Emiliano Zapata Vallarta Old Town
ome folks refer to it as “old town” yet it barely existed only 60 years ago. Others attempted to alter its character, albeit unsuccessfully, by calling it the Romantic Zone”. Although the name has struck, sort of, there is nothing particularly romantic (or unromantic) about it. Misnomers aside, not only is Colonia Emiliano Zapata one of Puerto Vallarta’s most popular neighborhoods, it is ideal for exploring on foot.
The fairly recent construction of the Rio Cuale pedestrian bridge, along with the expansion of the Malecon south of it, grants east access to Emiliano Zapata along the beach. Further inland, it can be reached along its main southbound and northbound roads. Not to mention three suspended a pedestrian bridges that connect it to Isla Rio Cuale.
Exploring the neighborhood can be as cosmopolitan or traditional as you want it to be, depending on where you choose to go, stay close to Los Muertos beach, and you will experience one of Puerto Vallarta’s most lively tourist areas, particularly along Olas Altas and Basilio Badillo streets, where side-by side restaurants, hotels such as Hotel Posada de Roger, where its known for it’s traditional mexican style, shops, cafes, and galleries welcome visitors day and night. For a more traditional experience, heading inland along its various streets is reminiscent of exploring many Mexican towns.
Both intriguing and intimidating to many international tourists is the number of taco stands and other eateries distributed along Emiliano Zapata’s street. Beginning last year, Eric Wichner of VallartaEats.com began offering daytime and evening street food tours of the neighborhood, with the dual purpose of connecting visitors with authentic Mexican foods, and highlighting the many charms of the colonia, on foot, of course.
Exploring a neighborhood in a foreign city can be exciting and daunting at the same time, and Puerto Vallarta is no exception. Having local company can help increase the comfort level, particularly if you are not a fluent Spanish speaker. At the same time, it’s reassuring to know that, as long as you remain in the time aforementioned neighborhoods, you are likely to have little trouble connecting with them and saying “hola” to their residents.