Reasons to Visit Puerto Vallarta: Discover the Irresistible Charm

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November 29, 2023
8 min read

The Beauty of Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta, located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is a stunning travel destination that has grown to a go-to destination over the years. It’s only 3 hours driving or a 1 hour flight away from Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco state.

This beautiful city is surrounded by mountains and pristine sandy beaches, which makes it an ideal spot for anyone who craves a vacation filled with sunshine and relaxation. 

Puerto Vallarta has been a popular vacation spot for decades due to its natural beauty and vibrant culture, which is why you should plan your next trip here. I spent a weekend trip here and it was wonderful!

But it's not just about the beaches and mountains – Puerto Vallarta is also filled with incredible food, unique attractions, thrilling outdoor adventures, and lively nightlife. 

I trust you will be able to find everything you’re looking for when you visit this amazing destination.


Puerto Vallarta has a rich history that dates back to the 16th century when Spanish explorers first came to its shores. The city was named after Ignacio Vallarta, one of Mexico’s most important lawyers who played a vital role in drafting the country's constitution in 1857.

The city grew slowly until 1963 when Hollywood director John Huston chose Puerto Vallarta as the location for his film “The Night of The Iguana” starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. After that movie was released in 1964 tourists began flocking to this Mexican paradise with its beautiful beaches and mountain ranges.1

Today, you can experience Puerto Vallarta’s rich history through various cultural attractions such as museums or historical tours showcasing some of the town's colonial architecture.

Get to know more about Puerto Vallarta and the top attractions by visiting our city guide.

Playa Animas, secluded beach, in Puerto Vallarta
Playa Animas, secluded beach, in Puerto Vallarta

Beautiful Beaches

Puerto Vallarta is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Mexico, and they're all just a short drive or walk from the city center. Whether you're looking for a relaxing day soaking up the sun, taking part in water sports, or simply want to enjoy the stunning views of Banderas Bay, there's something for everyone. 

One of the most popular beaches is Playa de los Muertos. This beach is located in the heart of Old Town Puerto Vallarta (Zona Romatica)  and offers soft sand and clear water perfect for swimming. There are also plenty of restaurants and bars nearby where you can enjoy delicious food and cool drinks while taking in the view. 

For those looking for more adventure, Playa Las Gemelas is a great option. This beach is known for its crystal clear water and excellent snorkeling opportunities. You can rent snorkel gear right on the beach or take a guided tour to explore the underwater world. 

If surfing is your thing, head to Sayulita Beach which boasts some of Mexico's best waves for both beginners and experienced surfers alike.

No matter which beach you choose, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained all day long. From swimming to paddleboarding to simply lounging under an umbrella with a good book, Puerto Vallarta's beaches have it all!

Delicious Food

Overview of Traditional Mexican Cuisine

When it comes to food, Mexico has a reputation for having some of the most delicious and flavorful dishes in the world. And Puerto Vallarta is no exception.

The city offers a wide variety of traditional Mexican cuisine that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more. Mexican food is known for its bold flavors and use of fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, chilies, cilantro, and lime juice.

Some popular dishes include tacos al pastor (marinated pork served in a soft corn tortilla), chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers usually filled with cheese or meat), and mole (a rich sauce made with chili peppers, chocolate, and other spices). In Puerto Vallarta specifically, you'll find an abundance of seafood due to its coastal location.

Popular Dishes to Try in Puerto Vallarta

If you're looking for recommendations on what to eat while in Puerto Vallarta, there are plenty of options to choose from. One must-try dish is ceviche - fresh raw fish marinated in lime juice with onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and sometimes avocados.

Another popular dish, and a Jalisco favorite,  is birria - a spicy stew made from goat meat served with tortillas. 

If you love seafood, you can't go wrong with ordering marlin! That’s right. One of my favorite spots is El Tacon de Marlin. They have smoked marlin “burritos” and they are bursting with flavor. You will also be able to find tacos with it too.

If you're feeling adventurous, try ordering chapulines - crispy fried grasshoppers seasoned with garlic and chili powder - a traditional snack that may sound weird but actually tastes pretty good.

Overall, Puerto Vallarta's culinary scene will not disappoint. From street vendors selling freshly grilled corn on the cob to high-end restaurants serving innovative fusion dishes inspired by traditional Mexican recipes - there's plenty to explore!.

Vibrant Nightlife

Living it Up in Puerto Vallarta

If you're looking for a destination with a vibrant nightlife scene, look no further than Puerto Vallarta. From bars and clubs to live music venues and dance halls, this Mexican city has something for everyone. One area known for its lively nightlife is the Malecon Boardwalk, which is lined with bars and restaurants that offer everything from live music to karaoke.

This is the perfect place to grab a drink with friends or dance the night away. Another popular spot among locals and tourists alike is La Santa, a nightclub that features electronic music and attracts big-name DJs from around the world.

The club has an open-air bar area that provides stunning views of Banderas Bay. Be prepared to dress up and pay a cover charge if you want to party here.

Best Bars and Clubs

If you're looking for the best bars in Puerto Vallarta, it's hard to go wrong with Bar La Playa. This laid-back spots offers great drinks and an inviting atmosphere where you can relax and socialize.

If you’re looking for a more upscale experience, make sure to check out Mandala Puerto Vallarta.This exclusive club offers bottle service and VIP areas in addition to its packed dance floor. It's definitely not cheap, but if you're looking for an unforgettable night out on the town, this is the place to be.

Cultural Attractions

Puerto Vallarta is not only famous for its beautiful beaches and delicious food, but it also has a rich culture and history that attracts many visitors. If you're interested in exploring the cultural attractions of Puerto Vallarta, there are several museums and art galleries that showcase the city's heritage and artistic expression. One museum worth visiting is the Cuale Archaeological Museum, which displays artifacts from the pre-Columbian era.

Navel Museum, found on the Malecon near Old Town Puerto Vallarta
Navel Museum, found on the Malecon near Old Town Puerto Vallarta

The museum provides insight into the indigenous cultures that once inhabited Mexico before Spanish colonization. Another notable museum is the Naval Historical Museum, which features exhibits about Mexico's naval history, including ship models, navigational instruments, and military uniforms.

Historical Sites

If you want to delve deeper into Puerto Vallarta's history, there are several historical sites worth visiting. The most famous of these is probably the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Church of Our Lady Guadalupe towering above the city
Church of Our Lady Guadalupe towering above the city

This iconic church is located in the heart of downtown Puerto Vallarta and boasts an impressive architectural design that blends Baroque and Neoclassical styles. Another historical site to visit is El Faro lighthouse, which was built in 1932 as a navigation aid for ships entering Banderas Bay.

After climbing up to reach its top (which requires a bit of effort), you'll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of Puerto Vallarta. Whether you're interested in learning about Mexican culture or just want to appreciate some beautiful architecture and historical sites during your trip to Puerto Vallarta, there are plenty of opportunities waiting for you.

Outdoor Adventures: Experience the Thrill of Nature in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a natural paradise that offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to indulge in thrilling activities. From hiking and zip-lining to whale watching, there's an endless list of adventures waiting for you in Puerto Vallarta. If you're a fan of hiking, you'll be glad to know that there are several trails available in Puerto Vallarta that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and coastline.

Colomitos Beach with Boca de Tomatlan trail to the left
Colomitos Beach with Boca de Tomatlan trail to the left

One popular hiking trail is the Boca de Tomatlan Trail, which takes you from the picturesque fishing village through a lush forest making a stop at Playa Colomitos and eventually ends at Playa Animas, a secluded beach with crystal-clear waters.

Take a boat trip to one of the secluded beaches and go snorkeling at Los Arcos. This area is filled with fish and a great area to hop in the water with your gear. There are many tours from the Marina or Old Town that will take you on a day trip filled with water and sand.

If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, zip-lining is a must-try activity. You can soar high above the trees while taking in stunning views of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Some popular zip-lining tours take place in the Verdant Rain Forest. You can actually zipline the fastest and longest “superman” in Mexico! It was even featured on the hit CBS show The Amazing Race

Whale watching is another exciting adventure that should be on your bucket list when visiting Puerto Vallarta. Every year from December to March, humpback whales migrate to Banderas Bay, and along the Riviera Nayarit, to breed and give birth. 

You can take a boat tour with guides who will take you close enough to witness these majestic creatures up-close.

Shopping in Puerto Vallarta: Finding the Best Souvenirs

Puerto Vallarta is a shopper's paradise, offering everything from high-end boutiques to street markets. Whether you're looking for unique souvenirs or designer fashion, you'll find it all here. 

There are a couple of large malls in the downtown area, just south of the airport and near the Marina. Here you will be able to find just about anything you would find at your local mall and possibly even more.

If you're interested in Mexican handicrafts, head to the Old Town Market, where you can browse through dozens of stalls selling handmade ceramics, textiles, and other traditional items.

The Mercado Municipal is another popular spot for souvenir shopping, with vendors selling everything from colorful papier-mache figures to hand-carved wooden masks. 

There are also plenty of street vendor stalls set up around the city that line the street with plenty of souvenirs available.

Popular Souvenirs to Buy in Puerto Vallarta

When it comes to souvenirs from Puerto Vallarta, there's no shortage of options. Here are some of the most popular items that tourists love bringing home:

- Tequila: As Mexico's national drink, tequila is a must-buy for anyone visiting Puerta Vallarta. You can find bottles of all shapes and sizes at duty-free shops and local liquor stores.

- Huichol art: This brightly colored beaded art style is unique to Mexico's Huichol people. You'll find intricate beaded masks and animal sculptures at many local markets.

- Silver jewelry: Mexico is famous for its silver jewelry craftsmanship. Look for pieces featuring Taxco silver (named after a town in central Mexico), which has a higher purity than regular silver.


There are many types of accommodations available in Puerto Vallarta, from budget-friendly options to luxurious resorts. If you're looking for a true Mexican experience, consider staying at a local bed and breakfast or small inn.

These charming accommodations offer a more personal touch and often include homemade breakfasts with fresh ingredients. If you prefer the convenience of larger hotels, there are plenty of options to choose from in Puerto Vallarta.

Many major hotel chains have properties in the city, ranging from affordable mid-range hotels to high-end resorts with all-inclusive packages. For those seeking ultimate luxury, there are also private villas available for rent.

Playa de Los Muertos Pier in Zona Romatica Puerto Vallarta
Playa de Los Muertos Beach and Pier in Zona Romatica

Best areas to stay based on interests

If you're looking for an oceanfront experience, the Hotel Zone is the place to be. This area boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Vallarta and is home to many high-end resorts.

Downtown is another popular area for tourists, offering a mix of local culture and modern amenities. The Romantic Zone (also known as Old Town) is a popular spot for those who want to explore Puerto Vallarta's history and culture.

No matter where you choose to stay in Puerto Vallarta, there are plenty of accommodation options available that will suit your budget and preferences. You can find my article on the best places to stay in Vallarta here.


Puerto Vallarta is truly a gem of a travel destination that has something for everyone. Whether you're looking to relax on beautiful beaches, explore cultural attractions, or get your adrenaline pumping with outdoor adventures, Puerto Vallarta has plenty to keep you entertained. 

One of the major reasons why Puerto Vallarta is such a great travel destination is its beautiful beaches. With crystal clear waters and soft sand, there's nothing quite like spending a day at one of these stunning locations. Especially the secluded ones!

As a foodie I must say another reason to visit Puerto Vallarta is its delicious food scene. From marlin and ceviche to margaritas and tequila shots, there's no shortage of amazing flavors in this part of Mexico. 

With stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture and cuisine, exciting nightlife and endless adventures waiting in the mountains, beaches, and seas, this is not just another tourist trap – it's an experience unlike many in Mexico. I highly recommend it! I put together an article on navigating this coastal town, I recommend checking out how to get around Puerto Vallarta here.


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Written by:

I consider myself a world-travelling nomad and a foodie at heart. Born in Germany and raised in East Tennessee, my passion for exploration has taken me all over the planet - exploring unfamiliar lands and cultures is what truly inspires my soul!
I live outside of Doha and consider myself an inside expert on all things Qatar. I love exploring all the country has to offer and look forward to giving you valuable insights of where I call home!
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