31 Best Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta (+What Not To Do)

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Puerto Vallarta is a destination that has been welcoming travelers for many years, and it’s one of the top places to visit in Mexico. There are numerous fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta — it has something for everyone.

Whether you’re a backpacker on a budget, a digital nomad in Mexico looking to live in Puerto Vallarta, a couple wanting a week-long vacation, or an expat looking to settle down, you’ll find activities in Puerto Vallarta to keep you busy. 

The city is split up into neighborhoods (zones), with the endless things to do in Puerto Vallarta spread out along Banderas Bay and beyond. In reality, it doesn’t really matter which part of the city you stay in, as getting around is easy.

You will, however, want to choose your zone carefully based on the vibe you’re after and the budget you have.

Update: This list has been updated to include more things to do in Puerto Vallarta in 2024. We have also removed out-of-date or permanently closed items.

Puerto Vallarta Neighbourhoods & Zones

A custom map image showing the different zones that a tourist will likely visit in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Click the map image to open Google Maps where you can zoom, find directions and locate each zone on an interactive map.
Click The Above Map To Find Each Zone Of Puerto Vallarta

Here’s a quick rundown of the zones in Puerto Vallarta starting at the Puerto Vallarta Airport and going south:

  • Marina – more upscale than the hotel zone, with the Marriott Hotel, Westin & more.
  • Hotel Zone – just a few minutes’ drive from the airport, this area has many hotels, restaurants, malls, a Walmart & Sams Club.
  • Centro (Old PV) – smaller homes, residential area, the Malecon (oceanfront promenade) runs along here, many restaurants and bars. This area is on the north side of the River Cuale and offers affordable accommodation.
  • Centro (Romantic Zone or Zona Romantica) – located on the south side of the River Cuale, you’ll find numerous bars, cafes, restaurants and Playa de Los Muertos Beach. This is a popular area with a large LGBTQ community. The accommodation ranges from budget to top end.
  • Conchas Chinas – meaning “Chinese Shells” based on the seashells found here, is a more affluent/posh area of Puerto Vallarta with gated communities and high-end condos.

Learn more about where to stay in Puerto Vallarta with our accommodation and neighbourhood guide. And, for a complete rundown on traveling to the city of PV, check out our detailed guide here.

Best Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta

After traveling around Puerto Vallarta extensively and having many incredible experiences, I’ve narrowed down the 31 best things to do in this beautiful Mexican beach town.

A custom map showing the attractions, sights and fun activities around Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Click the map to go to Google Maps where you can zoom, find directions and interact with the map to better plan your trip to PV.
Click The Above Map To Find The Best Things To Do in & Around Puerto Vallarta

1. Walk…Everywhere!

walking the streets is the best thing to do in puerto vallarta
Walking the streets of Puerto Vallarta is the best way to see it all

I have to put walking as #1 on the list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

Exploring on foot is the best way to get a feel for the city, and because Puerto Vallarta sits on a relatively flat cove with mountains behind it, most areas of PV are reachable by walking (although you may end up going uphill if you venture more than a few blocks from the Malecon).

Mexico is already one of the cheapest countries to travel to, but when you can do things for free, like walking and sightseeing, you can save even more money.

This is a great way to see what the vendors are selling, to people watch, and get a lay of the land. You never know what you’ll stumble across when discovering the city on foot — just make sure to wear good shoes as the sidewalks and roads are very uneven. 

Note: the best time to travel to Mexico if you want to walk around cities would be in the winter months, or in the shoulder season. Otherwise, it can be unbearably hot and you’ll most likely want to be on a tropical beach all day.

2. Join a Food Tour

food tours in puerto vallarta visiting the taco stands
Visiting the taco stands is a highlight of Puerto Vallarta!

Did you know that Mexico’s cuisine has made the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO? This award hasn’t been granted to any other national food group.

Mexican food is so much more than tacos and quesadillas and the best way to learn more about the tasty cuisine is to join a tour. This is a must-do in Puerto Vallarta for foodies.

We’ve done these kinds of tours all around the world, and our favourite ones are in Mexico and Puerto Vallarta’s food tours are some of the best overall.

In Puerto Vallarta, check out Vallarta Food Tours for a cool street food tour. This company offers a mix of culture, walking, and Puerto Vallarta’s food tours, making it a great way to learn about the city of PV while simultaneously feasting and working off the calories.

There are a few foodie tours on offer with the company, but we went on the “Original Downtown Tour“, which took us through the center of PV on both sides of the river. We ate numerous dishes and tried some drinks as well. You can also join their evening taco tour.

We highly recommend this tour. Click here to learn more and check out the video we made about our favorite Puerto Vallarta Food Tour.

3. See Rhythms Of The Night (One of the Best Things to do in Puerto Vallarta)

rhythms of the night puerto vallarta mexico
Watching Rhythms of The Night – we don’t usually love touristy shows, but this one was great!

If you’re looking for a mini Cirque de Soleil-type cultural show and dinner experience, then Rhythms of The Night will be something you won’t want to miss.

We saw this performance and although we’re not big fans of large group tours, this show was spectacular and worth every penny. This is one of the top tours in Puerto Vallarta.

The evening starts with a sunset cruise (including an open bar) across Banderas Bay to Las Caletas, which is a beautiful private cove.

When you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a beautifully lit area with tiki torches and candles.

Side note: You can also visit Las Caletas during the day for snorkeling and relaxing.

You’ll then be shown to your seat in the outdoor auditorium, which is surrounded by palm trees. The seats are all staggered, so even though people are sitting in front of you, you’ll have no issues seeing the show.

things to do in puerto vallarta see the rhythms of the night show

The show depicts various stories of the ancient Hispanic civilization and Mexican folklore. During the performance, there’s live music, dancing, contortionists, fire twirlers, and more. Following the show, you’ll enjoy a large buffet dinner before returning to Puerto Vallarta by boat.

If you’re wondering what to do in Puerto Vallarta at night, this is it. Don’t miss this show. Click here to learn more about the tour and to book tickets.

⇒ See Also: Things To Do in Mazatlan – 21 Experiences You Don’t Want to Miss

4. Watch Sunset

watching sunset in puerto vallarta mexico is one of the best things to do
The sunsets in Puerto Vallarta are spectacular

There’s just something about the sunsets on the Pacific Coast, and in particular, Puerto Vallarta. Some of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen have been from here. Grab a drink and enjoy the show.

Great viewing places include anywhere along the Malecon, up the hill behind the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or from El Barracuda — the sunsets we experienced at this beach bar were top-notch.

If you’re here in the whale watching season (December to March) you can see the beautiful humpback whales playing in the waves at sunset from here.

Once the sun goes down, the party starts in PV — there are so many bars and clubs, and the nightlife in Puerto Vallarta is legendary. Enjoy the sunset, it’s one of the best free things to do in Puerto Vallarta. 

*Note: Puerto Escondido is another epic Pacific Coast destination for sunsets in Mexico. If you have a chance, try to visit there as well for a more hidden beach experience.

5. Relax on Playa las Gemelas

visiting playa las gemelas best things to do in puerto vallarta

Surprisingly, just about 20-minute drive south of Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find beautiful beaches that look like they should be Cancun or Playa del Carmen rather than the Pacific. I think this is one of the best beaches in Mexico.

Playa las Gemelas has turquoise water and whitish sand. When we visited, there were quite a few waves, but no riptides or undertows, and the waves were fun to swim in.

Other visitors have experienced completely calm water here, so it really just depends on the weather and the time of year.

There are just 2 condominium complexes on the beach and nothing else…not even any toilets. Bring a cooler filled with beer, water, and snacks, and spend the day.

playa las gemelas beach in puerto vallarta mexico
Hiking down the steps to Playa las Gemelas

The walk to the beach is fairly steep and down some uneven steps, but it’s worth it when you see the view (sometimes you can see humpback whales from here).

To reach here, you’ll want to park at Condominios Girasol Sur (in front, alongside the road). There is no actual parking for the beach, so you’ll need to find some on the street, or in the few roadside spots in front of Girasol Sur Condos.

Alternatively, you can take a local bus and get dropped off here. This may not be a hidden beach, but it is by far my favorite beach in Puerto Vallarta. Don’t miss it.

Playa las Gemelas Beach Address: Carr. Costera a Barra de Navidad 2354, Sur, 48390 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. Click here for directions.

Other Beautiful Beaches To Check Out:

  • Playa Los Muertos: Playa de Los Muertos is a short walk from downtown Puerto Vallarta. Playa los Muertos has restaurants, sun loungers, and water sports rentals. It’s a convenient spot for both sunbathing and dining and while it’s not exactly a secret beach, it remains relaxed.
  • Playa Las Animas: This is another one of the beach destinations that is only a short boat tour from Puerto Vallarta. It’s a less-crowded beach compared to the more popular beaches on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, and offers dining options and water sports rentals. It’s a great location for those seeking a more laid back beach experience with basic amenities.
  • Majahuitas Beach: Another gorgeous beach accessible by boat tour from Puerto Vallarta. This secluded beach is known for its tranquility and clear waters. With limited facilities, it’s ideal for visitors seeking a more untouched and serene beach experience.
  • Nuevo Vallarta: Located just a 30-minute taxi ride or an hour by bus from Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta Beach offers an expansive stretch of sand ideal for sunbathing and swimming. The beach is lined with resorts and has several dining options available. It’s quieter than Puerto Vallarta’s main beaches, making it suitable for families and those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere.

6. Join a Booze Tour (with a side of food)

food and drink tour in puerto vallarta. try tequila and food with vallarta food tours
Tasting Mezcal, with a side of crickets on our food & booze tour

For those of you who like to drink tequila – it’s Mexico, who doesn’t?! – this tour is for you.

During our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, we joined the highly-rated Mex-ology tour and enjoyed a late afternoon of Mezcal, Tequila, Raicilla, craft beer, Kahlua coffee, and other handcrafted cocktails.

To go along with the booze, you’ll get some tasty food to help soak up the alcohol.

The dishes aren’t snacks, but rather, full portions of fish tacos, meat tacos, seafood “enchiladas”, onion rings, crickets (yes, crickets!), and delectable desserts.

Not only will you be having fun, and feeling a bit tipsy by the end of it, but you’ll learn a lot about the traditions and creation of these alcoholic beverages.

We had a great day with our guide. So much fun in fact, that she took us out for some late-night shenanigans where the expats and locals like to hangout.

Click here to learn more about the Mex-ology Tequila, Tacos & Cocktails Tour, it’s one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta. 

7. Eat Fresh Seafood

shucking fresh oysters with lemons in mexico

While Mexico is one of the best countries in the world for food and there’s definitely a Puerto Vallarta restaurant for everyone, sometimes it’s nice to eat street (beach) food.

If you’re an oyster lover, you’ll be happy to know that you can get fresh oysters on the beach. Just under the bridge that crosses the River Cuale, you’ll see many vendors selling these tasty morsels.

Plastic tables and chairs are set up so you can sit and enjoy your plate of food by the water, or you can take them to go. Squeeze some lime juice, sprinkle with some salt, and add some hot sauce if you like.

Another option is to join this tasty seafood experience which includes the oysters listed above, and much more.

You’ll also eat ceviche and aguachile, fish fillets, tacos, quesadillas, soups…as many seafood dishes as you want! It’s all included. Plus, you can wash it all down with unlimited beer. This incredible tour sells out fast. Learn more here

☞ SEE ALSO: Playa del Carmen Mexico: The Ultimate Travel Guide

8. Visit San Pancho

day trip from puerto vallarta visit san pancho

About an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta is the beach town of San Pancho (San Francisco), which is one of the best day trips from Puerto Vallarta.

This small town isn’t as quiet as it once was, but it’s still a nice place to visit. What’s surprising is that even though it’s not a very big place, there are lots of things to do in San Pancho.

The best way to learn all about San Pancho is to enjoy a leisurely bike ride around the town. A bike makes it easy to see lots of hidden gems and tell stories about the area. There are some places to rent bikes around the town of San Pancho all along the main street. 

San Pancho is a cool place to spend the afternoon as it’s just an hour away from Puerto Vallarta. To get from Puerto Vallarta to San Pancho, you can rent a car, take the bus for around 50 pesos, or join a day tour of San Pancho and nearby Sayulita.

Note: the ocean at San Pancho is quite rough and isn’t a great place for swimming. If you’re looking for a beach day trip, you could check out nearby Bucerias and Sayulita for swimming.

9. Walk The Malecon

street art on the malecon in puerto vallarta
The Malecon always has something going on

One of the many great things about Puerto Vallarta is the long Malecon (oceanfront promenade) which runs for about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile).

This is the perfect spot to enjoy a stroll, without having to deal with the busy traffic that whizzes along the narrow streets.

Along the Malecon, you have the beautiful ocean on one side, and many shops, restaurants, and bars on the other (selling $1 margaritas and Coronas). There are also numerous art installations and street performances here.

The Malecon is the hot spot, especially in the late afternoon and evenings when it’s a cooler temperature. And actually, wandering along the Malecon is one of the most popular things to do in La Paz as well.

A great way to explore a more off-the-beaten-path area of the Malecon is to join this fun biking experience. Biking equipment, food, and drinks are included. Learn more here.

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

There are numerous resorts, hotels, boutiques, hostels, Airbnbs, and apartments for rent in Puerto Vallarta.

There really is something for everyone, with Booking.com having the most diverse options of beautiful apartments, hotels, hostels, and cool family guesthouses. 

Check out Casa Kimberly for a unique hotel experience. Casa Kimberly is where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton used to enjoy their romantic Vallarta holiday and today it’s a lovely villa-turned hotel.

If you’re a big Elizabeth Taylor fan, you’ll probably want to stay at Casa Kimberly.

10. Join a Chocolate Making Class

making chocolate truffles at the choco museum in puerto vallarta

The Choco Museum is one of the many free things to do in Puerto Vallarta. If you’re interested in learning the history behind cocoa, plus finding out how chocolate is made (from harvest to production), then the museum is for you.

If you want to get your hands dirty and EAT some delicious chocolate, then make sure to join one of the classes at the Choco Museo.

There are a few tasty classes available. Click here for the chocolate truffle class, and click here for chocolate drinks and chocolate bars! Joining one of The Choco Museum’s fun workshops and classes is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta when it rains.

Choco Museum Address: Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez 128, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. Find it on the map here.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in Cabo San Lucas – A List of The Top 21

11. Join a Mountain Biking Trip

mountain biking in Sierra Madre in puerto vallarta mexico

Although lounging by the beach and devouring tacos is always a good idea when travelling to Mexico, it might be a good idea to get some exercise every once in a while! This is one of the Puerto Vallarta activities you don’t want to miss.

The team at Jaguar Experience in Puerto Vallarta offers epic mountain biking trips in the surrounding jungle trails of the Occidental Sierra Madre.

If you’re into adventure and being active, this is one of the things to do in Puerto Vallarta that should be at the top of your list. 

The routes pass through villages, waterfalls, rivers, pine trees, and more, before finishing off at a ranch where you can relax in a hammock, or swim in the pool.

All biking equipment, guide, snacks, and drinks are included. Click here to learn more about Eco Ride and the biking and hiking trips they offer.

*Note: if you’d rather combine exercise with eating, Vallarta Food Tours has a new tour called Bikes & Bites…check it out.

Not into biking, but still want to be in the mountains? 

Although we’ve never done this in Mexico, zip-lining through the beautiful canopy is one of the most popular things to do in Puerto Vallarta. You’ll be at the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains and can travel through the jungle over 2 miles (3.2kms) of zipline. This highly-rated ziplining experience is a great activity in Puerto Vallarta. And, if you find yourself in the Yucatan, ziplining is one of the best things to do in Cancun as well.

12. Chill Out on Playa Los Muertos Beach

things to do in puerto vallarta visit los muertos beach

This is the beach south of the Playa de Los Muertos Pier. And, as with the stretch of sand north of the pier, there are a lot of activities going on — from swimming and surfing to parasailing and boating. Plus, you’ll find numerous beach restaurants and bars here.

Vendors are wandering up and down the beach as well, but they aren’t too pushy.

Near the south side of the pier, you’ll find lots of local families spending the day (especially on weekends), while farther south from there is considered the LGBTQ area, which is always busy and a lot of fun.

We’ve visited this beach a few times now. During December, the waves were incredibly big and the surf and undertow were quite strong. The rough water started from the pier and went north to the La Langosta Loca restaurant.

However, on the south side of the pier, the water was calm and children were swimming.

When we visited Playa Los Muertos beach in the summer, the water was calm everywhere — and we even spotted lots of small Manta Rays! Always be mindful of the ocean and when in doubt, ask a local if it’s safe to swim.

Los Muertos is one of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta, and in Mexico as a whole. This beach offers some of the best water activities in Puerto Vallarta.

Los Muertos Pier Address: Francisca Rodríguez 121, Zona Romántica, Emiliano Zapata, 48380 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. Click here for directions.

☞ SEE ALSO: 51 Awesome Things To Do in Mexico

13. Wander The Old Town

walking around the romantic zone in puerto vallarta mexico
We recommend walking around the quieter streets behind the Romantic Zone!

Puerto Vallarta has a beautiful old town (Zona Romantica) with cobbled streets and colourful homes climbing up the hill. From near the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, you’ll see rock/cement steps heading up the hill.

Take the steps and continue walking along the back roads toward the Romantic Zone (Zona Romantica). As most people take the Malecon or the main streets, you’ll have the quiet “upper” roads basically to yourself.

You’ll come across homes draped in vines, cats sleeping on steps and pretty wrought-iron balconies. After you’ve finished exploring and enjoying the peace and quiet, you can come out near the Rio River.

For an amazing view, you can hike up to the Mirador Cerro de La Cruz. It takes about 30 minutes and is a bit strenuous, but the view is spectacular. Bring lots of water and wear good shoes.

Mirador Cerro de La Cruz Address: Abasolo LB, Cerro, 48304 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. Get directions here.

14. Go Scuba Diving

scuba diving in puerto vallarta

Getting out on the water is always a good idea when traveling, but so is getting under it. The diving in Mexico is next level. 

Whether you’re scuba diving certified or not, check out Banderas Scuba Republic. This company is PADI recognized and the team is PADI certified.

At this scuba shop, you can take classes and lessons to get your certification, or if you already have your Open Water, you can go for some dives. While scuba diving in Puerto Vallarta isn’t the best in Mexico, it’s always nice to get out for a dive.

While scuba diving is much better in Cozumel, around PV you can still expect to see turtles, rays, eels, and more. Banderas Scuba Republic is located in Zona Romantica, stop by and check them out.

Always do your own independent research when choosing a scuba diving company. Check reviews, safety, and certifications, and even stop by the dive diving center to get a feel for the place before committing.

You can click here to search for more PADI-certified dive shops in Puerto Vallarta.

15. Join a Free Walking Tour

view of puerto vallarta old town and the bay of banderas

Walking on your own is great, but if you want to learn a bit more about the city of Puerto Vallarta, including its culture, history, and architecture, then it’s best to join one of the free walking tours with a knowledgeable guide.

Joining one of the many available free walking tours is the best thing to do in Puerto Vallarta on your first day in the city so you can get your bearings.

Every Tuesday (9:00am and noon), Wednesday (9:00am and noon) and Saturday (9:00am), there are free tours put on by the Municipal Tourism Office.

Address: The meeting point for the free walking tour is at the Municipal Tourism Office, which is in the Old City Hall Building. The tour is about 2 hours long and no reservation is required. Click here for details.

Looking for more Mexico posts? See Also:

Things To Do in San Pancho – A List of The Top 15

Things To Do in Playa del Carmen – A List of The Top 21

Things To Do in Guanajuato – A List of The Top 10

Places To Visit in Mexico – Top 33 Spots

Backpacking Mexico – Top Reasons To Travel Here Now

16. Join the Free Art Walk

paintings and art in puerto vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has many art galleries. On Wednesday evenings, many of the art shops open their doors and allow visitors inside to view the pieces.

All mediums of art are on display, including paintings, sculptures, pottery and folk art. A visit here is definitely one of the more unique things to do in Puerto Vallarta.

Entrance is free, there is no guide, but there is usually wine and tequila given to visitors…for free. The Art Walk runs from the end of October to the end of May, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, every Wednesday.

This is a yearly event. Click here to learn more about the Art Walk.

17. Visit the Church Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe

lady of guadalupe church in puerto vallarta mexico

You can’t miss the Church Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe when you visit. Towering over the center of Puerto Vallarta is this beautiful piece of architecture. If you’re wondering what to do in Puerto Vallarta when it’s raining, a trip to this church is a good idea.

Whether you’re religious or not, I recommend taking a peek inside, and of course, taking loads of photos of the ornate exterior. This church is one of the best places to visit in Puerto Vallarta.

If you find yourself in the city from December 1 – 12, you’ll be able to enjoy the celebrations for the Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival, which includes candlelight processions, colourful parades, and of course, food.

Address: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Hidalgo 370, Proyecto escola, Centro, 48300 Puerto Vallarta, Jal., Mexico. Get directions here.

18. Visit Mismaloya

los arcos and mismaloya beach

Located in the southern part of Banderas Bay, you’ll find the fishing village of Mismaloya. This is where tourism in the Puerto Vallarta area all started, back in 1963 with the filming of Night Of The Iguana

These days, Puerto Vallarta has more tourism, while the bay at Mismaloya is still relatively quiet. This is another great day trip from Puerto Vallarta.

The pretty bay is backed by thick jungle, there are restaurants lining the beach and you’ll have views of the Los Arcos Marine Park. There is, however, the Barcelo Resort which takes up much of the bay, but it’s still a nice place to visit.

If you love horses, this horseback riding trip is a must-do in Mismaloya! This trip offers small groups, and a more authentic experience. Learn more and book here.

Address: Find Mismaloya on the map, here. Rent a car, take the bus, hire a taxi, or join a tour to get to Mismaloya on a day trip to this picturesque fishing village.

☞ SEE ALSO: Things To Do in La Paz, Mexico – A List of the Top 21

19. Check Out The Markets

eating tacos at the markets in puerto vallarta

Visiting the markets in Mexico is always a treat. In Puerto Vallarta, you’ll find traditional Mexican Dishes, fish, clothing, and souvenir markets (particularly close to Marina Vallarta).

Don’t miss the Municipal Market of Colonia Emiliano Zapata, which is a great place to purchase fresh produce. This market runs from 6:00am to 3:00pm, 365 days a year. Click here for directions.

Also, if you want fresh produce and fish, check out the Municipal Market in December 5. Go early to get the best selection of seafood.

The Mercado Municipal Rio Cuale is another bustling and fun market in Puerto Vallarta where visitors can find traditional Mexican crafts, fresh veggies, and local food.

In the strip of vendors, you’ll find meats, vegetables, tortillas, and other items. This is a great place to take food away, or to create a delicious lunch! Visiting a local market is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Click here for directions to the Municipal Market.

20. Do Some Hiking At Boca de Tomatlan

boca de tomatlan

You won’t really find hiking in the city itself. But, if you take a bus, or drive your car out to Boca de Tomatlan, you can do a really great day hike to Las Animas. The path winds along the ocean, with the jungle on one side and the beautiful water on the other.

Have a look at this highly-rated, affordable day trip — which includes transportation from Puerto Vallarta, snacks, snorkelling gear, and a drink at the restaurant at the end. Find out more here

You’ll hike along stone stairs and narrow paths, while arriving at lovely secluded bays along the way. If you’re lucky, you’ll see some whales or dolphins playing in the water. You can also join whale watching tours from here.

The entire hike takes about 2 hours to complete, and once you arrive at Las Animas, all that’s left to do is enjoy the beach, and one of the many restaurants on offer.

To get back to Boca de Tomatlan, you can take a boat from Las Animas, or hike back the way you came. This is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta for outdoor lovers. For more information on how to do this hike, click here

Since the trip can be a bit confusing to do on your own, a great option is to join this affordable experience with a local guide, which includes food, drink, and transport. Learn more about this fun day trip here.

21. Spend A Night On The Town

The Puerto Vallarta nightlife is awesome. No matter what sort of party you’re looking for, live music or DJs, you’ll find it in PV.

From beach bars and nightclubs to cantinas and breweries, a night out in Puerto Vallarta is sure to be memorable. While most of the happenin’ nightlife is around the Romantic Zone, you’ll find bars across the city and all along Banderas Bay.

Dance the night away at Co-De or one of the many popular Malecon nightclubs (Zoo, Mandala or La Vaquita) or watch your favourite sports team on the big screen at places like El Torito Sports Bar & BBQ House, Players and El Soñador

For live music, you can’t go wrong with Incanto, Roxy Rock House, and La Casa de Hugo. If it’s craft beer you seek, you have a couple of options in Puerto Vallarta. Don’t miss Monzon and Los Muertos. For cocktail lovers, check out El Colibri, Bar La Playa, and Twisted Palms.

To learn more about the best places to sip and dance, check out our post: Puerto Vallarta Nightlife – The Best Places to Drink and Dance.

For more relaxed nightlife, you can head out to some of the Nuevo Vallarta bars or the clubs around Marina Vallarta just a few minute’s drive from Puerto Vallarta’s city center.

22. Volunteer With Dogs

walking dogs things to do in puerto vallarta
Spend a morning walking the gorgeous rescue dogs in Puerto Vallarta

If you’re an animal lover, why not spend a few hours of your vacation in PV volunteering with animals?

Friends of Puerto Vallarta Animals need volunteers to spend time with the dogs (and cats!) at the shelter. You can help out by walking dogs, feeding them and of course, giving them lots of love and attention. 

The Acopio shelter is located just a little bit outside of the center of the city, so you’ll have to pry yourself from Banderas Bay, but make sure you contact Friends of PV Animals first before arriving at the shelter.

Learn more about how you can make a difference in a shelter dog’s life, here

23. Visit Marietas Island

While this isn’t technically a thing to do in Puerto Vallarta, a trip to Marietas Island is an excellent day trip. Only 116 people per day are allowed to visit this gorgeous site — make sure you book online ahead of time.

Located about a 1-hour boat ride from the Puerto Vallarta marina, you’ll find the Marietas hidden beach.

Not only is the snorkelling and the beach itself gorgeous, but on the boat ride out there you’ll most likely spot dolphins, manta rays, and if you’re into whale watching, you can often see them here. Find out more here.

24. Visit The Vallarta Botanical Garden

A cactus at Vallarta Botanical Garden
Vallarta Botanical Garden

The Vallarta Botanical Garden is one of the best Puerto Vallarta attractions to help get you out of the hustle and bustle of downtown Puerto Vallarta.

If you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta for an extended period of time, and you’ve spent a lot of it in central Puerto Vallarta, there’s no doubt that you’ll want to escape the noise and hassle of the city and the Vallarta Botanical Gardens are the perfect place for that.

25 . Hike in The Sierra Madre Mountains

An aerial view of the Sierra Madre Mountains at sunrise with clouds and fog
Sierra Madre Mountains

The Sierra Madre Mountain Range is a beautiful and scenic place to escape the city. There are plenty of hiking trails here ranging from quick hour-long walks to multi-day hikes.

If you don’t want heat stroke, it’s highly recommended that you plan your hiking trips in the winter months from December to February, or leave very early in the morning before the unforgiving Mexican sun rises.

27. Visit San Sebastian del Oeste

City view of San Sebastian del Oeste in Mexico
San Sebastian del Oeste

Take a trip to the nearby Sierra Madre mountains and step back in time with a tour around San Sebastian del Oeste. This was once a thriving silver mining town, but it’s now a UNESCO-protected village preserving its colonial charm.

Cobblestone streets, panoramic mountain views, and centuries-old buildings make it a peaceful getaway from Puerto Vallarta’s hustle and parties in the Romantic Zone.

Don’t miss the chance to taste local coffee and visit the old mines for a deeper dive into the area’s rich history.

28. Visit Cuale Island Flea Market

Clothes hanging at the Cuale Island Flea Market in Mexico
Cuale Island Flea Market

Nestled right in the heart of Puerto Vallarta, the Cuale Island Flea Market is a treasure trove for those seeking authentic Mexican crafts, jewelry, and souvenirs.

Situated on the picturesque Isla Rio Cuale, this market has a fun and bustling atmosphere where local vendors showcase a diverse range of goods. It’s an ideal spot to haggle for a unique keepsake or simply immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture.

29. Join a Tequila Tasting


If you’ve spent any time walking around the Romantic Zone in Puerto Vallarta, you’ve probably come across the pushy tequila tasting salesman who approach you on the street and won’t let you leave the conversation.

While I don’t recommend heading into these guys’ shops, a few good ones include La Cava de Tequila, Don Julio Cocina y Tequila, Rancho Tequila, and Tequila Herradura VIP Tasting Room.

The best way to do a tequila tasting is as part of a tour. The Connoisseur Tequila Tasting Tour, the Tequila Museum and Tequila Tasting, and the City and Tequila Tasting tours are 3 of the highest-rated tequila tasting tours in the city.

30. Join a Whale Watching Tour

humpback whale jumping out of the water and splashing

There’s nothing more majestic than seeing humpback whales in the wild and Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to see them in the world.

From the beach, you can see them splashing and playing in the horizon, putting on a show for the tourists, but if you want to get up close and personal with them, then a Whale Watching Tour is a definite must.

GetYourGuide has some of the highest-rated tours like this one, and this one includes dolphin watching.

31. Sail To Yelapa

best beahes for quiet yelapa cove mexico
The Beautiful Beach in Yelapa

The remote and tranquil village of Yelapa is located about 20 miles (30kms) south of Puerto Vallarta and is the perfect escape from the bustling city.

The boat ride will take you around 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta and once there, you can enjoy pristine beaches, delicious local pies, hikes to nearby waterfalls and a lovely charm.

We recommend this fun tour with GetYourGuide as it takes you to 2 of the most picturesque tropical coves in all of Mexico on a day trip to Yelapa and Majahuitas.

For a more luxurious trip, hop on a yacht with this exciting (and very highly-rated) yacht sailing trip that includes a trip to Yelapa and the falls.

Prices for a one-way trip usually range from $10 to $20 USD, but it’s always a good idea to confirm current rates before departure. Some travelers also opt for organized tours, which often include lunch, drinks, or snorkeling stops.

These can be booked through numerous tour agencies in Puerto Vallarta.

Things Not To Do in Puerto Vallarta

As with everywhere in the world, sometimes there are some things that you shouldn’t do while abroad. Ethical and sustainable tourism is paramount and we do not endorse the following.

DON’T Visit Captive Animals

This one is important. There’s so much beautiful wildlife in Puerto Vallarta (dolphins, whales, birds, turtles, crocodiles), but many of these creatures are kept in captivity for tourists to look at, and in some cases, swim with. Don’t support these places and instead, join a snorkel trip or whale-watching tour to responsibly see the animals in their natural habitat.

DON’T Join a Time-Share Scam

Puerto Vallarta has its share of timeshare promoters, some of whom can be quite aggressive. While not all timeshares are scams, it’s essential to be cautious.

Avoid presentations offering too-good-to-be-true gifts in exchange for your time, and always read any contract thoroughly.

DON’T Support Vendors Selling Protected Species

You might encounter beach vendors selling items like coral jewelry or products made from turtle shells. Buying such products can support illegal trade and harm the environment.

Similarly, any vendors who are offering to take photos with exotic animals should be ignored.

FAQs About Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta

Where did Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton stay in Puerto Vallarta?

They both stayed at Casa Kimberly, which is now a popular villa-turned hotel.

How do you get to hidden beaches near Puerto Vallarta?

To get to secret beaches around Puerto Vallarta, and more popular ones like Playa las Animas you can take a water taxi. A water taxi will get you to the best beaches and will likely cost $5-$10. If it’s a beautiful beach you’re after, this is the best way to get there.

Where is the best live music in Puerto Vallarta?

The best live music can be found in the Romantic Zone and around Marina Vallarta. Some venues of note are El Patio de Mi Casa, Act II Entertainment Stages, and Incanto.

What is the best hidden beach near Puerto Vallarta?

Playa Los Muertos, Majahuitas Beach, and Playa Las Animas are the best hidden beaches near Puerto Vallarta and arguably the best beaches in the area.

What do you do on a hot day in Puerto Vallarta?

On a hot day in Puerto Vallarta, you should head to a local beach to cool off, or head into the Vallarta Botanical Gardens to enjoy some shade in nature.

Now You Know What To Do in Puerto Vallarta

I hope this list of things to do in Puerto Vallarta helps you plan your trip. While the city is quite touristy, it’s popular for good reason! We’ve always enjoyed our visits here and I’m sure you will as well.

Make sure to sample the tasty street food whenever you can, explore the local markets, and enjoy walking around the city. Happy travels 😀

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Get ready to embark on an epic adventure in Puerto Vallarta with our list of top 21 must-do activities! From pristine beaches to vibrant nightlife, this Mexican paradise has everything you need for a perfect vacation. Buckle up and get ready for the ride of a lifetime! | #PuertoVallarta #MexicoVacation #AdventureAwaits #TravelGoals
Are you looking for an exciting way to explore Puerto Vallarta, Mexico? Look no further than our list of 21 must-do activities! From snorkeling in crystal-clear waters to hiking through lush jungles, adventure awaits around every corner. Get ready to explore this tropical paradise like never before! | #MexicanParadise #TravelInspiration #TravelBucketList
Uncover the hidden gems of Puerto Vallarta with our list of 21 must-try experiences! From exploring secret beaches to savoring delicious street food, there's always something new to discover in this vibrant city! Don't miss out on these unforgettable experiences that will leave you with lasting memories! | #MexicoTravel #Wanderlust #OffTheBeatenPath
Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 12 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel.

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24 thoughts on “31 Best Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta (+What Not To Do)”

  1. I was already excited to go back and you guys just reminded me of why I love the place so much, plus gave me a few new ideas. Haven’t hit the links in years but maybe a trip up to San Poncho is necessary, although I’d probably hack up that beautiful course pretty good! Definitely going to try out the Mex-ology tour. We did their street tacos tour last year and loved it! Glad you guys had such a good time in PV 🙂

  2. Hola Dariece Swift,
    In case you want to take advantage of the beautiful sunsets here in PV my company would love to take your picture on the beach. You can find it on facebook as Captura el momento fotografia which means Capture the moment in english. We hope to have the opportunity to be part of your vacations. And Mrs.Swift whenever you are in PV again let me know ill be glad to do a photoshoot on the house.

  3. Great info- I am planning my first trip to PV for Winter, 2020. I wrote down the info for the free tour, and will definitely check out many of these other places, too. Thanks for the info about the ocean/riptides and the idea of asking a local whether to go in and swim.

  4. Thank you for this great article! I’m trying to figure out where, specifically, the Old City Hall is located for the free walking tours. Do you have an address or Google Maps point? Thank you!

  5. Hello, I found this on their website, hopefully it helps you find it!

    “Meeting Point: Downtown (Centro) at the Municipal Tourism Office in the Old City Hall building, across the street from the north side of the Main Square and a half block west of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (the church with the crown). The tourism office is located at the south east corner of the building.”

    Also, you can call them at 322.222.0923 for directions.

  6. Hi there! This article has been super helpful and the best one I’ve found yet on PV! Quick question, can you recommend and snorkeling companies?!

  7. Why do we think that we have to travel to the other side of the globe to see new places? Mexico is right below us and so close. People can be blind to what is right in front of them. Us included. Mexico has always been on our bucket list, just not in top 10. (Until Now!) Thanks for your informative post and awesome photos.

  8. Thanks for the comment Laurel. Mexico is one of our favourite travel destinations of all time – it’s so diverse and has so much to offer travellers. I think many of us Canadians and Americans associate it with the all-inclusive resort holiday, but Mexico is actually an independent traveller’s dream

  9. Love this article! We have done so many of the things you suggested, and tomorrow we hike to playa Animas. Have to say we CS lived the chocolate museo! The ganache and truffles class was a highlight. My teenage kids and I agree – fantastic experience. Fernanda was fun and knowledgeable and made us feel welcome in the kitchen! We left with tons of chocolate and lots of laughs. The walking tours are easy and insightful. Thanks for all the great tips!

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