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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

#1 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
Stretching for more than a mile along Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay), El Malecón is a great place to stroll any time of day, but especially in the evenings. Along the way, visitors will see everything from sand sculptures and bronze sculptures to the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. El Malecón is also home to the Los Arcos Amphitheater, another iconic symbol of Puerto Vallarta that plays hosts to free performances, featuring live musicians and traditional Mexican dance troupes, just about every night. 
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Los Arcos and El Malecón
Stretching for more than a mile along Bahía de Banderas (Banderas Bay), El Malecón is a great place to stroll any time of day, but especially in the evenings. Along the way, visitors will see everything from sand sculptures and bronze sculptures to the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. El Malecón is also home to the Los Arcos Amphitheater, another iconic symbol of Puerto Vallarta that plays hosts to free performances, featuring live musicians and traditional Mexican dance troupes, just about every night. 
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#2

#2 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 bevy of gay beaches, bars and restaurants lining Olas Atlas. Travelers should keep in mind that this area is also known as Old Vallarta or Old Town.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day 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 bevy of gay beaches, bars and restaurants lining Olas Atlas. Travelers should keep in mind that this area is also known as Old Vallarta or Old Town.
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#3

#3 in Puerto Vallarta

Spotting a humpback whale as it crests the surface of the ocean is an awe-inspiring sight, and Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to do just that. Keep in mind that prime whale-watching season runs from early December to late February or early March, when humpback whales congregate in the warm waters of Puerto Vallarta's Banderas Bay to have their babies. And although you can bring your binoculars and look for whales from the shore – try the Malecon – your best chance for seeing them up close is aboard a tour operator's boat. 
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Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Whale Watching Tours
Spotting a humpback whale as it crests the surface of the ocean is an awe-inspiring sight, and Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to do just that. Keep in mind that prime whale-watching season runs from early December to late February or early March, when humpback whales congregate in the warm waters of Puerto Vallarta's Banderas Bay to have their babies. And although you can bring your binoculars and look for whales from the shore – try the Malecon – your best chance for seeing them up close is aboard a tour operator's boat. 
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#4

#4 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
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 daytrip 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 or swimming. 
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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 daytrip 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 or swimming. 
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#5

#5 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, windsurf and even parasail 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, windsurf and even parasail 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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#6

#6 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 El Malecon until you reach a bridge that spans the river, and you'll discover 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 El Malecon until you reach a bridge that spans the river, and you'll discover the island. 
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#7

#7 in Puerto Vallarta

To explore beyond Puerto Vallarta, you might want to try the popular Jardines Botánicos de Vallarta (Botanical Gardens of Vallarta). The gardens feature an assortment of wildflowers 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). The gardens feature an assortment of wildflowers and insect life that provides a relaxing and romantic getaway from the day-to-day hustle of Vallarta's downtown.  
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#8

#8 in Puerto Vallarta

Free
Playa las Gemelas is a small shoreline located amid condo and beach rentals. Located about 10 miles south of central Puerto Vallarta, its cerulean waves and sandy shore are a nice place to break away from some of PV's more crowded beaches. Still, because Playa las Gemelas is relatively small, it can feel quite congested, especially on the weekends. To avoid the crowds, travelers should visit during the week and arrive in the morning to stake their spot in the sand. They should also pack their own supplies – drinks, snacks, sunscreen and towels – since there are no vendors or shops nearby. 
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Playa las Gemelas
Playa las Gemelas is a small shoreline located amid condo and beach rentals. Located about 10 miles south of central Puerto Vallarta, its cerulean waves and sandy shore are a nice place to break away from some of PV's more crowded beaches. Still, because Playa las Gemelas is relatively small, it can feel quite congested, especially on the weekends. To avoid the crowds, travelers should visit during the week and arrive in the morning to stake their spot in the sand. They should also pack their own supplies – drinks, snacks, sunscreen and towels – since there are no vendors or shops nearby. 
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#9

#9 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. During the Feast of Guadalupe, held every year from Dec. 1 through Dec. 12, the church is a hub of activity. During the annual festival, there is plenty of music, dancing and street processionals. 
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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. During the Feast of Guadalupe, held every year from Dec. 1 through Dec. 12, the church is a hub of activity. During the annual festival, there is plenty of music, dancing and street processionals. 
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Sightseeing Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend

Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
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