How to Get Around Puerto Vallarta: A Comprehensive Guide to Exploring the City
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November 29, 2023
7 min read
Knowing Transportation Options
When visiting Puerto Vallarta, it's essential to know your transportation options. While walking is an option in some areas, it may not be feasible for longer distances or in certain neighborhoods. Depending on your budget and preferences, you may also want to consider taking taxis or public transportation.
Some visitors opt for renting a car to explore the city at their own pace. Knowing your options can save you time and money and make your experience more enjoyable overall.
Plus, navigating transportation can be challenging in a foreign country with different rules and customs. Therefore, it's crucial to do some research beforehand so that you can travel with confidence and ease during your stay in Puerto Vallarta.
The best way to immerse yourself in Puerto Vallarta's culture and charm
If you're staying in the downtown area or nearby neighborhoods, walking is the perfect option to get around. Pretty much anywhere along the coastline of the city is connected. With its cobblestone streets and beautiful architecture, Puerto Vallarta is a city that begs to be explored on foot.
Walking is free, healthy, and offers you the chance to take in all of the sights and sounds of this charming destination.
Aside from being free, walking around Puerto Vallarta allows you to truly absorb everything that makes this place so special. From street vendors selling authentic Mexican snacks to talented performers acting or showcasing traditional dances, there's never a dull moment when it comes to experiencing this city's vibrant culture up close.
Although walking is an excellent option for short distances or for exploring specific areas of the city, it may not be ideal for everyone.
The heat can be unbearable during certain times of the year (especially May and June), making long walks uncomfortable or even dangerous if you don't stay hydrated. In addition, some areas outside of downtown may not have sidewalks or pedestrian-friendly streets.
My recommended areas for walking:
The Malecon boardwalk is one of Puerto Vallarta's most popular attractions and provides a scenic route for a leisurely stroll along the ocean.
The Zona Romantica (Romantic Zone) neighborhood is another area that's perfect for exploring on foot with its colorful buildings and charming restaurants. And the flowers along the streets make it lovely. For those interested in history and culture, Old Town has many historic landmarks such as the iconic Our Lady of Guadalupe church that are easily accessible by foot.
Taxis are a popular mode of transportation for tourists in Puerto Vallarta. They are easily accessible and can take you anywhere you need to go without the hassle of navigating public transportation. You can find them at taxi stands throughout the city or simply flag one down on the street.
Availability and Cost of Taxis in Puerto Vallarta
Taxis are available 24/7 in Puerto Vallarta, but the availability may vary depending on where you are located. The cost of a taxi ride depends on your destination and negotiation skills with the driver. Generally speaking, taxi fares are not expensive compared to other tourist destinations, but it's always good to have an idea of what to expect before getting into a cab.
To give you an idea, a ride from Old Town (Zona Romantica) to Marina Vallarta should cost around $5-$6 USD one way. However, if you're traveling farther away or going during peak hours or holidays, expect to pay more.
Tips for Negotiating Fares with Taxi Drivers
It's important to note that many taxis in Puerto Vallarta do not use meters, so it's up to you to negotiate the fare before getting into the cab. Here are some tips for negotiating fares:
- Ask locals or your hotel staff about typical fares for your destination. You may also compare with Uber rates.
- Always agree on a price before getting into the taxi. - Don't be afraid to negotiate if you think the price is too high.
- Carry smaller bills since many taxi drivers don't carry much change.
Remember that most taxi drivers in Puerto Vallarta are honest and hardworking people who depend on their jobs as their main source of income. Therefore, be respectful and fair when negotiating fares with them.
Using Uber in Puerto Vallarta
Using Uber as a means of transportation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is a convenient and reliable option for getting around the city. Yes, they are available here. With the Uber app at your fingertips, you can easily request a ride and have a local driver pick you up within minutes.
Whether you're heading to the hotel zone, exploring downtown, or venturing to nearby attractions, Uber provides an easy way to get around.
Plus, it offers the added benefits of upfront pricing, cashless transactions, and the ability to track your ride in real-time. Which makes it easy to share your whereabouts with people at home or a close friend.
Types of Public Transportation Available
Puerto Vallarta offers a variety of public transportation options, including buses and shared vans. The local bus system is the most common mode of transportation for locals and adventurous tourists.
The buses are recognizable by their white colors (some may be green) and usually have their destinations displayed on the front windshield.
Interestingly enough, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta have the same transportation authority which means if you have a transit card in Guadalajara you can use it in Puerto Vallarta as well.
Shared vans, called "colectivos," are also available and are typically used for shorter distances.
Pros and Cons of Using Public Transportation
One of the most significant advantages of using public transportation in Puerto Vallarta is affordability. It is often much cheaper than taking taxis or renting a car. We are talking $10 MXN per person per bus ride.
Additionally, public transportation provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture and interact with locals during the trip.
However, one downside to using public transportation in Puerto Vallarta is that it can be crowded during peak hours and when it is hot, it’s sweltering inside. It can make for a wet and uncomfortable ride since they do not use air conditioning.
How to Navigate the Bus System in Puerto Vallarta
Navigating the bus system in Puerto Vallarta can seem daunting at first, but it's relatively straightforward once you understand how it works. Buses operate on set routes throughout the city, with different buses serving different areas.
To catch a bus, simply wait at a designated bus stop and wave when you see one approaching that matches your desired destination. To pay for your fare, you can just hand your money to the driver or use your transit card if you have one.
Overall, using public transportation in Puerto Vallarta is a very affordable and rewarding way to explore the city if you're willing to navigate through crowds at times or strike up conversations with locals along the way.
Renting a car in Puerto Vallarta
Renting a car in Puerto Vallarta can be a great option if you want the freedom to explore the city and surrounding areas at your leisure. With a rental car, you can visit remote beaches (most), drive up into the hills for stunning views, or take day trips to nearby towns. However, there are some drawbacks to consider as well.
Traffic in Puerto Vallarta can be heavy and chaotic at times, especially during peak tourist season. Additionally, parking can be difficult to find in some areas of town.
Requirements for renting a car
To rent a car in Puerto Vallarta, you will need to have a valid driver's license from your home country or an international driver's license. Some rental companies may also require that you be at least 25 years old and have a major credit card for payment and deposit purposes.
Recommended car rental companies
There are numerous car rental companies located throughout Puerto Vallarta, ranging from large international chains to smaller local businesses. Some popular options include MexRent, America, Avis, Budget, Hertz, Europcar, Alamo/National, and Sixt.
I recommended that you research several different companies before deciding on one in order to compare prices and read reviews from other travelers who have rented cars in Puerto Vallarta before.
Additionally, it is important to carefully read the rental agreement before signing it so that you understand all terms and conditions related to insurance coverage and additional fees (such as those related to fuel or extra drivers).
Water Taxis: An Exciting Way to Get Around
Are you looking for a unique and adventurous way to get around Puerto Vallarta? Look no further than the water taxis! These brightly colored boats are a fun way to travel between beaches or even nearby towns.
Water taxis are a popular mode of transportation for those looking to explore the beautiful beaches of Puerto Vallarta. They offer an affordable and convenient way to hop from one beach to another without having to worry about finding parking or getting lost on unfamiliar roads.
The prices range around $100 MXN for each direction. But they are a great alternative on a hot day and your only other option is walking (ahem, colomitos)
In addition to transporting passengers between beaches, water taxis can also take you to nearby towns such as Boca de Tomatlan and Yelapa.
This is a great option if you want to explore local culture and experience the true essence of Puerto Vallarta beyond just its tourist hotspots.
Things To Know Before You Go
It's important to note that water taxis may not be suitable for everyone. They can be bumpy, so if you have any back or neck problems, this might not be the best option for you.
Additionally, it's recommended that you bring some cash with you as many water taxi operators do not accept credit cards.
Tips For A Great Experience
If you decide that a water taxi ride is right for you, here are some tips for making the most out of your experience:
- Negotiate price: Don't hesitate to negotiate on price before getting on board.
- Bring sunscreen: As with any outdoor activity in Puerto Vallarta, it's important to protect yourself from the sun's harmful rays.
- Bring a waterproof case for your phone or electronics. Some beaches do not have a dock and you literally just hop off onto the beach. The water can be waist deep depending on the waves, so be careful.
- Enjoy the ride: Finally, sit back and enjoy the ride!
Water taxis offer a unique perspective of Puerto Vallarta's stunning coastline, so be sure to take it all in. Water taxis are a fun and exciting way to get around Puerto Vallarta.
They offer a unique perspective of the city's beaches and can even take you to nearby towns for a more authentic experience.
All in all, there are many ways to get around Puerto Vallarta and each has its pros and cons. Walking is a great option for exploring the downtown area and admiring the beautiful architecture.
Taxis and Ubers are convenient for getting around quickly but can be expensive depending on the distance and time.. Public transportation is affordable, but can be crowded and uncomfortable during peak hours.
Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace, but requires some knowledge of Mexican driving laws and local roads.
And lastly, water taxis offer an exciting way to travel between beaches or nearby towns while enjoying the stunning coastline scenery. So which option is best for you?
Ultimately, it depends on your personal preferences and budget constraints. If you prefer convenience over cost, taxis/Ubers or car rentals may be your best bet.
For those on a tight budget who enjoy exploring on foot or by bike, walking may be ideal. You have more time to take in the sights and the art that breathes in this city.