Puerto Vallarta, Old Town, and Romantic Zone: 2023 Guide
Located on the west coast of Mexico, continuously enjoying the breeze of the Pacific Ocean, the city of Puerto Vallarta is one of the most important vacation destinations in the country.
Although it’s become a large city by now, there are only two small areas that I love and never get tired of: The old town and its romantic zone.
Puerto Vallarta’s Old Town and Romantic Zone
Also known as the Old Vallarta, the Romantic Zone is the most traditional and oldest sector of Puerto Vallarta.
In my opinion, the authentic charm of Vallarta is here, with its cobblestone streets full of artisan cafes, bars, restaurants, stores, and small hotels.
Within the “old town” limits lies the famous Los Muertos Beach, where Puerto Vallarta’s new pier is located.
In its center, a large sail is illuminated during the evening giving this spot a singular beauty.
In the surroundings, you’ll find numerous lodgings that I recommend if you want to escape a little from big overcrowded hotels with hundreds of rooms.
Puerto Vallarta’s Cuale Island
Vallarta’s Romantic Zone begins south of the Cuale River (one of the seven rivers that originate in the nearby mountains), where you’ll see a small island.
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This is the site of the city’s most important open-air handicrafts market, but it is also home to the Cuale Cultural Center, the Cuale Museum, and fancy restaurants.
Puerto Vallarta’s Main square and the Cathedral
Puerto Vallarta’s main square is the Plaza de Armas, the heart of the town.
A landscaped area where the sculpture of Don Ignacio L. Vallarta, former governor of the state of Jalisco (1830 – 1893), is located.
The curious note is that part of the local population congregates in this plaza to dance on Sundays.
In front of the square, you will see the cathedral. This is the most important religious building in Puerto Vallarta, and its tower has become one of the main symbols where you can enjoy beautiful panoramic views of this part of town.
Puerto Vallarta’s Boardwalk
This is the promenade that has bordered part of the coast of Puerto Vallarta since the 1930s.
It is almost a kilometer long; small stores, bars, restaurants, and all kinds of street vendors give this area an extraordinary charm.
Here you will find the famous arches of Puerto Vallarta, one of the icons of this destination.
It is common to find sand sculptures along the beach area and other curiosities during the walk. They are temporary and lovely works of art.
Again, during the walk along the boardwalk, you’ll find a series of bronze sculptures from famous artist Sergio Bustamante, among them the Seahorse, the Fountain of Friendship, the Millennium Sculpture, and many others.
I advise you to try the tuba drink, found in any corner of your walk along the boardwalk.
What is tuba? Tuba is an exotic and typical drink consisting of fermented coconut palm juice mixed with some fruit and nuts such as peanuts and diced fruit. Delicious!
Puerto Vallarta main Beaches
There are four beaches in the Puerto Vallarta area: Playa de Oro, Playa Los Tules, Playa Las Glorias, and Playa Tranquila.
Towards the south, you’ll find the best-known beach I was telling you about, Playa de Los Muertos in the Romantic Zone.
Two kilometers of beach where you can enjoy numerous water activities and restaurants that offer the best local cuisine.
Los Arcos Marine Park
A conglomerate of granite islands makes up the emblematic Los Arcos Marine Park in Puerto Vallarta.
They are located south of the Banderas Bay between Mismaloya and Las Gemelas beaches. Approximately 12 kilometers from Puerto Vallarta.
To get there, you can take a boat from Los Muertos beach doing a tour that includes snorkeling for about 380 pesos or from Mismaloya beach for about 200 pesos.
The city’s most modern, sophisticated, and elitist area is just 5 minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta.
The Marina Vallarta is home to numerous yachts, motorboats, cruise ships, other dreamboats, and multiple hotels and restaurants oriented towards the more affluent tourist.
The attraction of the Marina lies in taking a pleasant stroll near the sea, enjoying the breeze, and admiring some of its yachts as you approach the Malecon.
Transportation from the Puerto Vallarta airport
There are two transportation options from the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (Puerto Vallarta) to downtown Puerto Vallarta: bus or cab (or Uber).
A taxi may cost around 200 pesos, depending on the specific destination within Puerto Vallarta. As with most cities worldwide, taxiing directly from the airport is way more expensive.
I suggest you get out and take a regular street cab or UBER.
To do so, you will have to cross the bridge just in front of the airport and take a taxi outside the airport facilities on the other side of the road.
Public transportation is available everywhere in the city and costs 10 pesos. The bus stop is outside the airport to the left, just under the main road bridge.
I’ve used this option in the past to go to the Romantic Zone and had no problems whatsoever. The ride to the old town takes approx 30 minutes.
Nearby areas in Puerto Vallarta
One of the things I love about Puerto Vallarta is its location. There are a ton of towns and beaches within a couple of hours’ distance or less.
For example, Sayulita, Punta Mita, San Sebastian del Oeste, Yelapa, San Pancho, Tepic, Guadalajara (5 hours away), and many other places of interest.
That’s why I always recommend visitors rent a car.
It will not only save you time and money, but it’ll allow you to move freely and discover other interesting sites.
Lodging in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is one of the most touristic cities in Mexico, so the quantity and quality of accommodations are very varied.
The hotels are mainly located in two points of the city: Puerto Vallarta Downtown and the Marina Vallarta area, the trendiest part of the city.
If you are looking for big chain hotels with swimming pools, restaurants, and luxuries, your area is undoubtedly Marina Vallarta.
However, downtown Puerto Vallarta offers a more local flavor; I would say that of a fishing village and accommodations for all tastes and budgets.
Since there are many restaurants and hotels here, it will be difficult for me to make recommendations.
Nevertheless, if you need advice on something more specific, I will be more than happy to guide you.
I hope you enjoy your time in PV, and don’t forget to share your comments below. Vamonos!