A quick guide to Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen in Mexico is a typical, well-known city for the tourists who love to spend their winters in this paradise. Although the city is very touristic, it also still has a nice, Mexican atmosphere. Besides spending a day at the beach or in the city to shop, there are also great possibilities for a night out or to have lunch or dinner. In this article I’ll tell you some more about the city.

General information

Playa del Carmen is one of the most popular tourist destinations of Mexico. People come here for the tropical weather, the beautiful beaches and the luxurious resorts. Next to the fact that the city is a paradise, there are also many possibilities to do in or close to the city. When you walk through the city, you cannot imagine how this used to be a fishing village. However, the city still has a nice, Mexican atmosphere. That’s also the reason why people rather chose Playa del Carmen over Cancun as holiday destination.

Playa del Carmen is a destination in the Caribbean, so the best time to visit this destination is from December until April. In the summer months (July and August) there is more chance that it’s raining. The rainy season ends in November.

Shopping possibilities

The city offers many possibilities when it comes to a day of shopping. You can find many international shops in the most well-known shopping street, 5th Avenue, but there are also some smaller, local shops and of course the souvenir shops. Although the people in 5th Avenue can sometimes be a little intrusive, you can go your own way. At the start of 5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida) you can find the shopping plaza Paseo del Carmen, which is very modern and also features some big, international shops. You can say Playa del Carmen is definitely a city where you can enjoy an afternoon full of shopping; whether you’re looking for clothes, souvenirs or some interior stuff. In the evening you can also find some stalls with handmade products, like paintings and jewellery.

The Beaches of Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is located directly at the beach. The name of the city literally means ‘the beach of Carmen’. The beaches that Playa del Carmen has to offer has one main beach, which both goes to the South as the Nord side of the city. In each way there are other, smaller beaches which each have their own name. However, every beach is accessible for everyone who would like to go to the beach. You can combine a day at the beach with looking for some culture in the city center. The sea water always has a nice temperature to swim in.

Looking for a place to eat?

Most people who stay in Playa del Carmen or Playacar, stay in an accommodation based on All Inclusive. Although the All Inclusive formula is really nice, I can definitely recommend to have dinner at least ones during your holiday in the city center. There are so many great eateries, both in 5th Avenue and around it. Many of the restaurants offer typical Mexican food and what can a holiday be without trying out the Mexican food? Yummie, empanadas combined with a nice Corona! Also for lunch, and even for breakfast, Playa del Carmen is a great city to find a nice eatery. Next to the typical Mexican restaurants, you can also find some international chains like the Mc Donald’s.

Go to the island Cozumel!

If you would like to see more than just Playa del Carmen, maybe the island Cozumel is something for you. From the port of Playa del Carmen, you can go with the ferry in approximately 45 minutes to the island. Especially people who love to snorkel this island is perfect. You can also chose to “hire” a cab for the time you’re on the island, so you can see the whole island in one day. Not that expensive and very easy! You can buy tickets right outside of the port of Playa del Carmen. Normally, the ferry leaves every hour.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen?

For Playa del Carmen, there actually are two areas to stay at: the city center and Playacar. In the city center there are many possibilities for accommodations. From simple to luxurious and from located close to the beach to in the middle of the center. Just outside the city, you can find the district Playacar. In this district, you can find many, bigger hotels and resorts. Some are located directly at the beach and some are located a little distance from the beach. There are so many different types of accommodations, that you can say there is something for everyone.

During my stay in Playa del Carmen, Playacar, I stayed at the RIU Lupita. This is one of the RIU hotels which is very affordable and has a great service. You can book this hotel, based on All Inclusive. The hotel is very cosy and is spread over several building where you can find the rooms. There is entertainment every evening and you always can chose between eating in the buffet restaurant or in one of the à la carte restaurants.

Even if you are staying in a hotel which is not close to the city center and not to the beach, it makes a great accommodation. RIU Lupita, for example, has a shuttle service to the beach and center. Furthermore, a taxi to the center of Playa del Carmen isn’t that expensive at all.

Image of Playa del Carmen

Other activities around Playa del Carmen

If you would like to go outside Playa del Carmen and see more of area, there are so many possibilities to do and see! Go to one of the Mayan cities, like Tulum or Chichen Itza or go to one of the aqua parks, like Xel-Ha or Xcaret. If you would like to see more of the nature, you can also chose to go to Sian Ka’an or Punta Laguna Monkey Reserve. All activities can be done as an excursion (people in the city try to sell it on the street each day so try to pick the best deal) or individual, whatever you like!

Author: Tamara

This article is part of the GPSmyCity iOS app. You can download it, read this article offline and obtain travel directions (by foot, car or bicycle) to the places mentioned in this article. Click here to download it.

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a quick guide to playa del carmen


  • Paige Wunder

    I went to Playa del Carmen on a huge (I’m talking 16 people) family trip almost a decade ago. We stayed on a resort though. I had no idea that there was so much to do in the town itself! I’d love to shop in those little boardwalk-looking shops and try out Cozumel!

  • Sandy N Vyjay

    Playa del Carmen looks really gorgeous. There are so many experiences waiting there for the traveler. Of course, the beaches are the best places to head to. Nice guide with invaluable information, especially for first-time visitors.

  • Candy

    I always hear about Playa del carmen and wondered what it was like there. It looks like a fun place to get away from the cold weather. I would probably head to the island and enjoy an afternoon in Cozumel.

  • Mark Wyld

    Great little guide to the destination with actionable information and tips for the first time visitor. the beach looks amazing and warm weather year round is excellent

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