What is a Pueblo Magico?
A Pueblo Magico, or Magic Town, is a special recognition given by the Mexican Secretary of Tourism (Sectur). This honor is only given to towns that possess certain magical qualities, such as historic characteristics, natural wonders, or authentic traditions & food. The goal is to promote tourism to lesser known towns in Mexico that are filled with charm and unique experiences.
There are a handful of Pueblo Magicos in all of Mexico, but luckily, Puerto Vallarta has several Pueblo Magicos within driving distance. From the beaches of Nayarit to the jungles of Jalisco, this region is filled with magic. Learn more about discovering the Pueblo Magicos of Mexico with TIY Travel.
Why are Pueblo Magicos worth visiting?
If having magic in the name doesn’t convince you, then maybe the reasons below will!
Intriguing History– Many Pueblo Magicos were chosen for their historic significance and for preserving their historic architecture and traditions. For example, the towns of San Sebastián del Oeste & Mascota, Jalisco. Both towns were founded in the early 1500s and grew into bustling mining towns for the next few centuries. Visiting these towns feels like stepping back in time to discover a part of Mexico’s history.
Rich Culture– Some towns are home to significant traditions that create an air of magic in the town. Talpa de Allende is one of these Pueblo Magicos. It is a small town in the Sierra Madre mountains that is home to one of Mexico’s most important pilgrimage sites. Thousands of people pilgrimage to this town every year to pay homage to the shrine of the Virgin Rosario of Talpa.
Local Food & Drink– Mexico is known for its diverse and flavorful cuisine. Many regions have a special drink or food, and some places are the birth to something so magical it speaks for itself – like Tequila, Jalisco. This town has traditional architecture and a rich history, but the reason so many travelers make their way to Tequila is for the agave plants and tequila distilleries.
Traditional Architecture– In combination with other magical qualities, a common characteristic of Pueblo Magicos is distinct and traditional architecture. Sayultia, Nayarit has many natural wonders and tasty local cuisine, but the colorful buildings in the town stand out. When walking along cobblestone streets under the multi-colored flags and surrounded by vibrant buildings with street murals, you instantly feel the Mexico charm and magic!
Natural Beauty– some Pueblo Magicos are chosen for their unique natural wonders. Ajijic, Jalisco is home to Lake Chapala – Mexico’s largest freshwater lake. While the town of Ajijic is colorful & vibrant, Lake Chapala is the main source of magic in this town. Ajijic is in a microclimate with mild spring like temperatures all year round, making it the perfect place to grow fruits and berries.
Top 5 Pueblo Magicos Near Puerto Vallarta
Sayulita, Nayarit is a bohemian beach town along the Riviera Nayarit coastline. It has been well known within the surfing community for years but has recently seen more travelers visiting for the beach & wellness vibes. Only 45 minutes from the Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR), this Pueblo Magico is easily accessible. It has an abundance of accommodation options, from boutique hotels to villas. It has three beautiful beaches and a lush jungle backdrop. Sayulita boasts colorful homes, authentic architecture & cobblestone streets. And Sayulita has a vibrant community of locals, newcomers & travelers. You immediately feel the magic of Sayulita and can see why it is a Pueblo Magico.
Top things to do in Sayulita:
- Surf in Sayulita- Sayulita’s main beach is perfect for beginner surf lessons. There are several shops set up along the beach offering lessons.
- Embrace wellness in Sayulita- Reiki, beach massages, sound healing, & yoga are just a few of the popular wellness activities available in Sayulita. Give yourself the gift of self care in Sayulita!
- Relax on the beaches in Sayulita- Sayulita has a large main beach with restaurants, beach clubs and more. It also has 3 other beaches within a hikes distance or short golf cart ride.
How to get to Sayulita, Nayarit from Puerto Vallarta:
- Drive/Taxi/Uber: Sayulita is only a 45 minute drive from the PVR airport. For more details, read TIY’s post on How to Get to Sayulita, Nayarit.
San Sebastián del Oeste, Jalisco
San Sebastián del Oeste is a historic mining town at 4,800 feet in elevation in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. While only a short distance away from Puerto Vallarta, San Sebastián del Oeste couldn’t feel more different than the bustling resort town. San Sebastián del Oeste offers peace and solitude. The smell of fresh mountain air and pine trees overwhelms the senses. San Sebastián del Oeste has an authentic town square rich with history. It has diverse local cuisine made with fresh ingredients grown in the nearby mountains. This town opens your eyes to a new side of Mexico travel.
Top things to do in San Sebastián del Oeste:
- Hike or ATV Cerro La Bufa- on a clear day, the epic lookout point at Cerro La Bufa gives you views of Puerto Vallarta and the ocean. Take an ATV up the mountain for some adventure!
- Drink a michelada in the Plaza Principal- If you are in town on a weekend, you will see all the locals walking around with Micheladas the size of your head. They are made with Clamato juice, lime juice and a beer and often have shrimp on top!
- Dine at Jardin Nebulosa– this is a world class dining destination. They are built on sustainable dining principles and grow all their food. They focus on the unique ingredients found only in this region and create a modern- Mexican cuisine.
How to get to San Sebastian del Oeste from Puerto Vallarta:
- Drive: San Sebastian del Oeste is a scenic 90 minute drive from Puerto Vallarta.
- Tour: Join a tour to have your entire day taken care of for you. Reach out to TIY to learn more.
Even if you don’t drink the popular Mexican beverage, you definitely have heard of it. Tequila, Jalisco is located only four hours from Puerto Vallarta and makes for a great add on to your vacation. Tequila is similar to champagne, in that only liquor made from agave plant grown in the state of Jalisco can be called tequila. This has created years of traditions and history in the town surrounding many of the blue agave fields. In fact the agave landscape and ancient industrial facilities are a UNESCO world heritage site. This town is steeped in magical Mexican culture and cuisine.
Top things to do in Tequila:
- Tequila tour- It goes without saying, you need to visit a Tequila distillery when traveling to this town. Even if just to learn about the unique history and traditions surrounding this popular liquor. Join a tour to make the most out of your day!
- Wander the Plaza Principal of Tequila- The town of Tequila is filled with traditional architecture, great shopping & restaurants serving fresh local cuisine. Explore the Plaza Principal to discover another side to Tequila.
- Experience the waterfall Los Azules- looking for a break from tequila sipping, check out this short hike to a local waterfall. You get to embrace the natural beauty around Jalisco and learn more about the waterfalls surrounding this region.
How to get to Tequila, Jalisco from Puerto Vallarta:
- Car: It is a four hour drive from PVR. It is great to add on to your beach vacation to visit Guadalajara, Tequila and Tlaquepaque.
- Fly: A one hour flight takes you from PVR to Guadalajara and then it is only a hour drive to Tequila.
Tlaquepaque, Jalisco is considered a large suburb of Guadalajara, but in reality, this town takes on a whole character of its own. Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico and is a bustling and international city. While Guadalarja is keeping up with trendy & modern times, Tlaquepaque is holding onto its authentic and traditional Mexican customs and architecture. This town is well known for the artisans all over Jalisco & Mexico that bring their work here to be showcased. From clay pots, to copper decor, to handmade furniture, to sculptures and beyond, there are magical pieces from Mexican artists all over town.
Top things to do in Tlaquepaque:
- Listen to live mariachi music at El Parian- Did you know mariachi music originated in the state of Jalisco? And El Parian in Tlaquepaque is a great spot to experience live and authentic mariachi music, while enjoying a michelada and some snacks.
- Window shop the stores and art galleries- Tlaquepaque is known for its extensive local artisan shops. From decor to sculptures, this town really showcases local Mexican materials and work.
- Eat your way through town on a food tour- walking along the streets you would be overwhelmed with the street food options, and there many things you have never had before! Enjoy a food tour to learn more about this region’s history and its local cuisine.
How to get to Tlaquepaque, Jalisco from Puerto Vallarta:
- Car: It is a relatively short five hour drive from PVR. It is great to add on to your beach vacation to visit Guadalajara, Tequila and Tlaquepaque.
- Fly: A one hour flight takes you from PVR to Guadalajara and then it is only a 15 minute drive to Tlaquepaque.
Talpa de Allende, Jalisco
Talpa de Allende is well known as home to one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Mexico. Every March, thousands of people walk through the mountain range to get to this town and pay their respects to the Virgin statue at the main church. To visit such a sacred site is truly magical. In addition to the religious importance of Talpa de Allende, there are several local drinks and snacks that are handmade in town and difficult to find in other cities. This town exudes Mexican charm and history.
Top things to do in Talpa de Allende:
- Visit the statue of Virgin Rosario de Talpa- There are two sites worth visiting for the Virgin Rosario de Talpa statue. The first is the new basilica where the statue currently stands. The second is the hole near the old basilica where the statute originally stood and people still leave offerings at.
- Taste local candies and drinks- try Tejuino, a local drink made of fermented corn with a touch of lemon and salt. It is said to be a great drink for staying hydrated! Or eat some delicious guava candies or local “Talpa” chewing gum. The chewing gum is said to date back to Mayan times
- Explore the streets of Talpa de Allende- Talpa de Allende is a historical town filled with traditional buildings. Taking the time to slow your travels down and take in all the sites of this town. Talpa de Allende gives you a fresh perspective on travel in Mexico.
How to get to Talpa de Allende, Jalisco from Puerto Vallarta:
- Drive: Talpa de Allende is a scenic 2.5 hour drive from Puerto Vallarta.
- Tour: Join a tour to have your entire day taken care of for you. Reach out to TIY to learn more.
Looking to get off the beaten path in Mexico and experience the magic that is waiting to be discovered? Reach out to TIY Travel today, and let’s make your Mexico travel dreams come true. We will take away any planning stressors and provide you with an experience of a lifetime.