Free Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta
Are you planning to visit Puerto Vallarta soon but don’t want to break the bank? Have no fear, as there are plenty of fun activities that won’t cost you a penny! From exploring the vibrant city to visiting historic sites and watching wildlife, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Read on to learn about the top 10 free activities you can experience in Puerto Vallarta.
1. Discover The Charm Of Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon
Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon, or boardwalk, is the perfect place to experience the vibrant energy and culture of the city. The Malecon stretches for over a mile along the coastline and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. As you walk along the Malecon, you’ll encounter street performers, artists, and vendors selling handmade crafts and souvenirs. Take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy one of the many free public sculptures or the famous arches of Puerto Vallarta.
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The Malecon is also home to a variety of restaurants and cafes, so be sure to stop and indulge in some delicious Mexican cuisine while taking in the beautiful surroundings. The best time to visit the Malecon is in the evening when the area comes to life with twinkling lights and music.
Don’t forget to take a stroll down to the pier at the end of the Malecon for stunning views of the sun setting over the ocean. The Malecon truly captures the essence of Puerto Vallarta and is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. Best of all, it’s completely free!
2. Take A Stroll Through The Romantic Zone
The Romantic Zone, also known as Old Vallarta, is the heart of Puerto Vallarta and the perfect place to take a relaxing stroll. This charming area is full of cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and lively atmosphere. It is home to many restaurants, bars, and shops, where you can taste delicious local food and buy unique souvenirs.
One of the main attractions of the Romantic Zone is the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a stunning example of Mexican architecture. The church is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike and is often surrounded by street performers and vendors.
As you walk through the Romantic Zone, take a moment to admire the stunning views of Banderas Bay. You can also find several small parks and plazas to relax in and enjoy the local atmosphere.
Another highlight of the Romantic Zone is the weekly Farmers Market on Saturdays. Here, you can find fresh fruits and vegetables, handmade crafts, and other local products. The market is a great place to interact with locals and learn about the region’s rich culture. Overall, taking a stroll through the Romantic Zone is a great way to experience the beauty and charm of Puerto Vallarta without spending a dime.
3. Explore The Botanical Gardens
If you’re a nature lover, the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens are a must-visit destination. The gardens boast a diverse collection of native Mexican flora, as well as exotic species from around the world. The tranquil setting is the perfect place to take a break from the bustling city and immerse yourself in nature.
You can take a guided tour, led by knowledgeable local experts, to learn about the various plants and their unique characteristics. The garden also has a butterfly sanctuary, a tropical bird house, and several ponds with resident fish. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a family of iguanas lounging in the sun.
Admission to the botanical gardens is free, but donations are encouraged to help with maintenance and conservation efforts. The gardens are located about 30 minutes from downtown Puerto Vallarta, but the trip is worth it for the chance to get up close and personal with some of Mexico’s most beautiful plant life.
4. Visit The El Salado Estuary And Protected Area
Nature lovers will find plenty to enjoy at the El Salado Estuary and Protected Area. This biodiverse oasis is a bird watcher’s paradise, with over 100 species of birds calling the area home. Visitors can explore the protected mangrove forests, freshwater lagoon, and sandy beach.
There are several walking trails to choose from, including a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including crocodiles, iguanas, and crabs. The estuary also offers boat tours for those who want to venture deeper into the mangroves.
In addition to the natural beauty, the El Salado Estuary and Protected Area offers educational exhibits on the local flora and fauna, as well as the conservation efforts in the area. Entrance to the park is free, although donations are encouraged to support the conservation efforts. Plan to spend a few hours at the El Salado Estuary and Protected Area, soaking in the tranquil surroundings and learning about the diverse ecosystems of Puerto Vallarta.
5. Experience The Local Culture At Los Arcos Amphitheater
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture of Puerto Vallarta, the Los Arcos Amphitheater is a must-visit destination. Located in the heart of Old Town, this open-air theater regularly hosts free concerts and cultural events throughout the year.
You’ll have the opportunity to experience traditional Mexican music, dance, and theater performances that celebrate the city’s vibrant heritage and cultural traditions. From live mariachi bands to modern dance troupes, the performers at Los Arcos will entertain and inspire you.
The theater is surrounded by picturesque cobblestone streets and colonial buildings, adding to its charm and character. You’ll feel like a local as you mingle with other attendees and savor the authentic sights and sounds of Puerto Vallarta. So, make sure to add Los Arcos Amphitheater to your itinerary during your next visit to Puerto Vallarta. It’s the perfect place to experience the local culture and immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of this enchanting city. Best of all, it’s free!
6. Enjoy The Free Art Walk In Old Town
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in Puerto Vallarta’s vibrant art scene is by taking part in the free art walk in Old Town. Held every Wednesday evening from October through May, the art walk allows visitors to explore the area’s galleries and art studios, all while enjoying free wine and snacks.
During the art walk, visitors can discover everything from traditional Mexican art to contemporary works by local and international artists. Highlights include the Galleria Dante, one of the largest galleries in Puerto Vallarta, and the Peyote People gallery, which specializes in Huichol art.
Beyond the art itself, the art walk is a great way to meet other art lovers and locals, as well as to learn more about the history and culture of Puerto Vallarta. Whether you’re a seasoned art collector or simply curious about the city’s creative scene, the art walk is not to be missed.
7. Relax On Puerto Vallarta’s Beautiful Beaches
Puerto Vallarta is known for its breathtaking beaches, and luckily, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy them. Some of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta include Playa Los Muertos, Playa Mismaloya, and Playa Conchas Chinas. Each of these beaches offers crystal-clear waters, soft white sand, and an endless array of activities.
For a more tranquil beach experience, head to Playa Las Gemelas, a secluded beach located between Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan. Another great option is Playa Palmares, located in Nuevo Vallarta, which boasts calm waters and a family-friendly atmosphere.
Regardless of which beach you choose, you can’t go wrong with spending a day lounging under the sun, swimming in the ocean, and taking in the stunning views. Bring a book, pack a picnic, and let the stress of everyday life melt away as you soak up the beauty of Puerto Vallarta’s beaches.
8. Hike To The Hidden Beach At Playa Las Animas
One of the most unique and adventurous things to do in Puerto Vallarta is to hike to the hidden beach at Playa Las Animas. This stunning beach is only accessible by boat or by foot, making it a truly secluded and private paradise. The hike to the beach takes about an hour and a half, but the breathtaking views and scenic route make it worth every step. Along the way, you’ll pass through a jungle-like forest, cross small rivers and streams, and see local wildlife such as iguanas and exotic birds.
Once you arrive at the hidden beach, you’ll be blown away by its natural beauty. The clear turquoise waters and soft sandy shores make it the perfect spot to relax and soak up the sun. You can also try snorkeling, paddleboarding, or kayaking to explore the surrounding waters. Make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks for the hike, and wear comfortable hiking shoes. And don’t forget to bring your camera, as the views along the way and at the beach itself are truly Instagram-worthy.
9. Witness The Magnificent Sunsets At Los Muertos Pier
If there’s one thing you shouldn’t miss in Puerto Vallarta, it’s the stunning sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. And there’s no better place to enjoy them than at the Los Muertos Pier, one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. The pier offers an unbeatable vantage point to witness the colors of the sky change from golden yellow to fiery orange and deep red, as the sun sets behind the horizon. Whether you’re with friends, family, or your significant other, the experience is truly magical and unforgettable.
To make the most of your sunset-watching adventure, we recommend bringing a picnic basket with some snacks and drinks, and settling in for the show. You can also catch a live performance by local musicians, or take a romantic stroll along the pier’s wooden planks, as the warm breeze caresses your skin.
Don’t forget to take plenty of photos and capture the memories of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. And best of all, watching the sunset at Los Muertos Pier is completely free, so there’s no excuse not to add it to your list of must-do activities in Puerto Vallarta.
10. Attend A Traditional Mexican Market At The Marina
No visit to Puerto Vallarta is complete without experiencing the vibrant energy and colorful flavors of a traditional Mexican market. And one of the best places to find one is at the Marina, where local vendors gather to sell their handmade goods, fresh produce, and traditional food.
Take your time wandering through the stalls, browsing the beautifully crafted pottery, textiles, and jewelry. Try some of the delicious local treats, like freshly made tamales, churros, and empanadas. And don’t forget to haggle a bit with the vendors – bargaining is all part of the fun!
If you visit the market on a Sunday morning, you’ll also have the opportunity to witness the lively street performers and musicians, who add to the festive atmosphere. So, whether you’re in the mood for some shopping, cultural immersion, or just a fun day out, attending a traditional Mexican market at the Marina is a must-do activity in Puerto Vallarta.
The Bottom Line
Puerto Vallarta has a lot to offer for free, and there’s no reason not to take advantage of all the amazing things to do and see in this vibrant city. Whether you’re looking to explore the local culture, relax on the beach, or get up close and personal with nature, there are plenty of options to suit your needs. The Malecon, Romantic Zone, Botanical Gardens, El Salado Estuary and Protected Area, Los Arcos Amphitheater, Free Art Walk in Old Town, Puerto Vallarta’s beaches, hidden beach at Playa Las Animas, magnificent sunsets at Los Muertos Pier, and traditional Mexican market at the Marina are just a few of the top free activities in the area. So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to make the most of your visit to Puerto Vallarta without breaking the bank.