Travel Itinerary: Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Sayulita

If you're planning on spending more than a week in Puerto Vallarta, I recommend checking out Guadalajara and Sayulita as well. I recently came back from a 12-day trip to Puerto Vallarta, and am really glad my friend and I didn't stay in one place the whole time.

Puerto Vallarta was a wonderful place to explore, but it didn't offer the total peace and relaxation of Sayulita, or the colonial architecture and affordable prices of Guadalajara. As a whole though, these 3 areas make for a unique and exciting travel experience.

Keep reading below for my 12-day travel itinerary broken down by city:

Days 1-4: Sayulita

Mornings in Sayulita are quieter than usual during the low season

Mornings in Sayulita are quieter than usual during the low season

Day 1: Arrived in Puerto Vallarta and immediately took a bus to Sayulita. Checked into Lush Hostel before exploring the town and making our way to Los Muertos beach

Day 2: Moved out of the hostel and into a beautiful Airbnb. Lounged in our new home's hammock and then headed outside to take some photos. Went swimming at Los Muertos beach

Day 3: Looked for waves in Punta de Mita. Didn’t find any but we stayed an relaxed anyway for a few hours before heading back to Sayulita. Ended up getting food poisoning and spending the rest the evening inside.

Day 4: Checked out of our Airbnb after lunch and caught a 6 hour bus to Guadalajara. Arrived late at night and checked into the first hotel we found near the historic center

WHAT WENT WELL:

Switching from a hostel to an Airbnb our second day was one of the BEST decisions of our trip. The hostel we stayed in was pretty grimy and a little expensive.

The Airbnb on the other hand, had a hammock in our living room, a large balcony, and a clean kitchen to cook in. Staying there was half the price, yet gave us more of a feeling that we were on vacation.

Read more: The Ultimate Sayulita Travel Guide

WHAT I WISH WE’D DONE DIFFERENTLY:

No sign of waves at Punta de Mita

No sign of waves at Punta de Mita

Punta de Mita was kind of a waste of a day. It takes a long time to get there from Sayulita by bus, because you have to ride all the way to Bucerias first before switching to a bus headed for Punta de Mita.

When we got there, not only were there no waves and nothing much to see or do, food and rentals of any kind were crazy expensive. Looking back, I wish we’d stayed in Sayulita instead and relaxed. Sayulita may be small, but it’s a better place to chill and spend your time.

Days 5-7: Guadalajara

Palacio de Gobierno is a MUST for photographers and travelers heading to Guadalajara

Palacio de Gobierno is a MUST for photographers and travelers heading to Guadalajara

Day 5: Moved into a Airbnb before heading outside to explore the city. Walked through the Catedral de Guadalajara and then spent hours photographing inside Palacio de Gobierno. Grabbed dinner and went out for drinks

Day 6: Toured Instituto Cultural Cabanas for just 50 pesos each (student discount). Passed through Mercado Libertad - San Juan de Dios as it was closing up. Stumbled upon an awesome night market outside of Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento

Day 7: Exchanged some money and then headed to the bus station. Took the 6 hour bus ride back to Puerto Vallarta and book ourselves into a nice Airbnb near the Malecon

Read more: Taking a Bus from Bucerias or Sayulita to Guadalajara

WHAT WENT WELL:

Hanging out on the roof of Palacio de Gobierno in Guadalajara

Hanging out on the roof of Palacio de Gobierno in Guadalajara

Simply deciding to take a break from the coast and head inland to Guadalajara was a great idea. Puerto Vallarta in September is insanely humid, however, Guadalajara is not. As soon as we arrived, Yuting and I felt the temperature difference.

Guadalajara was also a nice change of scenery. The architecture there is very colonial and made me feel like I was in Europe at times.

WHAT I WISH WE’D DONE DIFFERENTLY:

Something we should’ve done in Guadalajara a little more was try different restaurants. On our first afternoon in the city, we discovered a lunch spot with a really cheap and delicious lunch special. Twice before we left though, we ended up eating there again.

While it was a ‘safe’ choice and very affordable, Guadalajara has a foodie scene that would’ve been nice to explore a little more. Also, since Guadalajara is a lot less touristy than Puerto Vallarta, food is a bit cheaper.

Days 8-12: Puerto Vallarta

Yuting found the perfect beach lookout in Puerto Vallarta

Yuting found the perfect beach lookout in Puerto Vallarta

Day 8: Walked up and down the Malecon this morning. Discovered a chocolate museum called ChocoMuseo where we got a TON of free chocolate samples. Took some pictures on the beach, bought 2 for 80 pesos margaritas, and went to Kashi Sushi for dinner.

Day 9: Decided to check out a quiet beach town called Las Animas. To get there, we took a bus to Boca de Tomatlan and then embarked on what we thought would be a quick hike to Las Animas.

2.5 hours later, and down one flip-flop, we made it to Las Animas just in time to eat a late lunch and catch the last water taxi back to Boca. Once back in Puerto Vallarta, we tried out a bunch of street food near the Malecon and bought a pizza at Pan y Che.

Day 10: Chill day for us. Grabbed a late lunch at a place called Lorita’s, walked around the Malecon for a bit, and then went back to the house to get started on some homework (fall quarter had already started for me…).

** This would've been a great day to squeeze in Mirador de La Cruz or the botanical gardens

Day 11: For our last hurrah before heading home, Yuting and I went to Yelapa, another quiet beach town south of the city center. To get there, we took a bus to Boca de Tomatlan, and then a water taxi to Yelapa. Relaxed in a couple of beach chairs before hiking to Yelapa's famous waterfall.

Day 12: Packed our bags, ate a quick lunch, and took an Uber to the airport. Until next time, Mexico!

Read more: 3 Easy Hikes Near Puerto Vallarta

WHAT WENT WELL:

Hiking to Las Animas from Boca de Tomatlan

Hiking to Las Animas from Boca de Tomatlan

Despite the unexpected length and terrible shoe choice on my part, the hike from Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas was definitely worth it.

The path wound along the coastline, passing through a hidden and secluded beach called Los Colomitos, and offering close-ups with pelicans, lizards, and crabs.

If you decide to do this hike as well, just make sure to plan your time accordingly, wear proper hiking shoes, and pack some snacks!

Learn more about our crazy hiking experience in my post: 3 Easy Hikes Near Puerto Vallarta

WHAT I WISH WE’D DONE DIFFERENTLY:

One thing I really wish we’d made time for was hiking to Mirador de La Cruz. This city lookout spot offers one of the best views of Puerto Vallarta, and is only a 20-30 minute walk from the Malecon.

However, it’s best not to do this hike at night, and Yuting and I were usually pretty busy during the day (with the exception of day 10 haha). Mirador de La Cruz would’ve been an easy activity to sneak into our itineraries, but I guess now we have something to look forward to if we ever go back.

 

Heading to one of these 3 cities soon?

Comment below and let me know what you're most excited about