Nestled on the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, Playa del Carmen is one of Mexico’s most popular resort towns, offering an eclectic mix of nightlife, all-inclusive resorts, and spots that are authentically Mexican. Regardless of what you love to do while vacationing, you’re bound to find it in Playa del Carmen. Find out how to plan your visit to Playa del Carmen while discovering the town’s top attractions and best places to stay.

Piscina En La Noche
Piscina En La Noche in Playa Del Carmen.

Early Morning: Grab Some Grub

If you’ve opted for the all-inclusive route, you don’t have to go far for breakfast, but if you’re feeling adventurous, Playa del Carmen has some exceptional breakfast places with a view. Fresh, tropical juices and smoothies, as well as locally grown coffee are readily available at most breakfast spots. If you want a view and flavors that cater to the Westernized palate, try Sanborns, which sits on the roof of the Quinta Alegria Mall and provides wonderful views of the city. You’ll find fare that includes French toast and omelets.

For those looking for something more authentic, head over to El Jardin on 5th Avenue or 100 Percent Yucatan Restaurant. These are a bit off the touristy path, but well worth the trip for some extra spice and flavor.

Late Morning: Beach Time

Now that you’ve had some great grub, it’s time to see the beaches that make Playa del Carmen famous. While some resorts have their own private areas, the rest is free and open to the public. There’s no official name for the beach, but it’s definitely the highlight of the trip for most visitors. Lounge out on a towel, rent a chair, or take a dip. There’s really no wrong way to experience the white sand and sapphire blue waters of the Playa del Carmen.

Lunch Time: Try What the Locals Eat

The hot sun of the Yucatan can make you work up an appetite, so around lunch time, walk back into town to grab a bite. It’s this time of the day where you should try your hand at something you can only find in Playa del Carmen. Because of the heavily Mayan influence, there are foods here you won’t find many other places in the world.

Dona Paula is a local favorite that specializes in pozole, which is a soup made from braised pork and hominy and has traditional significance for the natives. Other local cuisine includes pibil, which is marinated chicken or pork in red sauce, served with onions on a banana leaf, or the poc chuc, which is another Mayan inspired dish that features pork marinated in sour orange juice. For something quick, grab some antojitos, a quick snack of different varieties that you can get from street vendors.

Ferry in Playa Del Carmen.

Afternoon: Shop for Some Souvenirs or Take the Ferry

If you need a souvenir for a friend or family member, 5th Avenue has plenty of spots for you to hit. However, it’s not about a specific store; it’s about what you buy. Mexican chocolates, locally grown coffee, Mayan tapestries, Mexican blown glass, and an interesting, anise-flavored liquor called Xtabentún are some of the best ideas, as most of these items are only found in a small portion of Mexico.

If you’re staying for a week or so, it’s worthwhile to take the ferry to Cozumel. This island has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country and a unique culture. The ferry ride takes about 45 minutes each way and leaves from the Playa del Carmen Ferry Terminal in downtown Playa del Carmen.

Dinner Time: Treat Yourself to a Delectable Dinner

After shopping all afternoon, you need to complete the day with a delicious dinner. For many, there’s only one real place to go. Alux Restaurant is a bit on the high-end, and definitely more expensive, but the atmosphere and food are worth the extra pesos. This restaurant is completely housed in a 10,000-year-old cavern that’s said to contain aluxes, which are mythical Mayan elves. If that’s not enough to entice you, a locally sourced menu of lobster, crab, tuna, and Mexican beef should do the trick.

Playa Del Carmen 3
Playa Del Carmen in Playa Del Carmen.

Nightlife: Dance the Night Away

Like many beach towns, Playa del Carmen doesn’t seem to stop the party until the sun comes up. However, you have many choices depending on your tastes. Coco Maya is a beachfront club that’s loud and exciting, giving you the opportunity to shake your tail feather. For something a bit calmer, head to Abolengo or Diablito Cha Cha Cha, which are more like bars than clubs.

Now that you know everything that makes Playa del Carmen unique, it’s time to book your trip. Thankfully, you can do it all here on GoDoTrip.