Nestled along Mexico’s stunning Pacific coast, Puerto Vallarta stands as a beacon of vibrant culture, captivating landscapes, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re a budget-conscious traveler or simply someone who revels in finding extraordinary experiences without a hefty price tag, this charming city has you covered. Discover the top eight free activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta.
TAKE A STROLL DOWN THE MALECON
One of the must-see places in Puerto Vallarta is the Malecón boardwalk. Stretching along the coastline for about a kilometer, it offers stunning views of the ocean and a lively atmosphere. Take a leisurely walk, enjoy the sea breeze, and don’t forget to snap photos of the impressive sculptures along the way. You can also explore shops, galleries, and eateries nearby.
VISIT THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE
A symbol of Puerto Vallarta, the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe stands as a testament to the city’s rich history. This year, as the temple commemorates its centennial, visitors can explore its Parish Museum, home to sacred art, historical artifacts, and captivating exhibits. Guided tours, available by donation, offer a chance to climb the main tower and the bell tower, rewarding you with a unique panoramic view of Downtown Puerto Vallarta.
HIKE TO THE CERRO DE LA CRUZ LOOKOUT
For those with a taste for adventure and a love for panoramic vistas, a hike to the Cerro de la Cruz lookout is a must. It offers stunning panoramic views of the city, the Bay of Banderas, and the surrounding mountains. To get to the start of the hike, head to the intersection of Abasolo and Matamoros streets. There, you will see a sign for the Mirador de la Cruz. Follow the signs up the hill and take the stairs to the top. The hike to the top will take you about 20 minutes and is relatively easy, but be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
EXPLORE THE CUALE RIVER ISLAND
Isla Cuale is a small island located in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. It is split by the Cuale River and is connected to both the Zona Romantica and the Centro Historico by bridges. The island is home to a variety of boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. One of the most popular things to do on Isla Cuale is to browse the market stalls for unique souvenirs and handcrafted gifts. Be sure to bargain with the vendors to get the best price. While there, check out the sculpture of John Huston, just a few steps from the Cuale Cultural Center.
RIDE A BIKE FROM HOTEL ZONE TO ROMANTIC ZONE
Discover the beauty of Puerto Vallarta from a new perspective as you traverse the city’s bike lanes on two wheels. Embark on a journey from the Hotel Zone to the Romantic Zone, venturing through various sections of the city. Pedaling along the picturesque route, you’ll meander through cobblestone streets, sandy shorelines, and vibrant avenues, gaining insights into the array of neighborhoods and iconic sites that define Vallarta. If you plan to bike this approximately three-mile scenic route, choose the late afternoon and stay hydrated.
COOL OFF IN THE PALO MARÍA WATERFALL
Escape the city heat by visiting the Palo María Waterfall, located south of Puerto Vallarta. The entrance is at the foot of Federal Highway 200, very close to the Hotel Garza Blanca. The 15 minute hike through the rainforest is a reward in itself, culminating in crystalline pools formed by the river’s flow. While the hike might demand some effort, the chance to unwind at the beautiful waterfall and several crystalline swimming pools formed by the stream’s tributary makes it a memorable experience.
PARTICIPATE IN A SEA TURTLE RELEASE
Between July and December, Puerto Vallarta’s beaches become a nesting ground for sea turtles. Participate in a sea turtle release event and witness baby turtles beginning their journey to the ocean. It’s an educational and heartwarming experience that contributes to conservation efforts.
REVEL IN THE BEAUTY OF OUR SUNSETS
As the day draws to a close, immerse yourself in the magic of a Puerto Vallarta sunset. The city’s natural beauty shines in the golden hues of dusk, painting a serene backdrop for your explorations. Whether you’re by the ocean, atop a hill, or strolling through the heart of the city, the sunset is a free spectacle that enchants visitors and locals alike.
In Puerto Vallarta, the treasures of the city are as abundant as the smiles you’ll encounter along the way. From art to nature, culture to adventure, these eight free activities beckon you to embrace the essence of Puerto Vallarta without spending a dime. As you indulge in these unforgettable experiences, you’ll discover that the “Friendliest City in the World” extends its warmth not only in its hospitality but also in the richness of its offerings.