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Puerto Vallarta is a popular 2021 location for tourists and vacationers, as traveling is rising and people are eager to make some awesome summer memories with friends and family.
Whether you’re considering this destination, already have your flights booked, or reading this from your vacation in Puerto Vallarta, we’ve put together a simple step-by-step walkthrough of everything you absolutely should know about how to travel to Puerto Vallarta.
We’ll cover all the travel and safety basics, and give you a step-by-step breakdown of how to prepare for this exciting vacation! For a list of recommended resources and accommodations for your trip, you can check out our curated Best of Puerta Vallarta Directory.
The flight to Puerto Vallarta from Los Angeles is around three hours, and it is the most popular flight route from the United States.
From New York, the flight is around six and a half hours.
Other popular destinations for most American tourists to fly into Puerto Vallarta from are Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, and San Francisco. There are 18 airlines that fly to Puerto Vallarta, including WestJet, Alaska Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Air Canada. Southwest, Alaskan Airlines, United, and a handful of others fly nonstop to Puerto Vallarta from U.S. cities.
You will be flying into the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR), which is about five miles from the city center.
From Mexico, the most common flights to Puerto Vallarta are from Mexico City (MEX) and Guadalajara (GDL).
An important consideration when planning your trip to Puerto Vallarta is deciding what time of year to visit. There are various pros and cons for each season.
In April and May, there will be a lower influx of tourists (these months are slightly off-season, so you can get some better deals as well). The air will be getting warmer and drier, and oceans might get a bit chilly but definitely still stay manageable.
June and July are summer months that are busy for tourism-with high temperatures up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s the best time to engage in various water activities, which is a popular attraction and reason for visiting Puerto Vallarta. With kids and students out of school, you can expect higher prices and more crowds during this busy tourism period.
August through October is considered the low season for traveling to Puerto Vallarta. This is the rainy and hurricane season, making it a slow period for tourism. This period will give you access to the cheapest deals on flights, hotels, activities. It won’t necessarily be raining every day, but rain will go from afternoon to late night. Keep in mind that there will be lots of mudslides (if you’re renting vehicles), and the humid weather will attract bugs as well.
From the months of November to March, it’s also a high tourism period for travelers from the United States and Canada. During this period, you’ll get amazing weather, and the rain from the last season will make everything green. During these months, you can even spot humpback whales.
Choosing the best times to visit will ultimately depend on your schedule, the budget you’re aiming for, and the activities you’re hoping to do.
Oftentimes, people will travel around the area or visit different destinations on their vacation to Mexico.
If you’re planning to travel to different destinations in Mexico, here are some popular nearby cities to add to your trip:
Puerto Vallarta is 2 hours from Cancun by airplane.
The flight travel length from Riviera Maya to Puerto Vallarta is around 8 hours.
You can get to Guadalajara from Puerto Vallarta by car in around 4 hours, but by plane the flight itself is only an hour (plus time spent at the airport, of course).
Puerto Vallarta to Mexico City would be roughly a one-and-a-half-hour flight or a two-day road trip by car.
A frequent debate for tourists is whether they should visit Cancun or Puerto Vallarta on their vacation to Mexico. Cancun is on Mexico’s Caribbean Coast and Puerto Vallarta is on the Pacific coast, so most likely you won’t hit both destinations in the same vacation and should pick one or the other to explore. Let’s quickly look at some comparison points between these two locations to help make an informed decision.
As far as time zones are concerned, West Coast travelers will have an easier time to Puerto Vallarta, while travelers from the middle and eastern U.S. will have an easier time to Cancun.
Cancun has beautiful, serene beaches and is known for its all-inclusive resorts, nightlife, and dining. Beachfront hotels are popular, and many tourists spend much of their vacation in resorts.
Puerto Vallarta has beautiful views, strolls, and boardwalks. There are also more mountains and an abundance of outdoor sports and water activities. Puerto Vallarta is one of the top stops for diving and whale watching. It is the LGBTQ capital of Mexico, with hotels and activities geared towards the community.
Cancun has picturesque Caribbean beaches perfect for Instagram and afternoons of relaxing by the beachfront. Puerto Vallarta’s beaches are smaller and more crowded. Cancun has more hotels and resorts, Puerto Vallarta has more boutique hotels and Airbnb arrangements with more of a local flavor.
Puerto Vallarta is definitely the more budget-friendly option out of the two.
Cancun will often be the more commercial tourism experience. Cancun is great for car rental road trips and will require more car travel to get around to different sites. Puerto Vallarta is easy to get around by walking, bus, or by Uber and Taxi.
Puerto Vallarta is a very safe city in Mexico for tourists. Just exercise common sense when traveling, and follow COVID-19 best practices as well– such as getting fully vaccinated before travel, limiting your time spent in crowded places, wearing a mask, and washing your hands frequently.
To board your return flight back home, you must present proof of a negative COVID test result collected within a three-day window of your departure flight date. If you are visiting Puerto Vallarta, we recommend our CityHealth Puerto Vallarta COVID testing site at Biomedical Center downtown, offering CDC-approved Rapid Antigen tests and travel-ready Digital Health Certificates. You can make an easy online appointment in just a few minutes, and your test results will be securely emailed to you within half an hour of your test.
For more information on the COVID-19 guidelines and regulations that you need to be aware of, check out this COVID Guide for Puerto Vallarta Travelers to learn the exact steps needed to ensure a stress-free trip.
Now that we’ve rounded up the basics about traveling to Puerto Vallarta, as well as some local comparisons, we hope you now have some more insight into whether or not Puerto Vallarta will be your next travel destination.
If you have your flights booked and want to learn more about specific activities and sights to see, we put together a Puerto Vallarta 2021 travel guide for single travelers with different budgets, as well as a Puerto Vallarta Family Travel Guide. we’ve also put together a comprehensive travel guide for single travelers as well as families that covers all the recommended attractions, experiences, and handy tips!
Don’t forget to share with us a snippet of your travels at #cityhealthpassport or by tagging us at @gocityhealth.