Save on Summer with Free Activities in Puerto Vallarta
By: Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board
Walk the Malecon
A first stop for all visitors to Puerto Vallarta is the world-famous Malecon, the boardwalk that hugs the historic downtown and the coastline of the Bay of Banderas. It is a must-visit location where visitors and locals alike can immerse themselves in the flavor, color, and 24/7 activity that embodies the Puerto Vallarta vibe. The north side of the Malecon starts off at Hotel Rosita and ends by the Amphitheater beside the Plaza de Armas. Attractions include local artwork, statues, seaside artists, shopping, restaurants, bars, and the perfect vantage point from which to view the legendary Pacific Coast sunsets. After 10pm, the Malecon also becomes the heart of Puerto Vallarta nightlife as entertainment spills out into the streets for all to enjoy. The Southside of the Malecon includes the colorful Los Muertos Pier and the Rio Cuale crafts market which make the perfect backdrop for a selfie.
One of the most beautiful and best-preserved sections of Puerto Vallarta is its historic Zona Romantica. Here visitors will find the iconic cobblestone streets, terra-cotta roofs, historic buildings, and winding roads that lead up into the lush, jungled hillsides. The state of Jalisco has named Puerto Vallarta's historic center a protected Cultural Heritage area, as well. The best part? Wandering is free and every vantage point provides a picture perfect Instagrammable moment.
The majority of beaches in Mexico are public and, therefore, free. While it might cost money to rent a beach chair at one of the various beach clubs, visitors can BYO-anything and camp out on the sand for an afternoon soaking up the sun and gorgeous views of the bay. Some of the best beaches to explore are Playa Los Muertos, Playa Las Gemelas, and Playa Mismaloya.
Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
If you've seen any picture of Puerto Vallarta, then you are sure to recognize this iconic landmark. Dominating Vallarta's downtown skyline, this gorgeous red brick cathedral is best-known for the golden crown that sits atop. Not only is it great for souvenirs photos, visitors will get an inside (and free) glimpse into one of the most important monuments of the city and the spiritual center of the Catholics in town. Surrounding the church is always a frenetic hum of activity. The church bells are rung 30 and 15 minutes prior to each service, but it reaches peak performance in the 12 days of Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival, December 1-12. Processions by candlelight start off on Av. Juarez close to the Woolworth Store and advance toward the church. On all sides of the streets and main square, discover vendors selling foods, sweets, souvenirs, and more.
Cerro de La Cruz Mirador
Get a bird's eye view of Puerto Vallarta's historic downtown, the Church, the Hotel Zone, and sweeping views of the Bay of Banderas from this clifftop perch. The locals know of it as a place for recreation, relaxation, and meditation, and visitors love it for its perfect photography vantage point. Getting to the top is not for the faint of heart, but it is completely worth the trek. Follow Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez Street, a straight uphill route to reach the top. Another route is following Abasolo Street, which starts from the Malecon and works its way up.
Puerto Vallarta has established itself as a center of creation, exhibition, and promotion. An important contribution to the city's art scene is the weekly ArtWalk, which is held every Wednesday from 6 to 10 pm during high season. Low season offers visitors the opportunity to do the tour on their own and include other galleries not included in the regular schedule. The participating galleries in Historic Center exhibit works by important national and international artists.