Welcome to our Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide. Find useful, fun information and find out why it’s such a great idea to plan your trip to this safe and friendly tropical Mexican destination.
You may be asking yourself: Where is the PV? Why should I visit? Where should I stay? Is Puerto Vallarta Safe? What is there to see? You'll find answers to this, and much more, on our Compact City Guide and the rest of the site.
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Puerto Vallarta is a special tourist destination, unlike prefab destinations like Cancun or Los Cabos this is one that grew organically from being a small fisherman town on the west coast of the State of Jalisco, into a full-fledged world-class tourist destination. This development was part luck, lots of local effort and promotion and, finally, and most importantly, the place is just naturally beautiful with jungle, clear sand beaches, spectacular sunsets, clear emerald-blue waters and so many other natural and cultural delights.
Though Hollywood discovered the place in the early 1960s, and even though John Huston brought Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner and the jet set along with him and they all fell in love with the picturesque town, in the 1950's the little town had already caught the attention of Mexican city dwellers. Little by little, evolving into a very welcoming and modern city with lots to do, innumerable gourmet restaurants, top resorts and hotels in Puerto Vallarta. It's also very well connected with direct flights to Puerto Vallarta from many countries via the International Diaz Ordaz Puerto Vallarta Airport and by sea with cruise ships that travel the Mexican Riviera.
"Vallarta" or "PV" - as it is known to locals - is a typical Mexican "pueblo" (now a BIG pueblo) named in honor of the well-respected lawyer Ignacio Vallarta. Recent growth has modernized certain areas of the city (even spawned All-inclusive Hotel / Resort filled Riviera Nayarit to the north, including Nuevo Vallarta, Punta Mita, and others), but it remains faithful to the cherished Mexican traditions and heritage, including parades in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe or bands that play at the town plaza kiosk, where locals and tourists alike dance to Latin rhythms enjoyed throughout the generations.
The city's downtown area is a place where nature and art coexist, now a protected cultural heritage of Jalisco, more than ever, a place to dive into what Mexico really is all about.
Strolling along El Malecon you'll enjoy dozens of open-air sculptures created by famous local and international artists. There are art galleries on just about every corner, events and shows abound year-round with artists from around the block or from around the world.
If you check out our list of things to do in PV, you'll notice that most of them are free, a power walk to the Lookout on the La Cruz hill overlooking the downtown area, a trip to Mismaloya or the southern beaches like Colomitos or Yelapa in the south shore, a visit to Marina Vallarta and the lighthouse bar, visit a cafe in Old Town (or El Centro), a romantic stroll down Olas Altas to Los Muertos Beach and the photogenic pier in the "zona romantica", shop on the Cuale River Island, etc., you can do it all and save up money for a relaxing sunset cruise and dinner by Los Arcos in the bay or a world-class gourmet cuisine at one of the hundreds of restaurants around town.
There are 55 miles of the beautiful Banderas Bay beaches to enjoy, swim in them and or marvel over the underwater abundance, you'll find it teeming with life (dolphins, manta rays, sea turtles and between November and March, even Humpback Whales).
Local PV Parish, Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Enjoy the surrounding nature, the Sierra Madre Mountains, bask on the golden sand beaches in the warm sunny weather, spectacular sunsets, take trips north to the smaller towns (Bucerías, San Pancho, La Cruz) or up in the mountains to real small colonial style towns like San Sebastian del Oeste, Mascota or Talpa de Allende, where time stood still. You can even take a day trip to Charro and Mariachi-Land Tequila or southward to beautiful tranquil hideaway beaches that will remind you of a tropical island in the South Pacific. This is also birdwatching heaven, with more than 315 species of birds, including the Blue-Footed Booby on the Marietas Islands.
Tours, excursions and activities abound for a family vacation or for those into extreme sports, we can mention zip line canopy tours, swimming with dolphins, championship golf options, cruises, whale watching, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, horseback riding, family water parks, a unique zoo, you can visit the award-winning Vallarta Botanical Gardens and much more.
So Puerto Vallarta is actually a place where ultramodern 5-star Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive hotels coexist with cobblestone streets; Michelin Guide restaurants blend with street-side taco food stands that offer simple, but fresh, seafood or typical Mexican dishes.
When you mix all of this together and add a dash of characters that are unique to our city, such as artists and expats from around the globe who find inspiration here, along with a tourist industry committed to excellence and first-class service, this magical recipe will grab you in its spell.
The final magical touch is provided by the open, friendly personality of each and every citizen in PV, a welcoming spirit that has earned this fair city the title of the “World’s Most Friendly City” by Condé Nast Travel magazine.
There you have it: magic is all around in Puerto Vallarta, Bahía de Banderas, and Jalisco. All you have to do is take a minute, enjoy the ocean breeze, the white sands, a cool margarita and before you know it, you and your couple will be a part of it too.
Do take care or you might just end up planning a new trip the moment you take off, or maybe you'll join the many that move here choosing PV as their home.