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Wondering where to stay in Puerto Vallarta? Let me help! I live in Puerto Vallarta and have stayed in every neighborhood.
If you’re planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of neighborhoods to choose from. I get it!
The first time I visited, I was just as puzzled. But after living here for three years and exploring every area, I’ve created this guide to help you find the best places to stay in Puerto Vallarta.
You’re probably wondering, “Where should I stay in Puerto Vallarta to get the most out of my trip?” or “How do I know which area is safe and convenient?”
I’ve stayed in all these neighborhoods, from the bustling Zona Romántica to the tranquil Conchas Chinas.
Whether you’re into luxury hotels, boutique stays, or just want something simple by the beach, I’ve got you covered.
This post will walk you through the best neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta, from north to south, complete with hotel recommendations for each area.
Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
1. Marina Vallarta
This colonia is one of the prettiest and most exclusive areas of Puerto Vallarta. It’s a safe area that families love, complete with top-notch Puerto Vallarta hotels and a variety of tours that depart right from the marina.
Along the pier, you’ll find cafes, great restaurants, and boutique shops. Don’t miss the Thursday night market during the high season, a lovely market along the pier I’ve enjoyed many times.
For golf enthusiasts, the 18-hole Marina Vallarta Golf Course is a must-visit.
The marina is also conveniently located, just a five-minute drive from the airport and twenty minutes to Centro. Taxis aren’t as prominent as they are downtown, but Ubers are readily available.
Who Should Stay Here: This area is ideal for families and couples who appreciate the finer things but still want a touch of local culture. It’s safe, kid-friendly, and offers a range of activities that make vacation planning a breeze.
While Marina Vallarta offers a blend of luxury and local experiences, it’s not the most authentic part of Puerto Vallarta. For a deeper dive into local culture, you’ll want to head downtown.
Best things to do in Marina Vallarta:
- Take a whale-watching tour or catamaran trip from the pier
- Walk around the pier and explore the Thursday market
- Enjoy fresh seafood at the restaurants
2. North Hotel Zone
The North Hotel Zone offers a convenient beachfront experience that’s just a stone’s throw away from downtown Puerto Vallarta.
This area is a hub for hotels, shopping malls, and restaurants, making it a convenient choice – especially if you’re coming off a cruise ship!
During my first year living in Puerto Vallarta, I lived in Las Glorias, which is part of the Hotel Zone. I found it to be convenient, but it is touristy.
Along the main avenue, you’ll find a variety of dining options and shops. The area is also home to some of the city’s most popular beaches, like Playa de Oro.
Getting around is a breeze, as the North Hotel Zone is well-served by public transport and taxis. It’s about a 15-minute drive to the airport and just 10 minutes to downtown.
Who Should Stay Here: Ideal for travelers who want a mix of beach relaxation and city life. It’s a versatile area that suits both families and couples.
If you’re looking for an easy location between the airport and downtown, it’s a fantastic choice. Plus, most hotels here offer beautiful beachfront access.
While the North Hotel Zone offers convenience and a range of amenities, it lacks the local charm you’ll find in other parts of Puerto Vallarta. For a more authentic experience, consider staying downtown.
Things to do in North Hotel Zone:
- Take a dip in Playa de Oro
- Visit the La Isla Shopping Village for some retail therapy
- Enjoy international cuisine at the various restaurants
For a luxury experience, book a stay at Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All-Inclusive Resort & Spa and enjoy the outdoor pool.
Versalles is an emerging neighborhood that’s quickly gaining popularity among expats and digital nomads. It’s less touristy than other areas, offering a more authentic Puerto Vallarta experience.
I recently bought a condo in Versalles and am completely in love with the area. It was even named by Time Out as one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world!
But it’s not just a great place to live; travelers seeking a more authentic experience will also enjoy staying here, especially if you’re a food lover like me!
The neighborhood is a foodie’s paradise, with a range of local eateries and international restaurants. It feels like there is a new restaurant popping up every week in Versalles!
Getting around Puerto Vallarta from Versalles is easy, thanks to its central location. It’s about a 20-minute drive to the airport and just 15 minutes to downtown.
The closest beach is just a 10-minute walk away in the Hotel Zone.
Who Should Stay Here: This area is perfect for travelers who want to immerse themselves in local culture and cuisine. It’s also ideal for longer stays, thanks to the availability of vacation rentals.
While Versalles offers a more authentic experience, it may not have all the amenities and activities found in more touristy areas.
Things to do in Versalles:
- Explore the local food scene, from taco stands to gourmet dining
- Walk 10 minutes to the beach in the hotel zone
- Check out local boutique shops
While there aren’t big-name hotels, you’ll find a variety of vacation rentals on VRBO that offer a cozy, home-like experience. And many have rooftop pools!
4. 5 de Diciembre
5 de Diciembre is a neighborhood that captures the essence of Puerto Vallarta’s past while offering modern amenities.
It’s a place where you’ll find locals going about their daily lives, mixed with tourists exploring the vibrant streets.
While I haven’t lived in 5 de Diciembre, I’ve spent a lot of time here hanging out in cafes and bars.
The area is home to some of Puerto Vallarta’s oldest shops and restaurants, giving you a taste of tradition. But you’ll also find newer establishments that cater to a more modern palate.
Playa Camarones, one of the less crowded beaches, is easily accessible from this neighborhood. It’s a great spot to spend a beach day.
Getting around 5 de Diciembre is simple, as it’s centrally located with buses running frequently. It’s about a 20-minute drive to the airport and just a few minutes to the Malecón and downtown.
Who Should Stay Here: This is one of the best areas to stay in Puerto Vallarta for travelers who want a more local experience that’s still safe. It’s a versatile neighborhood that’s great for both short stays and longer vacations.
While 5 de Diciembre offers a rich cultural experience, it’s not as polished as some of the more touristy areas. But if you’re looking for an authentic slice of Puerto Vallarta, this is your spot.
Things to do in 5 de Diciembre:
- Chill out on Playa Camarones
- Explore Plaza Hidalgo, the public square
- Enjoy local cuisine at traditional Mexican restaurants
For a stay that captures the essence of the neighborhood, book a room at the Paramar Boutique Hotel. It’s on Playa Camarones, surrounded by restaurants and bars.
5. El Centro
El Centro is literally at the center of it all. This bustling neighborhood is the heart of Puerto Vallarta, offering everything from historic landmarks to trendy bars.
El Centro is one of my go-to spot for a lively night out or a day of cultural exploration. With its mix of traditional and contemporary, it’s a neighborhood that I never get tired of exploring.
The area is rich in history, featuring iconic spots like the Malecón boardwalk and the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. But it’s also home to modern art galleries, hip cafes, and a vibrant nightlife.
The popular Playa Los Muertos is just a short walk away, offering a beach experience that’s as lively as the neighborhood itself.
Getting around El Centro is easy, thanks to its central location. It’s about a 30-minute drive to the airport, and restaurants, bars, and shops will be outside your door.
Who Should Stay Here: El Centro is perfect for travelers who want to be in the middle of the action.
While El Centro offers a plethora of activities and sights, it can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season. But if you’re looking for a place that encapsulates the spirit of Puerto Vallarta, you can’t go wrong here.
Things to do in El Centro:
- Stroll along the Malecón boardwalk and enjoy street performances
- Visit the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Take part in the Art Walk on Wednesday evenings during high season
How about staying at the former house of Old Hollywood’s legend Elizabeth Taylor? Casa Kimberly Boutique Hotel is the restored house where the actress lived in Vallarta with Richard Burton.
6. Zona Romántica
Known for its vibrant nightlife and welcoming atmosphere, Zona Romanica (the Old Town) is the top choice for LGBTQ+ travelers and anyone looking to have a good time.
I lived in the Romantic Zone for almost a year, and the biggest challenge was resisting the urge to go out every night! Whether I was walking my dog or just stepping out for groceries, I’d always run into a friend.
It can get loud, especially near the core bars, but a short distance away offers a quieter experience. While I eventually moved on, if you’re looking for a lively vacation, this is your spot.
The area is home to a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants, making it a hub for nightlife. But it’s not all about the party; you’ll also find charming cobblestone streets and boutique shops.
Los Muertos Beach is right here, and it’s not just great for sunbathing—it’s also a convenient launch point for boats to nearby beach towns.
Getting around Zona Romántica is a breeze, as it’s centrally located. It’s about a 30-minute drive to the airport.
Who Should Stay Here: This area is perfect for gay travelers and those who want to be close to nightlife. It’s a lively neighborhood that’s great for both short stays and longer vacations.
While Zona Romántica offers a vibrant social scene, it can get noisy, especially during the late hours. But if you’re looking for a place that’s buzzing with energy, you’ve found it.
Things to do in Zona Romantica:
- Enjoy the vibrant LGBTQ+ nightlife
- Explore the charming cobblestone streets and boutique shops
- Take a boat from Los Muertos Beach to explore nearby beach towns
For a stay that puts you in the middle of all the action, consider booking at the Almar Resort. It’s an LGBTQ+-friendly resort that offers a mix of luxury and fun.
7. Amapas & Conchas Chinas
Amapas and Conchas Chinas are the epitome of luxury and tranquility in Puerto Vallarta.
Nestled in the Sierra Madre mountains, these neighborhoods offer spectacular views and a more secluded experience.
I’ve spent time here during yoga retreats, and it’s such a peaceful area connected to nature. It’s hard to believe it’s just 5 minutes from downtown! These areas are perfect for when you want to escape the hustle and bustle but still be close to the action.
The neighborhoods are known for their upscale villas and condos, many of which come with private terraces and infinity pools overlooking the bay.
It feels worlds away from the busy streets of downtown, yet it’s such a short drive away.
Although most hotels and resorts are in the hills, Conchas Chinas Beach is within walking distance, and Ubers are available to take you back up the hill for just a couple of dollars.
Getting around Amapas and Conchas Chinas is best done by car or Uber, given the hilly terrain. It’s about a 35-minute drive to the airport and 5 minutes to downtown.
Who Should Stay Here: Ideal for travelers looking for a luxurious and peaceful vacation. It’s perfect for honeymooners, couples, or anyone wanting a more upscale experience.
While Amapas and Conchas Chinas offer a luxurious escape, they’re not the best for those who want to be in the middle of the action. But if you’re looking for a serene hideaway, this is your paradise.
Things to do in Amapas/Conchas Chinas:
- Relax at the secluded Conchas Chinas Beach
- Enjoy a romantic dinner with Pacific ocean views
- Take a scenic hike in the surrounding hills
A great place to stay in Amapas is Hotel Amaca, which is home to one of my favorite rooftop bars in Puerto Vallarta with sweeping views of Banderas Bay.
8. South Hotel Zone
The South Hotel Zone is the epitome of resort living in Puerto Vallarta. This area is home to some of the city’s best all-inclusive hotels and resorts, offering a vacation experience that’s all about luxury and relaxation.
While I haven’t lived in the South Zone, I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out in the resorts and beach clubs and can vouch for its stunning landscapes.
It’s not the most convenient location, but if you’re looking to spend most of your time on the beach, this is the place to be.
These resorts often come with a range of amenities, including private beaches, multiple outdoor swimming pools, and world-class dining options. Plus, most have concierge services that can organize tours to other areas for you, making it easy to explore Puerto Vallarta without the hassle.
This area boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Puerto Vallarta, offering a more exclusive and less crowded experience.
Getting around the South Hotel Zone is best done by taxi or resort shuttle services, as it’s a bit removed from the downtown area. It’s about a 45-minute drive to the airport.
Who Should Stay Here: This area is ideal for travelers who prioritize luxury and are looking for a resort-centric vacation. It’s perfect for those who want to indulge in the finer things while enjoying the best beaches.
While the South Hotel Zone offers a luxurious and secluded experience, it’s not the most convenient for those who want to explore the city extensively. But if a resort-focused vacation is what you’re after, you’ve found your paradise.
Things to do in the South Hotel Zone:
- Lounge on the private beaches of your resort
- Take advantage of on-site amenities like spas and fine dining
- Use concierge services to book tours and explore other areas
For a luxurious experience that leaves nothing to be desired, consider staying at the Garza Blanca Preserve Resort & Spa. It offers a range of high-end amenities and unparalleled ocean views.
FAQ: Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta
What part of Puerto Vallarta is best to stay in?
The best area to stay in depends on your preferences. For luxury and seclusion, consider Amapas/Conchas Chinas. For vibrant nightlife, Zona Romántica is your go-to.
Where should I stay in Puerto Vallarta for the first time?
If you’re wondering where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for first time, El Centro or the North Hotel Zone is a safe bet. These areas are convenient and offer a mix of local culture and modern amenities.
What is the coolest area of Puerto Vallarta?
Zona Romántica is often considered the coolest area, known for its vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, nightlife, and charming streets.
Can you get around Puerto Vallarta without a car?
Yes, you can easily get around Puerto Vallarta without a car using taxis, Ubers, and local buses. Some areas are also walkable.
Can you walk along the beach in Puerto Vallarta?
Absolutely, many areas like Playa Los Muertos in Zona Romántica and Playa Camarones in 5 de Diciembre are perfect for beach walks.
What is the most walkable area in Puerto Vallarta?
El Centro is the most walkable area, with many attractions, shops, and restaurants within easy walking distance.
Is Puerto Vallarta a walkable city?
Certain areas like El Centro and Zona Romántica are walkable, but for more distant neighborhoods, you’ll need transportation.
What is the famous street in Puerto Vallarta?
The Malecón boardwalk is the most famous street, lined with shops, restaurants, and street performers.
Is it safe to leave the resort in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, it’s generally safe to leave the resort, especially during daylight hours. Just exercise common sense and stay in well-traveled areas.
Is there a hop-on hop-off bus in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, there is a hop-on-hop-off bus in Puerto Vallarta you can book online here.
Final thoughts: Where is the best place to stay in Puerto Vallarta?
Choosing where to stay in Puerto Vallarta can make or break your vacation, but with this comprehensive guide, you’re well-equipped to make the best choice for you.
Whether you’re seeking the vibrant nightlife of Zona Romántica, the luxury of Amapas and Conchas Chinas, or the cultural richness of El Centro, there’s a neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta that’s perfect for your travel style.
Having lived in multiple neighborhoods and spent countless hours exploring others, I can confidently say that each area has its own unique charm and advantages. And remember, no matter where you choose to stay, the magic of Puerto Vallarta is bound to leave you enchanted.