Zone), Puerto Vallarta

Colorful facades in the Old Town (Romantic Zone), Puerto Vallarta


Puerto Vallarta’s Romantic Zone, also known as Viejo Vallarta (Old Vallarta), Old Town and the South Side, is just south of downtown Puerto Vallarta and is one of the busiest parts in town, the streets are smaller and there is a higher concentration of cafes, bars, shops and restaurants per square foot than almost anywhere else in the city.

Your trip to Puerto Vallarta is not complete without enjoying this neighbourhood (barrio) in the Romantic Zone, as with the downtown area, this is where you’ll experience the heart and soul of this, the once sleepy fisherman village and its Mexican culture.

Olas Altas Street, Romantic Zone, Puerto Vallarta

Olas Altas Street, Romantic Zone, Puerto Vallarta

The signature Mexican cobblestone village streets crossed over from north of the Cuale River and extend into this, a newer development (from around the 1950s and 60s) in a traditional Mexican design with a pueblo-like feel. The older buildings take you back to simpler times and the people here are extremely welcoming and friendly, so you’ll find yourself coming back time and again, plus there is always something going on in this part of town.

Here you’ll find many of the smaller hotels, posadas and inns (less luxury, but much more friendly and laid-back) – you can check our hotel map – and you’ll see many are between Olas Altas street and the beach. I recommend this option for those that want to experience a more authentic Mexico.

Romantic Zone (Old Vallarta), Puerto Vallarta

Romantic Zone (Old Town), Puerto Vallarta, Google Earth

There’s no need to be walled up in a resort here, all the nightlife and excitement is just a step away and for the daytime meals you can really take advantage of the different food and budget options either at one of the many restaurants or even tacos and other food stands you can find in the houses or streets.

Enjoy walking around the place, the sidewalks can at times be challenging, though quite recently the city government improved many of the sidewalks on the main streets, unifying the design with the ones north of the Cuale River.

How to get there

Viejo Vallarta (Old Vallarta), Old Town, the South Side, Colonia Emiliano Zapata, now also called the “Romantic Zone”, is just south of the downtown area of downtown area of Puerto Vallarta. It’s the busiest part of Puerto Vallarta, streets are smaller, there are more shops, cafes, bars and restaurants per square foot here than anywhere else in town.

It is surrounded by the Rio Cuale to the north, Santa Barbara Street to the south, Insurgentes Street to the east, and Los Muertos beach to the west. It is also known as the South Side and Colonia Emiliano Zapata.

Los Muertos Beach 1965Los Muertos Beach 2019

You’ll notice you cross bridges over the Cuale river when going south from downtown Puerto Vallarta, that’s when you know you are arriving at the South Side “Zona Romantica”.

If you walk along the Malecon past the Arches and the Naval Museum, you’ll get to a pedestrian bridge with a lookout that crosses the river too. That’s another way of getting to the Old Town of PV.

What to do

You’ll find innumerable art galleries, shops (jewelry, antiques, handicrafts, shoes, Talavera and tiles), bookstores, markets, coffee shops (cafés), bars, large and small restaurants and many street-side taco stands on the side streets that are also part of the general scenery. There are also ice-cream parlours (I love the lemon (lime) ice cream from La Michoacana), bakeries, barbers, Tequila and the list goes on. Old Vallarta is my preferred place when it comes to breakfast options, there are many great options and you can’t go wrong.

Twilight view from Old Vallarta (Romantic Zone) Puerto Vallarta

Olas Altas Street, Romantic Zone (Old Town), Puerto Vallarta

Another important attraction of this part of town are the beaches, in this case, Los Muertos Beach, Olas Altas, Las Amapas and further south Conchas Chinas too. If you have to stay in an all-inclusive hotel, it will be best you choose Marina Vallarta or Puerto Vallarta’s Hotel Zone.

If you really want to enjoy Mexico and the true Puerto Vallarta experience, then the Romantic Zone (Zona Romántica) is where it’s at.

This is the part of town most recurrent visitors stay at and the ex-pats enjoy at night.

Don’t forget to include a shopping excursion to the Isla Río Cuale Flea Market, on the north side of the Romantic Zone on Cuale Island. Here you’ll for sure find the perfect souvenir and many unique options of artisan treasures, for example, great blown-glass drinking glasses and pitchers, serving platters, dinnerware or glazed clay mugs, plates and dishes painted in typical and colourful Mexican patterns, all kinds of textile options, sarapes (traditional Mexican shawls), leather products (sandals, purses, wallets), hammocks, Mexican toys, beachwear, jewelry in silver or pewter, hand-beaded bracelets and earrings, Mexican vanilla and much more.

Margarita Grill, one of many Romantic Zone restaurants

Margarita Grill, one of many Romantic Zone restaurants

Los Muertos Beach

Los Muertos Beach (Playa de Los Muertos) and the pier, Romantic Zone, Puerto Vallarta

Los Muertos Beach (Playa de Los Muertos) and the Pier, Romantic Zone, Puerto Vallarta

Playa Los Muertos is the top attraction in Old Vallarta, the beach is crowded compared to the rest of the beaches in Vallarta, but that also means that if you enjoy people watching, you’ll have fun here, vendors, activities, food, beers, parasailing, a swim in the ocean (the waves aren’t big, play in the sand with your kids.

Then enjoy the bars and cafés, at night there are quite a few very good restaurants on the beach and with famous and romantic Vallarta sunsets.

Other landmarks on this beach:

Read the full Los Muertos beach article

Pier at Playa Los Muertos

Los Muertos Beach Pier, located in Puerto Vallarta's Romantic Zone (Old Vallarta)

Los Muertos Beach Pier, located in Puerto Vallarta’s Romantic Zone (South Side)

After almost three years, the Pier at Los Muertos Beach has been inaugurated with fireworks, music, and fun, on January 4th, 2013.

Pier at Los Muertos Beach, Romantic Zone

Pier at Los Muertos Beach, Romantic Zone

The pier is one of the main elements in an ambitious renewal program for downtown Puerto Vallarta that includes a series of important projects around the town. These will add to the main existing attractions for both local and international visitors.

In this case, the pier has become an important attraction for Francisca Rodríguez street and the surrounding areas and both the streets and pedestrian access has been improved.

Read the full Los Muertos pier article

Olas Altas Farmers’ Market (Tianguis Cultural)

Old Town Farmers Market Puerto Vallarta Paper Mache

Olas Altas (ex-Old Town) Farmers’ Market Puerto Vallarta Paper Mache

The Olas Altas Farmers’ Market has become one of the best weekend attractions in Puerto Vallarta, locals and ex-pats enjoy purchasing and sampling fresh local produce.

Cafe Street (Olas Altas)

Puerto Vallarta Romantic Zone Bars & Restaurants

Puerto Vallarta Romantic Zone Bars & Restaurants

Strolling through the romantic zone is food for the heart. As you step through the entrance of any of the restaurants in this area, you breathe that special “something” in the air that provides an irresistible temptation to stop and sample the delicious seafood cuisine and international dishes prepared by international chefs from all parts of the world, as well as fabulous desserts, refreshing beverages and fragrant coffees. Many cafes line Olas Altas and the side streets.

Las Amapas Beach

Las Amapas, Puerto Vallarta

This small beach, Las Amapas, is located a little bit south of Viejo Vallarta (Romantic Zone), the area south of the Cuale River in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.

Las Amapas Beach is next to Los Muertos Beach and El Púlpito, the rocky formation, like a peninsula, that sticks out on the south end of Playa Los Muertos in PV.

The beach is flanked by rocks, to the right the aforementioned Pulpit Rock and to the left, rocks that extend to Conchas Chinas Beach to the south.

Read a complete Las Amapas Beach article

Conchas Chinas Beach

Conchas Chinas Beach in Puerto Vallarta

Conchas Chinas Beach is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating and striking beaches in downtown Puerto Vallarta, the Banderas Bay area and Mexican beaches in general. The melding of various ecosystems in one location, together with its graceful coast and underwater profile has given the place a beauty that must be seen to be understood.

You can easily get to this beach from downtown PV, just minutes from the Romantic Zone, so you really have no excuse to not visit Conchas Chinas. There are many hotels, villas, restaurants, and businesses close by to provide visitors, and local residents, everything they could wish during their visit.

Conchas Chinas stands out because it combines two geographical highlights, an enclave between the mountainous jungle of the Sierra Madre, and the crystalline coasts of the Pacific Ocean, creating a picturesque scenery that dazzles visitors.

Read a full Conchas Chinas Beach article

Romantic Zone (Old Town/Old Vallarta) Location Map

Last updated on December 2, 2021 11:18

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