The Top Bars in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe towers over downtown Puerto Vallarta
The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe towers over downtown Puerto Vallarta | © Sorin Colac / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Alex Robinson
6 August 2021
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Built behind a glorious bay of golden sand dotted with rocky islands and crammed with big-name resorts, Puerto Vallarta is the capital of fun on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It’s a lively local community made up of Mexicans and foreigners who gather year-round in various bars around the city, many of which have live music and expertly crafted cocktails. Here are some of the very best.

Chictini

Bar, Mexican
Map View

The best cocktails with a view? It’s hard to do better than Chictini, overlooking a turquoise pool and the shimmering Pacific Ocean. The cocktails are excellent – especially the house margaritas and the mezcal fusions. There’s also decent botana bar food, with Mexican staples such as tacos, nachos and guacamole, and happy hour deals include large pitchers of white wine sangria.

The Top Sky Bar

Bar, Mexican
Map View
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Courtesy of Top Sky Bar

On a large rooftop terrace with sun loungers, chairs and sweeping views over the bay and beaches, this LGBTQ bar is one of the best spots in the city to enjoy the sunset and a cocktail. Arrive in the late afternoon to get a decent spot (either at a table or, if you bring your swimsuit, in one of the jacuzzis for two), order one of the generous house mojitos and watch the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean.

Roxy Rock House

Bar, Nightclub, Pub Grub, $$$
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At Roxy Rock House, cover bands play everything from Zeppelin and the Beatles to Santana and Guns N’ Roses every night after 11pm, and Jack Daniels is available by the bottle. It’s one of the top spots on the Mexican Pacific, attracting vacationers and residents. The bar is two blocks from the beach in the Zona Romantica. Eat first before coming.

Bar Frida

Bar, Restaurant, Mexican
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Fresh Homemade Margarita with Lime on a background
© Brent Hofacker / Alamy Stock Photo

At the heart of the LGBTQ-friendly Zona Romantica, this intimate downstairs bar, with an upstairs restaurant serving modest comfort food, is a temple to Frida Kahlo (decorated with paintings, photographs and murals of the artist) and a popular meeting spot on the local gay circuit. There’s a decent range of tequilas and mezcals, and the bartenders mix an excellent margarita.

Bar Morelos

Bar, Mexican, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, $$$
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This pumping nightclub bar is hugely popular with twenty- and thirty-something Mexicans. There’s a ground-floor lounge, where smiling waiters whisk mezcal cocktails, tequilas and tacos to booths and sofas, while a dance floor is powered by DJs pumping out reggaeton over the sound system. The decor is self-consciously dated, with suspended globe lights, checkerboard floors and a twirling disco globe.

El Colibri

Cocktail Bar, Bar, Mexican
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Brick walls, retro-chic Guadalajara tiles, candle lighting – this is a bar made for couples. Soft tunes drift from the speakers while the terrace watches over a lush garden green with jungle plants. The cocktails are strong, with house specialties including a tangy mezcal margarita and a ginger and mint julep (ginger syrup, fresh mint and bourbon poured over crushed ice and topped with ginger kombucha).

Bar La Playa

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Beer, Mexican
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Courtesy of Bar La Playa

For great cocktails on the way back from the ocean, visit this little sidewalk bar, just off the Malecón promenade, a stroll from Playa Los Muertos. The cocktails are the best you’ll find in the city outside a big-name hotel and come at a fraction of the price. Margaritas, mojitos and mezcalitos are made with premium mixers, freshly squeezed juices and herbs and spices cut right on the spot. There’s live music on some nights.

Twisted Palms Rooftop Lounge

Bar, Contemporary, Beer, $$$
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On the roof of a shopping plaza in the old town, you’ll find the Twisted Palms Rooftop Lounge, the best martini bar in the city where Vancouver-native Al shakes and stirs dozens of variations using the best mixers and freshest ingredients. And if it’s not on the drinks menu, he’ll make it for you. There are also good cocktails, including the specialty Black Widow (tequila, crushed blackberry, lime, agave nectar and basil). The decor is casual, with lounge chairs, low tables and sides open to the sea breeze.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, why not book into one of the best boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta? Or perhaps one of the best resorts? For more inspiration while you’re in town, check out the top things to do, including the best beaches in the area. And don’t miss out on the top restaurants in Puerto Vallarta.

These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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