Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta: 5 Best Areas

If you’re looking for where to stay in Puerto Vallarta, look no further! This blog post will help you find the best areas to stay in this amazing destination.

The beaches and warm waters are the major appeal of Puerto Vallarta with travelers able to enjoy the infrastructure of a city or find quiet places simply to relax. Its airport, Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International, provides a link with many parts of North America.

The city still has plenty of commerce unrelated to tourism but around half of the city’s economic activity is tourist related. High season is the Mexican winter when the weather further north in the USA and Canada can vary between poor to severe. Domestic demand is good as well, especially for weekend breaks.

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Puerto Vallarta is growing quickly with apartments and hotels providing the rooms that visitors need to satisfy demand. While you are looking to book a beach holiday on the Pacific, Puerto Vallarta’s most popular areas each deserve your attention.

Wherever you are in Puerto Vallarta you have access to the Pacific Ocean and the lovely sandy beaches. When it comes to accommodation, each of the areas mentioned has alternatives ranging for full service hotels to apartments providing a level of independence. With many restaurants to choose from, tourists can find good cuisine throughout the Municipality.

If you want to wake each morning and look out on the Ocean, then Malecon is probably the first place to look at. However, if you want a quiet and relaxing district, look further south.

Downtown and Old Town are the best places for budget travelers. The beaches are still just a 10 minute walk away and if you do not need a beach location, you will enjoy both areas.

💖 Best Area:Downtown Puerto Vallarta
💎 Best luxury hotel:Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway 
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:The Paramar 
💰 Best budget hotel:Hotel Posada De Roger 

📌Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta: 5 Best Areas

The city of Puerto Vallarta has grown to the extent that the population exceeds 200,000 while more than that number again live in the municipality as a whole. Wherever you stay in Puerto Vallarta you will have easy access to the coast.

There is a good bus service for transport within the municipality while taxis are plentiful. While cars are available for rent, the roads are poor in places and parking is difficult to find in some parts. It makes sense to use a bus or taxi wherever you are staying.

1. Downtown, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for first time tourists

Downtown, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for first time tourists
Downtown @Kirt Edblom

Also known as El Centro, Downtown is the heart of culture and the administrative activity of a city that is the capital of a municipality. The convenient location makes it an ideal place to stay for first-time tourists.

Modern facilities include luxury shopping, bars, and Michelin-rated restaurants, museums, art galleries, and theaters. There is also a developed nightclub scene that is primarily aimed at the young set.

The downtown area is the oldest part of town and, not surprisingly, includes many of the main points of interest for tourists visiting the city.

The highlight attraction is the famous boardwalk Malecon, a wide, beautiful promenade that stretches from Hotel Rosita all the way to the Cuale River and the Romantic Zone. It is a lovely place to walk, enjoy the climate and the many sculptures that line the walk. Most of the district is pedestrian with dedicated cycle paths in place. 

You can visit and buy at many of the stores, have a drink at a bar, or enjoy a delicious meal at many of the top restaurants that line the boardwalk.

In downtown, you will also find the Naval Museum, the open-air Los Arcos Amphitheater, the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, and the main Plaza. 

The Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is located on Calle Hidalgo, one block from the main square (Zócalo). It is an icon of the city, famous in photos, shirts, logos, and postcards.

5 de Diciembre is a charming neighborhood, conveniently located between El Centro and the hotel zone. It has a hilly terrain that offers amazing views.

Not surprisingly, the heart of the city tends to be crowded and noisy. If you want a relaxing holiday, perhaps you should look elsewhere for accommodation? However, if you are traveling on a budget, you will find cheap hostels Downtown.

Stay in Downtown if you want to be in the heart of the action, you’re visiting Puerto Vallarta for the first time, you do not mind crowds, you want the best shopping alternatives, you are on a budget and are looking for a suitable hostel.

Best places to stay in Puerto Vallarta Downtown:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN DOWNTOWN

2. The Romantic Zone, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for nightlife

The Romantic Zone, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for nightlife
Zona Romantica @Mark Tyra

Romantic Zone is also known by many names such as Zone Romantica, Old Town, Viejo Vallarta,  South Side, Old Vallarta. It is the most popular place to stay in Puerto Vallarta with vibrant nightlife and the highest concentration of restaurants, bars, and clubs.

Located just next to El Centro, the Romantic Zone offers a wide range of accommodations from budget-friendly hostels, boutique hotels, inns, condos, and several large hotels but no big resorts. 

The Old Town retains the charm of the traditional Mexican town with its old narrow cobblestone streets giving you an idea of its age. There is a rich history here and travelers wishing to be close to old architecture, galleries, and lovely plazas will be satisfied with accommodation here.

You can easily explore the Old Town on foot, but there are plenty of taxis and buses. By day, you can head to the beach on the Romantic Zone’s western border, Playa de Los Muertos, and the scenic Los Muertos Pier with its unique design.

The Old Farmer’s Market on weekends in Lazaro Cárdenas Park. Its selling artisan products, as well as fruit and vegetables, is a must for tourists with cafes locally selling local cuisine, including fresh seafood.

The famous Rio Cuale flea market is an indoor market with two stories that feature vendors, suppliers, and everything from pottery, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs. If you like to bargain, this is a good place to get great deals, especially if you’re looking for crafts at affordable prices. On the second floor, you’ll find food stands.

There are so many activities to do nearby. If you base yourself in the Old Town, you can take a day trip to Nuevo Vallarta (New Vallarta). Nuevo Vallarta is located in the Riviera Nayarit, which has gorgeous beaches, golf courses, marinas, and restaurants that cater to tourists.

You can also take a boat taxi to Marieta Island, just off the coast of the Riviera Nayarit. Here you can visit the famous Hidden Beach, a private oasis of crystal blue waters and white sand, tucked inside a lush, tropical island. Accessible only when the tide is low, the beach itself is a lover’s paradise.

Stay in Old Town if you want to get a real flavor of traditional Mexico, you seek variety in your holiday including history, culture, and good cuisine along with time on the beach, you want a lively nightlife with crowded bars and clubs, you want to find good budget accommodation

Best places to stay in Puerto Vallarta Old town:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN OLD TOWN

3. Zona Hotelera, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for beaches

Zona Hotelera, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for beaches
Mio Vallarta in Zona Hotelera

Also known as Zona Hotelera, Zona Hotelera is the district north of Downtown and south of the marina. It runs along some of the famous beaches such as Playa Camarones, Playa Tranquila, and Playa de Oro.

Its hotels, condos, and resorts prove popular with visitors year after year. The hotel zone is packed with all-inclusive hotels and resorts that include meals, drinks, and activities.

It has the beach as one of its boundaries and as you head inland, you will find plenty of restaurants and clubs.

There is good shopping in the Hotel Zone from Wal-Mart, Costco, Sam’s Club stores for necessary supplies as well as the Galerias Vallarta Shopping Mall with a cinema, all kinds of shops, and nice restaurants.

You can also shop at La Isla Shopping Mall, visit Los Mangos Public Library, Punta Mita, and the Maritime Terminal.

The Hotel Zone has everything you might need including medical services. Access to Downtown is easy with public transport or taxis readily available if you want a change of scenery.

Stay in The Hotel Zone if You want a good choice of accommodation when choosing your holiday base. A district full of amenities including restaurants and shops is important to you, Proximity to the beach is important to you.

Best places to stay in the Hotel Zone:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN HOTEL ZONE

4. Marina, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for families

Marina, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for families
Marina de Puerto Vallarta @BirdsEyePix

Marina Vallarta is located in Banderas Bay, an upmarket development close to the airport, north of the main city. This is a family-friendly area with plenty of activities for kids such as Splash Water Park and Aquaventuras Park, and shopping malls with playgrounds. 

Marina Vallarta has a marina with many charters, yachts, sailboats, many all-inclusive resorts, and exclusive golf courses. The yachts moored here are a sign of real opulence while charter boats are available for tourists wishing to take trips out into the Pacific.

The promenade is lovely while if you visit the El Faro Lighthouse at sunset you are sure of a wonderful photograph. There are numerous bars and restaurants with street performers adding to the atmosphere. 

The shopping is excellent by the way. Beachfront developments often own the stretch of beach directly in front of them so if you want exclusivity, look at staying in one of the places available to rent, at a price. 

Mosaic Wall, Armonium’s Spa, Vallarta Adventures are also some of the places worth visiting!

Stay in Marina Puerto Vallarta if You want an exclusive area; Cruising out into the Pacific is on your ‘’to do’’ list; Your priority is relaxation rather than sightseeing.

Best places in Puerto Vallarta – Marina:

San Trópico Petit Hotel & Peaceful Escape Offering a year-round outdoor pool and views of the mountains, San Trópico Petit Hotel is situated in Puerto Vallarta in the Jalisco Region, 2.4 km from Cruise Ship Pier. The hotel has a sun terrace, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Free WiFi is available throughout the property and free private parking is available on site.

Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa This luxury resort offers a private beach area and an infinity pool overlooking Banderas Bay. Each spacious room includes flat-screen satellite TV, an iPod dock and views of the gardens or ocean.

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN MARINA VALLARTA

5. Conchas Chinas and South Zone, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for luxury

Conchas Chinas and South Zone, where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for luxury
Conchas Chinas @Ernest McGray, Jr.

The South Zone is where some of the most luxurious resorts and hotels in Puerto Vallarta. Many of these properties are perched high on the hillside and have stunning views of the Bay of Banderas. If you like upscale resorts with a relaxed vibe, then South Zone is the best area to stay in Puerto Vallarta for you.

The South Zone as a whole has a number of small neighborhoods bordering on the jungle but offering lovely beaches and quality villas. This is an exclusive and affluent area in Puerto Vallarta where there is still a degree of poverty.

One small neighborhood, Conchas Chinas has even earned the nickname ‘’ Beverley Hills of Puerto Vallartas.’’ It is close to where the Burton and Taylor movie, ‘’The Night of the Iguana’’ was filmed by John Huston over half a century ago.

Another neighborhood in the South Zone is Mismaloya. Mismaloya is the best quiet area to stay in Puerto Vallarta with beautiful beaches. You can visit Puerto Vallarta Zoo, Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens, Boca de Tomatlán, and if you are up to watersports, go to the Paddle Zone.

Boca de Tomatlán is a small fishing village that sits on either side of the Rio Horcones which comes down from the Sierra Madre. Its colorful cover is stunning with bougainvillea, banana, and papaya, and the palm trees on the hillsides create a lovely setting. The beach comprises soft sand and the gentle waves make it ideal for swimming.

These neighborhoods tend to be quiet, providing an excellent place to relax, enjoy the climate, and have time on the beach with the occasional swim.

Stay in Conchas Chinas if you want a quiet holiday and are prepared to pay for it; your preference is to be in a natural environment even if there is villa development; you are not concerned about the historical and cultural aspects of Puerto Vallarta.

Best places to stay in Conchas Chinas:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN CONCHAS CHINAS

🎬Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Puerto Vallarta in this video or continue reading:

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta: Best Areas to Stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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Where is Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta looks out into the Bahai de Banderas on the Pacific Coastline of Mexico in Jalisco Province. It is well to the north of Mexico City on a similar latitude to Hawaii. Both have a wonderful climate right throughout the year.

There has been a settlement here for many years with impressive growth over recent decades as overseas travel has become more available and affordable.

When is the best time to go to Puerto Vallarta? 

The high season in Puerto Vallarta corresponds with the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months, November around to April. That is because the weather in North America is generally poor and Puerto Vallarta provides a good escape. You will find during those months that prices for accommodation are at their peak.

If you leave your trip a little later, April through to the beginning of June, there are fewer crowds, the weather is very pleasant, and prices fall. There is minimal rainfall until it gets to June and even then, it is a minor inconvenience.

The cheapest month for accommodation in Puerto Vallarta is usually September if you are on a tight budget.

What are the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta?

There are a number of lovely beaches right around Bahia de Banderas. You will not be disappointed by any of them but here are a few to get you started with your research.

  • Garza Blanca is a beautiful beach, but it is exclusively for use of guests at the Resort and Spa of the same name.
  • Conchas Chinas Beach is regularly used by couples wishing to have a beach wedding. Even if you just want a romantic setting, you should head here and take a look.
  • The beaches south of Conchas Chinas are an excellent starting point for those wanting to explore and hike into the interior
  • Los Muertos Beach in Downtown is great for watching people whether they are strolling by, playing volleyball, haggling with vendors or taking a banana boat ride.
  • Playa Camarones is fairly close by with many enjoying the Ocean and water sports but with parts of the beach that are quiet if that is what you seek

Where to change money in Puerto Vallarta?

There are plenty of ATMs in Puerto Vallarta and they give the best exchange rate into pesos. It is a good idea to inform your bank about your holiday so that there is no suspicion of fraudulent activity on your card.

The rate will be less favorable at the airport and if you shop in dollars, you will get change in pesos and the exchange rate is not always good.

Is Puerto Vallarta Dangerous for Tourists?

The popular tourist districts in Puerto Vallarta are well policed, places such as Malecon. There is petty crime as there is in places throughout the world, so you need to take sensible precautions. Walking alone at night in a quiet area is not advisable but that applies around the world to the same extent.

Is It Safe to Stay in Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta has the reputation of being a very safe place. You need to keep your valuables in a safe place with hotels providing personal safes. If you are thinking of renting a villa or apartment, check on what facilities are available before booking.

Wearing expensive jewelry may put you slightly at risk so think if it is really necessary while you are enjoying your holiday.

Best Places to Stay In Puerto Vallarta for Adults?

There are several beachside hotels that are adult-only. If you have a preference for a particular district within Puerto Vallarta, you can look for adult-only accommodation within that district. In the event that you cannot find something you like here, try your second choice of the district. 

It is very unlikely that you will not find something suitable unless you are booking last minute in high season and are particularly choosy.

Where To Stay in Puerto Vallarta for the First Time Visitor?

Puerto Vallarta is an easy place to get around. If you enjoy being in a busy area, then El Centro has everything you will need. It is probably best to also look at Old Town and Malecon rather than the extreme north or south of Vallarta on your first visit. 

If you return and are then familiar with the resort, you may then want to head further afield.

Best Places to Stay in Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive?

All-inclusive resorts are increasingly popular. If all you want to do on holiday is to relax by the beach and have everything close at hand, all-inclusive is the way to go.

You will find all-inclusive resorts/hotels along the whole stretch of Puerto Vallarta but to begin your search, try looking at places on the beach but close to the center. Malecon is one place to start in that respect. If you have no desire to head out of your resort, then any consideration of history and culture may not come into your thinking. 

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Forget any ideas you have of Mexico and its crime rate. Puerto Vallarta is well away from any such national problems. It does have a level of poverty, but tourists rarely come across any issues when staying there.

The climate is excellent with the high season corresponding with poor weather in the USA and Canada. An escape to the sun makes plenty of sense if there is ice and snow outside. High season in Puerto Vallarta is reflected by crowds and high prices but that may not concern you.

Springtime is lovely in Puerto Vallarta and a good time for activities where cooler, but still warm, weather prevails. If you like golf and intend to play, you will certainly want to avoid the highest temperatures that occur in Puerto Vallarta.

The West Coast of the USA is just between 3 and 4 hours away, and most overseas visitors come from that part of North America. They will continue to do so.

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