A Travel Price Comparison for Mexico Oaxaca de Juarez vs. Puerto Vallarta for Attractions, Food, Backpackers, and Nightlife

Should you visit Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

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

Should I visit Oaxaca de Juarez 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.

Oaxaca de Juarez

Oaxaca de Juarez is a historic, cultural, and authentic city. Other popular activities here include nightlife, food, and shopping.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a laid-back, cultural, and coastal town. Other reasons to visit include beaches, shopping, and museums.

Oaxaca de Juarez 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
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
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

You'll generally find more things to do in Oaxaca de Juarez than Puerto Vallarta. Oaxaca de Juarez is bigger than Puerto Vallarta, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Oaxaca de Juarez is better known for its museums, food, historical sights, and shopping, while Puerto Vallarta is more popular for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, and beaches. Oaxaca de Juarez is well known for its indigenous cultures, historic center, and excellent food scene. Also, Oaxaca de Juarez is famous for Mercado Benito Juárez. Puerto Vallarta is well known for its natural beauty and vibrant nightlife.

How is Oaxaca de Juarez different from Puerto Vallarta?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Oaxaca de Juarez 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 Oaxaca de Juarez on the map. There are many museums and historical sights in the city and nearby. The Oaxaca Cathedral is located on the city's main square, Zocalo. Also worth visiting is the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán and the Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude. Just a few kilometers outside of the city is the historic settlement of Monte Albán as well as the Ex-Monastery of Santiago Apóstol. Also check out the Rufino Tamayo Museum and Museo Casa Juárez.

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 Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Oaxaca de Juarez 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.

Oaxaca de Juarez has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. This is a city for foodies. Of all the destinations in Mexico, this one always tops the list for its cuisine. The food is influenced by traditional ingredients like corn and many of the recipes have been passed on through the generations. Local dishes include mole, Oaxaca cheese, coloradito, and tlayudas.

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 Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for Nightlife?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

The vibe at night is great in both Oaxaca de Juarez and Puerto Vallarta.

Many people head to Oaxaca de Juarez for the nightlife scene. The nightlife scene starts late in the evening and can continue into the early hours. Many people meet up around Oaxaca Zocalo and it's very lively in the evenings. You'll often find live music and a fun atmosphere. As the night progresses, many people make their way to Santo Domingo, which is where you'll find a number of bars and clubs.

Puerto Vallarta has plenty to do after the sun goes down. 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 Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for Resorts?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is an unbeatable place for its luxury resorts. However, Oaxaca de Juarez 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.

Oaxaca de Juarez is not a resort destination.


Is Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is great for the nearby scuba diving and snorkeling. However, Oaxaca de Juarez 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.

Oaxaca de Juarez is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for Beaches?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is great for its beaches. However, Oaxaca de Juarez 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.

Oaxaca de Juarez is not a beach destination.

Is Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for its Old Town?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Oaxaca de Juarez is renowned for its historic old town charm. However, Puerto Vallarta does not have a historic old town.

The old town of Oaxaca de Juarez is one of the most recognized in the world. The historic center is filled with colonial Spanish architecture. It's laid out in a grid pattern and there are many historic monuments. The surrounding region also has a history that dates back 1500 years.

Puerto Vallarta does not have a historic old town.


Is the Shopping Better in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

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

Oaxaca de Juarez is a world class destination for shoppers. The region's indigenous populations are known for the artisan crafts and handmade items. Many visitors enjoy shopping at the city's markets, where you'll find handmade ceramics, hand blown glassware, and more.

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

Is Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for Families?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is great for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Oaxaca de Juarez is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its family-friendly activities.

Puerto Vallarta is a very family-friendly destination. 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.

Oaxaca de Juarez is a family-friendly place to visit. For trampolines, bouncy houses, and other fun activities, head to El Llano Park on a weekend. There's also an outdoor playground and other fun activities for kids at Museu Infantil de Oaxaca. Kid-friendly restaurants are abundant, and if the kids enjoy hiking, you can head out of town for a day trip.

Is Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for Couples?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

With fun activities for couples, both Oaxaca de Juarez and Puerto Vallarta make for a great place to visit.

Oaxaca de Juarez is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. The city is famous for its cuisine, so food lovers will enjoy dining their way through town. There are also great hotels, beautiful gardens, and fascinating architecture.

Puerto Vallarta is a very popular place to visit for couples. 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.


Is Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Oaxaca de Juarez is renowned for backpackers. Also, Puerto Vallarta is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Oaxaca de Juarez is a very popular city to visit for backpackers. There are many very affordable hostels around town. The city is a mecca for backpackers in Mexico, and you'll find plenty of people to hang out with and great restaurants to explore.

Puerto Vallarta is very popular with the backpacker crowd. There are hostels around, as well as many adventure sports or thrilling activities that backpackers will enjoy.

Is Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Oaxaca de Juarez and Puerto Vallarta both offer notable public transit to get you around.

While Oaxaca de Juarez offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. The city has colectivos, which are shared taxis. There are also buses and tuk tuks that you can use to get around.

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

Is Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta a more walkable city?

Oaxaca de Juarez
Puerto Vallarta

Oaxaca de Juarez and Puerto Vallarta are great when it comes to walkability.

Oaxaca de Juarez is very walkable. It's a walkable city that's fun to explore on foot, particularly in the historic center.

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


For even more information, also check out Is Oaxaca de Juarez Worth Visiting? and Is Puerto Vallarta Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Puerto Vallarta or Oaxaca de Juarez?

How long in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

In either Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. In our opinion, Oaxaca de Juarez has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Oaxaca de Juarez than Puerto Vallarta. In general, 2-5 days is a good amount of time for Oaxaca de Juarez, and 3-5 days is enough time in Puerto Vallarta.

Families should spend more time in Puerto Vallarta than Oaxaca de Juarez. 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 Oaxaca de Juarez than Puerto Vallarta. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Oaxaca de Juarez that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Oaxaca de Juarez 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 Oaxaca de Juarez.


  • How many days in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta? Ideal Length of Stay
    Oaxaca de Juarez 2-5 
    Puerto Vallarta 3-5

One day in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

The historic destination of Oaxaca de Juarez offers nightlife and food. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. 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.

You'll find scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping around the colorful destination of Puerto Vallarta. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

A weekend in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

The city of Oaxaca de Juarez offers food and shopping. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. A weekend here is typical. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities.

You'll find shopping and museums around the cultural town of Puerto Vallarta. It's also a relaxing resort destination. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring.

Five days in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

Oaxaca de Juarez is a great place to explore. Visiting the old town is also a must. This city offers something for everyone. It is common to spend five days here. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

Puerto Vallarta is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.


A week in Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Oaxaca de Juarez. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. 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.

Puerto Vallarta is a great place to explore. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Mexico City, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Playa del Carmen, The Best 2-Week Tours from Cancun, and The Best Family-Friendly Tours to Mexico.


Which place is cheaper, Puerto Vallarta or Oaxaca de Juarez?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Oaxaca de Juarez is $45, while the average daily cost in Puerto Vallarta is $112. 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 Oaxaca de Juarez and Puerto Vallarta in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Oaxaca de Juarez $20
    Puerto Vallarta $62
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Oaxaca de Juarez $40
    Puerto Vallarta $124
Compare Hotels in Oaxaca de Juarez and Puerto Vallarta

Looking for a hotel in Oaxaca de Juarez 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 Oaxaca de Juarez


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: Oaxaca de Juarez Hotel Prices and Puerto Vallarta Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Oaxaca de Juarez $13
    Puerto Vallarta $19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Oaxaca de Juarez

Also for Oaxaca de Juarez, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Shared Transfer from Downtown Oaxaca to the Airport: $12
  • Transfer from your Hotel in Oaxaca to the Oaxaca Airport: $14
  • Transfer Airport Hotel n Oaxaca: $16
  • Roundtrip Private/Shared Airport Transfer: $30
  • Oaxaca Hotels to Oaxaca Airport OAX Departure Private Transfer: $36
  • Oaxaca hotels to Oaxaca Xoxocotlan Airport (OAX) - Departure Private Transfer: $36
  • Oaxaca Airport OAX to Oaxaca Hotels Arrival Private Transfer: $37
  • Xoxocotlan Airport (OAX) to Oaxaca de Juárez-Arrival Transfer: $38
  • Oaxaca de Juárez to Xoxocotlan Airport (OAX)-Departure Transfer: $38
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Oaxaca Airport to Hotels: $46
  • Private and safe transfer from the airport to the hotel in Oaxaca: $50
  • Oaxaca International Airport - Private Transfer From/ to Oaxaca City: $56

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Puerto Vallarta

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Puerto Vallarta:

  • Private Transfer from Sayulita to Guadalajara: $244
  • Private Airport Transfer in Puerto Vallarta for 8 to 12 persons: $229
  • Puerto Vallarta Airport (PVR): Transfer to Puerto Vallarta: $212
  • Private AC Airport Transfer to Sayulita: $200
  • Puerto Vallarta Airport (PVR) to Sayulita hotels - Private Roundtrip Transfer: $195
  • Transfer from the airport to punta mita: $171
  • Privat Transfer from Puerto Vallarta Airport PVR to Punta de Mita: $171
  • Puerto Vallarta Airport (PVR) to Puerto Vallarta - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $155
  • Private Transfer from Puerto Vallarta Airport to Nayarit: $148
  • Airport Transfer Puerto Vallarta : $135
  • Private Transfer from PVR to Puerto Vallarta / Punta de Mita / Sayulita: $131
  • Private Transfer from Puerto Vallarta Airport (PVR) to Puerto Vallarta hotels: $131

Is it cheaper to fly into Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

Prices for flights to both Puerto Vallarta and Oaxaca de Juarez 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
    Oaxaca de Juarez $14
    Puerto Vallarta $36

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Oaxaca de Juarez

For Oaxaca de Juarez, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Oaxaca Night Street Food Tour with Transfers and Tastings: $50
  • Oaxaca: Night Street Food Tour with Transfers and Tastings: $54
  • Oaxacan Dinner on Agronomic Biodiversity: $61
  • Local Market Food Tour with 10 Course Tasting Menu : $70
  • Oaxaca: Vegetarian Cooking Class: $72
  • Oaxacan Vegetarian Cooking Class: $73
  • Central de Abastos Market Food Tour : $74
  • Flavors of Oaxaca: Cooking Class with No Set Menu and Local Market Tour: $77
  • AUTHENTIC OAXACA FOOD TOUR, eat like a local.: $89
  • Mexican Cooking Classes in Oaxacan : $89
  • Traditional Oaxaqueña Cooking with Grandma's Recipes: $90
  • Cooking classes from the Isthmus with a Tehuana: $92

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: $46
  • Dinner Tacos Food Tour: $55
  • Off The Beaten Path Food Tour. Dinner in Pitillal : $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, Breakfast in Pitillal: $55
  • Seafood Lover's Tour with Vallarta Food Tours : $59
  • Puerto Vallarta 3-Hour Food Tour of Authentic Local Cuisine: $59
  • Puerta Vallarta: Seafood Lover's Food Tour: $59
  • Downtown Puerto Vallarta Food Tour with Vallarta Food Tours: $59
  • Sayulita Cultural and Food Tour: $81
  • Mexican Cooking Class, Tequila Tasting & Unlimited Margaritas: $86

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Oaxaca de Juarez $13
    Puerto Vallarta $18

Tours and Activities in Oaxaca de Juarez

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Oaxaca de Juarez.

  • Oaxaca Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self Guided Tour: $9.02
  • Oaxaca Art Walk Tour: $15
  • Guided Tour to know the trades of Oaxaca: $18
  • Two-Hour Walking Tour Roots of the Art of Oaxaca: $22
  • Oaxaca: Oaxaca City Beyond the Surface Walking Tour: $24
  • Private Mexican Engraving Workshop Experience: $24
  • Bike tour to the Tule Tree and the Gastronomic Market: $26
  • Oaxaca Walking Tour: Beyond the Surface: $26
  • Montealban Tour: $28
  • Oaxaca : City Tour: $30
  • Monte Alban Walking Tour: $30
  • Tour of the historic downtown markets of Oaxaca : $30

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: $67
  • 2 Hour and 30 Minutes Walking Tour in 5 De Diciembre: $46
  • 360 Puerto Vallarta City Tour with Lunch: $65
  • 4 Hour Surf Experience in Corral Del Risco: $75
  • 5 Hour Jorullo Bridge RZR Tour in Puerto Vallarta: $280
  • 8 hour All Inclusive Tour in Catamaran Arcos Animas Quimixto: $80
  • 8 hour All Inclusive Tour in Catamaran Arcos Animas Quimixto: $83
  • ATV Adventure in Puerto Vallarta (Single): $105
  • 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
    Oaxaca de Juarez $15
    Puerto Vallarta $24

Sample the Local Flavors in Oaxaca de Juarez

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Oaxaca de Juarez:

  • Hierve el Agua, Tule Tree, Mitla and Mezcal Distillery Tour: $45
  • Only Hierve el Agua and Mezcal Distillery tour: $50
  • Only Hierve el Agua and Mezcal Distillery Tour: $50
  • From Hierve el Agua and Mezcal Distillery: $54
  • Tour to Hierve el Agua and Mezcal Distillery (Small groups): $58
  • Mezcal distillery guided tour: $89
  • Artisanal Mezcal distillery in an authentic Zapotec village : $150

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 from Mexico: $85
  • Secret Agave Bar Crawl in Vallarta: $98
  • All you can drink Bar Crawl: $99
  • Mountains Route, visiting a traditional distillery: $270


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Oaxaca de Juarez and Puerto Vallarta, we can see that Puerto Vallarta is more expensive. And not only is Oaxaca de Juarez much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Oaxaca de Juarez would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Oaxaca de Juarez 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 Puerto Vallarta would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Puerto Vallarta than you might in Oaxaca de Juarez.

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


Which is Bigger, Oaxaca de Juarez or Puerto Vallarta?

Oaxaca de Juarez has a larger population, and is about 40% larger than the population of Puerto Vallarta. When comparing the sizes of Oaxaca de Juarez 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.