Searching for the perfect Playa del Carmen itinerary? Justin and I loved visiting Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on the picturesque Mayan Riviera. It’s a bustling and lively town with beautiful beaches, plus it’s smaller and more charming than Cancun. We’ve come up with the perfect Playa del Carmen one day itinerary with lots of must do attractions and activities, as well as the hidden gems.
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Playa del Carmen is a great choice for a home base when traveling around the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. First, there are so many fun things to do in Playa del Carmen. I’m going to show you several of these activities in Playa del Carmen, including some non touristy things to do in Playa del Carmen.
You can also book lots of Playa del Carmen day tours. It’s possible to easily visit the nearby island of Cozumel by ferry, go snorkeling with sea turtles, explore underground cenotes, or venture out to witness incredible Mayan ruins. While you’ll want to explore the surrounding region, it’s a good idea to spend at least one day in town.
One Day in Playa Del Carmen Itinerary
Justin and I went for an extended weekend, four day holiday to Playa del Carmen. It was a vacation purely for relaxing and we didn’t leave Playa at all. We spent our days swimming in the ocean, laying on the beach, and strolling through town. It’s wonderful because there are lots of things to do in downtown Playa del Carmen that you’ll surely love as much as we did.
I realize that you might not be looking for the kind of vacation where you don’t do much at all (trust me, I’m not usually that kind of traveler either!), but it’s not such a bad idea to have a vacation from traveling. You can easily see all of Playa del Carmen in one day and spend your other days on adventures. But, soaking up the sunshine and reading a book isn’t such a bad idea either.
What to Do in Playa Del Carmen: Enjoy the Beach
This might be a no brainer, but Playa del Carmen has a beautiful public beach right in town. It’s easy to access right from the street, no resort wristband required. Wander down to the water and go for a swim. Sometimes there are issues with seaweed, but things have been looking up compared to previous years, thankfully!
When we traveled there, there was seaweed present on the beach, but it wasn’t enough to keep us off the beach and out of the water. The public beach in Playa del Carmen wasn’t very crowded. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Playa del Carmen, stopping at the beach is a popular choice.
Playa Del Carmen Attractions: 5th Avenue
La Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue, is one of the top Playa del Carmen attractions. It’s a lengthy shopping street with stores, restaurants, and stalls, as well as clubs and bars for an exciting nightlife scene. You can’t leave Playa without strolling along 5th Avenue.
Justin and I walked along this expansive street and its side streets on several occasions throughout our stay. Justin and I happened to be visiting during Mexican Independence Day in September and the streets were extra lively and decorated for the celebrations. If you’re looking for what to do in Playa del Carmen, my number one choice is visiting 5th Avenue.
Beyond Fifth Avenue, we wandered around town to various shops and restaurants. Justin and I felt perfectly safe walking around Playa del Carmen throughout the day and in the evening, too. Just like anywhere, be aware of your surroundings and stay in populated areas.
Fifth Avenue is always busy with tourists and activity and we never felt unsafe. If you’re looking for things to do in Playa del Carmen in the evening, check out the Coco Bongo night club for a night of thrilling entertainment. Enjoy your drinks while watching acrobatics, a lights show, and dancers for a spectacular show.
Playa Del Carmen Day Tours: Take a Sailboat Tour
If you’re looking for a relaxing activity in Playa del Carmen, take a sailboat tour in nearby Puerto Aventuras. It’s only a 15 minute drive down the highway and most tour operators will pick you up from your hotel.
We took a romantic sunset sailing tour to watch the sun go down from the middle of the sea. There’s nothing like feeling the wind in your hair, watching the sun disappear into the horizon. Stunning streaks of pink and orange materialized across the sky.
There’s also the option of booking a daytime luxury catamaran cruise from Puerto Aventuras, which includes snorkeling on the second largest reef in the world. No matter how you do it, admiring the beautiful sunset is obviously a must see in Playa del Carmen.
Eat All of the Vegan Food in Playa del Carmen
As a vegan in Playa del Carmen, you won’t have any trouble at all finding breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurants are all within walking distance around Playa. From vegan hot dogs to fruit smoothies, there was something for every taste and every meal.
When reminiscing about our few days in Playa del Carmen, one of the best things was all of the yummy vegan dining options. Here are my favorite and recommended vegan restaurants in Playa del Carmen.
The Pitted Date
The Pitted Date is a vegan cafe and bakery, serving paninis, smoothies, soups, salads, desserts, and raw food. Not only are there lots of mouthwatering lunch options, but you can also indulge in their baked goods, too. Everything is vegan and everything tasted so good. We loved the chill vibes on the quiet outdoor patio as well.
It’s a 1950s style diner that’s completely vegan, with burgers, shakes, nachos, hot dogs, and ice cream. This place is absolutely amazing. It’s total comfort food and not the healthiest place in the world, but totally worth busting your diet. I’m still dreaming about that Snickers milkshake.
Clorofila Green & Vegan
A vegan restaurant with burgers, sandwiches, smoothies, vegan cheese plates, and more. There are so many delights on the menu, and they’re innovatively presented on eco-friendly wooden platters. There’s also a small shop inside the restaurant so you can bring the vegan cheese and other treats home with you (or back to your hotel fridge!).
It’s a smoothie bar serving up healthy bowls, sandwiches, salads, and delicious fruity drinks. I highly recommend trying their bowls. They’re not only bright and colorful, but they’re healthy and delicious, too. Pair your bowls with a fresh fruit smoothie.
Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen
Are you looking for where to stay in Playa del Carmen? There are so many wonderful hotels and Airbnb accommodations. Some are right on the waterfront and the beach, and some are right in town for easy access to restaurants and shops.
Here’s a handy booking tool where you can see all of the Booking.com accommodations and Airbnbs in one place. It’s easy to compare prices and find the best rate for your Playa del Carmen vacation.
The Playa Palms Beach Hotel
Justin and I stayed at the gorgeous Playa Palms Beach Hotel. It’s a very calm and quiet hotel with a pool and access to the beach. The hotel isn’t an all inclusive resort, but that wasn’t an issue. Every room has a balcony with a hammock and our stay included breakfast daily.
On many occasions, we had the pool to ourselves and this hotel was always a peaceful retreat. We also loved how inexpensive this hotel is – it’s such fantastic value for such a great spot! Book your stay at the Playa Palms Beach Hotel or read more reviews by fellow travelers who have stayed.
Frequently Asked Questions for Playa Del Carmen
You might still have some questions about visiting Playa del Carmen. Here are our answers about traveling to Playa, the Mayan Riviera, and planning your Playa del Carmen itinerary.
We loved walking around 5th Avenue to go shopping, relaxing at the beach or the pool, taking a romantic sail boat ride at sunset, and eating all of the delicious Mexican food at local restaurants.
To get to Riviera Maya, you should fly to the Cancun Airport. Search for cheap flights to Cancun. The national airline of Mexico is AeroMexico. To get to your resort or hotel from the airport, book your Cancun airport transfer in advance for a seamless journey.
We found that we didn’t need any transportation within the city itself. We walked everywhere. However, if you are looking to get outside of Playa, you’ll need to either book a tour or rent a car. The most popular place to pick up your car is from the Cancun Airport. Compare car rental prices to find the best price online.
Many accommodations will have fast Wi-Fi and you’ll be able to stay in touch back home or get some work done. When you’re on the go, we suggest renting a portable Wi-Fi device with unlimited data. We’ve used this portable device all over the world and love how we’re always connected!