Lining Mexico’s Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta is a major tourist destination in the country and it’s easy to see why! The area it inhabits is characterised by long, beautiful beaches and an infectiously laid-back atmosphere. Looking beyond the tourist attractions also reveals some interesting local culture.
Puerto Vallarta is a long and narrow city, so navigating your way around can be tricky. It’s also important to consider safety whilst choosing which area to stay in during your visit to this large resort city.
That’s where we come in! We’ve figured out the seven best areas in Puerto Vallarta, and categorised them in a handy guide to help you plan your upcoming trip to Mexico’s Pacific Region.
So let’s get started, vámonos!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
- Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for your first time? Zona Hotelera
- Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta close to everything? Centro
- Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for nightlife? Zona Romántica
- Best neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for families? Marina Vallarta
- Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta on a budget? 5 de Diciembre
- Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for couples? Conchas Chinas
- Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for peace and quiet? Mismaloya
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Puerto Vallarta.
- Air Conditioning
- Indoor fireplac
- Free parking on premises
This is one homey BnB that will give you all the luxurious of a 5-star hotel! With its very own rooftop pool hot tub, and even a gym, there is no better way to pamper yourself than by booking yourself into this one of a kind apartment!
Los Muertos Hostal
- Free WiFi
- Self-Catering Facilities
- Air Conditioning
Right in the heart of the Zona Romántico, Los Muertos Hostal has some great facilities and is well connected to all the best neighborhoods in the city! Guests are only a short walk away from the beach, and the hostel run regular social events.
Hotel Portonovo Plaza Malecon
This hotel is so cheap that there are plenty of hostels that struggle to compete with these prices! Despite this, Hotel Portonovo offer some fantastic facilities to ensure guests enjoy a comfortable stay throughout their time at the property. Breakfast, WiFi and parking are all included.
The Hacienda at Hilton
As the only five star hotel within the city itself, the Hacienda at Hilton had to take our top spot for luxury accommodation in Puerto Vallarta! It is an adult-only hotel – so is mainly our pick for couples and large groups. If you are visiting as a family, check out our recommendation for Marina Vallarta.
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Puerto Vallarta 7 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the seven best neighbourhoods in Puerto Vallarta. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
Best neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for your first time!
- COOLEST thing to do in Zona Hotelera – visit Puerto Vallarta for its intended purpose and lounge on the beaches – we love Playa Las Glorias
- BEST place to visit in Zona Hotelera – head to Banderas Bay for the best Pacific Ocean views in the city
Zona Hotelera, or Hotel Zone in English, was specifically built for the purpose of tourism – so you can be sure it has everything you need! Locals in Puerto Vallarta wanted to maintain the historic integrity of the city centre, so this area was purpose-built for hotels and resorts. It is also very popular with expats.
Though everything does feel a bit overplanned, you will find a great selection of restaurants and bars in the area alongside the behemoth malls and supermarkets! With tourism being the main industry, English is spoken widely so it is very easy to find assistance whenever you need it.
- Head to Playa de Oro and try your hand at bareback horse riding – they also offer sunset excursions for couples
- Puerto Vallarta Skydiving Centre is a relatively new attraction in the town, but they offer fantastic rates on tandem dives
- Galerias Vallarta Shopping Mall is a massive retail centre where you can check out international brands, local boutiques and popular food chains
- Jogging is a popular pastime with locals – so if you want to keep your fitness up, we recommend the River Walk trail
- Head to Playa Camarones, another fantastic beach in the area, and dine at the many affordable restaurants in the area
Best Air BnB in Zona Hotelera
Located in a sleepy neighborhood, you will still be close to the beach and all the best restaurants and clubs while still being able to enjoy the peace and quiet of the suburbs! This charming apartment comes with all the touches of home and a welcoming atmosphere!
Best Hostel Zona Hotelera
This large hostel is perfect for backpackers that want to spend some time getting acquainted with the city before diving into the more traditional areas! It is located on the southern end of the hotel zone, giving you easy access to the more central districts. They also offer a complimentary breakfast.
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Best Budget Hotel in Zona Hotelera
Vallartasol Hotel is a great option for those that want the typical resort experience without paying the high fees often incurred by those kinds of itineraries! There is a large outdoor pool, and the rooms are spacious and fully air conditioned. They offer a complimentary buffet breakfast every morning.
Best Splurge Hotel in Zona Hotelera
This sprawling hotel is the ultimate in luxury when staying in Puerto Vallarta! Located in the far north of the hotel zone, it is a little more secluded and exclusive than other accommodations in the area. It also gives you easy access to the upscale Marina Vallarta area. This hostel is adults only.
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Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta close to everything!
- COOLEST thing to do in Centro – hunt for bargains at the Mercado – it houses both a farmers market and a flea market
- BEST place to visit in Centro – the Malecon is the main waterfront street and a major hive of activity in the area
As the name would suggest, Centro is the most central part of the city and the perfect option for getting around all of the main attractions – but it has so much more to offer than convenience! This is also where you will find many of the cultural and historic attractions, and is another great choice for first-timers if you are more interested in these kind of activities.
As the oldest part of the city, Centro has some great examples of colonial architecture – as well as a great selection of museums and art galleries! The restaurants here can be pricey but are totally worth it if you want authentic Mexican cuisine.
- Check out local listings for the next Art Walk – many galleries offer free appetizers and viewings during these events, and you can purchase some pieces to take home
- Plaza de Armas, the main square of the entire city, is a vibrant meeting point and regularly hosts live musicians and events
- This is also a great area for nightlife, with Señor Frogs being a popular choice with the young crowd
- Una Familia are a fantastic restaurant for sampling authentic Mexican cuisine
- The Parish of Our Lady of Guadeloupe Church is the oldest cathedral in the city and great for architecture enthusiasts
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Best Air BnB in Centro
This BnB is another homey apartment that will put you just minutes away from the action in the old town while still keeping you in one of the more relaxing neighborhoods of the city! With its very own balcony and homey vibes, you won’t find a better place to stay!
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Best Hostel Centro
One of the newest hostels in the city, Hostel Vallarta is the best option for those that wish to stay right in the heart of the action! The whole property is decorated in a traditional Mexican style to reflect the aged atmosphere of Centro. There are also some great common areas, including an outdoor patio.
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Best Budget Hotel in Centro
Located right on the Malecon, Hotel Rio comes with great views towards the Pacific Ocean and instant access to all of the most well-known attractions in the city centre! There is a small communal pool with comfortable outdoor seating, and the bar offer a great selection of cocktails.
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Best Splurge Hotel in Centro
Whilst there aren’t many luxury hotels in Centro, Garlands Del Rio is a fantastic bed and breakfast for those that want some additional comfort! They have a small private pool outside, which is perfect given their limited guest capacity. There is also a hot tub, and an á la carte breakfast.
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for nightlife!
- COOLEST thing to do in Zona Romántica – start your night off right at one of the many rooftop bars around the area
- BEST place to visit in Zona Romántica – visit Isla Rio Cuale in the north of the region and shop the artisanal goods on offer from street vendors
Whilst most of Puerto Vallarta’s thumping nightlife is based in Centro, Zona Romántica has a more easy-going vibe and is definitely more popular with the locals! With cocktail lounges and rooftop bars abound, this is definitely the place you want to start your night off – even if you do decide to go to one of the clubs in neighboring Centro later.
It is also a popular area with LGBTQ+ travellers, thanks to the collection of gay bars in the corner of Lázaro Cárdenas! Many of the hotels and cafés in the area cater to the LGBTQ+ crowd or are at the very least explicitly welcoming.
- El Sonador is one of the most popular clubs in the area, offering a great selection of music and drinks at reasonable prices
- Twisted Palms Rooftop Lounge has our favourite rooftop bar – it is completely surrounded by palm trees
- For those interested in checking out the gay scene, CC Slaughters – a popular chain from Portland – has made its way to Puerto Vallarta
- There’s a farmer’s market every week at Lázaro Cárdenas Park where you can pick up fresh food, jewellery and clothing
- Playa Los Muertos is the main beach in the Zona Romántica, with excellent facilities and watersports companies
Best Air BnB in Zona Romántica
If you are looking to be within walking distance of all the best sights in Puerto Vallarta, look no further than this luxurious BnB! Other than the spacious and stylish rooms, this stay comes with its very own gym and even a rooftop pool!
Best Hostel Zona Romántica
Only a short walk away from Los Muertos Beach, this hostel is well located for those wanting to experience the best of everything Puerto Vallarta has to offer! Rooms are fully air conditioned and come with access to high speed WiFi. There is also a free coffee service every morning.
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Best Budget Hotel in Zona Romántica
This hotel is also only a short walk away from the beach, and is perfect for those that want a typical resort-style experience for less! Using traditional Mexican décor, the hotel is well designed with modern conveniences and style. Rooms come with ceiling fans, and there are a few with balconies.
Best Splurge Hotel in Zona Romántica
As the most popular area in the city with LGBTQ+ travellers, there are a few gay-friendly hotels around the area – including Casa Cupula! This gorgeous boutique hotel overlooks the city from a mountainside and is adult-only. The on-site restaurant offers American and Mexican cuisine, as well as great cocktails.
Best neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for families!
- COOLEST thing to do in Marina Vallarta – rent a boat from Nima Bay and explore the Pacific Coast
- BEST place to visit in Marina Vallarta – El Faro Lighthouse is the main centrepiece of the area and is surrounded by great shops and restaurants
Like Zona Hotelera, Marina Vallarta is a relatively new area that was designed to accommodate tourists. Though it is a bit more upmarket than the Hotel Zone, it has a much more peaceful atmosphere and plenty of child-friendly attractions – perfect for families looking to splurge on an excellent holiday!
The marina itself is, of course, the main attraction in the area, where many of the nation’s rich and famous park their boats before enjoying a short break in the city! The restaurants vary from cheap and cheerful to high-class modern cuisine and everything in between.
- Marina Vallarta is known as the home of some of the best spas in the city – we recommend Armonium’s, but most of them are excellent
- Pirates of the Bay ship host nightly dinner shows – with six delectable courses and an interactive performance it is the perfect evening activity for families
- There are two water parks in the vicinity – our personal favourite is Splash Waterpark, with some great slides and pools
- Hop onboard a fishing tour – they all depart from the marina and many of them regularly run special offers for big groups
- Pick up gifts to take back home and leading fashion brands at Plaza Marina
Best Air BnB in Marina Vallarta
This sparkling clean, brand new condo will make for the perfect home away from home while staying in Puerto Vallarta! With its very own swimming pool and gorgeous garden, you will be wanting to spend more time inside the condo than out in the city!
Best Hostel Marina Vallarta
There aren’t any hostels in Marina Vallarta – but El Sunset Hostel in the northern tip of the Hotel Zone is perfect for staying close to the area whilst sticking to a tight budget! Showcasing typical Mexican architecture, it feels like a bit of a historic attraction in its own right.
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Best Budget Hotel in Marina Vallarta
This guest house might be small, but it is packed with facilities! There is an outdoor pool and sun deck surrounded by greenery, and every room comes with its own private patio where you can relax in peace. As a guest house, it has a much more intimate atmosphere than the resorts.
Best Splurge Hotel in Marina Vallarta
Despite being a four star hotel, this expansive resort actually comes in at a great price point – perfect for families that want to experience a bit of luxury for less! The on-site restaurant offers typical Mexican cuisine throughout the day, as well as a complimentary breakfast every morning.
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta on a budget!
- COOLEST thing to do in 5 de Diciembre – get caught up in the chaos at the famous fish market
- BEST place to visit in 5 de Diciembre – climb up to the Mirador de la Cruz for spectacular views of the city and mountains
Named after an oddly specific battle during the War of Independence, 5 de Diciembre is a neighborhood sandwiched between the Hotel Zone and Centro. This makes it a convenient location for exploring some of the best parts of the city! It is also substantially cheaper than the main tourist areas, allowing you to experience more for less.
Part of the charm of the neighborhood is its lack of tourism – and unbeatable attention to authenticity and tradition! This makes staying here a very rewarding experience where you can discover a completely different side of Puerto Vallarta.
- Teatro Vallarta is the main cultural venue in the city with a year-round roster of ballet, dance and theatre performances
- The Church of Our Lady of the Refuge is another old and popular place of worship close to the city centre
- Vallarta SUP and Surf offer budget-friendly rates on stand-up paddle boarding and surfing equipment hire
- 5 de Diciembre is famed locally for the fantastic taco vendors – we recommend heading straight to La Tia Mariscos for marlin tacos
- El Solar, on the other hand, is a great nightlife spot serving innovative cocktails using mezcal and tequila
Best Air BnB in 5 de Diciembre
Offering views of both the mountains and the sea, this BnB will have you staying in the hear of Puerto Vallarta. When you are not out exploring all the nearby sights of the city, this stay also comes with its very own infinity pool, perfect for relaxing after a long day!
Best Hostel 5 de Diciembre
Situated on the boundary between 5 de Diciembre and Centro, Chanclas Hostel is perfect for backpackers on a stringent budget! They offer a complimentary breakfast every morning – allowing you to set yourself up for the day ahead without paying anything extra. They also have WiFi and laundry facilities.
Best Budget Hotel in 5 de Diciembre
This hotel is incredibly cheap despite coming with great facilities! The on-site restaurant offers international cuisine at reasonable prices, and a complimentary buffet breakfast is served every morning. There is a gym on-site, as well as an expansive business centre for corporate guests to enjoy.
Best Splurge Hotel in 5 de Diciembre
This magnificent four star hotel boasts mesmerising ocean views from the balcony that is included with every room! Rooms are also incredibly spacious and come with luxury en-suite bathrooms. The outdoor pool operates year-round, and there is complimentary high speed WiFi access throughout. Parking facilities are available.
Best neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for couples!
- COOLEST thing to do in Conchas Chinas – the Villa Azalea Inn offers traditional Mexican cooking classes
- BEST place to visit in Conchas Chinas – the large beach in Conchas Chinas has white sands, blue seas and plenty of empty space
Located in the far south of Puerto Vallarta, Conchas Chinas is one of the most exclusive parts of the city! Known locally as the Hills, this is where the city’s wealthiest residents live. For couples, this exclusive atmosphere also creates quite a relaxing vibe with some great beach facilities and restaurants on offer.
As it is mostly a residential neighborhood, it isn’t too difficult to seek out some examples of local culture! With that said, it is one of the more expensive parts of the city so we recommend preparing to splurge during your time in the neighborhood.
- Galilea Boat Charters offer tours of the Pacific Coast – they have both packages and customisable itineraries
- La Choza de Tono offer some fantastic seafood, all with magnificent views of the Conchas Chinas coastline
- Heading inland, the Sky Restaurant Terrace Bar is a rooftop eatery where you can enjoy a great wine menu as well as views towards Puerto Vallarta
- If you aren’t already in a hotel that provides a spa, head to Boana Spa and enjoy their many different holistic therapies
Best Air BnB in Conchas Chinas
Bright, spacious, and luxurious, this BnB will have you staying in one of the most upscale yet homey condos in all of Puerto Vallarta! Putting you just minutes away from the beach, this is one of the best places in town to kick off your dream vacation!
Best Hotel for Backpackers Conchas Chinas
There aren’t any hostels in Conchas Chinas, and we wouldn’t recommend it as a backpacker destination – but if you are absolutely determined, Blue Chairs Resort offer some fantastic rates on their rooms! It also comes with a rooftop pool and exclusive access to a segment of the beach.
Best Budget Hotel in Conchas Chinas
This hotel has a bit more of a resort vibe – and if you book at the right time of year isn’t too expensive either! There is a large outdoor pool, and the hotel is located right on the waterfront where you can enjoy a quick dip in the ocean. There is also a Mexican restaurant on-site.
Best Splurge Hotel in Conchas Chinas
With an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and luxury restaurant, Villa Divina has everything you need for a luxurious couples getaway to Puerto Vallarta! There is a large garden surrounding the hotel that comes with barbecue facilities for guests to enjoy at will. An American style breakfast is included.
Best neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta for peace and quiet!
- COOLEST thing to do in Mismaloya – take a trip inland to Edenva, a popular nature reserve in the heart of Jalisco
- BEST place to visit in Mismaloya – Puerto Vallarta Zoo is based close to Mismaloya, and is popular with families
So far out from the city centre, it is often considered a separate town, Mismaloya is a beachside neighborhood that allows you to experience a calm beach stay close to Puerto Vallarta! It can be hard to get to by public transport, so we absolutely recommend this to people that are hiring a car in the vicinity.
Aside from the coast, the large river that runs through the town heads all the way to Edenva, a place of outstanding natural beauty! As a result, there are some great tour companies in the area that can take you out to the Jalisco countryside.
- Playa Mismaloya is a small beach, but as it is a little bit off the main tourist trails it remains relatively unspoiled
- Paddle Zone offer a variety of watersports based activities – from complete beginner to more advanced levels
- Kawitu Mystic Paradise are an excellent tour company for those that want to discover the region’s interior
- Head up the river to El Jacalito to sample some of the finest seafood you will taste in the whole of Mexico
Best Air BnB in Mismaloya
This simple yet homey BnB is sure to make you fall in love with its sunny rooms and minimalist design! Complete with a shared pool in the complex, you will find plenty to do at the complex after a long day of exploring Puerto Vallarta!
Best Hotel for Backpackers Mismaloya
Mismaloya is another area that doesn’t have any hostels, but Casa Iguana is very well priced – allowing even those on the strictest of budgets to enjoy the tranquillity of Mismaloya! There is a small restaurant on-site that serves an American style breakfast buffet every morning. They also have an outdoor pool.
Best Budget Hotel in Mismaloya
There are some excellent villas in the region – and these Mismaloya holiday homes are perfect for families and large groups that want to stay away from the bustling city centre! There is a communal area with swimming pool and barbecue facilities – so you can still mingle with other guests.
Best Splurge Hotel in Mismaloya
Though it is located halfway between Mismaloya and Puerto Vallarta city centre, Garza Blanca Preserve is a gorgeous five star hotel that gives you the ultimate in secluded coastal experiences! The private infinity pool sits on the edge of the large beach area that is used exclusively by hotel guests.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta?
With gorgeous beaches, interesting historical and cultural attractions, and even some worthwhile natural parks nearby it’s no wonder Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico!
For the best area, we have decided to go with 5 de Diciembre! Whilst it isn’t as developed tourism wise, this is part of the charm – and it provides great access to other more well-known neighborhoods nearby.
That being said, the city is surprisingly quite eclectic and wherever you choose to go will depend on your specific needs. We hope this guide has helped you whittle it down.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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