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Puerto Vallarta Airport: Everything you need to know

Puerto Vallarta Airport: Everything you need to know

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The Puerto Vallarta Airport, officially called the Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (airport code: PVR) is the closest airport to the city of Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta Airport is also the airport you want to use if you are visiting destinations to the north in Nayarit such as Sayulita, Bucerías, San Pancho, or Punta Mita.

The airport is connected to most major hubs around Mexico, Canada, and the USA. If there is not a direct flight from your city, the easiest and cheapest option is usually to connect through the Mexico City Airport.

Location of Puerto Vallarta Airport

The Puerto Vallarta Airport is located a few miles north of the city of Puerto Vallarta.

It is about 4km/2.5 miles from the Hotel Zone and about 9km/5.5 miles from the Romantic Zone of Puerto Vallarta.

If you are headed north to Sayulita, the drive is about 38km/23 miles away and can take up to an hour depending on traffic.

From Bucerías, it takes a mere 20 minutes to go the 17km/10 miles between the airport and the beach.

Parking at PVR

If you are getting a taxi or Uber to the airport in Puerto Vallarta, note that one of the longest lines and busiest areas of the entire airport is the parking lot. I have waited up to 20 minutes to get from the airport entrance to the front door sitting in traffic and taxis are not allowed to let you out in the parking lot.

So if you are running late, it’s better to have the taxi drop you off before they enter the airport line and you can walk into the airport along the sidewalk.

If you are picking someone up, follow the taxi line and remember that you must drive all the way to the entrance in order to pick up or drop anyone off.

There is short term and long term parking at the Puerto Vallarta Airport. If you plan to leave your car there for several days, you will pay 350 Pesos per day.

plane on a runway with bright blue skies.

Flights in and out of Puerto Vallarta Airport are frequent.

Terminals in Puerto Vallarta Airport

There is only one terminal at the Puerto Vallarta Airport. For the amount of air traffic that goes through this place, it feels incredibly small.

But I actually think the size of the airport, despite how crowded it can sometimes feel in December and January, means that you never have to worry too much about how long things are going to take.

You will use the same terminal whether you are flying internally in Mexico or if you are leaving the country and flying elsewhere.

All of the check in desks are to the left of the building. All of the car rentals agencies desks are next to it. There are ATMs from several Mexican and international banks in the main hall.

There is a Subway sandwich shop and a few other very small coffee and food options, but most food options are once you are through security.

All gates for departure are upstairs. There is an elevator and escalators to take you from the check-in desks to the security area where you will proceed through to departures.

What’s Inside the Terminal?

Once you go through departures there are several food and drinks options. There is a Starbucks to the right as soon as you go through security.

There is also a Sbarro pizza place, a convenience store where you can purchase water, sodas, and snacks.

If you are flying internally in Mexico, you will likely stay in the area closest to the terminal entrance.

If you are flying internationally, you will walk further into the terminal where you will find more restaurant and cafe options, but like many other airports in the world, you won’t find many healthy or cheap options available.

marlin burrito with sauces in the background.

Stop into Tacon de Marlin when you are close to the airport.

 

International Arrivals

When you arrive to Mexico internationally, you will be filtered through the airport so that you go through immigration.

At Puerto Vallarta Airport, you will wait in line until you can go to the desk and speak to an immigration officer.

Most officers simply want to know what flight you arrived on and they may also ask how long you will be in the country for. All immigration officers at PVR speak English and Spanish.

Once through immigration, you will be able to pick up your baggage and then you will come out into the main hall of the terminal.

entrance area at Puerto Vallarta Airport with flight board above people waiting.

When you enter the airport area you will find a waiting area, board that has arrivals and departures, and plenty of ATMs to get Pesos.

Domestic Arrivals

When you arrive domestically in Puerto Vallarta, you arrive in the terminal. Follow the signs for baggage claim to get out of the terminal.

International and Domestic Departures

You will enter the same terminal and go through the same security whether you are flying internationally of domestically in Puerto Vallarta.

The departure area is upstairs from the main entrance of the airport. When you enter the airport you will see the check in desks directly in front of you. The stairs and elevators that take you to the second floor are to your left.

It can be a little bit confusing because there are signs that point through security that say only some of the gates. Ignore this sign. All of the gates are through the single security area. There is no other way to enter the departures area.

Give yourself at least an hour to get through security during peak times like Christmas, Semana Santa (the week before Easter), and spring break (March-early April).

Getting to Puerto Vallarta from the Airport

Getting to Puerto Vallarta can feel overwhelming and expensive if you have never been here before.

When you arrive to the main terminal there are taxi companies waving signs and shouting for your attention. Airport taxis at PVR are a complete rip off (in my humble opinion).

When compared to taking a taxi in the US or Canada, it is not exhorbitant. When compared to Uber prices or grabbing the bus, it’s wildly overpriced.

The first thing to check is if the hotel you are staying at offers airport transfers. Even if there is a fee involved, it tends to be one of the more convenient options to get to and from the airport.

The second option is to take an Uber. To get an Uber from the airport in Puerto Vallarta, you need to walk to the bus stop located here. This is the Uber pickup point at the airport and the side of the road you want to be on if you are going to Puerto Vallarta.

The cheapest option is to take the bus. You get the bus into Puerto Vallarta from the same bus stop that you can get the Ubers from.

Buses cost 10 pesos and should be paid in Pesos, never in US Dollars. Try to have small notes or exact change for the bus if you can because they don’t love making change.

There are several different buses you can take, but always check what is written on the front of the bus. Drop off locations are listed on the front windscreen.

If you are going all the way to the Romantic Zone, you’ll want to grab a bus that says Centro. It drops you off right in the middle of town.

sun setting out of the window from a plane wing as you come into land at Puerto Vallarta Airport.

I love flying out of the Puerto Vallarta Airport around sunset when you can see the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean.

Getting to Sayulita from the Puerto Vallarta Airport

You can use pretty much exactly the same methods to get from Puerto Vallarta Airport to Sayulita.

Uber costs a little bit more to get to Sayulita since it’s further away. You can expect to pay about $30-50 USD for a ride to Sayulita.

To get an Uber to Sayulita, cross over the footbridge and get the Uber from in front of Tacon de Marlin. And grab a seafood burrito while you wait because they are utterly delectable.

The bus stop in front of Tacon del Marlin is also the bus stop that you want to catch the bus to Sayulita from. The buses will say Sayulita, Bucerias, San Pancho, Lo de Marcos. You can get the bus to all of these destinations at this bus stop.

The bus to Sayulita costs 50 Pesos or about $2.50 USD. You can only pay in Mexico Pesos and should try to have smaller notes to give the bus driver if possible. They will absolutely not accept a 500-Peso note.

Renting a Car at the Puerto Vallarta Airport

Renting a car at the Puerto Vallarta Airport is an easy thing to do. I always prebook my rental cars before coming to Mexico to make sure I get the best price.

If you have never rented a car in Mexico before, I highly recommend having a thorough read through of my tips for renting a car in Mexico.

I have rented cars all over the world and have only ever had problems when renting in Mexico. The main issue with renting a car in Mexico is ensuring that you have all of the correct insurance.

There is a type of insurance that you must pay for when renting a car in Mexico called third party insurance. This is NOT usually covered in “full coverage” insurance that you purchase from a third party booking company like Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com.

This insurance is also not covered by your credit card insurance. Instead, the third party coverage must be purchase directly from the rental car company.

So for this reason, I always recommend booking your rental car directly from the car company. This is almost always the cheapest option.

The best car rental companies at the Puerto Vallarta Airport are Gecko Rent a Car and Mex Rent a Car. These are two very reputable Mexican-owned car rental companies. The price that you are quoted is the price you will pay and nothing more.

inside of the airport with Subway and Aeromarket and people walking around.

Subway and Aeromarket are in the main area of the terminal before you go through security.

Airport Hotels

With how close the airport is to downtown Puerto Vallarta, there is no real need to stay at an airport hotel.

There are so many affordable hotels in Puerto Vallarta that don’t require staying close to the airport.

You can simply grab an Uber at any time of day or night. Even if you arrive in the middle of the night (unlikely) or have to leave incredibly early. Even with traffic you are not usually further than 45 minutes from the Romantic Zone to the Airport. 

However, if you feel stressed about wanting to be able to roll over and get straight to the terminal, there are a few good options.

  • Casa Las Flores is about as close as it gets to the terminal. You could walk from the hotel to the hotel entrance in about 10 minutes. The hotel is clean, simple, affordable, and even has a small pool to relax by before your flight. Rooms start at $65 USD per night. Book a stay at Casa las Flores here.
  • One Aeropuerto Hotel is exactly as the name suggests. Just around the corner from PVR, you can roll in here after a late arrival or head straight out for an early morning flight from here and get to the terminal within minutes. The hotel is a little bit more expensive and a little bit nicer than Casa Las Flores simply because it’s a little bit newer and a little bit more chain-hotel in style. Rooms start at $85 per night. Book a stay at One Airport Hotel here.