The ‘old’ town center, called Zona Centro, is the area north of Río Cuale. Cross the river to reach the Zona Romántica, a characterful, spread-out tourist district with smaller hotels, restaurants and bars, the two most central beaches and the hub of LGBT life. These eminently walkable downtown neighborhoods, which remain the heart and soul of Puerto Vallarta, are where most places worth visiting, staying at or eating are located.

North of the city is a strip of giant luxury hotels, the Zona Hotelera, where you'll find Marina Vallarta, a large yacht marina (9km from downtown), and Nuevo Vallarta, a new area of hotel and condominium developments (18km). Just north of Marina Vallarta is the airport (10km) and the bus station (12km). To the south of the city is a string of winningly beautiful beaches, some backed by resort hotels.