Travel Guide •  Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The 9 Best Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Last Updated On:  September 21, 2022


Puerto Vallarta is a resort town in the state of Jalisco, known for its beaches, all-inclusive resorts & buzzing nightlife. The town is built right next to the Pacific Ocean and has grown in popularity over the last decade. It is hard to believe that only 20 years ago, Puerto Vallarta was just a small fishing village. Now there are more restaurants, sights, and activities than you can squeeze into your weeklong vacation. But don’t fear, we have taken the time to put together a catered list of The 9 Best Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta, which includes the best restaurants, sights, and hotels, so you can plan your trip to this magical city with ease! Click here to skip to the good stuff.

Don’t forget to comment if you have any questions or if you think we missed one of the best things Puerto Vallarta has to offer!

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MAP OVERVIEW

Before we dive into all of the details we wanted to quickly share where you can find all of The 9 Best Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta!

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android
The 9 Best Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Bare Escape
The 9 Best Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Bare Escape
The 9 Best Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Bare Escape

1. Stay At the Historic Casa Kimberly

Location: Zona Romantica

Price: From $445 USD (includes daily breakfast & amenities) 

Onsite Dining:The Iguana Restaurant (Reservations Recommended)

Casa Kimberly is a historic boutique hotel overlooking a sea of terracotta rooftops in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Staying in one of their 9 carefully curated suites feels like traveling back in time with its luxurious chandeliers, a grandiose fountain in the center of the courtyard, and open-air dining with views of the Banderas Bay.

What makes Casa Kimberly so famous is its history. Stories of a fiery romance between famous movie star Elizabeth Taylor and director Richard Burton in what used to be their very own private villa. It is said that they bought the main area of the hotel as well as the casita across the way, then built the iconic white Bridge of Love above the cobblestone street so they could avoid the paparazzi.

During the day, vacant rooms are left wide open for everyone to explore making it feel like your very own private villa once more.

— other hotels nearby —

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2. Dine at The Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar

Location: Zona Romantica

Price: $$$$

The Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar is an open-air restaurant providing marvelous views over the city of Puerto Vallarta, inside of Casa Kimberly. Located in the center of Zona Romantica, it is a great place to end a wonderful afternoon exploring the neighborhood. The menu features contemporary Mexican cuisine with a strong emphasis on Seafood. We recommend making a reservation at least a week prior, especially during the high season. Our favorite table is on the outdoor terrace with uninterrupted sunset views.

Quick tip: If you have the luxury of time then make sure to go on a Wednesday night for the mariachi band, you will not be disappointed.

3. Don't Miss Out On The Rhythms Of The Night

Location: There are two pickup locations Nuevo Vallarta or Puerto Vallarta

Price: ~$120 p.p. - $135 p.p. 

Inclusions: 1.5h boat ride, fantastic show & romantic dinner (open bar the entire time)

Rhythms of the Night, operated by Vallarta Adventures, was easily one of our personal highlights during our stay in Puerto Vallarta. To be honest, we had no clue what to expect, but the whole experience from the boat ride and the incredible show to the romantic dinner by the beach was absolutely amazing. The operating times and departure times do change, so make sure to check their website for the most up-to-date information. When we went they had two departure times, one at 5:30 pm and one at 6:30 pm, Monday – Saturday. I would suggest choosing the first tour, so you can drive by boat through the sunset and not in the dark.

I am not going to write much about the experience since it just has to be experienced in person. But I would say if you have only time for one activity in Puerto Vallarta, then it should be to watch the Rhythms of the Night. I also highly recommend upgrading your tickets to VIP. The price is honestly not that much of a difference but it is so worth it for front row seats to the show.

4. Embark on a romantic Luxury Sunset Sailing Excursion

Location: Check in at En La Marina, Puerto Vallarta

Price: ~$69 p.p 

Inclusions: 3h sailboat ride, light snacks + premium open bar

Another perfect way to spend one of your evenings in Puerto Vallarta is to sail into the sunset on a romantic sailboat paired with an open bar and light bites.

The boat leaves at around 5:30 pm and sails peacefully into the sunset, then on your ride back you can sit back and enjoy the starry night sky.  The team on board makes sure everyone is comfortable and well taken care of the whole ride. Small bites are served throughout the sailing experience and while there is no fancy full bar on board, the bartender is happy to craft some delicious mixed drinks according to your liking.

We might have been lucky, but we spotted whales in the distance, and then come sunset, the sky was literally on fire for at least 30 minutes. This was such a great way to end our time in Puerto Vallarta, yet another one of our highlights during our 3-day stay at the one-of-a-kind Casa Kimberly.

5. Get Drinks at iK Mixology

Location: Overlooking the Malecon & Playa Los Muertos

Price: $$

iK Mixology is a rustic-chic bar located right along the infamous Boardwalk (Malecon) of Puerto Vallarta. What makes this open-air restaurant so unique for watching the sunset are not only the uninterrupted views of the beach and ocean but the creative bird nest tables. The nests easily make iK Mixology one of the most instagrammable rooftop bars in Puerto Vallarta. The menu offers international cuisine with a wide variety of seafood dishes and other appetizers; however, what they pride themselves in are their innovative craft cocktails. So show up, sit back and enjoy delicious drinks as the sun sets below the horizon.

Pro tip: Make a reservation prior and specifically asking for a table on the front edge of the restaurant because there are two nests that are located on the sides that don’t offer the best views and the atmosphere is just not how it could be sitting front row!

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6. Hike To Mirador El Cerro De La Cruz

Price: Free

Duration: Plan for around 1.5h roundtrip 

Make sure to save this spot on your Pinterest, because these 360° panoramic views of the city and the bay of Puerto Vallarta are amazing!

To reach the viewpoint use your GPS, the coordinates will bring you straight to the viewpoint. If you are heading there from the Zona Romantica or the Malecon, you can expect to walk for around 15 – 20 minutes. The walk will lead you through the adorable cobblestone streets of the Zona Romantica, so leave yourself some time to take photos and marvel at this city’s historic beauty.

Once you reach the stairs below a cable car, then you know you are on the right path. The cable car didn’t function and didn’t look like it was still in use when we were there, so be prepared to climb a few stairs (trust me it is so worth it!). We recommend making your way to Mirador La Cruz Del Cerro (translated to The Cross on the Hill Lookout) later in the day or for sunset to make the most of the steep climb to the top, the sunset colors above the city are magical.

7. Get Lost in Zona Romantica

Location:  Zona Romantica

Price: Free

Best time: Any time of the day

Zona Romantica is, in my opinion, the place to be when visiting Puerto Vallarta. This neighborhood has something for everyone, especially if you like art, culture, food, and lively nightlife. With its adorable cobblestone streets and picturesque façades, Zone Romantica is reminiscent of a place somewhere in the Mediterranean. It has so much character. Meander through the streets & alleyways, stop at the occasional gallery, visit the Church of our Lady Guadalupe, grab a drink at one of the many beachfront restaurants along the boardwalk for a nice sundowner, and then dine at an authentic Mexican restaurant in the heart of Zona Romantica.

Pro Tip: If you are looking for a delicious restaurant, we recommend Gaby’s Restaurant & Bar, and whatever you do, get the Caesar salad. I know what you are thinking, “why would I get Caesar salad at a Mexican restaurant?” Well a bit of history, legend has it that the Ceasar salad was invented in Tijuana, so technically you could say it is Mexican food. But trust me on this, they make it fresh, right there in front of you, with all of the ingredients!

8. Walk along El Malecón in the Old Town

Price: Free

Best time: any time of the day but it is most popular in the evenings

El Malecón means boardwalk in English and is a popular beach promenade in Puerto Vallarta. Here you will find a multitude of bars, galleries, souvenir shops, and international restaurants all with amazing views of the Pacific. It is fun to explore the boardwalk during the day, but it really comes alive as the sun starts to go down. Enjoy open-air performances and artistic expressions at Los Arcos amphitheater, admire the impressive structure of Los Muertos Pier, and get dinner somewhere along the almost one-kilometer-long boardwalk, running from Hotel Rosita (the oldest hotel in Puerto Vallarta) all the way to Cuale River.

Dinner Reccomendations: iK Mixology or Mar y Vino are our favorites if you are looking for front-row seats to watch the incredible sunset over Banderas Bay.

One&Only Mandarina, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Bare Escape
One&Only Mandarina, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Bare Escape
One&Only Mandarina, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Bare Escape

9. Treat Yourself To A Stay At One&Only Mandarina

Price: From $1,190 per person includes daily breakfast & amenities 

Find Out More: Book here

For a slightly different experience, head an hour and a half north out of the city of Puerto Vallarta and splurge on a stay at The One&Only Mandarina. This magical paradise offers a tranquil sanctuary to disconnect and rejuvenate, right where the Pacific Ocean meets the vibrant coastal rainforest. Immerse yourself in the unrivaled comfort of a secluded cliff-top villa, treehouse, or oceanside bungalow, and begin to decompress within the sights and sounds of the lush rainforest. With divine cuisine, tailored activities, personalized spa and wellness offerings, and incredible facilities for kids and teens, this is the perfect place for a romantic & relaxing getaway or a family vacation for the books. Come pause, reflect and connect with the incredible nature along the serene and sandy shores of Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit.

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