You may be just passing through Puerto Vallarta — perhaps you are one of the many cruise ship passengers who have port excursions here when your ship docks — but if a day is all you have, here are the iconic things to see and do to get a quick but relatively accurate picture of this lovely city perched at the centre of the elegant curve of the Bay of Banderas.
Los Muertos Beach is an experience — and I love it. Wall to wall bodies on most days line the sand. Join in if you are looking for a swim or a tan. Under one of the colourful umbrellas, you can enjoy a simple lunch, a cold beer, or a platter of fresh fruit. The little beachside restaurants have lots of quick servers who will bring you tacos and Pacificos.
Walk the Malecon — This is where everyone comes at the sunset hour to do the ‘passeo’, a slow and thoughtful walk along the broad Malecon as the sun sets, and before it’s time to have dinner. But it’s a lovely walk any time.
One thing that PV does really well is food — you have so many good choices. Make sure you do some beachside dining.
Called the ‘Zona Romantica‘, this part of the city is the original old town, with its cobblestone streets and outdoor cafes. It’s busy, colourful and lined with trees that burst into brilliant bloom each Spring.
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Walk along the river, away from the beach and you will pass by hundreds of market stalls where local artisans sell silver, jewellery, beach wear, pottery and souvenirs.
Our Lady of Guadelupe Parish Church, topped with its elegant crown is a must visit. Mexico is still a very Catholic country, and its churches reflect the importance of the church in daily life.
I have eaten at dozens of taco stands over the years, and have had some of my very best Mexican food experiences in doing so.
PV is a real artists’ town — there is a culture of appreciating and valuing local art, and you can find some wonderful pieces in the many fine art galleries in the old town.
Every Sunday night in the main square, there’s music and dancing. Locals of all ages come to try out their moves, passersby join in — even if you don’t dance, the visuals are endearingly memorable and the music is always great.
These leisurely activities will give you a quick introduction to the charms of PV — and hopefully leave you wanting to spend more time here.