Adventure International

Colorful Zona Romantica in Puerto Vallarta

Color my world is the only way to describe the historic Zona Romantica (Old Town) neighborhood in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

If I close my eyes, I can summon up mental “snapshots” of vibrant scenes of colorful Zona Romantica… an oversized red poinsettia sculpture hung on a door … a sunny yellow altar at the end of a street … an electric-blue medicine man painted on a brick wall … a collection of Mayan earrings and bracelets woven in a rainbow of hues hanging in an outdoor stall. 

Why did these objects delight me? It’s hard to say conclusively. I recognized them as “color vitamins,” which I ingested on my travel diet. 

My Joyful Experience

But it made sense after reading Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by designer Ingrid Fetell Lee.

Color is bold and brash—exuberant, energetic, and electrifying. When we see bright colors in our environment—yellow, red, and orange—we feel ebullient. So, it is not surprising that encountering brightly colored cities in my travels should thrill me.

Lee writes that when she “started studying joy, it was clear that the liveliest places and objects all have one thing in common: bright, vivid color. 

“Whether it’s a row of houses painted in bold swaths of candy hues or a display of colored markers in a stationery shop, vibrant color invariably sparks a feeling of delight.”

Ingrid Fetell Lee

Colorful Zona Romantica Architecture

Take, for instance, the residences and hotels. When you stay in the Zona Romantica (old town) of Puerto Vallarta, expect to swim in color (and the ocean). Residents paint the walls of their buildings in bright blue, red, and yellow shades.

Colorful Festivals

I visited Puerto Vallarta in December to participate in the 12-day Our Lady of Guadalupe Festival.

Bright red, yellow, and green streamers dangled near the church and across the main roads. Residents participated in a holiday parade that snaked down the major streets, making Puerto Vallarta awash in color.

During the parade, young women clothed in red Mayan outfits glittering with gems stride down the road. Drums beat in rhythm to their step. Children jumped in the air. 

Colorful Clothes

Just as the parade participants wore vibrant holiday costumes, residents dressed in their “Sunday best” clothes for this national holiday on December 12.

The traditional Mexican costume is a beige linen shirt or dress embroidered with flowers around the neckline. But I also saw many women dressed in long colonial gowns. 

My favorite recollection is of a mother and daughter I saw posing at the cathedral. The little girl wore a full-length white dress embroidered with flowers, yellow ruffles, and a bow tie. Her mother wore a full-length red dress, also embroidered with flowers.

Colorful Food

Red, white, and green are the main colors of the Mexican flag. They are also the dominant colors for the fiery red tomato salsa and the bright green verde salsa served with tacos, enchiladas, and tamales.

You shouldn’t be surprised if seeing red makes you hungry, as I am always famished when the waitress delivers the bowl of salsa and tortilla chips.

I highly recommend the food-tasting tours. I purchased “The Street- Evening Taco Adventure” from Vallarta Food Tours. It is the #1 rated locally-owned tour in Puerto Vallarta. Their slogan is “Become a local in three hours.”

We watched the streets of Vallarta come alive after sunset. Our tour consisted of seven food tastings. I was stuffed at the conclusion.

Colorful Murals

Roam the streets and alleyways of Zona Romantico to discover the city’s prolific artists. Street murals decorate nearly every block. (It reminded me of my vacation in Isla Holbox, Mexico. I was obsessed with the Holbox street art during my visit to Mexico’s Yucatan region.)

Although I couldn’t find a street art tour, I did follow directions to a section of Zona Romantica, where I examined multiple murals.

My favorite mural was a block-long mural on the side of a building. Painted cobalt blue, it featured a magic man and a reindeer. I never tired of walking past it during my seven-day vacation.

Colorful Sunsets

Just as your mind stops worrying about work deadlines after two days of vacation, you gravitate to the water’s edge to catch the sunsets.

Bright swirls of gold, yellow, orange, and red race across the darkening sky. Sail away on your voyage through Zona Romantica in Puerto Vallarta.

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  • Laureen Lund
    April 27, 2024 at 9:01 am

    Our friends visit PV every winter and they keep telling us to come. We have not been in more than 20 years…I think it’s time for another visit. Your photos are so colorful and inviting. Muy Bien!

    • Terri
      April 27, 2024 at 2:24 pm

      Thank you Lauren. I met a lady on the plane who had vacationed in PV for 20 years. After my visit, I understood. Loved PV!

  • Sonia
    April 27, 2024 at 9:37 am

    Puerto Vallarta looks like it has so much to offer off the beach as well. The street art tour looks like a great idea.

    • Terri
      April 27, 2024 at 2:23 pm

      I did multiple walking tours in Zona Romantica because I want to learn about PV’s old town.

  • Meghan
    April 27, 2024 at 10:57 am

    Puerto Vallarta is so pretty! I love how many colorful places there are in Mexico. I love that both nature and the city are colorful here; the natural and architectural beauty is incredible.

    • Terri
      April 27, 2024 at 2:22 pm

      PV is so colorful and welcoming and vibrant. I can’t wait to go back!

  • Hannah
    April 27, 2024 at 11:37 am

    Puerto Vallarta looks so beautiful! I love how vibrant and colourful it looks! The murals look stunning and the food looks delicious 😋 I want to go! Thanks for the great guide.

    • Terri
      April 27, 2024 at 2:21 pm

      I wish I visited PV years ago! I rebooked another PV vacation in November. It is my joyfilled place.

  • Hannah
    April 27, 2024 at 5:14 pm

    What a colourful and vibrant town in Mexico, you have inspired me to add it to my itinerary! Thank you for sharing such a detailed guide.

    • Terri
      April 27, 2024 at 8:58 pm

      I really loved PV! I already booked my return trip in November. I’m just sorry that I took so long to visit.

  • Carly
    April 27, 2024 at 6:29 pm

    There are so many great restaurants in this area – I remember having a delicious vegetarian mole for lunch and then a multi-course vegetarian fine dining meal for dinner! A food tour would be a great way to explore more of the cuisine!

    • Terri
      April 27, 2024 at 8:58 pm

      The even had a vegan food tour! I signed up for it but it was a private group tour. Next time! It is so easy to be a vegetarian traveling in PV!

  • Moona
    April 27, 2024 at 7:52 pm

    Puerto Vallarta is so pretty and so colourful! I love everything about this place: the colorful clothes, the murals, and the food! I am planning a trip to Mexico and will definitely add Puerta Vallerta to the itinerary.

    • Terri
      April 27, 2024 at 8:57 pm

      You won’t be disappointed. The city stole my heart.

  • Sharyn McCullum
    April 27, 2024 at 8:19 pm

    Puerto Vallarta looks so colourful – I hope to get there one day to see this for myself.

    • Terri
      April 27, 2024 at 8:56 pm

      I hope you get to visit PV!

  • Jenn P. | By Land and Sea
    April 27, 2024 at 9:30 pm

    This is such a great, lively area! Love how colorful it is!!

    • Terri
      April 28, 2024 at 4:57 am

      It is a very lively city!

  • Anja
    April 28, 2024 at 8:13 am

    Mexico is so big on my wish list but my holidays are short and it’s a long trip from Europe. Thank you so much for sharing! I am collecting inspiration, and Puerto Vallarta looks really attractive!

    • Terri
      April 30, 2024 at 5:29 am

      Mexico is sooo far away from Europe. I am glad that you could enjoy virtually by looking at the photos. I hope you might visit one day!

  • Irma R Franco
    April 28, 2024 at 8:41 am

    Good morning! Oh My Goodness! What an explosion of gorgeous colors! Just looking at the images makes my heart dance with joy!

    • Terri
      April 30, 2024 at 5:28 am

      I am so glad. It was truly a riot of colors. I can’t wait to return. Joy=Vibrant Color

  • Natalie
    April 30, 2024 at 3:26 am

    I visited Puerto Vallarta as a kid but don’t remember it being so colorful! Great photos! And as always, amazing post. It’s such a joy visiting places from your point view 🙂

    • Terri
      April 30, 2024 at 5:27 am

      You are so kind! I think the big discovery for me was Zona Romantica (the Old Town part of Puerto Vallarta. You’re able to get away from the high rise hotels and condos. It was so colorful!

  • Patricia (Tish) Mikan
    April 30, 2024 at 10:38 am

    Wow! What beautiful murals. I love the rich gorgeous colors