Located in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta is one of the most visited destinations in the country. Why, you ask? This area is well known for its fantastic resorts, stunning beaches, and exciting nightlife, which many seek when choosing a vacation destination.
Regarding food, Puerto Vallarta is also renowned for having some of the best restaurants in the country, so that food lovers will be in their element in this tropical paradise.
With many direct flights from U.S. and Canadian cities, Puerto Vallarta is a popular choice for North Americans seeking a tropical getaway or an easy winter escape.
But that’s not to say it doesn’t attract many visitors worldwide; it is a hotspot for global citizens searching for sun, sea, sand, culture, and nightlife.
The best part about Puerto Vallarta is the variety of neighborhoods to choose from – each with its unique character and vibe, so no matter what you expect from your vacation, you will find it here.
Puerto Vallarta is a fantastic destination for all travelers, from luxury adult-only resorts to family-friendly all-inclusive options and everything in between.
The area has plenty of culture, excellent shopping, stunning beaches, and an abundance of family-friendly activities, so the most challenging part will be deciding where to stay in Puerto Vallarta. So, read on for our breakdown of each neighborhood so you can choose which one best suits your travel style and needs.
Best Places To Stay in Puerto Vallarta
Looking for a quick reference on where to stay in Puerto Vallarta? Don’t worry. We got you covered with a quick look at our top picks.
- 🏨 Best Overall Hotel – Marcela Resort & Spa
- 🌅 Best Luxury Hotel – Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit
- 🏚 Best Budget Hotel – San Tropico Petit Hotel
- 🏯 Best Boutique Hotel – Patio Azul Hotelito Boutique
- 👪 Best Hotel For Families – The Westin Resort & Spa
- 🧍🏻♂️ Best Hostel for Solo Travellers – Casa Kraken Hostel
- 👫 Best Hotel for Couples – Casa Ventana
Now, let’s look at where to stay in Puerto Vallarta by looking at the eight best neighborhoods and areas.
The 8 Best Neighborhoods & Areas to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
If you are short on time and want a quick overview of where to stay in Puerto Vallarta, we have you covered. Puerto Vallarta has plenty of excellent areas, some ideally suited to couples, families, or solo travelers.
Check out our helpful mini guides below.
1. Nueva Vallarta (New Town)
For those who want simple, clean comfort and enviable amenities
As the name suggests, the hotels and resorts of Nueva Vallarta emerged to accommodate increasing tourism to the region. A relatively new expansion of the Puerto Vallarta metro area, it is located just outside Jalisco in Nayarit.
While the trappings of the city center certainly exist here, like nightlife, dining, and shopping, visitors to Nueva Vallarta can easily spend days in a row without leaving their hotels. All-inclusive resorts and spas are more popular here than any other neighborhood in the region, so if you’re looking for somewhere to find everything you need under one roof, you can easily find an appropriate resort here.
Although Nueva Vallarta isn’t necessarily the first choice of most budget travelers, deals can be found here. If you’re willing to stay farther away from the coast or plan your visit for the off-season, you can use the opportunity to enjoy the same pristine beaches as those paying upwards of a thousand dollars a night at some of the more luxurious villas.
If you’re only accustomed to the absolute lap of luxury, The villas in Nueva Vallarta are unmatched in the region. This is where you’ll find all the trappings of the high life: expertly manicured golf courses, opulent day spas, and truly world-class dining.
This is also a great place to stay if you’d like to take a day trip to the bohemian beaches of the Riviera Nayarit. Car rentals can be sinfully inexpensive here, particularly during the off-season. So, a visit to Nueva Vallarta should include a trip to the seemingly untouched beaches less than an hour away near Sayulita.
Nueva Vallarta (New Town) Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for a luxurious and secluded experience
- Best Hotels – Marival Distinct Luxury Residences • Hard Rock Hotel • Wyndham Alltra Vallarta • Occidental Beach Resort
- Best Hostels/Budget Hotels – Hotel Lito • BB Inn • Miami Inn • Hampton Inn by Hilton
- Where to Eat – La Ola de Vallarta ($$), The Blue Shrimp ($$$), La Dolce Vita ($$)
- Where to Drink – Wipizz Nueva Vallarta ($$), La Condesa ($$), Insu Sky Bar ($$)
- Top Attractions – Nueva Vallarta Beach, El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary, Flamingos Golf Club
2. Marina Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta Marina)
For those who prefer an inclusive experience
Puerto Vallarta’s quaint, bustling marina is famous because it is explicitly designed to cater to everything a tourist needs. Purposefully designed as a resort and luxury community, the marina may not be the best for parking, but everything you may need has been placed within walking distance or can be delivered to you with the help of a friendly concierge at one of its many hotels.
If your idea of a vacation involves exploring, this may not be the best neighborhood to be based in. While certainly comfortable, the marina is sterile in a way that other neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta aren’t: if you like finding hidden gems and local spots in back alleys, you may want to look elsewhere.
But keep in mind that this may be one of the best places to stay if you don’t want the responsibility of renting a car. The community was created for travelers who wish to keep their vacation simple. If you don’t want to do much more than go to the beach in the morning and return to your property in the evening for dinner, the marina offers everything you need and nothing you don’t.
If you’re particularly keen on nightlife, a few bars and clubs are sprinkled throughout the neighborhood, but this neighborhood is particularly kind to those who like to retire early. If you’d prefer to take your breakfast at sunrise, you’ll fall in love with Puerto Vallarta’s immaculate marina district.
Marina Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta Marina) Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for families
- Best Hotels – The Westin Resort & Spa • Melia Puerto Vallarta • Mariott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa • Villa Marina Vallarta
- Best Hostels/Budget Hotels – Marina Vallarta Small Villa • Holiday Inn & Suites • Comfort Inn • 3 Bed Apartment
- Where to Eat – Bachas $$, Sonora Prime ($$$), La Ribera Restaurant ($$)
- Where to Drink – El Torito Sports Bar ($$), Viña & Salvatore´s Wine Bar ($$), Chappys ($$)
- Top Attractions – Marina Vallarta Malecon, Marina Golf Club, El Faro Lighthouse
3. Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone)
For those looking for a great deal on an upscale property
One of Mexico’s most iconic resort neighborhoods, the Hotel Zone has been catering to tourists for years. Both budget travelers and those seeking a luxury experience will feel right at home here. Its proximity to the city center caters to those who want to explore, while the amenities in the vicinity are perfect for those who want to relax.
While high-end resorts are in no shortage here, as one of the most established neighborhoods in the entire state for tourism, there is plenty of competition. This both brings the prices down on luxury properties and allows for more simple ‚Äì but still very comfortable ‚Äì accommodations in the neighborhood to flourish alongside them.
You won’t find the same feeling of seclusion that you might experience at a resort in Nueva Vallarta or the Marina. Still, the all-inclusive resorts in the neighborhood can cost as little as 25% of what one might cost elsewhere in Puerto Vallarta, with similar amenities.
If you demand a beachfront property, you’ll find yourself paying for the privilege. But with five public beaches that anyone can visit, there are still plenty of opportunities for a comfortable stay for the budget sunbather. Conveniently, plenty of buses and taxis are around to shuttle you wherever you want to go, so staying at a hotel that’s not directly on the beach isn’t nearly as troublesome as you might think.
Keep in mind that with so many hotels in the area, the beaches can get crowded. But if you’re a fan of bustling beach culture, like beach sports, vendors, and plenty of opportunities to make new friends, you’ll no doubt feel right at home in the oldest of tourist neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta.
Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for an all-inclusive beach vacation
- Best Hotels – Hotel Mio Vallarta • Fiesta Inn Puerto Vallarta Isla • Dreams Vallarta Bay Resort • Secrets Vallarta Bay Resort
- Best Hostels/Budget Hotels – Ixaya • Zen Harmony Suites • Vallartasol Hotel • City Express Plus
- Where to Eat – Outback Puerto Vallarta ($$), Porfirios ($$), La Madalena ($$)
- Where to Drink – Chicabel Sunset Club ($$), McCarthys Irish Pub ($$), La Palapa Bar ($$)
- Top Attractions – Playa los Tules, Playa Camarones, Playa de Oro, La Isla Shopping Center
Suggested Reading: Cabo vs Puerto Vallarta: An Honest Comparison
4. Cinco de Diciembre (Downtown Puerto Vallarta)
For those who require lively nightlife and bustling surroundings
While officially called Cinco de Diciembre, this vibrant Puerto Vallarta barrio is colloquially referred to as “downtown” or, even more simply, “el centro” (the center.) Much like its moniker, downtown is the center of the region’s tourist and local life.
While upscale resorts tend to hug the coast, this vast, sprawling city center has hundreds of options, especially if you’re willing to trek inland. Here you’ll find accommodations for everyone, from those who prefer the quirks of bohemia to those who demand only the most refined.
This is the hot spot of Puerto Vallarta: think dining, shopping, and unequaled nightlife. But the highlight of staying downtown, possibly the most beloved attraction in the entire region, is unequivocally the Malecon.
The premier boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta, the Malecon, is a mile-long promenade lined with shops, restaurants, and bars liberally peppered with public art. Here you can spend the day browsing handmade artisan crafts and the evening sipping craft cocktails while remaining just a stone’s throw from the ocean.
In some ways, the Malecon is the beating heart of Puerto Vallarta, with artisans, businesspeople, and campesinos all sharing the same space. While certainly touristy and particularly popular with Americans, the Malecon is a spot where you can experience a little slice of life in Jalisco without ever leaving your neighborhood.
Budget travelers can find some exceptional deals here. At the same time, hostel beds are plentiful downtown; with just a small additional investment, you can score a lovely room in one of the many inexpensive, quirky boutique hotels in the neighborhood.
What they may lack in amenities and proximity to the beach, they make up for in beautifully designed spaces and more comfort than many backpackers are used to.
Cinco de Diciembre (Downtown Puerto Vallarta) Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for first-time visitors
- Best Hotels – Tres Marias Luxury Suites • Hacienda Escondida • The Paramar Beachfront Hotel • Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel
- Best Hostels/Budget Hotels – Hostal Vallarta • Hotel Posada de Roger • Casa Maria Malecon • La Iguana LGBT
- Where to Eat – Pepes Taco ($), El Barracuda ($$), Restaurante El Malecon ($$)
- Where to Drink – Captain Dons ($), Bar Morelos Mezcaleria ($$), El Colibrí Cocktail Bar ($$)
- Top Attractions – Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, The Malecon, Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz
5. Zona Romantica (Romantic Zone)
For LGBTQ+ travelers and ex-pats looking for a home away from home
The picturesque Romantic Zone, or Zona Romantica, is just on the south side of the Rio Cuale from downtown. With a relaxed vibe and options for sleeping quarters ranging from a bed in a hostel to entire villas, this neighborhood truly takes all kinds.
The romantic zone is singularly popular among ex-pats. Snowbirds from colder climates seeking winter in Puerto Vallarta frequently choose this locale to stay for months. Because of the demand, you’ll find plenty of short-term apartment rentals alongside traditional hotels, so if you’re planning on staying a couple of months or more, you may want to look into all of your options.
Because Zona Romantica is in such high demand, many properties here get reserved up to a year ahead of time. To have the widest variety of options, book well in advance, particularly if you anticipate an extended stay.
Even if you’re only taking a brief vacation, this is the neighborhood for you if your priorities include dining. Zona Romantica boasts the largest concentration of bars and restaurants in the entire city, and you’ll find options here ranging from the cheapest street food to the most delectable, white-tablecloth meals.
Bars as well run the gamut here. This neighborhood offers drameries from the simple beach-shanty cocktail-mongers to establishments slinging the most elegant craft cocktails. If variety is the key to pleasing your palate, Zona Romantica will never disappoint you.
Relative to the rest of the world, Mexico is quite LGBTQ+ friendly, with Puerto Vallarta standing out as a haven for queer-identifying travelers. Zona Romantica is home to several hotels and resorts that cater specifically to the queer community. Still, all the hotels in the area are happy to accommodate anyone who wants to enjoy the singular pleasures of the Riviera Jalisco.
Zona Romantica (Romantic Zone) Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for culture and old-town charm
- Best Hotels – Vallarta Shores • Maxwell Residences at Soho • Hotel Amaca • Pinnacle Resorts 179
- Best Hostels/Budget Hotels – Tropicana Hotel • Joint Boutique Hotel • Amapas Apartments • Los Muertos Hostal
- Where to Eat – Tacos Sonorita Olas Altas ($), La Dolce Vita Zona Romantica ($$), Mariscos el Guero ($)
- Where to Drink – Devils Bar ($$), Twisted Palms Rooftop Lounge ($$), La Cantina Margherita ($$)
- Top Attractions – Muelle de Playa de los Muertos, Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz, Plaza de Armas
6. Conchas Chinas (“Chinese Shells”)
For the discerning traveler who requires a little extra solitude
In this part of Mexico, “pelo china” means curly hair, and in this same tradition, Conchas Chinas was named for the ornate, “curly” shells that litter its sandy beaches. As its name suggests, this little beach barrio caters to those who love beachcombing and strolling.
The beaches here are truly pristine: stemming from an ecological initiative that began in the mid-80s, special care is taken in educating guests about the area and grooming efforts to ensure the surroundings are clear and clean.
Because the water is so clear, this is an ideal spot to visit if you love ocean swimming, so there’s no need to ensure that your hotel has a pool as long as you’re keen on visiting the beach.
Conchas Chinas is a favorite for couples of all stripes. The unrivaled privacy and electric-hued sunsets lend the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. In this same vein, plenty of activities, tours, and spas cater specifically to couples seeking a respite from the grind back home.
Snorkeling and diving are common here, so if you have one, bring an underwater camera. The ultra-clear surf here makes for perfect underwater photography.
Conchas Chinas (“Chinese Shells”) Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for an exclusive, luxurious retreat
- Best Hotels – Marboka Hotel • Grand Miramar Luxury Suites • Residences Conchas Chinas • Hotel Luxury Patio Azul
- Best Hostels/Budget Hotels – Villa Micelio
- Where to Eat – Restaurant Bar El Set ($$), Restaurant La Playita ($$), La Palapa Restaurant ($$)
- Top Attractions – Playa Conchas Chinas, Playa Lindomar, Lovers Sunset Point
7. Mismaloya (“Same Thing”)
For those who’d like to get out onto the open sea
In Mismaloya, the jungle-covered mountains meet the sea in a way that creates a singular natural environment. Ironically, it stayed off most tourists’ radar for a long because of its inaccessibility. Today, you can easily reach it by a road from central Puerto Vallarta, built in the late last century.
The most popular beach in Mismaloya, though it’s little more than a slight cove, is still surrounded by dense vegetation. While it’s significantly increased in popularity with tourists, you won’t find the same vibrant, teeming crowds you might encounter in the city’s center.
This is the perfect place to snap those enviable vacation photos that will leave folks back home wanting to book their trip immediately. Though it’s relatively developed, particularly in the last 15 years, it hasn’t lost its centuries-old fishing port vibe and maintains the vistas to match.
This is the perfect place to stay if you’d like to get out on the ocean; here, you can hire many vessels ranging from simple fishing boats to elaborate sailboats. Your skipper will happily take you to several eclectic locales for snorkeling or diving or even just an elegant meal on the open seas.
Mismaloya (“Same Thing”) Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for pure nature and serenity
- Best Hotels – Grand Park Royal Hotel • Hilton Vallarta Resort • Garza Blanca Preserve Resort • Hotel Mousai
- Best Hostels/Budget Hotels – Hotel Casa Iguana
- Where to Eat – Mismaloya Grill Restauarnt ($$), Juan & Only ($$), Restaurant María Cuquita ($$)
- Where to Drink – Restaurant Bar Las Gaviotas ($), Restaurant bar Chuyita ($$)
- Top Attractions – Mismaloya Beach, El Eden de Mismaloya, Zoológico de Vallarta A.C
8. Boca de Tomatlan (“Mouth of Tomatoland”)
For nature lovers and adventure seekers
Tomatoes are famously indigenous to the Americas, and here in Boca de Tomatlan, they have named their village following this tradition. Besides tomatoes, you’ll find plenty here for the perfect vacation: isolated beaches and relaxed restaurants serving up the daily catch.
This is the place for folks who want not to be divorced from their flip-flops for their stay. Unlike the resorts further north, the properties in Boca de Tomatlan are for those who prefer t-shirts and shorts and eschew displays of wealth or status. This is a place to relax for those who truly want to let go.
Don’t expect much by way of nightlife here. Once you’ve checked into your hotel, the clubs of El Centro will seem a million miles away. Similarly, the dining options here aren’t particularly slick, nor are most of them part of a recognizable chain. Still, the food here is excellent and largely served by a close-knit circuit of charming restaurateurs.
If you’re a fan of the outdoors, there’s much more to see here than merely the beach. Because of its proximity to the Sierra Madre mountains, there’s ample opportunity for mountain biking or hiking on a day trip inland. And if that seems more strenuous than you’d like to commit to, there’s a lovely botanical garden through which you can take a stroll.
Boca de Tomatlan (“Mouth of Tomatoland”) Mini Guide
Best Area to Stay for a laid-back beach retreat
- Best Hotels – Villa Lala Boutique Hotel • South Shore Villa Armonia
- Best Hostels/Budget Hotels – La Posada Pacifica • Casa Cereza Apartments • Casa de Maria Carmen • Boca B&B
- Where to Eat – “Mi Ranchito” Seafood Bar & Grill ($$), Embarcadero Restaurante ($$), Los Mangos ($$)
- Where to Drink – La Casita Snack Bar ($), Mi Ranchito Bar ($$)
- Top Attractions – Boca Beach, snorkeling and diving tours, boat tours
FAQs About Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for nightlife?
Suppose you want to experience the best nightlife Puerto Vallarta offers. In that case, you should consider staying in Zona Romantica, which is packed with bars, restaurants, and late-night venues and is the center of the LGBTQ+ scene in the region.
Alternatively, you will find excellent nightlife options in Downtown Puerto Vallarta, with various bars and clubs.
Where should families stay in Puerto Vallarta?
Marina Vallarta is an excellent choice for families who seek a wide variety of family-friendly hotels with amenities, all-inclusive options, and close to activities and attractions. This area is also close to the airport for easy access in and out of Puerto Vallarta, and it is a quieter area than most of the neighborhoods listed here, so it is perfect for families seeking a tranquil surrounding while being steps away from the lively atmosphere of the marina if they please.
Alternatively, Nueva Vallarta is an excellent choice for families since it has a wide variety of resorts and family-friendly activities, and it is located to the north of Puerto Vallarta, which also allows for quieter surroundings.
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for couples?
Zona Romantica is an ideal choice for couples visiting Puerto Vallarta since it is known for its old-town charm, variety of bars, restaurants, attractions, and romantic vibe.
This is great for couples who want to experience the culture of Puerto Vallarta while being close to plenty of great beaches and attractions; plus, this area is easily walkable, which makes it a popular choice for couples.
Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for first-time visitors?
First-time visitors seeking a mix of culture, nightlife, attractions, and beaches should stay in Zona Romantica, the old town of Puerto Vallarta, which oozes a unique charm. This is a great way to get to know the area, meet other travelers, enjoy the local cuisine, and be far away from many activities and attractions.
Alternatively, first-time visitors may love staying downtown, known for its beautiful, cobbled streets, boutiques, art galleries, and markets. From here, you can enjoy many activities and attractions, buy handmade crafts, and enjoy the area’s beautiful architecture.
So, Where Should You Stay in Puerto Vallarta?
- Nueva Vallarta (New Town) — Offering all the amenities of the city, like nightlife, dining, and shopping, those staying in Neuva Vallarta can as easily choose to have their entire stay on the resort. This area is a good option for those who want to wander off the resort but plan to spend most of their time relaxing at the spa.
- Marina Vallarta (Puerto Vallarta Marina) — Marina Vallarta has many all-inclusive resorts, meaning this area is ideal for travelers who are just happy to stay on the resort grounds and get all the spoils of luxury and pampering.
- Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) — Aptly named, the Hotel Zone offers the broadest accommodation options at various price ranges. This area is so popular you want to book far in advance, here you can find luxurious accommodations with picturesque views.
- Cinco de Diciembre (Downtown Puerto Vallarta) — Cinco de Diciembre still offers other areas’ amenities and accommodations despite being further inland. The significant appeal here is the ability to explore and get a more authentic experience by being among the locals.
- Zona Romantica (Romantic Zone) — This area is considered the most friendly for ex-pats and LGBTQ+, making it the ideal location for travelers seeking a welcoming community away from home.
- Conchas Chinas (“Chinese Shells”) — Home to pristine beaches and offering ample privacy away from the more busy tourist areas of Puerto Vallarta, Conchas Chinas is a favorite spot for couples.
- Mismaloya (“Same Thing”) — Those who want to experience the ocean and avoid larger crowds will fall in love with Mismaloya. As a newer developed area, don’t expect as many crowds as inland. Also, this is the best area to grab photos for your Instagram!
- Boca de Tomatlan (“Mouth of Tomatoland”) — Those looking to explore the wilderness of Puerto Vallarta through biking and hiking will adore staying in Boca de Tomatlan. What it lacks in nightlife and fine dining, it makes up for in its beauty and serene vibe.
If you’ve never considered a respite on Mexico’s exquisite Pacific coast, there’s a lot more to Puerto Vallarta than you may have been familiar with.
With a wide variety of activities and accommodations, something here will appeal to every type of traveler. Whether you’re flying solo or planning your honeymoon, Puerto Vallarta has some of the most ideal hotels and resorts for all kinds of visitors and some of the wildest and eclectic (or chill and relaxed) communities in all of Mexico.