Fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Mexico-puerto-vallarta-beach

This article was originally published in 2013 and was updated in March 2018

When people think of Mexico, images of turquoise water, white sand beaches and margaritas usually come to mind. But being on the west coast, Puerto Vallarta is much different than spots like Cancun and Cozumel which are on the Caribbean side. Instead, its beaches are golden, the water is a little rougher and chances are you’ll see more retirees than spring breakers, making it a fantastic place to get a dose of Mexican culture—along with a great tan. Here are some of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

puerto vallarta downtown

Shutterstock

Puerto Vallarta attractions:

Strolling through town

Puerto Vallarta is a city that feels more like a town thanks to its historical charm: think cobblestone streets, cute cafes and gorgeous cathedrals. It’s easy to spend an entire day simply strolling around, popping into the mouth-watering restaurants or checking out the silver artisans and vibrant artwork. Old Vallarta (the Romantic Zone) is one of the best districts for this, as is Isla Rio Cuale which is made up of passageways filled with small souvenir shops.

mexico-puerto-vallarta-sign

Easily the most photographed spot in the whole city, it’s worth making a stop at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. The church’s steeple can be seen from blocks away, and you’ll find it just off the main square which is a staple of any Puerto Vallarta sightseeing tour.

puerto vallarta mexico our lady of guadalupe cathedral

Shutterstock.

Another popular spot is the Malecon, a boardwalk that winds along the edge of the ocean. Not only are there lots of little shops, bars and restaurants to duck into, but it’s also lined with neat statues.

The Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

We may or may not have tried to recreate the statue.

Souvenir shopping in Puerto Vallarta.

Souvenir shopping in Puerto Vallarta.

Tequila tasting

It’s safe to assume that unless you’re a teetotaler, you’ll be enjoying your fair share of tequila, cervezas and margaritas during your time in Mexico. A great way to learn more about the country’s favourite liquor is by taking part in a tequila tasting. A popular place to do this is at Cava Antigua, where you get to learn about the fermenting, distilling and aging process of the Blue Agave, which is how they make their tasty tequila.

tequila tasting

Shutterstock

I’m not going to lie: I kind of have a rule where I specifically avoid tequila, as it’s traditionally brought a very quick end to some fun nights. That being said, the candied tequilas you can taste at Cava Antigua are fantastic and don’t have the burning aftertaste of, say, Jose Cuervo. We tried an almond tequila that tasted exactly like Amaretto or Disaronno, as well as a coffee one that was just as delicious as a shot of Baileys—but with way more of a kick! Tours last about an hour, and can be done as part of an excursion or on your own.

Tequila tasting at Cava Antigua near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Cava Antigua.

Zip-lining

Flying high above the palm trees dotting the desert-like landscape is a thrilling way to see a more wild side of Mexico, making this one of the most popular tours in Puerto Vallarta. Also known as a canopy tour, daredevils get suited up into a harness, then latch onto cables connecting different spots along a tree tops. Unless you’re peeing-your-pants-scared-of-heights, you’ll enjoy screaming at the top of your lungs as you speed along the wires, getting a panoramic view of cacti-specked hills.

A canopy zip lining tour in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Zip-lining excursions can be done on their own, or as part of a tour that include driving around the countryside, stopping for a tequila tasting, lunch and the canopy tour. Prices are around $70 per person for the full day.

An ATV ride and tequila tasting tour in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

This place kind of looks like something out of Survivor. Awesome.

ATV rides

If you’re in the mood to get away from the beach and channel your inner outlaw, book an ATV Jungle Tour. Often combined with zip-lining, this excursion sees you hop on a quad and wind your way through little Mexican villages.

An ATV ride in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Due to a lack of paved roads, it feels more like off-roading as you splash through puddles and speed along dusty pathways. Depending on who you book with, you may get to head out solo, or do it as part of a guided tour that includes cliff jumping, stops at waterfalls and lunch.

An ATV ride in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

More things to do in Puerto Vallarta:

If you’re still looking for action, there are a number of additional Puerto Vallarta excursions including:

A beach and cove in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Most activities can be arranged at resorts, though you’ll likely pay more than booking directly through the tour operator.

A beach and ocean in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta:

There are plenty of accommodation options in Puerto Vallarta, depending on if you’d prefer to stay in a boutique hotel or guesthouse in town, or in a gorgeous five-start, all inclusive resort on the beach. Highly-rated options include:

Hotel Playa Fiesta
Casa Velas
Casa Karma Boutique Resort
Hotel Mousai
Velas Vallarta

PRACTICALITIES:

Currency: The national currency is the Mexican Peso, but many places also accept US dollars.

Language: The locals speak Spanish, but since it’s such a tourist spot many people in the hospitality industry also know English.

How to get there: Visitors land at the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz Airport, and it’s a quick drive into town. Many tourists book their trip as part of an all-inclusive stay, meaning flight, hotel, food and transfers are all taken care of.

Getting around: Taxis are plentiful in Puerto Vallarta, and there is usually a flat rate of $5 US to get around town.

A beach resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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14 Responses

  1. I sure would like to visit PV for some fun and sun.

  2. I’m ready for a Mexico vacation! We would love to visit Puerto Vallarta.

  3. A very very resourceful post……everybody visiting Puerta Vallarta should have a read to have the best of his or her Pierta Vallarta tour……I will try these exciting and adventurous activities when I get a chance to visit this wonderful destination in Medico….loved the post and shared it on Twitter right away,.,

  4. Lynn Hobbs says:

    Going to P V for the first time in October and I am going to try some of the fun things on the list. Can’t wait. Thanks

  5. Stacy says:

    I have been looking all over the web and PV forums and I cannot find the location of the Cava Antigua in PV? Do you know?

  6. Carla Jasso says:

    Here’s one handy tip if you are traveling to Mexico: book with Mexvax! I used it this year to make a reservation in Cancun. Not only did I get the best offers but also the best resorts to choose from. The website may look sturdy but it definitely gets the job done! I would totally recommend it to everyone who’s going anywhere in Mexico! —> mexvax.com

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