Plentiful Pacific sunshine, easy-to-reach beaches, and a lively restaurant and nightlife scene make Puerto Vallarta one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations. Visitors come to this lively enclave on the Bay of Banderas for a dose of paradise. Here’s how to maximize 24 hours in Puerto Vallarta.
Get oriented on a stroll through Puerto Vallarta’s charming old town, from the spires of Our Lady of Guadalupe church (La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe) to art galleries tucked away in quiet, flowered alleyways. Book a bike tour along bustling El Malecón boardwalk, where craft vendors and seaside views compete for attention, or opt for a city tour by coach to reach less walkable locales such as the Marina Vallarta port or Mismaloya Beach, made famous by the 1964 film The Night of the Iguana.
No visit to Puerto Vallarta is complete without some time on the water, so take in the beauty of Banderas Bay on a sailing cruise that shows off secluded coves and sun-soaked beaches without the crowds. Get closer to Mexico’s Pacific wildlife with a whale-watching trip to spot the migrating giants of the sea or a snorkeling tour among the caves and reefs of nearby Los Arcos National Marine Park. If sunbathing is more your style, there are plenty of beaches right in town, including the Beach of the Dead (Playa de los Muertos) and kid-friendly Playa Las Animas.
Puerto Vallarta boasts plenty to please food lovers, from street vendors to romantic upscale restaurants. Scout the best ceviche, carne asada tacos, handmade tortillas, and fresh coconut on a food tour through lively neighborhoods such as Emiliano Zapata and 5 de Diciembre. Or, kick off the night with a tasting of 100 percent pure agave tequilas. Jalisco state is considered the world’s tequila capital, so it’s the perfect place to learn the difference between tequila blancos and reposados and how mezcal production differs. With a few shots down the hatch, you’ll be primed to experience Puerto Vallarta’s famed nightlife scene. Club tours help ensure a safe night out and earn you VIP treatment behind the ropes of the city’s hottest spots for night owls.