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Stop, see, and snap a photo of these iconic Puerto Vallarta attractions to feel like a local expert on your next vacation. As you wander downtown Puerto Vallarta, hunting down these six sights is one of the most unique things to do in Puerto Vallarta. At each location, you can explore the locale and snap some Instagram-worthy photos to share on social media with your family and friends back home. For a day of free things to do, hit the streets to discover these iconic scenes, including the stunning church downtown and the villas of old Hollywood stars. 


The Malecon Boardwalk

When it comes to downtown Puerto Vallarta, your starting place is the Malecon boardwalk. This iconic landmark runs the length of the downtown shoreline. As you stroll the mile-long Malecon, you’ll see some famous Puerto Vallarta attractions, lifesize statues from local, national, and international artists. Snapping photos with these statues is one of the classic things to do in old town Puerto Vallarta and the center of town, and afterwards, you can browse the shops and markets that line the boardwalk. 

The Church Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe

Perhaps the most iconic thing to see in Puerto Vallarta’s skyline is the crown on top of the church downtown. Construction of the church downtown began in 1903, and like the city, the building grew in size and wonder over the years and was crowned in 1965. Popping into see the breathtaking white pillars and glistening decor of the altar is one of the most unique things to do in Puerto Vallarta. One of the best Puerto Vallarta things to know for visitors who want to attend mass is that there is an English service on Saturday at 5 p.m. and a bilingual service Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

Rio Cuale

Just north of the cathedral, the Malecon passes over the Rio Cuale, a river that rushes from the mountains down to the sea. In its center, a small island is home to several decadent bistros, unique markets, and local art. Stopping to rest under the lush palms on the island is one of the best things to do in old town Puerto Vallarta to escape the heat and crowds. This hidden treasure is one of the secret Puerto Vallarta things to know and places to explore.


Elizabeth Taylor Bridge

Puerto Vallarta became an international destination for Hollywood stars in the 1960s when Night of the Iguana was filmed on location here, and the most iconic Puerto Vallarta attractions that herald back to these days is the bridge connecting Elizabeth Taylor’s villa to Richard Burton’s. A star-studded film and scandalous affair drew the eyes of the international media to the sleepy coastal city and drew more tourists every year. To relive the golden age of Hollywood, enjoying dinner and a view at Elizabeth Taylor’s Casa Kimberly is one of the most unique things to do in Puerto Vallarta. For a more affordable adventure, a stroll through the iconic streets of the Gringo Gulch neighborhood and a kiss under the lovers’ bridge are some of the best free things to do

Plaza Lázaro Cárdenas

One of the most-go places and things to do in old town Puerto Vallarta is the central plaza. In the past couple years, local artists have revitalized Plaza Lázaro Cárdenas with bright mosaics covering almost every inch of the plaza, capturing the coastal culture and sparkling in the sunlight. After stopping to admire the art, exploring the downtown galleries and grabbing a bit at one of the restaurants will give you a classic day to enjoy in Puerto Vallarta. One of the best insider tips and Puerto Vallarta things to know is that you can often catch live music and dance performances in the evening in the plaza.

Los Arcos

While there are many free things to do, taking a bus out to see Los Arcos is will cost you less than 1 USD. However, snorkeling through the caves and along the corals is worth the cost, and if you make arrangements when you arrive with a local boat, it is very reasonably priced. These rock formations rising from the sea have been created by waves and wind over thousands of years and today are home to tropical fish and seagulls. Witnessing their beauty is a powerful experience and shouldn’t be missed on a vacation to Puerto Vallarta.

Getting out and exploring the iconic attractions that first drew you to Puerto Vallarta will help you feel like a local and fall more in love with this magical city. Along the way, you might even find your own favorite sights and stops that you’ll want to return to on your next vacation.

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