By Lora Pope. This post on Puerto Vallarta tips contains affiliate links to trusted partners!
Looking for travel tips for Puerto Vallarta in Mexico?
Then you’re in the right place!
While many travelers flock to the beach towns on Mexico’s east coast, one destination worth considering for your next trip is Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast.
This gorgeous beach city is quickly becoming a hub for digital nomads and travelers alike, offering amazing weather, gorgeous beaches, and fantastic nightlife.
Puerto Vallarta is also a perfect place to visit if you love outdoor adventure. The city is surrounded by Banderas Bay, so there are endless opportunities for water sports and fun day trips to nearby islands. It’s also one of the best places for whale watching in Mexico!
Additionally, there are incredible hiking trails with the Sierra Madre Mountains right behind the city.
If you’re planning to travel to Puerto Vallarta, this post will tell you everything you need to know to ensure you have a fun and safe trip!
Quick tip: One thing Puerto Vallarta is known for is its delicious food, so make sure to book at least one these tasty food and drink tours during your stay!
Plan Your Trip To Puerto Vallarta (Free Resources)
But first, before we dive into some important Puerto Vallarta travel tips, here is an invitation to grab free access to the Jessie on a Journey Ultimate Travel Planning Resource Library.
Inside you’ll find workbooks, Google Maps, travel quizzes, and guides meant to help make planning your perfect trip easy, stress-free, and even fun! You can grab access here:
Then let’s go over some important tips for traveling to Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta Map
To start, it’s helpful to have an idea of where things are. This map of Puerto Vallarta can help:
You can also click here for an interactive map that you can zoom in and out of.
Travel Tips For Puerto Vallarta
1. Arriving: Puerto Vallarta Airport Tips
Getting to Puerto Vallarta is easy as there’s an international airport (Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz) with daily flights to many cities in North America.
It’s not a big airport, so it doesn’t take long to get through once you arrive, especially if you’ve already cleared customs in another city in Mexico.
In fact, when I arrived in Puerto Vallarta, it only took me 15 minutes from the time the plane landed to collect my bags and get out of the airport.
The airport is conveniently located just 15 minutes from the city center, and there are several options for getting there.
Once you’ve got your luggage, you can either grab a taxi right outside the main airport doors (many people will ask you if you need one), take a public bus, or get an Uber.
And if you need to connect, there is free Wi-Fi in the airport.
Ubers are about half the price of a taxi, but they do not come to the airport terminal doors; you will have to walk five minutes.
When you exit the airport, turn left (walk to the end of the building), and turn left again. You will see a pedestrian bridge across the street. Walk across the bridge and catch an Uber from over there as this is the only place they pick you up. It should cost about $5-10 to get from the airport to most accommodations.
Alternatively, you can take a public bus. The station is right under the pedestrian bridge on the same side as the airport.
If you aren’t sure, you can always ask the bus driver by saying the name of the area you are going to. The bus costs 50 cents.
2. US Travel To Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is a popular destination for travelers from the United States due to its close proximity, warm weather, amazing atmosphere, and an international airport that makes it easy to get to and from.
As a US citizen, you will automatically be given a six-month visa on arrival, making it a great place to work remotely if you want to extend your stay. In fact, it’s a popular place for creators to stay when trying to start a travel blog and make money.
There are direct flights from dozens of popular cities in the U.S. including Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco.
American Airlines, Delta, and Southwest all fly there as well as several other international airlines.
3. Travel Tips For Puerto Vallarta Safety
Safety is always a concern for visitors traveling to Mexico, but Puerto Vallarta is actually one of the safest destinations in the country.
Millions of tourists visit Puerto Vallarta every year with no problems. I’ve lived here for three months as a solo female traveler and have never felt scared or in danger.
This being said, I do have a few safety tips for Puerto Vallarta to share:
Like any city, petty theft does happen so you should be vigilant when walking with your belongings, especially at night.
Keep your phone or attractive electronics away when you’re wandering the cobblestone streets, and don’t leave them unattended at the beach. You might also invest in some pickpocket-proof garments to more easily avoid pickpockets.
Moreover, always protect yourself with travel insurance, as theft can happen anywhere.
As a solo female traveler, I try to avoid walking at night no matter where I am. Instead, I get Ubers — which are very affordable in Puerto Vallarta.
The Malecon, a beach boardwalk in the center of Puerto Vallarta, is safe to walk alone at night as it is always full of people and police.
During Covid-19, Puerto Vallarta received the Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council, which recognizes the ongoing implementation of strict safety measures in destinations around the world.
4. Travel Insurance For Puerto Vallarta
Here is one of the most important tips for travelers to Mexico:
When visiting Puerto Vallarta — or anywhere else in the world — it’s important to get travel insurance. If we’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that the unexpected can and does happen.
While there are many providers out there, one of the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country.
Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.
5. Puerto Vallarta Weather
Puerto Vallarta has warm weather year-round, making it a perfect beach destination for those looking to escape the cold winters in the northern hemisphere.
Temperatures never get colder than 72°F, so you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful beaches and ocean no matter what time of year you visit!
June is the hottest month of the year and the start of the rainy season which goes until October.
The rain typically only happens for a few hours in the afternoon or in the evening so you’ll still get lots of beach time even if you visit during the summer.
6. When To Visit Puerto Vallarta
The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta depends on your tolerance for heat and crowds. October to April is the high season which coincides with the most pleasant (driest) weather and whale-watching season.
Since this is right after the rainy season, it’s also ideal for hiking as there will be lush green scenery and full waterfalls. In fact, the destination offers some of the most beautiful hikes in the world, with this being the best time to take in local scenery at its most stunning.
The downside of visiting during the high season is that this is when you’ll find the biggest crowds and the highest prices on accommodation.
The weather starts to become what many would consider unpleasantly hot in June, so avoid traveling to Puerto Vallarta then then if you don’t like the heat.
Additionally, the summer coincides with the rainy season but can be a great time to get deals on accommodation and tours.
You could also time your trip to Puerto Vallarta to attend one of the city’s many events like Pride month in May or Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in early November.
7. What To Know About Puerto Vallarta Travel
Now, there are a few things to know about Puerto Vallarta before traveling.
When planning a trip to Mexico, you’ll be happy to know that the country has some of the most relaxed entry protocols anywhere in the world during COVID-19 — so if you’re wondering “Can I travel to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico” the answer is very likely “yes!”.
You do not need a test to enter the country, although I always recommend it.
Infection rates are declining on the whole in Mexico, and in Puerto Vallarta, there are few restrictions.
At the time of writing, everything is open, there is no curfew, and for the most part, life feels normal here. You must wear a mask inside establishments, and some places take your temperature before entering.
Moreover, Puerto Vallarta is extremely welcoming to LGBTQ+ travelers. Zona Romantica is the gay neighborhood, and it’s filled with rainbow flags and gay clubs. There are lots of events for LGBTQ+ travelers, especially during Pride at the end of May.
You do not need to know Spanish to travel around Puerto Vallarta, but it’s always helpful to know a few key phrases like hello (hola), thank you (gracias), and how are you (cómo estás?).
This being said, don’t be nervous if you can’t speak Spanish; most locals speak English and are used to travelers who do not know Spanish.
8. Puerto Vallarta Hotels
There’s no shortage of amazing hotels to stay at in Puerto Vallarta. Whether you’re looking for an all-inclusive family resort or an LGBTQ+ friendly hotel, you’ll be able to find it in Puerto Vallarta.
The biggest resorts and hotels tend to be concentrated in the north and south neighborhoods of the city where you’ll find nicer beaches.
If you want to stay in a resort, some good areas are Conchas Chinas, the North Hotel Zone, and Marina Vallarta. These places are known for having some really great all-inclusive Mexico resorts as well as delicious vegan-friendly Mexico resorts.
If you prefer to stay in the heart of the city then book your accommodation in 5 de Diciembre, El Centro, or Zona Romantica.
From these neighborhoods, you’ll be able to walk to The Malecon where you can find restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. You won’t find as many all-inclusive resorts here but there are plenty of boutique hotels and cute Airbnbs to choose from.
In reality, it doesn’t really matter which part of the city you stay in, as getting around is easy.
And to help you easily find great places to stay, here are a few resources:
Prefer self-contained stays?
You can also use the map below to search for local stays:
9. Getting Around Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is not a huge city which makes it easy to get around.
In terms of the best way to travel in Puerto Vallarta, if you stay in Centro or Zona Romantica, you’ll be able to walk to bars, restaurants, and the beach easily.
Even if you stay in one of the neighborhoods a little further out like Conchas Chinas, you can still get around Puerto Vallarta cheaply by using the bus or ride-sharing apps.
There are buses that run all over the city and only cost 50 cents to get on.
Alternatively, you can take an Uber or inDriver (a local car ride app). A 20-minute Uber across town costs around $2.50-$5 depending on demand.
There are also taxis readily available on populated streets, but these are typically more expensive. Always remember to negotiate the price beforehand if you get a taxi!
Of course, you can also rent a car. While it’s not really necessary to have a car if you’re staying in and exploring Puerto Vallarta thanks to the many budget-friendly public transportation options, some travelers like to rent one if they’re doing a lot of day trips to traveling to other places in Mexico.
Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.
Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!
10. Puerto Vallarta Restaurants
No list of Puerto Vallarta travel tips would be complete without talking about the food.
Mexico is world-famous for its cuisine, and Puerto Vallarta is no exception to this.
Given that the city is right by the ocean, you can enjoy excellent quality seafood here with Mexican flavor. Some of the top restaurants are:
The street food is also amazing here, so don’t be afraid to try it. There are taco stands on almost every corner where you can enjoy a filling meal for just a couple of dollars.
In terms of Puerto Vallarta money tips, this is a great way to save if you’re traveling on a budget.
11. Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta
Although Puerto Vallarta is a city, one of the best things about it is the quick access to the ocean and mountains, making it a perfect place to go on outdoor adventures.
Some of the most popular things to do here include whale watching, scuba diving, snorkeling, jet-skiing, or simply relaxing by the beach and enjoying the gorgeous sunsets.
For the best diving, head to Los Arcos National Marine Park.
There are also a lot of hiking trails to explore around the city. One of my favorites is Los Arcos which leaves from Boca de Tomatlán to Las Animas Beach.
It takes two hours, passing by secluded beaches along the way you can stop and enjoy.
From Las Animas, you can grab a water taxi back to the city.
Another popular walk within the city is to the Mirador La Cruz del Cerro, an observation deck with some of the best views of the city.
Within the city, there are many fun things to do too.
Walking along The Malecon is the perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening just people watching and exploring the many restaurants and shops of Puerto Vallarta.
You can join a paid food or drink tour, and there are also free city walking tours and art walks that happen every Wednesday.
Additionally, Puerto Vallarta has lively nightlife with clubs that go into the early hours of the morning. Salsa dancing is very popular here!
12. Tours In Puerto Vallarta
Speaking of tours in Puerto Vallarta, here are some highly-rated ones to check out:
- 🍹 Food and Mixology Tour: Tequila, Tacos, and Mexican Cocktails
- ⛰️ Sierra Madre ATV Adventure from Puerto Vallarta
- 🐒 Puerto Vallarta Outdoor Adventure Zip Line and Speedboat Ride
- 🐠 Yelapa Waterfall & Majahuitas Snorkeling Tour from Puerto Vallarta
- ⛵ Day Sailing on Banderas Bay
13. Day Trips From Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is an excellent base to explore surrounding places as fun day trips.
Sayulita and San Pancho are two up-and-coming beach towns in Mexico popular for surfing. Sayulita is notorious for its nightlife, and San Pancho is more relaxed.
From Boca de Tomatlán — which is a half an hour drive from Puerto Vallarta — you can get a taxi boat to many secluded beaches and small towns along the coast.
Yelapa is one of the most popular places to visit. This laid-back beach town is only accessible by boat or hiking trail, and there you can find many waterfalls to explore.
There’s also the charming mountain town of San Sebastian, an hour and a half drive away. It’s a great place to go hiking and cool off from the heat.
Going on a vacation to Puerto Vallarta on your own? You’ll be happy to know that the city is one of the top solo female travel destinations for many.
It’s easy to make friends in Puerto Vallarta as a solo traveler. I found an amazing group of friends within two days of moving here that I’ve loved getting to know.
Staying at hostels is always a good way to meet people, but if you prefer to stay at an Airbnb or hotel, it’s still easy to meet other travelers.
Facebook groups are one of the most popular ways to connect with other travelers in Puerto Vallarta. Here are some of the best ones:
- Puerto Vallarta: Everything You Need Or Want to Know (big, general group for asking questions about anything)
- Puerto Vallarta Digital Nomads (coworking meet-ups and events)
- Puerto Vallarta Gays (LGBTQ+ information, meet-ups, and tips)
- Young & Fun Xpats (social meet-ups for people 20-40 years old)
I hope these tips could help you plan an amazing trip to Puerto Vallarta!
While the city is touristy, there’s a reason its so popular and I’ve fallen in love with it over the last few months. If you’re looking for a fun place to explore for your next vacation, Puerto Vallarta is a great choice!
What travel tips for Puerto Vallarta would you add to the list?
About The Author
Lora Pope is a solo female adventure travel writer living nomadically around the world and currently based in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She has traveled to over 58 countries and is on a quest to visit them all, seeking out a deeper connection with the nature and wildlife on this planet. You can follow her adventures at Explore With Lora or on Instagram.
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