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MUST-READ: Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

Delicious tacos, tequila cocktails on a golden sand beach, stunning nature along the Pacific Coast facing beautiful Sierra Madre mountains…Yes, this is Puerto Vallarta, Mexico calling!

Puerto Vallarta is the most popular travel destination in Mexico, and you will understand its reason as soon as you step into this charming city. Of course, one of the most popular highlights of Puerto Vallarta is impressive beaches and luxurious beachfront hotels. However, what Puerto Vallarta offers is not limited to golden sands and crystal clear sea. There are numerous activities you can do, such as hiking, mountain biking, snorkeling, fishing, and even skydiving! 

Not to forget Puerto Vallarta’s cosmopolitan side. You will be able to find upscale international restaurants, colorful nightlife as well as museums and art galleries while walking on the cobblestone historical streets. What else can you expect from a vacation!

In this article, I will talk about 6 nice areas with the best places to stay in Puerto Vallarta, from budget to luxury and also Airbnbs. I want to remind you that it is very important to book in advance for resorts as they have high demand and most of them have a free cancellation policy, so do not worry if you change your mind!

So let’s get started with where to stay in Puerto Vallarta!

If you are in a hurry

Here are my top picks for places to stay in Puerto Vallarta. All of them have a great location and reviews!

airbnb

Apartment with Terrace

An AirBnb with amazing reviews

budget hotel

Casa La Columna

Best affordable accommodation in the center

Here is a map with all the 6 areas where to stay in Puerto Vallarta that I will be talking about in this post, so you can easily visualize them

1. El Centro – where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for the first time

El Centro is the oldest part of Puerto Vallarta and also the place where the action happens. 

That’s why my pick for those traveling for the first time to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is El Centro for sure.

El Centro offers Michelin-rated restaurants as well as small taco bars, luxury shops to local artisan shops, a great selection of museums and galleries. You will find a bit of everything, and you will feel like you are really in Mexico thanks to the area’s stunning texture. You can start discovering El Centro by the famous boardwalk Malecon and then get lost exploring streets by tasting mouth-watering Mexican cuisine. 

Thanks to El Centro’s convenient location in the downtown area, you will be able to reach all attractions by foot or with a short taxi ride. In this area, you will find the best hotels in Puerto Vallarta for every budget. As this is the most popular area in Puerto Vallarta, the resorts can be filled out pretty quickly. Many hotels have a free cancellation policy, so don’t forget to make your reservation in advance!

Luxury hotel

Ville Premiere is one of the best Puerto Vallarta hotels in this neighborhood. This centrally located hotel offers 2 outdoor pools, spa and greets you with a glass of champagne and a massage on arrival! This incredible hotel has fine dining restaurants, and bars on-site, and a golf course is available too!

Other accommodation options in El Centro

Mid-range

Located a 15-minute walk from the beach, this hotel offers free breakfast, an outdoor pool, and a hot tub

budget

The centrally located hotel offers spacious rooms, a shared kitchen, and a lovely terrace. Great value for money

airbnb

Unique Airbnb with a big open terrace. Very stylish and fully furnished rooms. A perfect getaway

Things to do in the El Centro Area

  • Have a stroll in Malecon and have a meal in of the restaurants by the seaside
  • Visit Naval Museum and learn about the area’s history
  • Have fun at the open-air Los Arcos Amphitheater, which has free entrance 
  • Go for a night out to Mandala Club
  • Snorkel at Los Arcos Marine Park
  • Marvel architecture of the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
  • Have some delicious food and tacos at Mariscos La Tía
  • Do a sunset yoga at Davannayoga
  • Take a day trip to visit any other town on the Riviera Nayarit 

2. Zona Romantica – where to stay for nightlife

Zone Romantica, also known as Romantic Zone, South Side, Old Town, or Viejo Vallarta located just next to El Centro. Because of its picturesque narrow streets and charming beaches, locals thought that Romantic Zone serves better for this lovely neighborhood.

Romantic Zone is one of the coolest and most popular neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta with its lively nightlife, many cool dining options, and vibrant atmosphere. You will be able to find many bars from rooftop to beach bars, all kinds of restaurants and many popular clubs. 

This old town area’s charm is not limited to its nightlife though, you will also see many shops and cafes along old narrow cobblestone streets. In the daytime, you can enjoy the famous beach Playa de Los Muertos which is at the Romantic Zone’s western border, visit the farmers market and have a stroll at the pier.

If you are into nightlife or want to stay in a lively area, you should definitely stay in Zone Romantica. Here you won’t find many big resorts, but you will find plenty of boutique hotels and cool accommodation options from budget to luxury, and most of them have a free cancellation, so make sure to book it in advance!

Luxury hotel

Almar Resort Luxury is an amazing adults hotel in the Romantic Zone. This hotel features an infinity pool, a spa, a restaurant, and a bar. Hotel rooms have stunning views of the bay, and an airport shuttle is available too. This is a perfect romantic getaway for couples!

Other accommodation options in The Romantic Zone

mid-range

One of the best hotels in the Romantic Zone. Rooms have balconies overlooking the beach and Banderas Bay

budget

Located in the Romantic Zone, the hotel offers private parking, a restaurant, and airport shuttle

airbnb

Just next to the ocean in the Romantic Zone, Airbnb provides a rooftop terrace, an infinity pool, and a hot tub

Things to do in The Romantic Zone 

  • Spend some time in the saddle on a horseback riding tour
  • Take a water taxi to the Hidden Beach at Marieta Island
  • Enjoy live music at Roxy Rock House
  • Chill and get suntan at Los Muertos Beach
  • Visit the flea market at Rio Cuale
  • Have a day trip to the nearby town Nuevo Vallarta
  • Enjoy sunset at sailboat shaped Los Muertos Pier
  • Have a drink and dance at El Sonador

3. Zona Hotelera – best place to stay for beaches

Zona Hotelera, Hotel Zone in English, is the neighborhood where you will find an abundance of places to stay in Puerto Vallarta near the famous beaches like Playa Camarones, Playa Tranquila, and Playa de Oro. Zone Hotelera also has very easy access to other areas such as Zone Centro and Romantic Zone with a just 15-20 minutes taxi ride. 

This neighborhood is also great for shopping! The big Galerias Vallarta Shopping Mall is located here, and you will also find all kinds of shops as well as nice restaurants in the area. 

If we come back to the highlight of Hotel Zone, of course, it is the all-inclusive hotels by the beach. These hotels will fulfill your every need with their golden sand beaches and facilities. If you are looking for a laid-back holiday and want everything to be in one place, Hotel Zone is a great option where to stay in Puerto Vallarta. 

Luxury hotel

Located in the Hotel Zone, this is one of the best Puerto Vallarta all-inclusive hotels. Guests can enjoy 6 on-site restaurants and bars for free. This incredible hotel features a heated outdoor pool, fitness center, private beach, and kids club, as well as family-friendly rooms with nice ocean views

Other accommodation options in The Hotel Zone

mid-range

One of the best Puerto Vallarta hotels in the area. The resort offers a swimming pool, a spa, and a private beach

budget

Located near the downtown, this Puerto Vallarta hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, and airport shuttle

airbnb

Walking distance to the beach, this Airbnb features a private swimming pool and not one but three fully furnished spacious rooms

Things to do in The Hotel Zone

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

Located in Banderas Bay, Marina Vallarta is just a 15 minutes drive from downtown, and the airport is also located in this neighborhood. In this area, you will find many nice all-inclusive resorts, world-class golf courses, and many attractions such as fun parks and aqua parks which are great for families with kids. 

The resorts in Marina Vallarta have so many activities to keep you busy all day, but if you feel like going out, you will find many nice restaurants, shops, spa centers, and famous attractions such as El Faro Lighthouse. There are so many nice accommodations options for every budget in Marina Vallarta, and most of them are just by the seaside. As it is a popular area, don’t forget to make a booking for your perfect holiday with your family in advance. 

Luxury hotel

Located right on the beach in Marina Vallarta, this resort is one of the best all-inclusive resorts in Puerto Vallarta. The resort has 3 swimming pools, a golf club, a seafood restaurant, and 3 international restaurants and bars. The family-friendly hotel also has a kids club and kids pool for little ones

Other accommodation options in Marina Vallarta

mid-range

Situated in Marina Vallarta, this is an all-inclusive resort right on the beach with a stunning view and great access to the best areas in Puerto Vallarta

budget

Nice accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, a garden, and a shared kitchen. Within walking distance to the beach

airbnb

Stunning Airbnb with a private pool and ocean view. Easy access to the downtown area. One of the best places to stay in Puerto Vallarta

Things to do in Marina Vallarta

5. Conchas Chinas – Puerto Vallarta’s spot for luxury

Conchas Chinas is an upscale neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta. The name “Conchas Chinas’ means Chinese Shells, which can be found on the local beach. That’s why in this area you will be able to find secluded white-sand beaches. If you stay in Conchas Chinas, you may need to rent a car or take a taxi to discover surrounding areas as it is around 10 km (5 miles) away to the north of downtown. 

In Conchas Chinas, there are plenty of upscale accommodation options perfect for luxury travelers, also, you can find very good deals for incredible resorts in the off-season!

The area is also known for celebrity visitors. Justin Beiber, Selena Gomez, Christina Aguilera, and Michael Douglas are just some of the stars preferring Puerto Vallarta for a holiday, so it is not a surprise to bump into a celebrity here. 

Conchas Chinas’s atmosphere is perfect for couples and travelers who want to have an upscale holiday by the beach with a relaxed vibe. Here are my favorite accommodation picks in this area. Keep in mind that these places have high demand and make sure to book them in advance!

Luxury hotel

Grand Miramar is one of the best Puerto Vallarta hotels in this area. The hotel has a stunning ocean view and lounge area where you can kick back and enjoy the sunset. Luxurious hotel amenities included are 3 pools, hot tubs, and comfortable rooms. A very nice breakfast is included too!

Other accommodation options in Conchas Chinas

mid-range

Just right in front of the beach, a charming hotel that has rooms with an amazing sea view. Good choice to enjoy a beach holiday

budget

The nice hotel has an infinity pool with a jacuzzi, and free parking is available. Mondavi is great value for money

airbnb

One of the best places to stay in the area. Airbnb has luxurious amenities such as an infinity pool and spacious rooms

Things to do in Conchas Chinas

6. 5 de Diciembre – where to stay in Puerto Vallarta on a budget 

5 de Diciembre’s name comes from the independence war battle. It used to be a small fishing town and thanks to booming tourism, it started to become a travelers’ destination. However, it has fewer touristy areas compared to other areas in Puerto Vallarta, which makes 5 de Diciembre a charming neighborhood to be discovered. If you really want to live like a local, check out this post for the best Airbnbs in Puerto Vallarta.

5 de Diciembre has hilly terrain which offers amazing views and the main beach in 5 de Diciembre is Playa Camarones. The streets of 5 de Diciembre are filled with many tacos stands, cafes, bars, and shops, so you can simply enjoy strolling through old cobblestone streets and discover amazing Mexican savors. 

5 de Diciembre has a very convenient location between the hotel zone and centro where you will find many cheaper accommodation options. If you don’t want to pay much for accommodation but still want to be close to the main attractions, 5 de Diciembre is the best place to stay in Puerto Vallarta.

Luxury hotel

Perfectly located nearby the Puerto Vallarta downtown, this is one the best hotels in the area. The hotel features a nice swimming pool, private parking, free Wifi, and a good breakfast. Spacious rooms are provided with a desk and a coffee machine

Other accommodation options in 5 de Diciembre

mid-range

Centrally located in the area, this hotel features rooms with balconies and an outdoor swimming pool with ocean views

budget

A nice place to stay near downtown. This hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a garden, and a terrace

airbnb

One of the best places to stay in town. Loft style house has an amazing view and luxurious facilities plus easy access to downtown

Things to do in 5 de Diciembre

BONUS: 5 things you should know before visiting Puerto Vallarta

Now that you have chosen your accommodation, here is some super useful information about what you should know before your trip and things you should pay attention to before your holiday.

1. Best time to travel Puerto Vallarta 
Thanks to its tropical climate, you can visit Puerto Vallarta all year round. However, there are some slight changes between seasons that you should consider when you are making your travel plan.

  • Spring & Fall (April-June & October-December) – These are my recommended seasons to visit Puerto Vallarta as the accommodation prices are reasonable and the weather is quite fine.
  • Summer (July-September) – Of course summer is going to be great as it is filled with endless sunshine, but be warned, it could be too hot for some of you.
  • Winter (January-March) – It is the peak season for Puerto Vallarta as many travelers escape from the winter and are urging for sunshine. That’s why accommodation and tour prices are the highest in winter. Also, it is the only season for whale watching.

2. Book early and have an itinerary
Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. That’s why hotels and tours might be filled up so quickly. Make sure to make a booking as early as possible. 

As many places offer free cancelation, you wouldn’t have risked anything, and in the meantime, you won’t miss your ideal place! Also, prepare your itinerary in advance and try to decide on tours you would like to attend for the same reason. 

3. Be prepared for the outdoor activities
I am sure you will take your summer clothes and swimsuits with you to Puerto Vallarta but if you are into outdoor activities and planning to hike or attend excursions, make sure to bring a suitable pair of shoes and clothes. Also, despite the sunshine, it would be useful to bring a raincoat. 

4. Check the exchange rate
Mexico’s currency is pesos. Before traveling, check the exchange rates so you can compare them with the exchange office’s rates, and if there is a big difference, you can try to withdraw money from an ATM. Sometimes exchange offices can use currency fluctuations to scam tourists so it is useful to check the exchange rates in advance. 

5. Get familiar with Puerto Vallarta Transportation
It is easy to travel in Puerto Vallarta, and distances are not very far from each other. Here are the transportation options in Puerto Vallarta.

  • Taxis – It is the easiest way to get around in the city. Most of the taxis have fixed prices, so it is a good idea to negotiate with the driver in advance.
  • Uber – If you don’t want to take a cab, you can use Uber App. 
  • Bus – You can take a bus from the airport and also within the city with a very small fare. You can check the timetables from the website. 
  • Car – Especially if you feel like going to other towns renting a car is a good option for ultimate freedom and flexibility.

Frequently asked questions about Puerto Vallarta 

  • 🗺️ What is the best area to stay in Puerto Vallarta?

    For the first-timers, the best area to stay in Puerto Vallarta is El Centro, where you will find the main attractions. 

  • 🤔 Is it safe to stay in Puerto Vallarta?

    Puerto Vallarta is one of the safest vacation destinations in Mexico.

  • 🍸 Where should I go out in Puerto Vallarta?

    In the Romantic Zone, you will find many nice bars and clubs. Also, El Centro is another area with its colorful nightlife. 

  • 🗓️ What is the best month to visit Puerto Vallarta?

    The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is between April and June. In this period the weather is quite nice, and you can have better rates on accommodations.

  • 🛫 How far is the airport in Puerto Vallarta?

    Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport is 5 km (3 miles) to Puerto Vallarta downtown. 

  • 🏝️ What is Puerto Vallarta known for?

    Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, known for its spectacular beaches, marine life, water sports, and amazing resorts.

Conclusion

I hope that this guide has been helpful to you in finding where to stay in Puerto Vallarta. In this post, I mentioned the best areas to stay in Puerto Vallarta, with the top hotels and Airbnbs in each neighborhood.

To wrap up, here are the best 2 resorts in Puerto Vallarta where I would definitely recommend you to stay. They both have good locations and great reviews too!

Puerto Vallarta is one of the most famous vacation destinations in the world, so, in order not to miss your perfect stay in Puerto Vallarta,. make a reservation now!

I am so excited that your amazing vacation in Puerto Vallarta is coming soon! Enjoy every minute of your time in Mexico, and if you are looking for another destination with a Mexican vibe, check out my where to stay in Los Cabos post. 

Have a great vacation!

Adios,

Eylul

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