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El Malecon

Downtown Puerto Vallarta attractions & sightseeing

In downtown PV, overhead wires are now underground, though the mess was at a time considered a "traditional" part of the old town, photographers and tourists now enjoy a much better and unobstructed view of the town, sights, architecture and the various attractions.

Options: The Malecon | The Seahorse Statue | Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish | The Main Plaza | Gringo Gulch | Teatro Vallarta | Art galleries | Municipal Flea Market | Cuale river Island & Market | Camarones Beach

Malecon

Now the white walls are interrupted only by flowerpots bursting with colorful bougainvillea, geranium, hibiscus, copa de oro and splendid ferns.

downtown Puerto Vallarta

The city streets have always been cobblestone, but now, these rounded river rocks are set in concrete, creating a much smoother and durable surface, while still maintaining part of the original city charm and the temperature regulating properties of the cobblestone.


View Puerto Vallarta Areas or Zones in a larger map

Downtown Puerto Vallarta by Google Earth

Downtown Puerto Vallarta by Google Earth (click for labels & landmarks)

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The Malecon (Seaside Promenade)

Since last century (1930's), the malecon has been on of the city's main and most enjoyable attractions.

First off it's free, secondly, it has recently been completely remodelled and offers a wide, beautiful promenade between the sea and the stores and restaurants. Cars, taxis and other vehicles no longer stuff the area, so it's safe, clean and fun.

Vistas del malecon

Get a glimpse of what living in Vallarta really is like on any afternoon, just by strolling down the Malecon. Families with their kids come for a walk, an icecream and a bit of entertainment, street artists abound, either at the amphitheater or elsewhere along the seaside walkway.

You'll also enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, the beautiful view of the bay, the warm and impressive sunsets, the sculptures and the Papantla birdmen, the list goes on and on.

Street Vendor

Visit and buy at many of the stores, have a drink at a bar or enjoy a delicious meal at many of the top restaurants that line the boardwalk. At night things really take off, for those that enjoy bar hopping, discos and clubs this is the obvious starting point.

Malecon Bars

The Malecon extends for about a mile, from Hotel Rosita on the north side all the way to the Cuale River and the Romantic Zone on the south end.

Read more on the malecon.

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The Seahorse Statue and other Malecon Statues

Seahorse statue Vallarta

One of the city's symbols, a bronze Triton with a Mexican sombrero riding on a Seahorse. Don't forget to take your picture with this beautiful sculpture.

Since the 80's the malecon has become a long promenade with a sculpture almost every block. You'll find soft welcoming ones, strange surreal examples too, walk up to them, touch them, sit on some of them, they may even be designed for that.

Los Arcos Amphitheater

The list is long, it includes the Millennia Statue, Origin and Destiny, Nature as Mother, Nostalgia, The Subtle Rock Eater, The Good Fortune Unicorn, and many more.

Read about them in Statues of the Malecon.

Here's a map that shows their location and photos:
Statues & Landmarks on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta in a larger map

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Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

The Church, called, Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, on calle Hidalgo, one block from the Zócalo (main square). A beautiful church that more than any element in the city symbolizes Puerto Vallarta. A beautiful crown tops the tower since 1965.

More photos and information on the Guadalupe Parish.

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The Main Square (El Zócalo)

Plaza de Armas - Zócalo

Relax and eat an ice-cream on the main plaza in Pto. Vallarta, watch people stroll by on the malecón or feed the pigeons that live in large amounts around the square.

Plaza Fountain

Rest on the benches or take your photo with the green "Kiosko" in the middle of the square, which is normally used for Sunday music.

Banda Municipal

On Thurdays and Sundays from 6PM on the Municipal Band plays songs from near and far at the Kiosk, they are the ones you can see in the picture above.

Ignacio L. Vallarta Statue

The main square is right in the middle of it all. Town hall is to one side, the Parish on the other half a block away, the malecon, the amphitheater and arches on the seaside.

Main square

As always in Mexican towns, the plaza is the heart of it all.

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Gringo Gulch

Burton Taylor Bridge

Calle Zaragoza 445, Puerto Vallarta. Casa Kimberley is famous because it was bought by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor on her 32nd birthday. Richard Burton lived across the street and they built a bridge so they could visit each other without crossing the street below.

Many expatriates from the United States and elsewhere settled here in the area during the 1950s and 60's, and the name 'Gringo Gulch' soon took hold.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor

Casa Kimberly was a bed and breakfast for some time and now it's being remodeled.

It all started with John Huston and "The Night of the Iguana", read a bit more on Huston and Las Caletas, it is interesting.

More on Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

More on the Gringo Gulch.

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Teatro Vallarta

Teatro Vallarta

One of the newest cultural options in Puerto Vallarta, Teatro Vallarta (Vallarta Theater), has space for up to 960 spectators. It was inaugurated March 6th 2010 and since then has offered great shows and artists and many spectacular theater plays.

Up to now, Teatro Vallarta has been visited by Hector Bonilla, Angelica Maria, Georgias National Ballet, musical tributes to ABBA and The Beatles. The violinist Edvon Martin and tenor Filippa Giordano.

You can but tickets at the Theater itself, Ticketmaster, Liverpool, VallartaFitness and Plaza Caracol in the hotel zone.

The official site is http://teatrovallarta.com

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Art Galleries

Art Galleries in Puerto Vallarta

Art galleries show all kinds of Mexican and international art. From avant-garde to indigenous art to fine pottery, each gallery specializes in different genre. If you happen to visit during the art season, from November to April, you'll even be able to attend cocktail parties at the galleries to meet the artists. Vallarta's art community has existed more than 40 years.

Read more on Art Galleries.

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Municipal Market (Mercado Municipal)

Mercado Municipal Rio Cuale (Flea Market)

Comprising a complete city block along the north side of the banks of the Cuale River is the Mercado Municipal (Rio Cuale City Market), also known as the Mercado de Artesanias. It's an indoor market with 2 stories of vendors, suppliers, and everything from pottery to jewellery, embroidered clothing and souvenirs. If you like to bargain, this is a good place to do it, especially if you're looking for crafts at affordable prices. On the second floor you'll find the food stands. Read more on things to do.

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Cuale River & Island

Rio Cuale

A cool stroll along the river walkway under the bridges that separate the downtown area.

Isla Cuale is a natural island on the Cuale River. The island has some restaurants, a museum, an art gallery, a statue of John Huston, and a beautiful fountain... but most people know it for its shops and stands.

Museo del Cuale

The Cuale River Island was also famous for its cat population. The island itself was a lower class development until the residents were forced to move during a hurricane in 1971. After that the island was used for restaurants, shops and a cultural center.

More on the Cuale River Island.

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Camarones Beach (Playa Camarones)

Camarones Beach (Shrimp Beach)

A wide beach that starts off south of Villa Premiere and ends just north of Hotel Rosita and the Malecon. The northern part is quite popular, you can get to the beach on any side street, the further south you get is gets smaller and rockier. The southernmost part is mostly recommended for those that enjoy fishing. It's also one of the cleanest beaches in the bay.

More on PV Beaches.

More useful information:

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