Curious how to get from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara? This guide has you covered and it lays out every possible option for making the journey.
The two cities make a great travel pairing and if you’ve been spending a few days/weeks relaxing on the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, there may be a few reasons why you need to travel onwards to Guadalajara. Since the number of domestic and international flights available from Puerto Vallarta airport is limited, you may need to travel to Guadalajara for logistics reasons.
Guadalajara is well worth a couple of days’ exploration in itself. Besides the beautiful architecture, fascinating markets, and historic churches in the city center, the Jalisco capital also makes a great jumping-off point for exploring Tlaquepaque, Tequila, Lake Chapala, and Magdalena.
There is a distance of 334km between Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara. Depending on your transport method, this should take between 5 and 5.5 hours overland.
How to get from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara
There are essentially four different ways to get from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara. You could fly, take the bus, opt to rent a car, or hire a local driver.
Flying is arguably the fastest, most comfortable, and most convenient option. It is also not that much more expensive than taking the bus, particularly when booking your tickets in advance.
The bus is the cheapest option. However, it comes with a relatively long journey time (5-5.5 hours) along bumpy roads. It may also take longer than expected, since the bus will stop to drop off various passengers on the route, and there may be traffic.
Flying from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara
Several domestic airlines offer direct flights from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara. This includes Viva Aerobus, Aeromar, and TAR Aerolineas.
You can also fly indirectly via Mexico City with Volaris and AeroMexico. However, since this adds several hours to your journey and doesn’t really save you anything, there shouldn’t be any reason why you don’t fly direct.
You can get flights for as little as $44 USD one-way. This includes a personal item and a carry-on item that doesn’t exceed 10kg in weight.
Skyscanner and Expedia are both good platforms to use to review flight prices and book your tickets. If your flight dates are flexible, it might also pay to search for flights across an entire month-long period. You may be surprised to see how much the prices differ from one day to another, and what savings there are to be had.
The flight time is around 45-55 minutes. Even when you factor in the time spent waiting at the airport, and the transit time to and from each airport, flying is still significantly faster than traveling by bus.
Getting to Puerto Vallarta international airport
Puerto Vallarta’s Licenciado Gustavo Díaz (PVR) is located on the outskirts of the city and it is easy enough to get to whether you are staying in downtown Vallarta, the Romantic Zone, or all the way out in Conchas Chinas. Depending on where you are staying, your hotel may offer a complimentary airport shuttle service.
There are also several buses that run from various points around the city to the airport. You can check the various routes via Rutas Vallarta here.
Arguably the most convenient way to get to the airport is to take an Uber in Puerto Vallarta. This is both safer and more cost-effective than hailing a cab or organizing a private transfer in advance.
From the Zona Romantica to the airport, you can expect to pay around 150 pesos. From Conchas Chinas or Nuevo Vallarta, the fare may be between 240-300 pesos depending on the demand and traffic at the time of your journey.
Getting from Guadalajara airport to the city center
Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla airport (GDL) is located 12.4 miles away from the historic center of Guadalajara. The journey should take between 20 and 25 minutes by road, depending on traffic.
Guadalajara airport taxis are safe and reliable and there is always an abundance of them waiting outside Arrivals. Uber in Guadalajara is a more cost-effective alternative, and GDL is one of only a few Mexican airports where Ubers are permitted to pick up passengers.
There are currently no buses that depart from the airport to the city. However, if you don’t have a ton of luggage, you can exit the airport, cross the pedestrianized bridge over Carretera Chapala – Guadalajara and walk to the bus stop that travels into town.
This walk should take about 15-20 minutes. The buses that depart from here take you to Central Vieja station in Guadalajara and cost between 7-12 pesos depending on the specific bus you ride on.
Guadalajara is generally safe for tourists. However, it is arguably best not to try and walk and take the bus if you are arriving in the city late at night.
It is also worth noting that the area around Central Vieja is relatively sketchy. So, even if you take the bus into the city, you are still better to take a cab from there to where you are staying in Guadalajara.
On the whole, then, it is simply better to take an Uber directly from the airport. It is likely to cost between 200 and 220 pesos each way.
Taking the bus from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara
Regular buses run from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara, and back from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta. The journey should take 5.5 hours.
However, the bus will make various stops along the way and may take slightly longer. Several different bus companies serve this route and there are hourly departures.
Futura, Vallarta Plus, Primera, and Pacifico are all reputable options. There is really no such thing as a bad bus network in Jalisco so you may as well just purchase a seat on whichever bus departs at the most convenient time for you.
Primera Plus and ETN are the ¨luxury¨ options and offer additional amenities and comfort for a slightly higher price. (It is usually a difference of just a few pesos so it is worth paying extra).
Most buses are air-conditioned with reclining seats and a bathroom onboard. Even the older buses are perfectly comfortable.
Some of the more modern and luxurious buses offer complimentary water and snacks, USB charging ports, free wifi, and airplane-style televisions. Check the latest schedules and departures here.
You are fine to just rock up at the bus station and purchase a ticket there and then. Buses are seldom (if ever) full, even at weekends.
A ticket costs around 585 pesos ($29) one way. As mentioned, this is not much less than the flight prices (starting from $45), so it is up to you which option you prefer.
Driving from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara independently
Driving in Mexico is not as intimidating as it may sound. It gives you a lot more flexibility and independence during your trip and it can help you to reach off-the-beaten-path beaches and Pueblo Magicos that you may not have been able to reach via public transport.
Collecting your rental car
Several reputable international firms operate in Puerto Vallarta including Sixt, Alamo, and Enterprise Rent-a-Car. You are looking at a daily rental rate here of between $20 and $30 a day including full coverage insurance.
Small, independent local firms may offer cheaper rates but generally, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Check past reviews from other travelers before committing to a rental company. Discover Cars is a great tool for finding a vehicle and comparing prices and specs across various providers.
It is possible to collect your rental car from Puerto Vallarta airport and from various points around the city. Do keep in mind that one-way rentals often work out a lot more expensive than rentals where you return the vehicle to the same pickup point.
So, for instance, if you are planning to rent a car in Puerto Vallarta, drive up to Guadalajara, and leave the vehicle there, you ought to look at the costs. It would be cheaper to do a loop around Jalisco state and return the car to the same place you collected it from, but that all depends on your itinerary.
Driving conditions in Jalisco
There are several gorgeous towns and villages in southwestern Jalisco, close to Puerto Vallarta, that are awkward to get to by bus. If you rent a car, you can stop at the villages of San Sebastian del Oeste, Mascota, and Talpa de Allende en route to Guadalajara.
Do keep in mind that the journey does involve driving along some mountain roads and country lanes, some of which, are only wide enough to allow one car to pass at a time. Similarly, some of the roads in the southern part of the state are not well-maintained and have a lot of potholes.
If you are not accustomed to driving overseas/in Mexico, this can be intimidating so it is your call whether this is something you are comfortable doing or not. You should avoid driving at night for safety reasons, and also because many roads in Mexico are poorly lit.
For safety, opt to drive along the toll roads rather than the free roads. Check the US government travel advisory for any details on road closures or roads to avoid in Jalisco prior to your trip.
Organizing a Private Transfer from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara
You may be able to organize a private driver to take you from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara. However, this is far from being the most economic option, even if you are traveling as a group or a family.
The journey will take 5 hours and is likely to cost between $200 and $300 USD for up to 4-5 people plus luggage. You will need to organize this in advance of your trip with a local transport company. Uber drivers and street taxis are unlikely to accept the fare because of the distance involved and their need to make the return journey.
Have you made the journey from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara in the past? Which is your preferred mode of transportation?
If you are in the midst of planning your first Mexico trip, you might also enjoy reading these weird and wonderful facts about Mexico. Have a great time visiting Jalisco state!
Safe travels! Buen Viaje! Xo