Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta: Your Local’s Guide for 2024

Deciding where to stay in Puerto Vallarta can be overwhelming as there are so many different options available, and the “best” place to choose can be somewhat subjective depending on exactly what you are looking for during your trip. 

Not to worry. You are in good hands here because I live in Mexico and I have spent months and months based in Puerto Vallarta so I feel well poised to advise you on the best areas and hotels to stay in depending on your budget and travel style. 

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta: Conchas Chinas at sunset

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta in 2024

The good thing about traveling to Puerto Vallarta is that the popular coastal town is relatively compact, meaning wherever you choose to stay within the city limits doesn’t place you too far away from Vallarta’s best restaurants, beaches, barrios, and attractions. 

That being said, if you want to be in a super central location that places you right in the heart of the action where the malecon and city beaches are just a short walk away, you want to look at hotels in Marina Vallarta, Las Glorias, 5 de Diciembre, Versalles, Centro and Zona Romantica. 

Versalles is the more upscale of the group, while Zona Romantica is one of the best LGBTQI+ friendly areas in Latin America and a great place to experience Puerto Vallarta by night. 

If you are seeking something more upscale, check out Conchas Chinas or Punta Mita across the border in Nayarit. Conchas Chinas is the “Beverly Hills” of Puerto Vallarta and the hilltop hotels and resorts here have unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, Los Arcos and the Bahia de Banderas, although you are some 15-20 minutes walk away from the beach down a steep hill. 

If you want luxury right on the coast, many of Vallarta’s most exclusive resorts are found in and around Punta Mita, including the new Four Seasons resort. Nearby Nuevo Vallarta is a planned tourism development similar to Cancun’s Hotel Zone, home to several luxury properties owned by the Vidanta group. 

If you want to experience a different, more authentic side of Puerto Vallarta away from the tourist crowds and gentrified areas, you might want to look at El Pitillal. 

A rooftop view from Las Gloria, Puerto Vallarta

Best Neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta 

Versalles 

Despite its central location, Versalles is a somewhat quiet, peaceful district of Puerto Vallarta that sits between avenue Francisco Medina Ascencio and Francisco Villa avenue. It is one of the more upscale options in town and in many ways, Versailles feels more like a sleepy village, than a neighborhood in one of Mexicos most popular tourist towns.  

The leafy, tree-lined streets of Versalles are filled with excellent restaurants, artisanal stores, independent galleries, and cute coffee shops. Its adorable traditional single-story houses are draped with bougenvilea flowers and in many ways, Versalles (pronounced just like Versailles in France) feels similar to Chapalita or Colonia Americana in Guadalajara. 

Despite being a relatively desirable locale (and also being quite a popular choice among expats), you can still find great hotels here that don’t break the bank, particularly if you are willing to travel outside of the high season (December to March). 

In 2022, a survey by Time Out Magazine even ranked it as being one of the most attractive neighborhoods in the world!

The streets of Versalles are lined with excellent bars, coffee shops and restaurants

Best hotels in Versalles Puerto Vallarta

  • Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway

  • Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort & Spa

  • Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta

  • Zen Harmony hotel (great budget choice)
The central square of El Pitillal, Vallarta

El Pitillal 

El Pitillal, affectionately nicknamed “Piti-York” by its local residents, is a charming, quintessentially Mexican barrio in Puerto Vallarta that most tourists do not take the time to venture to. Once upon a time, Pitillal was its own independent town, although urban expansion has seen it gradually consumed by Vallarta’s ever-growing borders. 

A stone plaza nicknamed Piti-Park marks the center of town and is a popular rendezvous point among locals, especially when the sun goes down. In the evening, dozens of street vendors set up their stalls here selling everything from elotes preperados, tostelotes, and salchipapas. 

Calle 5 de Mayo is a fun place to wander down as you will find all many of weird and wonderful stores here selling everything from Quinceñeara ball gowns to beauty products, household items, and traditional candies. A particularly fun store to look out for is “El Vaquero” which sells leather boots, hats, and clothing for real Mexican cowboys. 

Some of the best eateries in town can be found here – particularly if you are looking for real, authentic heaty Jaliscan fare served in humble restaurants where the only other patrons are locals. Stop for dinner at El Rincon Mexicano, where you can sample some of the best tacos dorados you have ever tasted, and be sure to sample the locally famous tacos at Don Netos. 

A quiet morning at Marina Vallarta

Marina Vallarta 

Marina Vallarta is a nice area to base yourself in Puerto Vallarta if you want to have plenty of dining options right beside your hotel, as well as your home comforts when you travel. There are some great breakfast, brunch and dinner options here and it is pleasant to walk along the marina waterfront, particularly in the evenings after the sun goes down.

Mr Cream Pancakes & Waffles is a great place to go for a hearty American breakfast. Meanwhile D’z Route 66 Diner is a charming diner that seemingly transports you back to the 1950s USA with fun decor and a menu that sells everything from breakfast pancake stacks to juicy hamburgers for lunch and dinner.

In the evenings, Cerveceria Chapultapec is a fun place to hang out. This beer hall sells a wide range of Mexican and artisanal beers, blasts out Latin and reggaeton music, and there are always a fun crowd of locals and expats hanging out here. 

The best part of visiting are the botanas. Everything on the menu is just 25 pesos (About $1.48 USD) and you can order delicious, miniature bite-sized hamburgers, lonchecitos, tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and even mini flans and desserts. 

Nearby, you also have the La Isla and Galleria Puerto Vallarta malls, which are among the best places for shopping in town. 

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta: A sunny day at Marina Vallarta
A sunny day at Marina Vallarta

Best hotels in Marina Vallarta 

  • Flamingo Vallarta Hotel & Marina

  • Velas Vallarta Condo

  • San Tropico Boutique Hotel & Peaceful Escape

  • Holiday Inn & Suites: Puerto Vallarta Marina & Golf

  • Hotel Mar Caribe Puerto Vallarta
Looking out to the Bahia de Banderas from Mismaloya
Looking out to the Bahia de Banderas from Mismaloya

Mismaloya 

If you want to be right by the beach during your stay in Puerto Vallarta, there are some great luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts in and around Mismaloya. There are pros and cons to being here – the pro being, you can wake up each morning, roll out of bed, and you are directly on the beach, and the con being, you are at least a 45 minute drive away from downtown Puerto Vallarta. 

(Although fortunately, Uber exists in Puerto Vallarta and it is easy enough to get a ride to and from Mismaloya, even in the evenings). Many hotels and resorts in this area also offer their own shuttles or taxi services. 

Mismaloya also makes a great base for exploring other gorgeous stretches of the Jalisco coastline. From here, you can easily get to Boca de Tomatlan in order to take a little fishing boat out to Yelapa, or the secluded beach of Colomitos. 

If you are renting a car in Puerto Vallarta, it makes it even easier to venture up the coast from Mismaloya to the gorgeous beaches of Playa Las Animas and Playa Caballo. 

Best hotels in Mismaloya

  • Hotel Casa Iguana Mismaloya

  • Grand Park Royal Puerto Vallarta (All Inclusive)

  • Costa Sur Resort & Spa

  • Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa

  • Hotel Mousai (Adults only)

  • Traditional Sierra Leon Oceanfront Rooms (Adults only)
Playa Camerones, 5 de Diciembre, Puerto Vallarta
Playa Camerones, 5 de Diciembre, Puerto Vallarta

5 de Diciembre 

If you want to stay in a very central neighborhood without being somewhere that is overly touristy and loses its distinct Mexican charm, 5 de Diciembre is a great choice. Nicknamed “5D” for short, the street food scene here is unparalleled, and whatever time of day you pass through the area, you will find taco trucks selling delicious birria and piping hot tacos al pastor lining the streets.

There is a fantastic mercado in 5D, as well as some of the best street art in Puerto Vallarta. Despite being a predominantly Mexican residential neighborhood, that definitely doesnt mean that 5 de Diciembre is a boring place or a place with little to do. 

Here you can people-watch and enjoy scenes of local life – kids playing “chamoy”, Mexican street vendors preparing hot dogs and hamburguesas, shop owners making papier mache piñatas, and families hosting fiestas in their front gardens. Playa Camarones is a short walk away and is a beautiful stretch of pristine white sand coastline famous for its “camarones” (Grilled shrimps served on sticks). 

Even though this beach is very popular among Mexicans and tourists alike and can get crowded at weekends, nothing detracts from its charm. 

Locals see who can make the tallest tower of stones on a beach in Puerto Vallarta

Best hotels in 5D

  • Casa Mission

  • Hotel Portonovo Plaza Malecon

  • Hotel Paloma del Mar

  • Mocali

  • Hotel El Pescador
Sculptures of Mariachi dancers along the Puerto Vallarta Malecon

Centro Vallarta 

The historic center of Puerto Vallarta is where you will find the city’s most photogenic and beautiful narrow cobblestone streets, centuries-old churches, and charming plazas where live musicians often perform on public holidays and weekends. It is also here where you will find the Puerto Vallarta Malecon – a 12-mile coastal walkway lined with contemporary art sculptures, fun bars and restaurants, ramshackle stores selling souvenirs and clothing, and of course, sweeping vistas over the Pacific Ocean. 

Look out for evening performances by the “Papantla Flying Men”. This ritual dance dates back millenia and has even been designated as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” by UNESCO.

The performance sees a group of five men in traditional dress dance around a 90 foot pole before ascending to the top. Once at the top, one of the dancers plays music on a flute and a drum while the others use ropes to gradually descend back down to ground level.

At the malecon you can also sample tuba – a traditional Mexican drink that is only really found in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, made using the fermented sap from palm trees. There is almost always something going on at the Plaza Hidalgo square, opposite the Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Refugio catholic church, and the vendors here serve some of the best tacos in town. 

Best hotels in Centro Vallarta 

  • Hotel Rio Malecon

  • Bellview Hotel Boutique

  • Hotel Porto Allegro Puerto Vallarta

  • Blaze Hotel & Suites

Nuevo Vallarta 

Nuevo Vallarta is a planned resort that awaits just across the Jalisco border in the state of Nayarit and is essentially an extension of the PV Hotel Zone. The Vidanta complex of approximately 40 (!) luxury Vidanta-ownerd hotels can be found here, which is essentially like a village in itself, complete with Cirque de Soleil performances, golf carts, and indulgent restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. 

Like Mismaloya, Punta Mita and Conchas Chinas, Nuevo Vallarta is a great place to stay in Puerto Vallarta if your idea of the perfect Mexico getaway is days spent relaxing by the pool or the beach, getting treatments at the spa, and generally just unwinding. The beach at Buscerias nearby is quite pretty, and a perfect place for watersports or a day by the sea. 

A little further into Nayarit, you can see crocodiles, turtles, and other native regional  in their natural habitat and learn about local conservation efforts at the El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary. (Bucerias Carretera Puerto Vallarta-Tepic Bucerías, 63735 Nuevo Vallarta). 

Since Nuevo Vallarta is literally just across the Jalisco/Nayarit border, it only takes around 15-20 minutes to get to Marina Vallarta and its many excellent restaurants from here. 

Best hotels in Nuevo Vallarta 

  • Hotel Villa Varadero

  • Wyndham Alltra Vallarta All-Inclusive Resort

  • Villas Parota Inn

  • Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta All-Inclusive

  • Occidental Nuevo Vallarta

  • Marina Suites by Andiani Travel

Conchas Chinas 

Conchas Chinas, meaning “Chinese shells” in Spanish is one of the most exclusive areas in the city, located just south of the city center. It is known as the “Beverly Hills” of Puerto Vallarta and takes its name from the little white shells that are found only on the beaches in this area.

If you are seeking peace and seclusion in a luxury boutique hotel away from most of the tourist hordes, this may be the right choice for you. 

If you opt to stay in one of the hotels or luxury resorts high in the hills here, you can enjoy unparalleled views over the Pacific Ocean from your balcony. The panoramas are particularly magical at sunset. 

At this time, the sky is illuminated with shades of pink and orange, and there is no one around, bar the occasional sailboat floating along the horizon. There are only a small handful of bars and restaurants in this area, although most hotels do boast their own exquisite in-house restaurants and offer room service.

This can be perfect if you want to unwind and relax! Restaurant Bar El Set (Carr. Costera a Barra de Navidad 1182) is a grill house restaurant with some of the best sea views in town. Meanwhile, Restaurant La Playita (Carr. Costera a Barra de Navidad Km. 2.5-Int. 1190) serves up the freshest seafood prepared with catches caught earlier that same day. 

The beach here, though small, seldom sees more than a handful of people. It is framed by rocky coastlines and palm trees and looks like something straight from a postcard.

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta: Conchas Chinas
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta: Conchas Chinas

Best hotels in Conchas Chinas 

Conchas Chinas caters to those seeking a luxury travel experience. Still, this is Mexico, and even though upscale hotels come with a higher price tag than budget ones, they remain substantially cheaper than luxe properties in the US and elsewhere. 

  • Grand Miramar Resort

  • Hotel Playa Conchas Chinas

  • Mondavi Wellness Resort & Spa

  • Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta 

Punta de Mita 

Punta de Mita is just under an hour away from Puerto Vallarta and, like Conchas Chinas, it exudes a chic, upscale, exclusive vibe. This private peninsula extends across an area of 1,500m and is home to several renowned international luxe hotels, including the Four Seasons and St. Regis.

Historically, Punta de Mita was little more than just a fishing village that was occupied by fishermen, tradesmen, and creatives. In time, it has developed into one of the best places to see and be seen in west-central Mexico.

The area is characterized by its pristine white-sand tropical beaches that give the feeling of being on a remote desert island somewhere. They are bordered by translucent, turquoise waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

From here, you can also take a boat out the Las Islas Marietas. This natural sanctuary, recognized by UNESCO, was designated as a protected biosphere reserve in 2008.

This is one of the best places to go whale watching in Mexico during the spring months. At all other times of the year, it is still a wonderful place to hang out on the hidden beach and see the various other endangered flora, fauna, and wildlife that call the reserve home.   

Like Conchas Chinas, there are a limited amount of bars and restaurants in glamorous Punta de Mita. However, you will definitely find exquisite dining options within your resort.

If you like to play golf, the Punta de Mita golf course is set on a little island off the coast that is joined to the mainland by a thin stretch of land. It is widely regarded as being one of the very best golf courses in the world. 

Best hotels in Punta de Mita 

Punta de Mita is a great area to stay in if you want the experience of being treated like a VIP. Many of the hotels found here are high-end, globally recognized brand names. 

  • Conrad Punta de Mita

  • The W Punta de Mita

  • Imanta Resorts Punta de Mita

  • The St Regis Punta de Mita

  • The Four Seasons Resort Punta de Mita 
A sculpture close to Playa Los Muertos, Vallarta

Zona Romantica 

If you are wondering where to stay in Puerto Vallarta as a first-time visitor, Zona Romantica may be one of the best options for you. This district, also known as “Viejo” or “Old Vallarta” is one of the liveliest in town.

Some of the best Puerto Vallarta restaurants can be found here, and they serve everything from regional Jaliscan fare and traditional Mexican food to international cuisine.

Zona Romantica is characterized by its narrow cobbled streets and passageways that seemingly take you on a journey back in time. This is is one of the best LGBTQI-districts in Latin America, with tons of great gay bars and gay-only or gay-friendly hotels.

Staying in Zona Romantica places you within walking distance of many of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta. The quaint little stores and boutiques in the area sell everything from vintage fashion pieces and homemade cosmetics to quirky handicrafts and quintessentially Mexican souvenirs.

On Saturdays, you can stop by the Olas Atlas Saturday Market. Every weekend, thousands of farmers and vendors from across Jalisco set up stalls to sell fresh fruits and veggies, jams, jellies, baked goods, and artisanal products.

Zona Romantica really comes to life at night and there is something for everyone here from chic cocktail bars to livelier clubs, live music venues and drag shows.

If you are looking for gay bars, add Mr. Flamingo, La Noche, Queens Bar, and Blondies Loft to your radar.

Best hotels in Zona Romantica

Despite the fact that Zona Romantica is one of the liveliest areas in Puerto Vallarta, you will still find that you are able to get a good night’s sleep at most of the hotels here. Many are located down side streets, away from the immediate noise of the bars and clubs.

Since this is one of the most sought-after areas of town, you will find something for every taste and budget here. The area has everything from budget backpacker hostels to eccentric-themed boutiques and more luxurious options.

  • Playa Los Arcos Hotel Beach Resort & Spa

     
  • Almar Resort Luxury LGBT Beachfront Experience

  • Pinnacle Resorts 180

  • Casa Dona Susana

  • Hotel Amaca

  • Hotel Tropicana

  • Rivera del Rio Boutique Hotel

  • Los Arcos Suites 

Mezcales, Nayarit 

If you are on a really tight budget during your time in Vallarta, cheaper accommodation options can be found across the border in Mezcales, Nayarit. This is where a lot of Mexican locals that work in Nuevo Vallarta and the Vidanta group choose to live. 

Mezcales is safe, and there is a fun local vibe in the Valle Dorado district in particular. (My partner and I spent 6 weeks here while visiting his family in Jalisco). There is a really great bar called Indie Bahia in Plaza Dorada (Avenida, Valle de México 2, Valle Dorado) that sells some of the best mezcalita cocktails and bar food Ive had in Mexico. 

The only downside to staying in Mezcales is that you have a bit of a trek by bus/Uber when you want to head downtown. An Uber from here to Galarias mall cost around 150 pesos, and to Las Glorias/the downtown area, it was often between 200 and 250 pesos each way depending on the time of day/demand for Uber. 

Zona Hoteleria 

The Zona Hoteleria is a purpose-built hotel zone in the northern part of Puerto Vallarta. It occupies a stretch of land along the waterfront and contains the beaches of Playa de Oro, Playa Flamingos, and Playa Los Tules within its grasp.

Here, you will find many contemporary, modern, glittering hotel buildings, and some of the only all-inclusive resorts in the city. Puerto Vallarta airport is conveniently close (just a 12-minute drive/5km distance away), and the Galerias mall is right on your doorstep for all of your shopping needs.

This is a great place to base yourself if you want to have all of your amenities and home comforts, and prefer to spend your days relaxing by the pool or by the beach without needing to venture too far.

Dining-wise, the restaurants in this area are a varied bunch. You will find everything from artisanal coffee shops, to health food restaurants, Caribbean kitchens, family-owned Jaliscan eateries, and American burger joints.

If you want to venture into other parts of town during your stay, the historic center of Puerto Vallarta and the Malecon is a 35-minute walk away. (Or a 5-minute Puerto Vallarta Uber ride). From here, Playa Los Muertos and the bars and restaurants of Zona Romantica are 4.3km away.

Best hotels in Zona Hoteleria

A selection of independent and globally recognized hotel brands can be found in Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Hoteleria. If you are looking to go all-inclusive, you can find double rooms with everything included in three and four-star properties from $120 per night.

  • Villas del Sol en Los Tules

  • Las Palmas by the Sea All Inclusive

  • Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive & Spa

  • Hotel Mio Vallarta

  • Hotel Hacienda Vallarta – Playa Las Glorias

  • Mexican Experience By Villa del Palmar Vallarta 
Looking out to the Pacific from Conchas Chinas

FAQs About Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

Do you still have questions or concerns about where to stay in Puerto Vallarta? I have answered some FAQs below.

Hopefully, you will find the answers you are looking for here, but if not, you are welcome to reach out to me.

What is the nicest part of Puerto Vallarta?

Punta de Mita and Conchas Chinas are arguably the “nicest” parts of Puerto Vallarta as they are the most exclusive and upscale. Punta de Mita is a private peninsula home to secluded beaches and luxurious hotels and resorts while Conchas Chinas is known as the “Beverly Hills” of Puerto Vallarta. 

What part of Puerto Vallarta has the best beaches?

There are great beaches scattered all over Puerto Vallarta and wider Jalisco. If you are seeking peace and seclusion, you will enjoy Punta de Mita and Conchas Chinas while Los Muertos is the liveliest in town, lined with bars, and Playa de Camarones has a super fun local vibe.

Is Puerto Vallarta walkable?

Yes. Puerto Vallarta is a very walkable place and it is perfectly safe to explore too.

Even non gentrified areas like Pitillal are perfectly safe and you can essentially explore the entire city on foot. You can follow the Malecon all the way from one side of the city to the other.

Both the historic center and the Zona Romantica area are made up of labyrinth-like networks of cobbled streets and passageways and part of the joy of exploring these areas is found in simply allowing yourself the opportunity to get lost.

Where is better Nuevo Vallarta or Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta is arguably the better area to stay if you want to be in a central location and experience Mexican traditions in the city’s charming historic center. However, Nuevo Vallarta is home to more resorts and luxury hotels which may be preferable if you want to be somewhere with all the amenities and home comforts.

Where do rich people live in Puerto Vallarta?

Amapas and Conchas Chinas are the most exclusive areas of Puerto Vallarta. Here, high in the hills, you will find incredible properties and luxury apartment buildings overlooking the ocean. 

Versalles is considered pretty upscale too, and honestly pretty central with an Ocean view does not come cheap and is essentially prime real estate, especially as Vallarta becomes increasingly popular with foreign expats and investors.

Playa Camarones, Puerto Vallarta

Final thoughts on Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

Although the number of different neighborhoods and accommodation options in Puerto Vallarta can seem a little overwhelming, the reality is that there is no such thing as a bad place to stay here. If you are torn between a couple of options, try not to stress.

Basically anywhere on this list still makes it easy for you to get around, enjoy great food, and even take day trips out to places in the wider Jalisco area like San Sebastian del Oeste and Mascota. 

Do you have any further thoughts or concerns about the best places to stay in Puerto Vallarta? As I mentioned, I have been living in Mexico for several years and have visited PV a bunch of times. 

Most recently, I spent 2 months here with my Mexican partner and his family in late 2023. I know the city very well, and I am always happy to chat about your travels to Mexico so please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below or connect with me via email/social media if you need anything and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

If you are visiting Mexico for the first time, you might also enjoy reviewing these travel tips. Until next time, safe travels, and enjoy Mexico!

Buen Viaje! Melissa xo


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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