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Best Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta

There are many great activities for those spending just a day in PV. Catch a bus or take a taxi to the beautiful Malecón, the boardwalk that runs parallel to Banderas Bay. Then take your time strolling past the unusual statues and intricate sand sculptures found there, stopping for pictures or looking inside one of the art galleries along the way. You'll probably end your walk at Los Arcos or the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe — two of the most iconic images of the city. If you have more than a day to spare, plan on spending one or two hours at the Botanical Gardens of Vallarta or in the northern seaside town of Bucerías.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1 Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay)

#1 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
Whether you're relaxing on the beach, testing the city's nightlife (from clubs with excellent ocean views) or checking out the stingrays in the bright blue waters, the pristine beauty of Bahía de Banderas (or Banderas Bay) will be the hallmark of your stay.
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay)
Whether you're relaxing on the beach, testing the city's nightlife (from clubs with excellent ocean views) or checking out the stingrays in the bright blue waters, the pristine beauty of Bahía de Banderas (or Banderas Bay) will be the hallmark of your stay.
... more

#2 Los Arcos and El Malecón

#2 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
One of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks of Puerto Vallarta, Los Arcos refers to the row of arches in the oceanfront square of Plaza Morelos on the city's southern end. The dramatic seaside arches also serve as an amphitheatre. Los Arcos is a great place to stroll during the evenings, especially along the Malecón, the oceanfront walkway that runs along a portion of the Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay). Here you'll find an assortment of sand sculptures, statues, art pieces, street performers and merchants. Free cultural performances on the Malecón and at Los Arcos are standard during the weekends.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Los Arcos and El Malecón
One of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks of Puerto Vallarta, Los Arcos refers to the row of arches in the oceanfront square of Plaza Morelos on the city's southern end. The dramatic seaside arches also serve as an amphitheatre. Los Arcos is a great place to stroll during the evenings, especially along the Malecón, the oceanfront walkway that runs along a portion of the Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay). Here you'll find an assortment of sand sculptures, statues, art pieces, street performers and merchants. Free cultural performances on the Malecón and at Los Arcos are standard during the weekends.
... more

#3 Isla Río Cuale

#3 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
Isla Río Cuale is a mystery to many first-time Puerto Vallarta travelers. The fact that it's often difficult to find only adds to the enigma. In fact, Isla Río Cuale is almost in the heart of the city and is actually an island set upon an inlet of the Banderas Bay. To see the island, simply walk south from the old town until you run into the chain bridges that bring you to the island.
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Shopping Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Isla Río Cuale
Isla Río Cuale is a mystery to many first-time Puerto Vallarta travelers. The fact that it's often difficult to find only adds to the enigma. In fact, Isla Río Cuale is almost in the heart of the city and is actually an island set upon an inlet of the Banderas Bay. To see the island, simply walk south from the old town until you run into the chain bridges that bring you to the island.
... more

#4 Zona Romantica

#4 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
This charming south side neighborhood is like a detached, unpretentious beach village that serves PV's more laid-back and less resort-conscious tourists. It's also the center of the city's strong gay population and has a ton of gay beaches, bars and restaurants lining Olas Atlas.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Zona Romantica
This charming south side neighborhood is like a detached, unpretentious beach village that serves PV's more laid-back and less resort-conscious tourists. It's also the center of the city's strong gay population and has a ton of gay beaches, bars and restaurants lining Olas Atlas.
... more

#5 Bucerías

#5 in Puerto Vallarta

A great place to experience the joys of a resort town without the tourist-palooza that is Puerto Vallarta, the small fishing village of Bucerías is steadily becoming a popular day trip for PV vacationers. If you have the time to spare, take a bus to this beach hideaway up the coastline for an afternoon of fishing, swimming, art gallery-gazing or beachside dining (recent guests recommend you try some tacos while in town). If you're looking for a place off the tourist track, Bucerias is your secluded oasis — some travelers even said there were times when they were the only ones on the entire beach. 
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Bucerías
A great place to experience the joys of a resort town without the tourist-palooza that is Puerto Vallarta, the small fishing village of Bucerías is steadily becoming a popular day trip for PV vacationers. If you have the time to spare, take a bus to this beach hideaway up the coastline for an afternoon of fishing, swimming, art gallery-gazing or beachside dining (recent guests recommend you try some tacos while in town). If you're looking for a place off the tourist track, Bucerias is your secluded oasis — some travelers even said there were times when they were the only ones on the entire beach. 
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#6 Playa Los Muertos

#6 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
The most popular shoreline in Puerto Vallarta, Playa los Muertos (Dead Man's Beach) in the Zona Romantica, offers opportunities to jet ski and windsurf, and an assortment of excellent restaurants and bars. Try out some of the land sports as well, such as beach volleyball, which can be equally fun but cheaper than the water sports. 
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Beaches Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Playa Los Muertos
The most popular shoreline in Puerto Vallarta, Playa los Muertos (Dead Man's Beach) in the Zona Romantica, offers opportunities to jet ski and windsurf, and an assortment of excellent restaurants and bars. Try out some of the land sports as well, such as beach volleyball, which can be equally fun but cheaper than the water sports. 
... more

#7 Vallarta Botanical Gardens

#7 in Puerto Vallarta

To explore beyond Puerto Vallarta, you might want to try the popular Jardines Botánicos de Vallarta (Botanical Gardens of Vallarta), located just about 30 miles south of the city and accessible by taxi or the special 'El Tuito' bus from the corner of Carranza and Aguacate. The gardens feature an assortment of wild flowers and insect life that provides a relaxing and romantic getaway from the day-to-day hustle of Vallarta's downtown.
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Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
To explore beyond Puerto Vallarta, you might want to try the popular Jardines Botánicos de Vallarta (Botanical Gardens of Vallarta), located just about 30 miles south of the city and accessible by taxi or the special 'El Tuito' bus from the corner of Carranza and Aguacate. The gardens feature an assortment of wild flowers and insect life that provides a relaxing and romantic getaway from the day-to-day hustle of Vallarta's downtown.
... more

#8 Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

#8 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
The silhouette of this church in downtown PV is one of the most definable images of the resort town and its chiming church bells are one of the most recognizable sounds. Previous visitors to Puerto Vallarta say you don't need to attend mass or tour the inside of the red brick Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but you should pause while on the Malecón to take a photo or two.
... more
Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The silhouette of this church in downtown PV is one of the most definable images of the resort town and its chiming church bells are one of the most recognizable sounds. Previous visitors to Puerto Vallarta say you don't need to attend mass or tour the inside of the red brick Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but you should pause while on the Malecón to take a photo or two.
... more

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