A Travel Price Comparison for Mexico Mexico City vs. Puerto Vallarta for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Mexico City

Mexico City is a vibrant, dynamic, and colorful city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. Other popular activities here include nightlife, food, and shopping.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a coastal, colorful, and laid-back town. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Big city activities
Things to Consider
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Mexico City than Puerto Vallarta. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Mexico City is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, historical sights, shopping, and big city activities, while Puerto Vallarta attracts visitors for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, and beaches. Puerto Vallarta is more touristy than Mexico City and is popular for its natural beauty and vibrant nightlife. Mexico City is famous for its vibrant street food scene, colorful markets, and historic architecture. It is also well known for Zócalo.

How is Mexico City different from Puerto Vallarta?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Mexico City is renowned for its sights and museums. Also, Puerto Vallarta is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its museums and history.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put Mexico City on the map. The city is filled with historic buildings, fascinating museums, and interesting landmarks. At the heart of the city is Zócalo, where the country's constitution was signed. Nearby you'll find the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Templo Mayor. Other interesting museums in the city include the National Museum of Anthropology, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the National History Museum.

Puerto Vallarta is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. There are a number of historical sights around town like Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.


Is the Food Better in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Mexico City is renowned for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Puerto Vallarta is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its restaurants.

Mexico City has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. The city food scene is as diverse as the population itself. There are countless ways to experience the amazing street food, but there are also world class chefs working in award winning restaurants. Make sure you try the chilaquiles, tacos al pastor, and chiles en nogada.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Puerto Vallarta. The charming character combined with the authentic local cuisine makes for a wonderful culinary experience. There's everything from taco stands to romantic restaurants that you can try.

Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Nightlife?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Mexico City is renowned for its evening party scene. Also, Puerto Vallarta is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for nightlife.

Mexico City is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. It's a huge city, so of course there's no shortage of diverse nightlife activities. Some of the most popular neighborhoods for nightlife include the downtown, La Condesa, and Colonia Juárez. For upscale clubs head to Polanco and for trendy and eclectic venues check out Roma.

Puerto Vallarta has a large number of nightlife venues. You'll find a mix of active clubs, cozy bars, and cosmopolitan cafes. Head to the Romantic Zone or Los Muertos Beach for some of the best places.

Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Resorts?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is very popular for its luxury resorts. However, Mexico City is not a resort destination.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Puerto Vallarta is a great choice. There are many different places to stay from all-inclusive resorts to high end hotels or beachfront properties.

Mexico City is not a resort destination.


Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is an excellent place to visit for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Mexico City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Many visitors partake in scuba diving or snorkeing while visiting Puerto Vallarta. Divers in the area may get to experience once in a lifetime opportunities like diving with manta rays, dolphins, whale sharks, hammerheads, or schools of jacks.

Mexico City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Beaches?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is an excellent place to visit for the beach. However, Mexico City is not a beach destination.

Puerto Vallarta is considered a top beach destination. There are many beaches spread out around town that have soft sand and blue water. Most have all of the amenities you could need. Popular beaches include Playa de los Muertos, Playa Mismaloya, and Playa Conchas Chinas.

Mexico City is not a beach destination.

Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for its Old Town?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Mexico City is very good for its historic old town charm. However, Puerto Vallarta does not have a historic old town.

Mexico City offers a nice historic old town area. Centro Historico spreads out from Zócalo Plaza, and has many buildings that date back as far as the Aztec period. Many tourists gather here to explore the history and wander down the pedestrian-only Calle Madero.

Puerto Vallarta does not have a historic old town.


Is the Shopping Better in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Mexico City is renowned for its shopping areas. Also, Puerto Vallarta is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for shopping.

Mexico City is a world class destination for shoppers. The city has everything from open-air bazaars (tianguis) to modern shopping malls. There are international brands as well as local art galleries, handicrafts, and retail outlets.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Puerto Vallarta. There's a mix of shopping malls, open-air markets, boutiques, and international brands.

Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Families?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Mexico City. It's a huge city, so there are enough diverse activities to keep everyone entertained. There's even a Six Flags. Popular museums for kids include Papalote Museo del Niño and Museo de Geología. There's also the Acuario Inbursa, and make sure you check out a Lucha Libre show.

Puerto Vallarta is a very family-friendly place to visit. Kids will love the water parks and thrilling activities, such as Aquaventuras Water Park or Los Veranos Canopy Tour. There's rock climbing and ropes courses at Las Animas Aventura Park. You'll also find horseback riding and even pirate boat tours in the area.

Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Couples?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is an excellent place to visit for couples. Also, Mexico City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Puerto Vallarta makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples looking for a romantic getaway will enjoy sunset boat trips, horseback riding, and adventure sports. There are also many restaurants where you can enjoy a romantic dinner or a refreshing drink.

Mexico City is a nice destination for couples. The city is filled with parks where you can enjoy a picnic, museums that are fascinating to walk through, and cultural activities that are one-of-a-kind. You can ride on a gondola in Xochimilco or spend the day exploring the amazing food scene.


Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta are both great destinations for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Mexico City. It's a big city with a wonderful atmosphere and many hostels. Backpackers who want to experience the culture, food, and personality of Mexico will love a visit here.

Backpackers come from all over to visit Puerto Vallarta. There are hostels around, as well as many adventure sports or thrilling activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Students?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Mexico City is a well-known place for students. However, Puerto Vallarta is not popular with students.

Mexico City is very popular with students. International students love the art, architecture, food, and culture that this colorful city has to offer.

Puerto Vallarta is not popular with students.

Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Mexico City is a well-known place for its public transit. Also, Puerto Vallarta is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for times when you don't have a car.

The public transit in Mexico City can get you to most places easily. The city has a complex and comprehensive public transit system that includes a metro, metrobus, and local buses.

Puerto Vallarta has some public transit options. There are blue, green or orange buses that travel around town.


Is Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta a more walkable city?

Mexico City
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. However, Mexico City is lacking in options for its walkability.

Puerto Vallarta is a very walkable destination. There are several walkable neighborhoods in town such as 5 de Diciembre, el Centro, and Zona Romantica.

Mexico City is generally not very walkable. While you can walk within many neighborhoods, such as the historic city center, it's impossible to walk between neighborhoods and in many parts of the city.

For even more information, also check out Is Mexico City Worth Visiting? and Is Puerto Vallarta Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Puerto Vallarta or Mexico City?

How long in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

In either Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. In our opinion, Mexico City has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Mexico City than Puerto Vallarta. However, 3-5 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Puerto Vallarta than Mexico City. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Puerto Vallarta, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Puerto Vallarta than Mexico City. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Puerto Vallarta that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Mexico City than Puerto Vallarta if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Mexico City.


  • How many days in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta? Ideal Length of Stay
    Mexico City 3-5 
    Puerto Vallarta 3-5

One day in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Mexico City is a big city with plenty to do. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the coastal town of Puerto Vallarta. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Mexico City is a big city with plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the coastal destination of Puerto Vallarta. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Mexico City is a great place to explore. This city offers something for everyone. It is common to spend five days here. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

Visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the coastal town of Puerto Vallarta. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Mexico City. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Many people enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting Puerto Vallarta. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours in Mexico, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in Mexico, The Best Adventure Tours to Mexico, and The Best Sightseeing Tours in Mexico.


Which place is cheaper, Puerto Vallarta or Mexico City?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Mexico City is $193, while the average daily cost in Puerto Vallarta is $103. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Mexico City $37
    Puerto Vallarta $57
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Mexico City $74
    Puerto Vallarta $114
Compare Hotels in Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta

Looking for a hotel in Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Mexico City


Hotels in Puerto Vallarta


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Mexico City Hotel Prices and Puerto Vallarta Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Mexico City $12
    Puerto Vallarta $17
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Mexico City

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Mexico City:


  • Metro
    $1.08
  • Uber Ride
    $3.79

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Mexico City

Also for Mexico City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Transfer in private vehicle from Mexico City - Mexico Airport (MEX): $18
  • Private Transfer Minivan from Mexico City - Mexico Airport (MEX): $22
  • Transfer in Private Minivan from Mexico Airport (MEX)- Mexico City: $22
  • Aguascalientes Airport (AGU) to Aguascalientes - Arrival Transfer: $24
  • Private Arrival Transfer In Mexico City International Airport (MEX) : $25
  • Transfer to and from Mexico City Airport: $30
  • Private Transfer from the Airport to Hotels in Mexico City: $33
  • Private Departure Transfer: Hotel to Mexico City Airport: $34
  • Private Transfer: Benito Juarez Airport (MEX) to Mexico City: $35
  • Mexico City Private Airport Transfer : $36
  • Transfer & assistance one-way from/to Mexico City Airport/hotel : $36
  • Private Transfer From Mexico City Airport to Downtown: $37

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Puerto Vallarta

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Puerto Vallarta:

  • Sayulita hotels to Puerto Vallarta Airport (PVR) – Private Departure Transfer : $96
  • Puerto Vallarta:Private Airport Transfer to Punta Mita: $69
  • Puerto Vallarta:Private Airport Transfer to Mismaloya Zone 3: $66
  • Puerto Vallarta:Private Airport Transfer to Boca de Tomatlan: $87
  • Puerto Vallarta:Private Airport Transfer to Boca de Tomatlán: $88
  • Private Transfer to Nuevo Nayarit: $126
  • Private Airport Transfer to Zona Hotlera: $50
  • Private Airport Transfer to Sayulita: $127
  • Private Airport Transfer to Romantic Zone: $54
  • Private Airport Transfer to Punta Mita: $99
  • Private Airport Transfer to Nuevo Vallarta: $55
  • Private Airport Transfer to Misma Loya: $77

Is it cheaper to fly into Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Prices for flights to both Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Mexico City $25
    Puerto Vallarta $33
Typical Food Prices in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lunch for Two
    $12
  • Coffee and Snacks
    $4.22
  • Dinner for 2
    $25

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Virtual Mexican Cooking Class (private and personalized): $50
  • Local Markets & Food Tour in Mexico City: $50
  • Private Half-Day Traditional Markets Street Food Tour in Mexico City: $57
  • 3 Hours Food Tour Best Vegan Tacos in Mexico City: $61
  • Muchos moles: Multi-variety mole cooking class and feast: $66
  • Private Market Tour and Authentic Mexican Cooking Class with Fer: $68
  • Street Food Tour with Friends: $75
  • La Roma Authentic Downtown Food Tour: Tacos and Local Flavors: $78
  • Mexico City Origins: Archeology, History, Art & Food Tour: $80
  • Flamenco Tablao Live Show & dinner: $83
  • Private Mexican Cooking Lesson in a Coyoacan Apartment: $86
  • Home-Cooked Dinner: Taste of Mexico: $87

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Puerto Vallarta

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Puerto Vallarta.

  • 3-Hour Guided Food Tour in Puerto Vallarta: $42
  • Dinner Tacos Food Tour: $55
  • Taste of Pitillal Food Tour by Vallarta Food Tours : $55
  • Taco Adventure Evening Food Tour with Vallarta Food Tours: $55
  • Off The Beaten Path Food Tour. Dinner in Pitillal : $55
  • Off The Beaten Path Food Tour, Breakfast in Pitillal: $55
  • Puerta Vallarta: Seafood Lover's Food Tour: $59
  • Puerto Vallarta 3-Hour Food Tour of Authentic Local Cuisine: $59
  • Downtown Puerto Vallarta Food Tour with Vallarta Food Tours: $59
  • Mexican Cooking Class, Tequila Tasting & Unlimited Margaritas: $78
  • Mexican Cooking Class and Tequila Tasting: $89
  • Los Cabos: Twilight Sail with Live Music & Dinner: $95

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Mexico City $14
    Puerto Vallarta $17

Tours and Activities in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • MUCHO Museum of Chocolate Entrance Ticket: $4.42
  • Franz Mayer Museum Regular Admission Ticket: $5.52
  • Bike tour in the Chapultepec Forest and Roma Condesa : $5.57
  • Double Decker Bus Night Tour: $6.62
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - Mexico for Beginners: $6.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour-Moctezuma and the Zocalo:The Aztec Empire : $6.99
  • Memory and Tolerance Museum Entry Ticket: $7.73
  • Explore Mexico City a Self-Guided Audio Tour in English: $7.93
  • La Roma's Famous Sights and Local Lore: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Mexico City (Historic Centre) City Sights Self-Guided Tour: $8.95
  • Mexico City (Coyoacan) City Sights Self-Guided Tour: $8.95
  • Mexico City (Coyoacan) Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $9.25

Tours and Activities in Puerto Vallarta

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Puerto Vallarta are as follows:

  • 3-hr ATV Mountian Exclusive Tour to Sierra Madre: $65
  • Zip Line Adventure in the heights in Puerto Vallarta 10 zip lines: $61
  • 2 Hour and 30 Minutes Walking Tour in 5 De Diciembre: $42
  • 3 hours private snorkeling tour in Misaloya, Puerto Vallarta: $225
  • 360 Puerto Vallarta City Tour with Lunch: $65
  • 4 Hour Surf Experience in Corral Del Risco: $75
  • ATV Adventure from Puerto Vallarta: $110
  • ATV Adventure in Puerto Vallarta (Single): $105
  • ATV Adventure in Vallarta (Shared) : $125
  • ATV Adventure in the Jungle Single in Puerto Vallarta: $106
  • ATV Experience Adventure (Single) : $105
  • ATV Experience in Puente Jorullo and Mountains: $135

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Mexico City $19
    Puerto Vallarta $22

Sample the Local Flavors in Mexico City

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Mexico City:

  • CDMX Pub Crawl: Mexico City Bar Crawl: $23
  • Mexico City Pub Crawl: $23
  • Mexico City Bar Crawl: $37
  • Best Bar Crawl at Downtown: $49
  • Zona Rosa Pub Crawl Experience: $95
  • Nightly Historic Center From Above© Rooftop Bar Crawl +Taco Snack: $129
  • 2 Hours Private Mexican Wine Tasting in Polanco: $155
  • Polanco: Private Wine Tasting in with Cheese: $161
  • Polanco: Private Tacos and Wine Tour: $197
  • Polanco: Premium Foodie Tour with Wine Tasting: $215
  • Third Largest Monolith in the World:Bernal with wine tasting: $235
  • Cavas Freixenet Wine Tour from Mexico City: $255

Sample the Local Flavors in Puerto Vallarta

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Puerto Vallarta:

  • Fun Mexican Wine Tasting in Beautiful Garden of Puerto Vallarta: $40
  • Brewery Bus Tour- Tacos y Cervezas: $85
  • All you can drink Bar Crawl: $99
  • Private Tequila Farm Distillery Tour w/ Transportation: $100
  • Bar Crawl Experience: $116


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta, we can see that Mexico City is more expensive. And not only is Puerto Vallarta much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Puerto Vallarta would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Puerto Vallarta and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Mexico City would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Mexico City than you might in Puerto Vallarta.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Mexico City Expensive? and Is Puerto Vallarta Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta?

Mexico City has a larger population, and is about 60 times larger than the population of Puerto Vallarta. When comparing the sizes of Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.