Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta - 6 Best Areas & Hotels

13 min read

Destguides may receive commissions from purchases made through affiliate links in this article.

Aerial shot of a beach with boats near an urban area and lush mountains
Puerto Vallarta is known for its rich history and paradise-like landscapes

Nestled along the Pacific Coast in the Mexican state of Jalisco, Puerto Vallarta is a popular beach city and one of the most visited destinations in Mexico. It offers colonial history, upscale resorts, and plenty of world-class beaches. And you can't miss the city's fantastic nightlife scene!

But booking accommodation in Puerto Vallarta can be a challenge if you aren't sure which part of town you should stay in. And with sections catering to different types of travelers, choosing the right property gets even more confusing. Without understanding the city's different neighborhoods, the entire process can be pretty overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors.

If you're trying to figure out where to stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, this article is just what you need. Throughout this helpful guide, you will learn all about the six most popular areas to stay in Puerto Vallarta, including which is best suited for different budgets and activities.

🛏️ Best budget hotel: Traditional Sierra Leon Oceanfront Rooms
🏨 Best mid-range hotel: Hotel Mio Vallarta Unique & Different
🏖 Best family-friendly hotel: Holiday Inn Express Puerto Vallarta
💕 Best romantic hotel: Hotel Mio Vallarta Unique & Different
🛎️ Best luxury hotel: Hotel Mio Vallarta Unique & Different

6 Places to Stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta Places to Stay Video

Check out our highlights video of Puerto Vallarta places to stay.

Puerto Vallarta Places to Stay Map

A map of Puerto Vallarta. Use the map to explore all the places to stay.

Puerto Vallarta Places to Stay Map

Show Interactive Map

Best Areas to Stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Houses on a hilly terrain near a body of water and a mountain
Aside from beaches, Zona Romántica boasts many restaurants and shops

Zona Romántica (Romantic Zone)

Sitting south of El Centro, across the picturesque Rio Cuale, Zona Romántica (Romantic Zone) is a compact historical district often called Old Town. Here you'll find colonial architecture with a modern, trendy ambiance. El Centro is easily walkable from the neighborhood, with frequent buses connecting most other popular tourist areas.

Zona Romántica is also home to Puerto Vallarta's most popular beach, Playa Los Muertos, with its unique sail-shaped pier, Muelle de Playa Los Muertos. Also worth checking out is Isla Cuale, a shopping and dining oasis in the middle of Rio Cuale, which delineates Zona Romántica's northern border.

Known for its nightlife, Zona Romántica has the city's highest concentration of bars. And while Puerto Vallarta is known as one of Mexico's most LGBT-friendly destinations, Zona Romántica is where you will find most of the city's LGBT-focused entertainment.

Most accommodations in Zona Romántica are modest hotels, although you'll find several boutique properties closer to the shore. This is especially true in the area surrounding Playa Los Muertos and in the northwest along the Puerto Vallarta Malecón. Overall, Zona Romántica is the best place to stay on a budget in Puerto Vallarta.

🏨 Mid-range places to stay in and nearby Zona Romántica

🏖 Child-friendly places to stay in and nearby Zona Romántica

💕 Romantic places to stay in and nearby Zona Romántica

Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone)

Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) is the most spread-out tourist area in Puerto Vallarta. It encompasses miles of sandy beaches, including Playa de Oro and Playa Las Glorias, with 5 de Diciembre in the south to Marina Vallarta in the north.

Almost unsurprisingly, Zona Hotelera is where you'll find the largest selection of hotels and resorts. The sheer number of properties makes it the best neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta to find a good deal on an all-inclusive beach resort. Rates here will be more expensive than in less-touristy areas but cheaper than in luxury spots like Marina Vallarta or Conchas Chinas.

With the size of the neighborhood, walking to other areas of Puerto Vallarta isn't generally practical. Bus service and taxis are available if you want to explore other areas. However, most travelers staying in Zona Hotelera spend the majority of their time on the beach or at their resort.

Zona Hotelera is a terrific place to stay if you're looking for a beach getaway. You won't even need to leave your hotel here if you don't want to! Still, if you do, you will find an assortment of shopping and dining options at places like Carretera Federal 200, Galerías Vallarta, Plaza Caracol, and La Isla Shopping Village.

🛏️ Low-priced accommodation in and nearby Zona Hotelera

🏨 Mid-range places to stay in and nearby Zona Hotelera

🏖 Child-friendly places to stay in and nearby Zona Hotelera

💕 Romantic accommodations in and nearby Zona Hotelera

🛎️ Luxury accommodations in and nearby Zona Hotelera

An inner harbor near establishments with ships and yachts docked
Marina Vallarta is where to stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for an upscale vacation

Marina Vallarta

Marina Vallarta is an upscale planned community that draws tourists to its namesake marina, lined with luxury yachts and a scenic boardwalk. It's one of the best spots in Puerto Vallarta for high-end dining and nightlife.

Located in the north, between Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport and Zona Hotelera, Marina Vallarta is isolated from most other popular tourist areas in Puerto Vallarta. Many taxis are eager to shuttle you to points south, although most travelers staying in Marina Vallarta find few reasons to leave the neighborhood.

Most places to stay in Marina Vallarta are luxury hotels and resorts. You'll even find a few all-inclusive options. Expect to pay top dollar for accommodations in Marina Vallarta. However, some savvy travelers stay just outside of the district, near the airport, for close proximity at far more reasonable prices.

Popular things to do in Marina Vallarta include hitting the links at the Marina Vallarta Golf Club, strolling along the waterfront shops, and taking a boat tour of Banderas Bay. You can also relax on Playa El Salado while watching the cruise ships in the port.

🏨 Well-priced accommodations in and nearby Marina Vallarta

🏖 Child-friendly places to stay in and nearby Marina Vallarta

💕 Romantic accommodations in and nearby Marina Vallarta

A paved walkway near palm trees and buildings along the beachside
Downtown boasts a fusion of Puerto Vallarta's old traditions and more modern elements

El Centro (Downtown Puerto Vallarta)

A historical colonial area buzzing with tourists and locals alike, El Centro (Downtown Puerto Vallarta) blends classic charm with modern restaurants, shops, art galleries, and nightlife.

It's the best place to stay in Puerto Vallarta for convenience and things to do while still retaining the traditional Mexican charm absent in modern neighborhoods like Zona Hotelera and Marina Vallarta.

You'll find much to see and do in El Centro, including strolling along the oceanfront Puerto Vallarta Malecón and visiting Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, the area's iconic Renaissance-style church. Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz takes a little hiking to reach the top but offers some of the best views of the bay and historical city center.

Visitors often choose El Centro for its walkability and convenient central location. Zona Romántica and 5 de Diciembre are a short trek away, with other areas like Marina Vallarta easily reachable by bus or taxi.

El Centro is home to a mix of modest hotels and boutique properties. Prices here range from budget to moderate, with the more expensive private boutiques predominantly located inland in the hills.

🛏️ Budget-friendly places to stay in and nearby Centro

🏨 Well-priced accommodations in and nearby Centro

🏖 Child-friendly places to stay in and nearby Centro

💕 Romantic accommodations in and nearby Centro

🛎️ Luxury place to stay in and nearby Centro

5 de Diciembre

North of El Centro lies the more residential neighborhood of 5 de Diciembre. Here you will discover colonial architecture and narrow cobblestone streets with fewer tourists than in the other central historical areas.

Instead, 5 de Diciembre offers a more local, hip vibe despite being within walking distance from El Centro. Zona Romántica, with much of the area's nightlife, is just a short taxi ride away as well.

5 de Diciembre is the best area to stay in Puerto Vallarta if you want a central location without the noise and bustle of El Centro and Zona Romántica. Hotels within 5 de Diciembre are generally in the mid-price range. Accommodations here will be more expensive than in the other central areas, but cheaper than in Zona Hotelera to the north.

You'll find a mix of tourists and locals sunbathing on 5 de Diciembre's Playa Camarones. Local taco shops and stands, considered some of the best in Puerto Vallarta, are popular spots for grabbing a bite to eat after a day in the sun.

There's also Mercado del Mar 5 de Diciembre, one of the top markets in Puerto Vallarta and a fabulous place for an affordable breakfast or lunch.

🛏️ Budget-friendly place to stay in and nearby 5 de Diciembre

🏨 Well-priced accommodations in and nearby 5 de Diciembre

🏖 Child-friendly places to stay in and nearby 5 de Diciembre

💕 Romantic accommodations in and nearby 5 de Diciembre

🛎️ Luxury places to stay in and nearby 5 de Diciembre

A sandy beach near rocks, a hut, and palm trees
For a laidback and quiet vacation, Conchas Chinas is your best choice

Conchas Chinas

Located south of Zona Romántica, around 15 minutes from El Centro by car, Conchas Chinas is an upscale, predominantly residential community secluded from the busiest parts of Puerto Vallarta. The neighborhood's name translates to "Chinese shells," referencing an endemic shell found along the area's shoreline.

You will see a few high-end oceanfront resorts in Conchas Chinas and some moderately priced hotels in the hills overlooking the shore. Expect plenty of quiet and privacy here, albeit at a cost. Conchas Chinas is ideal for luxury travelers looking to unwind and escape it all.

The main attraction in Conchas Chinas is the beach. There are two to choose from: the eponymous Playa Conchas Chinas in the north and Playa Las Estacas in the south. Buses run regularly between Conchas Chinas and Zona Romántica, although most people staying here opt for taxis or simply remain within the confines of their resort.

🛏️ Budget-friendly place to stay in and nearby Conchas Chinas

🏨 Mid-range places to stay in and nearby Conchas Chinas

🏖 Family-friendly accommodations in and nearby Conchas Chinas

💕 Romantic accommodations in and nearby Conchas Chinas

🛎️ Luxury places to stay in and nearby Conchas Chinas

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Aerial shot of a city with structures with brick roofs near the sea
Because of its location near many attractions, El Centro is perfect for families

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta with kids?

Families traveling to Puerto Vallarta often choose to stay either in El Centro, the convenient and reasonably-priced downtown area, or further north in Zona Hotelera, a sprawling tourist area with miles of sunny and sandy beaches.

El Centro is a great place to stay in Puerto Vallarta with kids if you want to experience the city's sights and attractions. The oceanfront Puerto Vallarta Malecón is perfect for strolling with children.

At the same time, Isla Cuale offers shopping and dining in a kid-friendly scenic natural setting. There's also ChocoMuseo, where you can learn all about chocolate and even make your own candy.

For a more relaxing family beach vacation, Zona Hotelera is where you'll find the most family-friendly hotels, including all-inclusive beach resorts. This is the best option for families who plan to spend most of their time soaking up the rays, although prices here are higher than in El Centro.

However, there's more to see in Zona Hotelera than just the shore. Other attractions include the city's top commerce centers like Galerías Vallarta Shopping Mall.

🏖 Child-friendly places to stay in and nearby Zona Hotelera

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for couples?

The beachfront city of Puerto Vallarta attracts all types of visitors to its sandy shores. But it's an unquestionably popular travel destination for couples. Usually, the best places in Puerto Vallarta to stay for couples will be Zona Romántica, Marina Vallarta, or Conchas Chinas.

If your idea of the perfect couple's getaway is exploring a vibrant and trendy destination, Zona Romántica is the spot for you. Here is where you'll find the most diverse range of dining options and some of the liveliest nightlife in the city. There's also Puerto Vallarta's most famous beach, Playa Los Muertos.

Marina Vallarta, further north towards the airport, is another excellent option for couples. It's the most upscale tourist area in Puerto Vallarta. It is built around the namesake marina and has plenty of upmarket dining and resorts. It's much pricier than Zona Romántica, but if a luxury couple's trip is what you're after, you can't go wrong with Marina Vallarta.

You'll find Conchas Chinas to the south of Zona Romántica. Secluded and far from the busy beaches and city streets further north, Conchas Chinas is perfect for couples looking to unwind and get away for a few days. There isn't much to do nearby, but that's ideal for travelers wanting peace, quiet, and some of the best views in Puerto Vallarta.

💕 Romantic places to stay in and nearby Zona Romántica

A paved walkway by the beach near buildings and palm trees
While at El Centro, make sure to see Puerto Vallarta's popular landmarks

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for first-timers?

Although Puerto Vallarta lacks the famous Mexican landmarks of other spots like Mexico City and the Yucatán Peninsula, you will find no shortage of things to do and see in this popular destination.

If you're visiting for the first time and are looking to explore the sights of Puerto Vallarta, you should consider staying in the walkable and reasonably-priced El Centro. El Centro is home to many of the popular attractions in Puerto Vallarta, from the Puerto Vallarta Malecón to the Mirador el Cerro de la Cruz, an observation platform looking out over the historic downtown area.

First-timers also benefit from El Centro's convenient location: the neighborhoods of 5 de Diciembre, known for its local ambiance and authentic Mexican flavors, and Zona Romántica, the city's nightlife and entertainment hub, are within walking distance.

Zona Hotelera is another terrific area to consider if this is your first time in Puerto Vallarta and you're coming primarily for the beach. This tourist-focused area is full of moderately-priced and high-end hotels and resorts.

There are five different beaches to explore in Zona Hotelera. However, many travelers spend most of their time on-site at one of the many oceanfront all-inclusive properties.

🛏️ Low-priced accommodations in and nearby Centro

🏨 Mid-range places to stay in and nearby Centro

🛎️ Luxury place to stay in and nearby Centro

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for whale watching?

Every year during whale watching season, which runs from December to March, thousands of humpback whales migrate through the waters off the coast of Puerto Vallarta. This is one of the most popular times for people to travel to Puerto Vallarta, especially during the peak months of January and February.

For tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of these massive marine mammals, the best part of Puerto Vallarta to stay in will be either Marina Vallarta or Conchas Chinas.

In the north of the city near the airport, Marina Vallarta is an upscale resort area centered on the yacht-lined namesake marina. Most ecotours and whale-watching charters leave from here.

If you're in town to go whale watching by boat, staying at one of the upmarket properties nearby makes sense. Plus, you'll find plenty of dining and entertainment options to keep your evenings occupied.

Conchas Chinas, a secluded, hilly area south of the city center, is an excellent alternative for casual whale watching from the comfort of your room or suite. Offering some of the best views of Banderas Bay in Puerto Vallarta, Conchas Chinas lets you watch for passing marine life while enjoying the area's quiet and intimate ambiance.

🏨 Mid-range places to stay in and nearby Marina Vallarta

Zona Romántica is where to stay in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for nightlife
Zona Romántica welcomes a diverse community looking for the best nightlife

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta for nightlife?

Puerto Vallarta is a popular Mexican resort destination with an active and ever-evolving nightlife scene. You'll find nighttime entertainment options all across the city. Still, the best spot to stay in Puerto Vallarta for nightlife is Zona Romántica.

Also known as Old Town Puerto Vallarta, Zona Romántica, located just south of El Centro, has the region's most extensive number of bars and nightclubs. It's also the center of LGBT activities in Puerto Vallarta, a city known for its gay-friendly nightlife.

Plus, if you stay in Zona Romántica, you never need to worry about going hungry before a night out: the neighborhood has many food options across a diverse range of cuisines and budgets.

Best of all, hotels in Zona Romántica are very reasonably priced, among the cheapest in Puerto Vallarta. There are some upscale boutique options, too, primarily located near Playa Los Muertos, the city's most visited beach.

🏨 Mid-range places to stay in and nearby Zona Romántica

Where to stay in Puerto Vallarta on a budget?

Puerto Vallarta offers accommodations at all price points, from low-cost hostels to luxury five-star oceanfront resorts. But for travelers on a budget trying to get the most bang for their buck, the best neighborhood to stay in Puerto Vallarta is Zona Romántica.

Rooms available in the colonial Zona Romántica are generally in modest, reasonably-priced hotels. You won't find any mega-resorts common in Zona Hotelera or Marina Vallarta in this neighborhood. However, some attractive boutique options around Playa Los Muertos are priced at budget-friendly rates that won't break the bank.

Another great, albeit marginally costlier, alternative is El Centro, located just north of Zona Romántica. Priced attractively for most budget travelers, the hotels in El Centro offer a slightly more local experience.

The area also offers easy access to the Puerto Vallarta Malecón. This mile-long beachfront walking street is one of the most visited landmarks in Puerto Vallarta. Wandering along the walkway is an inexpensive way to see and experience the city.

🏨 Mid-range places to stay in and nearby Zona Romántica

In Summary

Puerto Vallarta is a diverse area which caters to tourists of all types. From the budget-friendly nightlife area around Zona Romántica to the yacht-lined harbor of Marina Vallarta, you will discover plenty of uniquely different areas to stay throughout Puerto Vallarta.

Most first-time travelers stay in convenient El Centro, located in the heart of the colonial downtown area. Travelers looking for an old-town experience with a little more peace and quiet often opt for the adjacent neighborhood of 5 de Diciembre.

Zona Hotelera, an expansive zone with numerous beaches and many beachfront resorts, is a popular choice for a beach vacation. For a perfect blend of luxury and privacy, however, the more secluded area of Conchas Chinas fits the bill for a peaceful break from everyday life. Wherever you end up staying, you'll have a memorable and relaxing time in Puerto Vallarta!

Give us feedback about this article

Written by Jonathan Davis

JDavis WRITER Jonathan is a Florida-based travel writer who can't seem to stay in one place for long. With more than two decades of trips under his belt, Jonathan has a wealth of information to share about travel within the United States and abroad.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Thank you for subscribing

We will be in touch soon with discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

Want to keep exploring?

Subscribe for discounts on tickets and hotels and our latest guides.

By entering your email address you agree to our terms and conditions, Privacy policy, and consent to receive emails.