Playa del Carmen, the ultimate Travel Guide for 2024

Playa del Carmen is a beautiful coastal resort town in Mexicos Yucatan peninsula. It’s known for its palm-lined beaches, great restaurant, nightlife scene, and its famous Quinta Avenida (5th avenue) where all the shops, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs are.

It´s a popular vacation destination for families, for a friends trip and solo travelers.

No matter if you only spend a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or even months here, there are plenty of things to do! Playa del Carmen is one of my favorite cities in Mexico and it definitely cast a spell on me. That’s why I stayed for over 3 months in this beautiful and fun city.

Keep on reading for the 8 best things to do in Playa del Carmen.

1. Relax on the beach or at Beach Clubs

The number one thing to do in Playa del Carmen is to relax at one of the beautiful beaches. Make sure to come during high season, because in low season there is usually a lot of seaweed on the beaches in Quintana Roo but they are beautiful and perfect to swim in nevertheless.

Playa del Carmen has a ton of beach clubs lined on the most famous beaches Playa Mamitas and Playa Punta Esmeralda. Popular Beach Clubs are Mamitas Beach Club and Martinas Beach Club.

2. Go and party, Playa del Carmens Nightlife

Playa del Carmen is known for its diverse nightlife scene. It has everything from low-key bars to high-end nightclubs. It really depends on your mood and budget which bar or cub is the best for you. As I mentioned earlier, I spent over 3 months in Playa and went out quite a bit. If you want to go in depth about the best places to party in Playa del Carmen make sure you check out my top 6 bars and clubs.

Here is a quick overview of my favorite bars and clubs along the famous Quinta Avenida (5th Avenue).

  • Mamba
  • Clandestino
  • Prana
  • The roof/ Speakeasy
  • Santino
  • Che hostel

3. Go out to eat

Playa del Carmen has a lot of restaurants and cafes to choose from. No matter if you are in the mood for Mexican, Indian or sushi you can find really good restaurants for every taste. I wrote an extra blogpost for the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen for 2024 but here is a quick rundown of all of my favorite restaurants. Read the full guide to the best restaurants in Playa del Carmen here.

mu burger on a plate, one of the best things to do in playa del carmen
  • Mexican: El Fogon
  • Sushi: Mirai or Fuku
  • Indian: Indianos
  • Italian: Trattoria del Centro
  • Italian: Romeo Trattoria
  • Burger: Mu Burgerhouse
  • Healthy: Don Luca Juice & Snack Bar
  • Falafel: Nessya
  • Vegan: Peace & Bowl
  • Vegan: Fresco Habito
  • Vegan: Tierra Verde
  • Vegan: Bio Natural
  • Vegan: Comet 984 50´s Diner

4. Things to do & activities

3D museum

There is a 3D museum of wonders in Playa del Carmen. I lived here so long but haven’t actually made it here. I’ve heard its fun though and it also has really good reviews on Google and other websites. Its also a family friendly activity, so its something to do when you’re visiting with your kids. The price is about 700$ pesos for adults and 600$ pesos for kids (around 40$ USD per person).

Coco Bongo

Coco Bongo is a popular club located one block from the famous 5th avenue. But it’s not just any club, they have an incredible live show with acrobats and artists they’re famous for. You can get tickets for the show online and entrance usually also includes an open bar. Don’t miss a night filled with fun and adventure at Coco Bongo. They also have a Coco Bongo night club and a Coco Bongo beach party (photo) in Cancun for a daytime pool party if you’re interested.

Tours and Activities

There is a lot of tours and activities you can book when coming to Playa del Carmen. Playa del Carmen is conveniently located along the Carribean sea making it the perfect spot to spend a day snorkelling or going on a boat. There are people everywhere who are trying to sell you tours especially along the famous Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue). Just make sure you check out legitimate websites like Get your Guide or Viator and compare prices beforehand to not get ripped of when you’re there.

5. Day trip to Cozumel

Cozumel is an island located around 19 km (12 mi) from the mainland and a popular spot for cruise ships to stop during the day. It has beautiful beaches and turquoise waters and a fun little town to explore with lots of shops and restaurants. There are also a lot of beach clubs to spend the day at or you can visit a beach on the island. It’s a small island but big enough to explore or even stay a couple of days. The ferry operates hourly making it the perfect Day trip adventure from Playa del Carmen.

6. Quinta Avenida, the best thing to do in Playa del Carmen

The famous 5th avenue is a 5-mile long pedestrian-only walkway dedicated to catering to all of your touristic needs. You will find all kinds of shops and restaurants here. There are big chains like H&M or Zara but also small independent bikini shops or boutiques. You can also find clubs and bars here or simple taco restaurants. There is truly something for everyone to discover here. 5th avenue is the main tourist spot so there will be a lot of people trying to sell you something like a tour or food and drinks and you will find some people that perform shows and live acts in exchange for a bit of money. There is always something going on here no matter what time of day and it’s a lot of fun, if you are in the mood for loud music and a lot of people.

7. Visit nearby Cenotes

cenote encantado

Cenotes are natural sinkholes, formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock. They offer a refreshing escape from the Mexican heat. Just a short drive from Playa del Carmen, you’ll discover a network of crystal-clear, freshwater cenotes nestled within lush jungles. Each cenote has its unique charm; from the tranquil, sun-dappled waters of Cenote Azul to the mysterious, cave-like allure of Cenote Dos Ojos. There are so many cenotes around Playa del Carmen and Tulum and they are definitely wort a visit. Check out the Guide for the best Cenotes in and around Tulum since they are also close to Playa del Carmen.

8. Visit nearby Mayan ruins

The most famous Mayan ruin is probably Chichen Itza which is also one of the 7 wonders of the world. It’s absolutely beautiful and a must visit if you’re in Quintana Roo. Chichen Itza is around 2 hours away from Playa del Carmen and there are different ways on how to get there. You can either take a bus from the ADO station to the closest nearby town Valladolid and take another bus from there, you can rent a car or book a tour in advance. If you go with a tour they usually include a stop in Valladolid, food and a visit to some cenotes. If you plan for yourself make sure to arrive early to Chichen Itza since it can get crowded once all the tour buses arrive.

Tulum ruins

Other famous Mayan ruins are the Tulum ruins. They are around an hour away from Playa del Carmen in the nearby town Tulum. I would recommend staying in Tulum for a couple of days because there is a lot to see and do there as well but if you only want to see the ruins you can easily just go there for a day trip. Take an ADO bus from the bus station, rent your own car, take a taxi or the cheapest option, take a colectivo from Chedraui in Playa del Carmen to Tulum.

Other famous Mayan ruins include Coba and Muyil. Those two ruins are closer if you’re starting from Tulum.

There you have a list of the 8 best things to do in Playa del Carmen. This city truly stole my heart and I can’t wait to go back again! Check out the ultimate guide to Tulum.

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Jessica Buck

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