There are so many things to do in Puerto Vallarta, however one of the first things you’ll notice as soon as you set foot in this beautiful Mexican city is the colourful graffiti decorating the streets. And since Puerto Vallarta is such a walkable city, there’s no better way to get to know it and its magnificent street art than on foot.
If you like Mexican graffiti art and are looking for fun Puerto Vallarta activities, taking our self guided street art tour should be top of your list. It’s free and also a good way to shake off all those fish tacos and coronas you’ll no doubt be stuffing your face with. There’s some serious talent going on behind Mexican street art and Puerto Vallarta is no exception.
Unique Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta
The walking route will take you from the 5 de Diciembre neighbourhood, through Zona Centro and into Zona Romántica. The walk is around 4km in length (or more like 5km if you do the extra bit) and should take you around 4 hours, depending on how quickly you walk and how long you spend taking photos. That’s excluding stopping for lunch. Okay, let’s get you on you on your way!
The starting point for this street art Puerto Vallarta walking tour is the large cemetery in the 5 de Diciembre neighbourhood which in Spanish is called Panteón 5 de Diciembre at the junction of Calle Brasilia y Calle San Salvador.
If you’re not staying in the 5 de Diciembre neighbourhood, we’d recommend taking an Uber or one of the local buses to there because, well you’re going to be doing a fair amount of walking after that. The Ubers are cheap and the buses in Puerto Vallarta are very regular.
Depending on what time of day you choose to do your Puerto Vallarta sightseeing tour, you can get a tasty and very affordable breakfast or lunch at Mercado del Mar 5 de Diciembre which is right opposite the cemetery. There’s another tasty lunch spot coming up later in the tour though so we’d recommend starting in the morning and hitting this place up for breakfast.
Along the front wall of the cemetery you’ll find numerous pieces of gorgeous of Mexican Street art. From there you are going to walk along Calle San Salvador until you come to Calle Colombia and turn left. In between Calle San Salvador and Calle Nicaragua you’ll see the huge portrait of Einstein below, its pretty damn cool.
Next you’re going to want to take Calle Nicaragua towards the beach for one block to hop on over to Calle Peru and turn left. Continue walking down Calle Peru for a few blocks and in-between the junctions with Calle Republica de Chile and Calle Uruguay you’ll see this enormous whale.
Mexican Street Art
By this stage if you’re not starting to understand why checking out the street art is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta then I’m not sure what to say! Because it’s stunning.
Continue to walk down Calle Peru until you come to Calle Venezuela and turn left onto it, so you are walking uphill away from the beach. On this street you’ll find two beautiful examples of the richness of the artist scene in Puerto Vallarta by local artist Tomás Pires.
You’ll no doubt be seeing a theme in much of the street art in Puerto Vallarta by this stage and that’s because many of the pieces were painted as part of the Mexico-wide #restorecoral project. So I’m just going to take a couple of minutes to tell you about it.
#restorecoral is a crowd funded social project and is the first of it’s kind in Mexico. It’s aim is to promote the restoration and protection of coral reefs in Mexico and worldwide. Just some quick background for you on what’s driving the movement, Mexico’s coral reef is the second largest the world and is responsible for sustaining 25% of all sea life. Yet in the last decade or so a staggering 75% of it has been destroyed mainly through human action. Disgusting right?!
If you’re in any way remotely environmentally conscious and want to help you can show your support by following the #restorecoral quest on Instagram and donate to their kickstarter campaign or learn more on their website.
Right, back to what should be the top of list of what to do in Puerto Vallarta. So after walking up Calle Venezuela you should turn right and back onto Calle Colombia. Walk down the street and in the basketball court on your left you’ll see, in my opinion, one of the very best pieces of Mexican street art, this stunning giant octopus collaboration by Nick and Noise.
From here, carry on walking down Calle Colombia for a few blocks, which even though it’s the same street, at some point turns into Calle Juarez – just to confuse matters! When you come to the intersection with Calle Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez you’ll see this beautiful #restorecoral mural by Eva Bracamontes on the corner in front of you.
Next up we’re going to take a bit of a detour but it’s worth it. Carry on down Calle Juarez for one block until you hit Calle Abasolo and turn left, away from the beach. This next piece of Puerto Vallarta attractions is uphill, on your way up to Mirador La Cruz del Cerro. Which by the way is an awesome unobstructed viewing point over the whole of the city and is another of the best unique things to do in Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta Activities
It’s not a long walk up to the view point, it took us around 20 minutes from this point, but it is a steep one. So if you want to see it, you can choose to either carry on if you have the time and energy or save it for another day. In which case you may as well, save seeing the below piece of Puerto Vallarta street art for that day too.
So if you are skipping this one, don’t turn onto Calle Abasolo, carry on walking down Calle Juarez for another block and turn left onto Calle Aldama, then an immediate right onto Calle Hidalgo. On the corner you will see this graffiti piece by Liz Rashell.
If you have gone up Calle Abasolo and all the way to the viewing point, it’s easier to come back down a slightly different way that isn’t so steep across Calle Miramar which will drop you onto the top of Calle Aldama. Whereby if you turn right and walk back towards the beach you’ll come to the same corner with Calle Hidalgo on your left.
There’s so much amazing street art in Puerto Vallarta that guess what, we’re not even half way though yet and there are some even more incredible pieces coming up. This really is such a great Puerto Vallarta sightseeing activity.
Carry on walking down Calle Hidalgo until you reach Calle Iturbide where you’ll come across this fantastic artwork by another local artist Dherzu Azala. By the way all these streets that we’re directing you around are completely safe and you are totally fine getting your camera out and snapping away.
Now we’re going to send you right down Calle Iturbide and onto the Malecon. Go left on the Malecon and walk all the way down until you come the start of a pedestrianised bridge that crosses the Isla Cuale (where you’re headed after a lunch stop off).
As you approach the bridge you want to go around the right hand side of it and underneath it to see two pieces of hidden Mexican street art. Is it just me or does the first one just make you want to get more tattoos?!
As you come out under the other side of the bridge you’ll come into a cute handicraft market, meander your way through that, along Calle Encino and up and over the main road Calle Morelos. Go down the steps over the other side and carry on along Calle Encino with the River Cuale on your right. In front you you’ll then come to Mercado Municipal Río Cuale – remember where you go in because you need to come out the same way.
Downstairs are more handmade Mexican crafts (if you get your barter on it’s one of the best places to pick up your souvenirs), but upstairs is where you headed – if you’re hungry that is. The food in the restaurants up there is super good. Chile Rellenos, Mole, Caldo de Cameron, Red Snapper, they have everything and it’s very affordable.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Puerto Vallarta os one of the safest places in Mexico. However, as with any trip abroad, make sure you have a good quality travel insurance in place. Our go to travel insurance provider is World Nomads. They have a no bullshit approach to policy & are perfect for adventurous travellers like us. Get a quick, no obligation quote here:
Puerto Vallarta Art
After you’ve had your fill and a rest, next up is the street art on the beautiful Isla Cuale. So coming out of the market the same way you went in, you’ll see a suspension bridge crossing the river, head on over that and turn left. You’ll come out right in the middle of the Río Cuale Flea market and there’s even more craft stuff here. If you’re into your dreamcatchers and sugar skulls this is where it’s at.
Turn left and continue along out of the stalls and you’ll come to the main road Insurgentes. Head on over it, then check out the building in front you slightly to the right. On the corner is one my favourite pieces of Puerto Vallarta Art. Absolutely love this piece.
Then carry on perpendicular to Insurgentes, so you’re continuing to walk along Isla Cuale. There’s so much street art knocking about in this part of the island. Some of it’s kind of derelict which seems really strange because it’s such a beautiful area of Puerto Vallarta. Don’t worry it’s completely safe. I haven’t shown all the pieces of street art on this part of the street art tour because there are simply too many so just have a wander around.
Fun Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta
Then when you’re done, come back to Insugentes and turn left so that you come off Isla Cuale and into the Zona Romantica. Carry on down Insurgentes for a couple of blocks and then turn right on Calle Francisco Madero. And then walk 3 blocks until you get to Calle Pino Suárez and on the corner opposite you’ll see the next piece of Mexican graffiti art.
Then continue left down Calle Pino Suárez for your penultimate set of street artistry in Parque Lazaro Cádenas. Just have a wander around and check out the walls of the buildings.
On the corner of Calle Pino Suárez and Calle Venustino Carranza is some really cool stuff too.
Then you want to walk up along Calle Venustino Carranza, away from the beach, until you reach your last stop on this awesome self guided street art tour of Puerto Vallarta, Monzon Brewing Co. at number 239. Inside is your last piece of Mexican street art and also where you get to reward yourself for your day of exploring and graffiti seeking with a nice craft beer.
Monzon Brewing Co. is one of our all time favourite bars in Puerto Vallarta and has some really delicious goodness that they brew right on site. The staff speak English so they’ll talk you through the menu and help you decide which beer to get, but if you can’t decide we’d recommend opting for the flight so you can sample a selection of each. Pints are MXN $60 (£2.28GBP/$3.24USD) pesos and the flight of 6 x 4oz samples is MXN $110 (£4.17GBP/$5.93USD).
We hope you’ll agree that this is one of the most unique and fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Of course the beaches are gorgeous but if you’re in the city for a few days this is a good way to break it up and get to the backstreets of the city beyond the well trodden Malecon.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the street art in Puerto Vallarta so if you find anymore that you think are worthy of the cut in this self guided tour please drop us a comment. Also let us know what you think? If the guide was easy to follow and if you loved the street art as much as we do!
Do You Speak Spanish?
One thing to be aware outside of Mexico’s main tourism hotspots, is that not many people speak English. Unless you are staying at an international hotel chain or hire an English speaking guide, it’s rare. And as for taxi drivers and market stall holders, forget it.
You can of course usually get by, but since we started learning Spanish we found that it has hugely enhanced our travel experiences. Not to mention enabled us to travel around Spanish speaking countries more confidently.
Which is why we’d like to recommend this Travel Spanish Confidence course we took recently. It enabled us move beyond a basic level to being able to communicate effectively in Spanish.
If you don’t know a word of Spanish however, this won’t be for you yet. Better to get started with Duolingo or some basic language classes first.