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Puerto Vallarta: A 4-Day Itinerary

Updated: Apr 4


View of Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a vibrant seaside town in Mexico, surrounded by the Sierra Madre mountain range. While the influx of tourists has significantly increased in the past few years, you'll find that the local culture and traditions have been well-preserved in pockets of the city. There is no shortage of activities for every type of traveler—try authentic Mexican food from local vendors, explore the city's cobbled streets draped in greenery and lined with colonial architecture, go ATV riding in the mountains, and so much more.


In March 2024, my friends and I visited Puerto Vallarta for the first time. While this was only my second visit to Mexico, I'm convinced that this is one of my favorite countries that I've traveled to. What makes me so drawn to this incredibly beautiful country is the warmth and friendliness of the people, who so clearly value human connection. I cannot recommend visiting Mexico enough!


To help plan your trip to Puerto Vallarta, keep reading for our 4-day itinerary and watch my YouTube Short here. If you're interested in exploring more of Mexico, watch my video for a Mexico City itinerary.


Our 4-Day Itinerary in Puerto Vallarta

Day 1:

Tacón de Marlin: After flying into Puerto Vallarta International Airport, we grabbed a late lunch at Tacón de Marlin which is located right by the airport. Try their seafood burrito and creamy sauce (which was so good)!


Seafood burrito for lunch at Tacón de Marlin
Lunch at Tacón de Marlin

Check into Vrbo: If you're looking for an accommodation option, check out the Vrbo we stayed at which offered a bird's-eye view of the dramatic coastline below the Sierra Madre mountains.


Ocean view from our Vrbo
View from our Vrbo

Ocean view from our Vrbo
View from our Vrbo

Takos Flako: Before our night out to Twisted Palms Rooftop Lounge and Co-De, we had dinner at Takos Flako—a local taco stand with the best tacos al pastor (marinated pork tacos) in town. The owner was generous and let us try their agua de melon (melon water) on the house!


Tacos al pastor at Takos Flako
Takos Flako

Day 2:

Tuna Azul: Begin your day at Tuna Azul, a popular restaurant that specializes in seafood. I recommend trying their ahi tuna tostadas and deep fried fish tacos which were delicious—and don't forget to try their homemade sauces!


Fish tacos for lunch at Tuna Azul
Lunch at Tuna Azul

Zona Romántica: Nestled between the ocean and mountains is Zona Romántica—a lively neighborhood with an abundance of restaurants, shops, bars, and more. While modern establishments have surged in this area, it has maintained its traditional charm with cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. You can easily spend hours wandering this neighborhood.


Zona Romántica
Zona Romántica

Zona Romántica
Zona Romántica

Zona Romántica
Zona Romántica

Zona Romántica
Zona Romántica

Zona Romántica
Zona Romántica

Zona Romántica
Zona Romántica

Playa Los Muertos: Playa Los Muertos is one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta—you'll find both locals and tourists here. If you're interested in water activities, there are several water sports operators along the beach (we were able to book jet ski rentals on the spot)!


Playa Los Muertos
Playa Los Muertos

Pancho’s Takos: Grab tacos al pastor for dinner at Pancho's Takos—a neighborhood favorite where you'll almost always find a line of people waiting. Don't forget to order their chips and guacamole (possibly the best guac I've ever tried)!


Pancho’s Takos
Pancho’s Takos

Tacos al pastor for dinner at Pancho’s Takos
Dinner at Pancho’s Takos

Lix Homemade Ice Cream: After dinner, stop by Lix Homemade Ice Cream next door for dessert!


Lix Homemade Ice Cream
Lix Homemade Ice Cream

Malecón Boardwalk: End the day with an evening walk along the Malecón Boardwalk—a pedestrian-only, coastal boardwalk lined with restaurants, shops, bars, street performers, and vendors selling a wide selection of food as well as locally-made handicrafts. The agua de maracuyá (passionfruit water) at this stand was so refreshing!


Aguas frescas stand at Malecón Boardwalk
Aguas frescas stand at Malecón Boardwalk

Day 3:

ATV Tour (Jorullo Bridge and El Salto Waterfall): The Canopy River ATV tour was such a fun and thrilling experience—one that I'll remember for a long time. This 2-hour guided tour takes you through a scenic, forested canyon to a waterfall and on the world’s longest vehicular suspension bridge. I highly recommend adding this activity to your itinerary!


ATV riding on Jorullo Bridge
ATV riding on Jorullo Bridge

El Salto Waterfall
El Salto Waterfall

Restaurante Los Coapinoles: After the ATV tour, enjoy a lunch buffet at Restaurante Los Coapinoles which offers a variety of Mexican food. My favorites from the buffet were the aguas frescas, quesadillas de champiñones (mushroom quesadillas), birria tacos (meat stew tacos), and pellizcadas (fried masa cakes).


Restaurante Los Coapinoles
Restaurante Los Coapinoles

Lunch at Restaurante Los Coapinoles
Lunch at Restaurante Los Coapinoles

Lunch at Restaurante Los Coapinoles
Lunch at Restaurante Los Coapinoles

El Dorado Restaurant: We spent the rest of the day relaxing at Playa Flamingos before heading to dinner at El Dorado Restaurant. This oceanfront restaurant has seating on the sand and is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset dinner. All of the dishes we had were delicious—my favorites were the grilled pacific octopus, lobster and bone marrow tacos, New York steak, and seared scallops!


Sunset dinner at El Dorado Restaurant
El Dorado Restaurant

Dinner at El Dorado Restaurant
Dinner at El Dorado Restaurant

Day 4:

Tacos Mi Esperanza: My most memorable meal from our trip was at Tacos Mi Esperanza. The women working at this unassuming taco stand were warm and inviting—it felt like we were having a home-cooked meal. Their fresh tortillas are handmade in front of you. Make sure to try their birria tacos and pollo tacos (chicken tacos), which were some of the best I've ever tried!


Women working at Tacos Mi Esperanza
Tacos Mi Esperanza

Tacos Mi Esperanza
Tacos Mi Esperanza

Lunch at Tacos Mi Esperanza
Lunch at Tacos Mi Esperanza

Cuale Island Flea Market: Before heading home, check out the Cuale Island Flea Market—an open-air, tree-lined market located along the Cuale River. This is the perfect place to find souvenirs to bring home, as well as to support local artists. Under the bridge on the island (near the River Cafe), you'll find a handful of artists.


Below is Marisa, a friendly local and a talented artist who features a gato negro (black cat) in all of her paintings. She has over 18 cats living at home with her!


Local artist (Marisa) at Cuale Island Flea Market
Local artist (Marisa) at Cuale Island Flea Market

Cuale Island Flea Market
Cuale Island Flea Market

Cuale Island Flea Market
Cuale Island Flea Market

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