Along The Malecon
One of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta is stroll the Malecon. The Malecon is a lovely boardwalk along the water, located in downtown Puerto Vallarta. It runs along 12 blocks of the area and is a pedestrian-only zone.
Here are some of the things that you are going to come across when walking along the Malecon:
- Street food vendors
- Local souvenir vendors
Enjoy Street Food in Centro
If you’re walking around downtown Puerto Vallarta, you can’t go wrong with grabbing some street food in centro.
Walking through this square, you will see different food vendors, such as tacos, churros and tamales. Our favorite is the “el pastor” (pork) tacos, and the most popular place to eat them is at Pancho’s Takos. Be prepared to wait in line for a table in this small establishment!
If you’re there in the evening, live music is oftentimes being performed, with both locals and tourists dancing around the square.
Listen to A Mariachi Band
Mariachi music is an important part of Mexican culture, being their traditional music. It is a variety of string instruments that make for Mexican folk sounds. The music is catchy, beautiful and romantic.
There are multiple restaurants that will offer mariachi music. At times, there are mariachi bands that will walk along the beach and offer to play a song in exchange for a tip while you dine in the sand.
Our favorite spot to head to for some mariachi music is Las Viudas de Zapata, as it has a wonderful and well-practiced band with delicious Mexican cuisine.
Join a Food Tour
If you’re a foodie like us, you need to join a food tour in Puerto Vallarta! Mexican cuisine is packed with flavor and freshness.
If you’re new to Mexican cuisine, this is a great way to try different dishes and to choose your favorites. If you are experienced in Mexican cuisine, what better way to get to enjoy all of their most classic dishes?
Food tours range in prices and destinations. The Downtown Puerto Vallarta Tour has a cost of $75.90 per person. It stops at ten different destinations over the course of 3.5 hours. In between stops, the guide is happy to share knowledge of the area as you drive through the city.
Head to Secret Beach On Marietta’s Islands
This full-day activity is not to be missed as it’s one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta. With a cost of $150 per person, this tour includes transportation, lunch, an open bar, snorkel, stand-up paddle boards, kayak equipment as well as pick-up and drop-off services.
As you’re boating towards your destination, you may even spot some bottleneck dolphins!
This feels like the perfect day excursion to discover new sights and get connected with nature and sea animals.
Swim With Wild Dolphins
This half-day tour gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and be surrounded by majestic wild dolphins. Guided by a biologist, you will learn about and swim near bottleneck dolphins.
While you’re there, you may even get to see other marine life, such as turtles, stingrays and more! Once this is for sure, you are being guided by a professional, who will keep you informed and safe.
We love this option, as it also supports marine ecology research. This activity starts at 9:00am and includes snorkeling equipment.
This zipline course covers three kilometers of land and is suspended 328 ft above the ground! This is a true blue Mexican experience, where one of the ziplines guides you right into a tequila bar.
What we love most about this tour is that it is so much more than just a zipline. During your time on this excursion, you will also get the opportunity to take an optional speedboat race, go kayaking, go down a waterslide, go swimming, tequila tasting, transportation, and see various wildlife.
This exhilarating excursion is not to be missed!
Join a Hop On Hop Off Tour
If you’re looking for a low-budget activity, this is a great option! This hop-on, hop-off bus is only $31 with buses leaving every hour, allowing you to take as much or as little time at every stop as you desire.
The first bus leaves at 9:00am and the last one at 8:00pm, giving you ample time to cover as much of the city’s attractions as you desire.
The bus is both wheelchair and stroller accessible and is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallerta. With 16 different stops, there’s a stop that will please everyone!
Join a Food And Mixology Tour
If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Why just enjoy Mexican food when you can learn to make some delicious recipes that you can make well beyond your trip?
If you’re a foodie like us, you won’t want to miss your chance to join a food and mixology tour to learn how to make authentic meals and drinks from the pros!
Time to do some shopping!
There are so many beautiful, handmade and authentic pieces to choose from when shopping in Puerto Vallarta.
Walking along the Malecon is a great opportunity to get to find some stunning souvenirs to bring home with you after your trip. Some of our favorite items that we’ve found in Puerto Vallarta include handmade tablecloths as well as blown glass cups.
If you’re looking to do some brand-name shopping, there are a multitude of stores to choose from just along the main highway that runs through Puerto Vallarta.
When you’re sitting at a beachfront restaurant or sitting on the beach, there are also beach vendors that will be offering different options.
Regardless of the type of shopping you are looking to do, there is definitely the possibility to shop until you drop!
Parasailing is an incomparable activity, which makes you feel like you are a bird, floating above the ocean. It offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains and landmarks.
There is the option to parasail alone or with a friend, loved one or family member up there with you. We have parasailed multiple times, and it is one of the activities that have made us feel the most free, soaring above the fresh sea air.
At just about $100 per person, the experience is worth every dollar!
Take a Day Trip to Bucerias
Are you looking to escape the city feels of Puerto Vallarta and head to a small town? Bucerias is the perfect place to do exactly that!
Located at a 35-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta, it is the best spot to lay on a quiet beach, try some delicious and authentic food and spend some time in a quieter ambiance.
We recommend taking the bus, as it will only cost approximately $2.50, as opposed to a taxi, which will cost approximately $35-40.
Bucerias is known as a foodie town, so be sure to arrive with an appetite!
TOP TIP: Not all buses offer change. Try and bring exact change when possible!
Go Surfing in Sayulita
Sayulita is a small, laid-back surfer town just an hour outside of Puerto Vallarta. Sayulita is a great spot to meet young travelers, get a surf lesson, shop in trendy boutiques and be immersed in the relaxed vibes that the town has to offer.
This town has increased immensely in popularity over the years. Expect a busy town filled with happy and like-minded people.
There are many things to consider before booking a trip to Sayulita. Make sure you’re informed before taking the trip out.
Once you’re informed, it’s time to go catch a wave!
Go horseback Riding
Horseback riding is a unique experience that leaves you feeling connected to nature as well as these majestic animals. It makes for a great mix of adventure and relaxation. There is no experience needed to join a horseback riding tour.
This tour brings you through the countryside as well as through the jungle, passing by a beautiful waterfall.
This trip includes transportation, lunch and open-bar drinks. The tour has a cost of $113 and begins at 8:30am.
With beautiful sights to see as well as food and drinks included, this isn’t your typical horseback riding experience!
Tour the coastline on a yacht
Have you ever dreamt of being on a yacht? Well, here is the perfect opportunity to do just that! This 100-foot yacht is a great way to view the stunning Bay of Banderas.
If the yacht wasn’t enough, note that this experience has an all-inclusive bar as well as free massages! Not to mention, water activities are included. Choose from paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and water rubbing… or try them all!
We left this tour feeling like absolute royalty, and we think you will too!
head on an ATV adventure
Calling all thrill seekers, this is the perfect activity for you!
On this half-day excursion, you will take the ATVs or RZRs down Jorullo Bridge, being the biggest one in Latin America! On your way there, you will get to escape the city and see the lush jungles as well as El Salto waterfall.
We enjoyed this activity, as it allowed us to see parts of Puerto Vallarta that are not super touristy and challenge ourselves with adventurous activities.
Spend a day in Las caletas
Fun Mexico fact – all beaches in Mexico are public! Las Caletas feels like heaven on earth! With Puerto Vallarta being on the Pacific Ocean, it offers darker blue waters. Las Caletas beach leaves you feeling like you are in a whole new part of the country, with lighter water and sand.
This tour includes transportation to the beach, lunch, open bar drinks, kayaking and snorkeling equipment and standup paddleboarding.
This is a great option for those looking to bring their kids, as they have a kid’s adventure park as well as a teen adventure cove.
On this adventure, there’s something to look forward to for everyone in the family.
Take a Guided Tour of the City
This is yet another great option to get the most bang for your buck! On this full-day tour, you are sure to see the “can’t miss” spots of Puerto Vallarta.
This tour brings you to Los Arcos and Mismaloya Beach. Your tour guide will bring you along the Malecon with a tequila tasting at a distillery.
This is a walking tour, allowing you to enjoy the scenery, and architecture fully and to take your time to soak it all in. With an experienced guide by your side, this is a great way to ask any questions that might pop up along the way.
We recommend doing this tour at the beginning of your trip, as it will give you the opportunity to learn more about the area and build an itinerary from there.
Take part in a cruise, candlelight dinner & Show
Are you on a romantic getaway? If so, this cruise candlelight dinner is sure to impress your date.
While on the cruise, watch the sunset as you sail towards a secluded beach. Once arrived, enjoy a three-course meal under the moonlight, with candles surrounding you. After dinner, enjoy watching the “Rhythm of the Night” show, known to teach and immerse views into past spiritual lands through traditional Mexican dance and music.
Though this experience is at a higher price point of $250, we feel that what’s included in this experience is well worth the expense!
Be Part of a cooking experience
This unique cooking experience is the best of all worlds, as you get to see and learn about the origins of the food as well as get the opportunity to try it for yourself.
On this tour, you will visit a bustling outdoor market to gather cooking spices. You will also visit a tortilla factory where you will buy dough. After gathering the necessary ingredients, you will have a half-day cooking lesson from a chef. Throughout the lesson, you will learn about the history and culture behind Mexican cuisine. Then comes the best part: eating what you’ve worked so hard to make!
Every day of the week has a different menu, so book your tickets depending on what you’d like to learn to make!
What we like best about this tour is that there are small group sizes, giving you more of an intimate and personalized experience.
How long should you spend in puerto vallarta?
PV is a beautiful ocean-side city packed with history, culture and character. Between all the activities that there are to choose from, one could do something new every day for a month and never run out of things to do in Puerto Vallarta! On the flip side, you could also be just as content spending your days on repeat, laying in the gorgeous hot sun on the beach.
Whichever path you choose during your time in Puerto Vallarta, we recommend spending a minimum of one week and a maximum of 3 weeks in this area. There are so many things to see and to do, making your trip to Puerto Vallarta a truly customizable one!
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta?
The best place to stay in Puerto Vallarta is the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa, as long as you don’t mind being away from the Downtown area. This resort is much quieter than hotels in town. It also has prime beach access and a gigantic pool to enjoy.
Rooms here are comfortable, breakfast is amazing, the staff are attentive, and we were impressed with their fitness center and pickleball court!
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.