Puerto Vallarta is where you’ll find the best of both worlds – the city and the beach. It has been 2020’s favorite destination because of its many beaches and affordability to travel. It is still not as touristy as other Mexican destinations and you will still get to see Mexican culture here despite the many expats who live here. Remote workers and retirees who visited during the pandemic ended up moving to Puerto Vallarta and found their new home.
Backed by the beautiful Bay of Banderas with rich jungles and mountains, Puerto Vallarta has been the top destination on the Mexican coast. It is also close to small Mexican beach towns like Sayulita and San Pancho. These two towns are just an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta and can be easily visited during the day.
✈️ Puerto Vallarta quick info
???????? State: Jalisco
???? Currency: The currency in Mexico is called the New Mexican peso (MXN). $1 USD = $20 MXN. Mexico also uses the $ sign so don’t get confused. Most prices in PV are in Mexican peso.
???? Power plug: Mexico uses types A and B but in Sayulita, type A is more common. See all plug types here to know what to pack for Puerto Vallarta!
???? Visa: Mexico no longer gives 180-day tourists visas. It all depends on your itinerary and proof of accommodations/tours. Mexico will not stamp your passport but they will give you an entry card. Don’t lose it because it’s your only proof that you legally entered the country. You will need to present it when you leave.
???? Language: Everyone can speak English in Puerto Vallarta although some local street food stalls can only speak Spanish.
???? Culture: There is a big expat and digital nomad community in Puerto Vallarta. This is one of the best places to retire in Mexico so expect to see Americans and Canadians who live here. I personally think there are more foreigners from Canada who are living here than Americans.
???? Wifi: Puerto Vallarta wifi is pretty fair which makes it a digital nomad favorite. Many resorts have fiber optic wifi. You can also rent apartments with decent internet. Unlike Sayulita or San Pancho, Puerto Vallarta has better infrastructure so don’t worry about staying connected while in PV!
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????️ Things to do in Puerto Vallarta
We only included the highlights here but you can see our article on things to do in Puerto Vallarta Mexico if you need more activities. Those activities are categorized depending on what kind of traveler you are such as families with kids, solo travelers, couples, etc. We promise you’ll love that list! Meanwhile, here are some of the things you shouldn’t miss:
Puerto Vallarta Malecon (city walk)
The Malecon in Puerto Vallarta is where the center of tourism is. All the best bars and restaurants in Puerto Vallarta are here and you can visit it on a city walk.
Visit the Marietas Islands
The Marietas Islands are located about an hour away from PV (by car) and 2h by boat. This is the highlight in Riviera Nayarit so don’t skip it!
Go parasailing at the Malecon
See Puerto Vallarta from above on a 10-minute parasailing ride. This is a great outdoor activity not just for adults but kids can join too!
Food and drinks crawl in Puerto Vallarta
Jalisco has many types of food that is very unique to the state, especially tacos de birria, a slow-cooked beef dish originating from Jalisco.
Visit Yelapa waterfalls
The waterfalls of Yelapa are located on a separate island. Get on a boat from Puerto Vallarta and spend a full day in Yelapa – you can even stay the night if you please.
Spend the afternoon at a beach club
Hop on a boat and go to an exclusive beach club island that is about 25 minutes from PV. Snorkel, paddleboard, have lunch, and drink all afternoon!
Puerto Vallarta Attractions
Day trips from Puerto Vallarta
????️ Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta
Remember that when choosing a hotel in Puerto Vallarta, you need to greatly consider the neighborhoods first. The most popular neighborhood in Zona Romantica, an area well-known for its gay scene. It is not exclusive to gays though – many different types of travelers enjoy Zona Romantica because it’s super lively!
Right by the airport is Marina Vallarta with condo-type accommodations that are more popular on Airbnb Puerto Vallarta. Alternatively, many vacationers in Puerto Vallarta choose to stay in resorts that are all in the Zona Hotelera. It’s very easy to get around so you don’t have to worry about where you are staying.
The best platforms to use when booking a hotel/accommodation in Puerto Vallarta are Vrbo and Booking.com. For solo travelers, you can find budget accommodations on Hostelworld. Below are some of our favorite hotels in Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta is a resort city with many all-inclusive resorts that start at US$150 per night per person. The best resort areas are Marina Vallarta, downtown PV, and Zona Hotelera.
Hotels in Puerto Vallarta are in the center and are usually the cheapest accommodation options in the city. You can get a decent room for two for as low as US$50 per night with breakfast.
Airbnb and Vrbo are the most popular accommodation options for big groups, families, and digital nomads. A rental home in PV starts at US$250 per night for 4 people.
Backpackers and budget travelers flock to Puerto Vallarta because it is still one of the cheapest Mexican cities. A bed in a dorm starts at US$12 per night and the hostels are in the center.
???? Puerto Vallarta restaurants
Like accommodations, Puerto Vallarta restaurants also vary by area. The easiest you will find is within the Malecon – just walk around and you’ll find places to eat. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best restaurants in town.
We have an intensive guide about food in Puerto Vallarta with restaurants divided into categories. Puerto Vallarta has a rich gastronomical culture. You will not only find Mexican restaurants here but also European and many other dishes from all over the globe. Below are our highly recommended restaurants in Puerto Vallarta:
???? Puerto Vallarta bars
The nightlife in Puerto Vallarta happens mostly in Zona Romantica where the bars and clubs are open until 5:00 AM. Party places at the Malecon often end by midnight so many travelers who want to continue the party goes to this neighborhood.
Puerto Vallarta has everything: from classy cocktail bars to super-Mexican cantinas, you can check our PV nightlife guide for more but here are some of the spots you don’t want to miss.
???? Money and Costs
Travel Budget (est)
???? US dollars: Puerto Vallarta is still a cash society but many establishments, shops, and restaurants will accept USD at a lower rate.
If the current USD to Mexican peso exchange is 20 pesos per dollar, you can expect 17-19 pesos exchange from establishments.
???? ATMs: There are many ATMs in Puerto Vallarta. It is a big city so the big banks are here. The best Mexican banks to take cash out from are BBVA (Bancomer), Banorte, and Santander.
You will see many ATMs or small cash machines, especially at the Malecon. They are safe but if you are having doubts, you can just go to the major bank.
Some of these ATM machines are problematic (i.e. can eat your card, error in withdrawals, etc). All resorts also have ATMs within their property so you don’t have to worry about that.
???? Credit/debit cards: Credit cards are accepted everywhere in Puerto Vallarta. Visa and Mastercard are the major ones and very few establishments accept Amex.
If you are going to explore street food and Mexican restaurants, they only accept cash. It’s still better to bring cash when traveling Mexico.
???? Tipping: 10% is encouraged but if you liked the service, you can tip in Puerto Vallarta up to 20%.