When you travel around the world, you want to make sure you visit the most important landmarks in a town or city, you don't want to find out you missed something when you get home.
Downtown Puerto Vallarta (click to enlarge)
Use this list of important landmarks in Puerto Vallarta as a guide.
View Things to do in Vallarta in a larger map
Parish Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish (click to enlarge)
Year after year, Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe welcomes thousands of Catholics, especially during a 12-day festival called the feast of Guadalupe each Dec. This is a must-visit attraction in Puerto Vallarta.
There's always activity in and around the church, where tour guides appear on a daily basis, respectfully sharing their knowledge and Mexican traditions. The church bells are rung thirty & fifteen min before each service. During the 12-day Feast of Guadalupe, thousands of believers walk here from around Puerto Vallarta to the church to pay homage to the Virgin as bells joy to welcome them. It dominates the skyline of Puerto Vallarta in countless postcards, as the city's most recognisable & endearing landmark around the world.
Detailed information on Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
The Malecon (click to enlarge)
The Malecon - a paved walkway all along the shore of downtown Puerto Vallarta, it's a very popular place to go as you can enjoy both the shopping, restaurants and the local Mexican culture.
The walkway includes a number of sculptures by famous artists, including Bustamante, Colunga and Barquet. The Malecón was rebuilt after it was badly damaged in 2002 following the unusual visit of Hurricane Kenna.
Sculptures on the Malecon (click to enlarge)
Puerto Vallarta's Malecon was once again completely remodeled in 2011 and now is exclusively for pedestrians, no more dangerous and noisy taxis and cars. A safe, fun and interesting family excursion in downtown Vallarta.
Read about the statues on the Malecon & other Downtown Puerto Vallarta attractions.
Mercado Municipal Río Cuale (Flea Market)
Mercado Municipal Rio Cuale (click to enlarge)
A large flea market located by the northern shore of the Cuale river that flows through downtown Puerto Vallarta.
It's quite easy to find, if you are on the main square, you walk down Juárez street going south (that's away from City Hall, the big government building by the square) and keep going till you get to Agustín Rodríguez street, there take a left and in less than 200 yards, there's the market.
Comprising a complete city block along the north side of the banks of the Cuale River is the Mercado Municipal (Cuale River Flea Market), also known as the Mercado Municipal Río Cuale.
It's an indoor market with 2 stories with vendors, suppliers, and everything from pottery to jewelry, embroidered clothing and souvenirs and much more.
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 food stands too.
Isla Cuale (Cuale Island) is a natural island on the Cuale River surrounded by two arms of the river. The island has some restaurants, a museum, a cultural center, a statue of John Huston, and much more... but most people know it for its shops and stands.
The Isla Cuale was also famous for its cat population, still has some even today.
The island itself was a lower class development until the residents were forced to move during a hurricane in 1971 where the whole area was flooded. After that event the island was used for restaurants, shops and a cultural center and at one time a children's park too.
Los Muertos Beach
Los Muertos beach (click to enlarge)
Playa Los Muertos (Deadman's Beach) is the most popular, the best known and the most visited beach in Puerto Vallarta, specially now that the pier has been finished.
You'll find it south of the Malecon and the Cuale river, between the river and Venustiano Carranza (where you can find Daiquiri Dick's) in what is called Romantic Zone (Old Vallarta) the beach is called Olas Altas beach and from Venustiano Carranza to the south it's called Los Muertos. Read more on this beach.
El Púlpito & Las Pilitas
El Púlpito and las Pilitas (Pulpit and Baptismal Font) are two rock formations on the South end of the Romatic zone's Los Muertos Beach. El Púlpito is the tall headland and Las Pilitas are rock formations at the base.
El Púlpito is a rock promontory, 50 or 60 feet high, stretching out into the water & whose sheer face rises straight up out of the foam from the waves constantly hitting its base.
Las Pilitas was the place where the El Caballito de Mar sculpture (The Seahorse) was originally located. It has since been moved to El Malecón.
Two side streets on Olas Altas are named after these natural landmarks. Read more on Púlpito/Pilitas.
Las Pilitas and the Seahorse
Playa Conchas Chinas, Las Amapas
Playa Conchas Chinas (Chinese Shells Beach), located in Fraccionamiento Las Amapas is one of the cities most secluded beaches, it is found south of El Púlpito on the south end of Los Muertos Beach in what is known as the South Zone.
Conchas Chinas beach
Conchas Chinas Beach is one of the most beautiful locations in Puerto Vallarta. Just minutes from the city, this beach lies between forest and mountains: a superb place colored by the blue-green waters and beige sand.
Enjoy the natural pools formed by groups of rocks or a delicious fried fish, rent boats and water ski. The clarity of the water allows you to see the ocean floor and enjoy the different multicolored fish that live there.
Las Amapas beach
Las Amapas beach is a semi hidden beach just south of El Púlpito, when you arrive at the end of Los Muertos Beach there is a path that climbs to the top of El Pulpito and also continues down to the beach on the other side. Las Amapas is not filled with vacationers and provides a more intimate space for a family trip or with your couple.
Don't forget to visit these memorable beaches, you won't regret it.
Pier at Los Muertos Beach
After almost three years, the pier on Los Muertos Beach was finally inaugurated in January 2013.
The pier offers access to boats, water taxis that can take you north of the bay and mainly to the southern beaches and coves and sail trips and cruises around the bay.
Pier at Los Muertos Beach (click to enlarge)
Take a stroll along the 200 feet of the pier, enjoy the panoramic view and all the sea related activities you can enjoy there, you can also get some great photos at night, when the multicolored lights create a beautiful backdrop for your romantic photos at Playa Los Muertos. Read more on the Vallarta Pier.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Located a bit out of town, south of Boca de Tomatlán and Mismaloya on the way to El Tuito, you'll find one of the treasures of the area, a fabulous, well organized botanical garden.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens (click to enlarge)
There are a number of routes with varying degrees of difficulty, there's an orchid garden, you can enjoy a dip in the small river that runs through the property and if you are hungry you can enjoy one of the best restaurants in the area (including Puerto Vallarta) at Hacienda de Oro. Read more on the VBG article or read a VBG review.
Plaza de Armas (Plaza de la Presidencia Municipal)
The Plaza de la Presidencia or Plaza de Armas is the city's main plaza, official center of political and cultural activities in Puerto Vallarta.
Here you'll enjoy public concerts at the bandstand (kiosko) or at the amphitheater across the street by the Arches, the amphitheater and the malecon.
Main Plaza, Plaza de Armas (click to enlarge)
There is a large, 2 storey building that houses government offices (and Vallarta tourist office) plus a large outdoor terrace with a fountain, you'll also find one of the famous local artist, Manuel Lepe's murals.
This plaza is located between the Puerto Vallarta Malecon at Los Arcos Amphitheatre & the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church ("Cathedral").
The Plaza has free Wi-Fi as well as the Malecón.
Casa del Habano
Considering the amount of cigar aficionados we can recommend La Casa del Habano on Aldama 170 in Downtown Puerto Vallarta, offers a humidor and a cuban cigar shop. On the ground floor there's a cigar friendly bar where you can order from capuccinos, whiskeys to tequila.
Though this liquour is produced in the town of Tequila, Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta offers great stores and selection, you can also learn more about the production process and taste the varieties on a few tequila tours.
Tequila in Puerto Vallarta (click to enlarge)
Av Fluvial Vallarta 134, Fracc Fluvial Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta
Tel: (322) 226-2580
Super La Playa
Olas Altas No. 246, L- 5
Col. Emiliano Zapata
Entre Venustiano Carranza Y Basilio Vadillo
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Tel. (322) 222-5304
Pípila No. 139, Col. Centro, Entre Paseo Díaz Ordaz y Morelos, Puerto Vallarta
Tel. (322) 223-1818 / 2231852
Read more on our Tequila article.
Art Walk in Puerto Vallarta (click to enlarge)
Various art galleries in the historic Puerto Vallarta downtown area work together with important national and international artists offering remarkable paintings, sculptures, fine ceramics, blown-glass and other art. Read more on this excellent initiative at: http://vallartaartwalk.com/
Mexico is the original country where vanilla, an extract from the seed pod of an orchid, was discovered and used. For centuries the country was the sole producer of this heavenly essence.
Vanilla in Vallarta
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron, there are many places in town you can buy the real thing. Read more in our Vanilla in Vallarta article.
Lighthouse on Matamoros
Lighthouse lookout on Matamoros (click to enlarge)
The place is great for photography or just enjoying the panoramic view of the town. If you have a good zoom lense you can really get some great angles of the different landmarks around the bay and in downtown Vallarta. Read more and map.
Museo del Cuale
The Cuale Archaeological Museum is a small, but surprisingly engaging little museum located on the West side (toward the Ocean) of the Cuale River Island in Downtown Puerto Vallarta.
While it includes only a few galleries, the museum offers a significant collection of local and regional pre-Hispanic art of the cultures that once inhabited the area.
Museo del Cuale
Exhibits are arranged chronologically and cover the area's earliest history. Together with a permanent collection of Pre-Hispanic pottery, artefacts plus graves.
The museum also houses a little gallery with temporary contemporary art exhibitions.
You'll find Aquaventuras Park on the way in to Nuevo Vallarta. It's a great place to chill out, float around in fresh water and do nothing. The family can zip down the water slides, play around in the park or just enjoy the sun too.
Aquaventuras Waterpark in Nuevo Vallarta
There are 10 waterslides of various styles, some more for adults than children, there's a special area for kids, where the water is not that deep and the games more relaxed.
You can enjoy the sealion show or even swim with the dolphins at this park too. Just a 10 minute drive from Puerto Vallarta's International Airport. Check the location on a map.