Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican city situated on the Pacific Ocean’s Banderas Bay. Puerto Vallarta is so much more than the all-inclusive resorts. The town and area is vibrant, friendly and a paradise for many. Puerto Vallarta attracts people of all ages and walks of life. From the snowbirds escaping the North American winters, to young people looking for a good time, and the town is known to have one of the best LGBT scenes in the world. With the help of my mom, who has been traveling to this area for 20 years, I put together this guide on how you can spend two days in Puerto Vallarta with lots of great options for every kind of traveler.
Start your morning off with a breakfast from Fredy’s Tucan. This busy breakfast joint has all your favourite breakfast classics as well as traditional Mexican breakfast options. There is plenty of seating, however it does fill up quick so be prepared to wait if you wake up a little too late.
After breakfast, you have several options to learn more about the town. You can choose to explore Puerto Vallarta on your own or to cover more ground you may want to join a local tour. You can do a three hour walking tour with Sylvie Scopazzo every Monday at 9:30am, however if you have a group of 4+ you can arrange a date in advance that may work better for your schedule. This small group tour will take you through the less traveled parts of Puerto Vallarta. You’ll visit the hidden neighbourhoods, gardens and rustic parts of this beautiful town.
Another option for a walking tour is with Sandra Cesca at Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours. These two hour walks will introduce you to the local culture and charming town. There are a variety of types of tours offered on different dates/times. For example you can do an El Centro Historic Walk that covers the oldest part of Vallarta, visit the south side of town on the Southside Neighborhoods tour, and more. Check out all the tours she offers here.
If a walking tour isn’t your thing, you can also choose to do an authentic cooking class. Chef Mavi Graf, who has actually become one of my moms friends runs Arte Culinario which does local catering as well as cooking classes and culinary tours. The cooking classes are private for groups of two to six people and teach you all about the Mexican cuisine. You’ll learn to make three courses and have the option of a wine pairing with each. You’ll also visit local food markets to shop for your fresh ingredients. Classes start at 10am Monday through Saturday and take approximately six hours (10am-4pm).
If you don’t select an all day cooking class, you’ll still have a good chunk of your day to spend in Puerto Vallarta. You can choose to unleash the foodie in you without doing a full day cooking class with Puerto Vallarta Food Tours. They offer a variety of tours at different times throughout the day which makes it easy to accommodate or pair with one of the morning walking tours or other activities. Tours available in the afternoon are Bikes & Bites which is a 3-3.5 hour bike food tour where you’ll have eight food tastings around town, and Mex-ology a tequila, tacos and Mexican cocktails tour. There are also several other tours they offer but these are the ones that fit into a morning walking tour and an afternoon foodie tour.
Alternatively if you’re not into tours, there is a lot you can do on your own! Here are some options:
- South Side Shuffle is a street party/open house with a variety of shops and galleries that happens every Friday from November to April from 6 to 10pm
- Explore the Malecon on your own
- Attend the Olas Atlas Saturday Market at Plaza Lazaro Cardenas (open every Saturday from autumn to spring)
- Visit an art gallery (there are several downtown)
- Hike to Gringo Gulch for a beautiful view of Bandaras Bay (about a one hour hike depending on how fast you are)
- Visit a talavera (Mexican pottery) factory, Mundo de Azulejos is one that functions as not just a store but a workshop
After a busy day, head to Joe Jack’s Fish Shack for happy hour. Between 12-5pm every day you can get two for one mojitos and they are the best mojitos! Joe Jack’s also has great ceviche if you’re looking for a pre-dinner snack.
For dinner, there are SO MANY places to choose from. Puerto Vallarta is filled with great restaurants and the majority are clean and tourist-friendly. For authentic Mexican head to the Red Cabbage Cafe, No Way Jose, El Arrayan or Cenaduria Celia.
Day two you can choose to spend doing some more of the above that I listed or you can take a day trip just outside of the main touristy area of Puerto Vallarta. Either way, you’ll need fuel before you begin your day so head to Cafe de Olla located on Basilio Badillo for an authentic Mexican breakfast and coffee. After breakfast, choose to do some of the above or head out for the day to Las Animas.
Las Animas is a beautiful beach in the southern zone of Puerto Vallarta and is a great and easy day trip for you to take out of the hustle and bustle of the city. To get there, you can take a local bus to Boca or a taxi. From Boca you can fetch a water taxi to take you to Las Animas or hike about one hour from Boca to Las Animas. Upon arrival you can choose to stay on the main beaches lined with restaurants or you can walk towards your right (if facing land not the ocean), all the way to the end, through a trail that will lead you to a beach on the other side that is less busy and gorgeous (photographed above). There’s also options of beach clubs you can buy day passes to for the day. You can read more about that here.
Visiting Las Animas is a wonderful escape out of the more busy, touristy area of Puerto Vallarta. After a day at the beach, head back to Puerto Vallarta for a night of tasting local taco joints with Puerto Vallarta Food Tours. Whether or not you did a food tour in day one with this company, I highly recommend their evening taco tour, The Street. This tour brings you to local restaurants and street vendors (don’t worry, they’re safe) to try all sorts of tacos. You can read about my experience here. This tour starts at 6:30pm and runs for around 3.5 hours. That cost is $49 USD (for adults) and you’ll stop at eight places along the way.
And there you have it, a busy guide on how you can get the most of Puerto Vallarta in just two days. Realizing that you may either be traveling with a short amount of time or want to allocate only a few days for touring and a few days for sitting on the beach with a margarita in your hand, this is just a small taste of what you can get up to in this vibrant Mexican town.
Shout-out to my mom who helped me put together this itinerary based off her years of travel to Puerto Vallarta.