Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen: Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Playa del Carmen for first-timers are the neighborhoods of Fifth Avenue, Centro – Downtown, Calle 12, Playacar, and Mayakoba. This article goes over where to stay in Playa del Carmen for couples, families, all-inclusive, and safest neighborhoods in Playa del Carmen.

Playa del Carmen, known as “Playa” by locals, is located in the state of Quintana Roo in the Riviera Maya on the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Playa is the heart of the Mayan Riviera, halfway to both Tulum, Cancun, and close to Cozumel island.

There is plenty of accommodation choice in Playa del Carmen. Single travelers and those on a budget should look at Downtown first of all. Those seeking absolute top quality are advised to look at Mayakoba which combines luxury with a lovely natural setting.

Fifth Avenue and Downtown is the best area to stay in Playa del Carmen for first-timers because it has a super central location and it offers a wide range of tourist amenities. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of action, within walking distance to many tourist attractions, as well as restaurants, bars, and shops.

If you are looking for the best area to stay in Playa del Carmen all inclusive, look into Mayakoba because it is the private gated community where you can find award-winning hotels, luxury residences such as Fairmont, Andaz, Rosewood, and Banyan Tree that offers world-class restaurants, golf and beach clubs that is is surrounded by tropical jungle.

While the north is closest to the airport in Cancun, the south is closest to Tulum for history enthusiasts. Downtown still offers lovely beaches but also the chance to experience local life and a well-developed infrastructure.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Centro (Downtown)
💎 Best luxury hotel:IT Boutique Hotel & Restaurant 
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Antera Hotel & Residences 
💰 Best budget hotel:Suites Corazon 

Best Areas to stay in Playa del Carmen for tourist

1. Fifth Avenue, where to stay in Playa del Carmen for first-timers

Fifth Avenue (La Quinta), where to stay in Playa del Carmen for first-time tourists
5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen @Leonora (Ellie) Enking

Fifth Avenue is the best area to stay in Playa del Carmen because it is the center area of Downtown that is packed with restaurants, hotels, bars, and shop. Also known as Quinta Avenida in Spanish, it is named after the famous thoroughfare in Manhattan, New York.

It is a 5-mile long pedestrian-only walkway that stretches from the Cozumel Ferry Pier to the beginning of the resort area in North Playa. It is busy, day and night with tourist, street musicians, and street vendors.

In the morning, you can sit with a coffee and watch the world go by, while later in the day it becomes busier. Street performers like fire breathers, painted mimes, musicians, and break dancers appear and the atmosphere changes again.

Fifth Avenue is home to some cultural and historical attractions such as the Frida Kahlo Museum and Gaston Charo Gallery.

Fifth Avenue offers plenty of shopping opportunities include Forever 21, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, Zara, and Lacoste, flea market with handmade souvenirs. It is home to big shopping malls like Quinta Alegría on Constituyentes Street. Calle Corazón, and Paseo del Carmen near the  Playacar Palace Resort.

You can also find Aquarium Beach, The Thompson Rooftop Pool, The Carmen – Deck 5 Rooftop Bar and Pool, and Parque Fundadores on this famous street.

Quinta Avenida – Fifth Avenue has a wide range of accommodation options that suit all budget traveler. here you will find budget hostels, boutique hotels, and others of top quality.

Best places to stay in Quinta Avenida – Fifth Avenue

🔍MORE HOTELS IN 5TH AVENUE

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2. El Centro – Downtown, where to stay in Playa del Carmen on budget

El Centro - Downtown, where to stay in Playa del Carmen on budget
Downtown Playa del Carmen @daryl_mitchell

Downtown comprises a few districts that added together provide everything a tourist might want, whether singles, couples, or families. The neighborhoods in downtown Play del Carmen include Playacar, Quinta Avenida – Fifth Avenue, and El Centro.

Centro has some of the best shopping, dining, and nightlife options in Playa del Carmen. It has several supermarkets like Mega and Walmart. 

If you want to party, head to  Calle 12 Norte (North 12th Street), the city’s famous nightclubs. Meanwhile, shoppers will want to visit the city’s famous 5th Avenue( known as La Quinta) which is packed full of shops, restaurants, tour offices, and bars.

El Centro offers easy access to other points of interest in the area with the main ADO bus station and the ferry pier to Cozumel.

Another must-see attraction is the Parque Los Fundadores (also known as Founding Fathers Park) which is located next to the Cozumel Ferry Pier. This may be the first place you see in Playa Del Carmen if you have come by the ADO bus from the Cancun Airport.

At the beachfront of the park is a 16 meters high Portal Maya bronze sculpture which was designed by artist  Arturo Taravez who is from Guanajuato, Mexico. It is also a good spot to see the sunrise.

Parque Los Fundadores has music venues, children’s playgrounds, and fruit carts where local women sell fruit cups. It is also a great place to see Mayan Dancers and flying Papantla performers.

Around the park are restaurants and shops. The front of the park is a very popular beach because it is wide and has easy access from transportation arriving on Avenida Benito Juarez (Calle 1).

Being the main tourist area, Centro has a wide range of accommodation options. There are several all-inclusive resorts on the beach, excellent boutique hotels, B&Bs, and many budget-friendly accommodations!

Best places to stay in Playa del Carmen downtown:

luxury: IT Boutique Hotel & Restaurant This 5-star boutique hotel is set in Playa del Carmen, within walking distance from Playa del Carmen Beach, close to Kool Beach Club, Church of Guadalupe, and Quinta Alegria Shopping Mall. IT Boutique Hotel & Restaurant offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, free wifi, an outdoor swimming pool, and a bar.

mid-range: Antera Hotel & Residences  This 4-star hotel features accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a bar, and a shared lounge. With a garden, it has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. It is close to ADO International Bus Station, Playa del Carmen Maritime Terminal, and a Disabled-friendly beach.

budget: Suites Corazon These apartments are located within walking distance from the beach in Playa del Carmen, the city’s 5th Avenue with shopping, dining, and sightseeing. It features rooms with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, daily cleaning service, air-conditioned, a microwave, mini-fridge, a seating area, a private bathroom, along with a balcony.

🔍MORE HOTELS IN DOWNTOWN

3. Calle 12 Nightlife District, where to stay in Playa del Carmen for nightlife

Calle 12 is the nightlife hub of Playa del Carmen. If you cross its intersection with Quinta Avenida early in the evening, you may think you have got things wrong. The point is that the action rarely starts earlier than 11 pm, especially at weekends. At midnight, you will know you are in the right place.

Bars and clubs line either side of the street between 1st and 10th Avenue. You will find that some clubs are more popular than others on one day, but not the next. Likewise, things change by the season as well. 

It is worth doing some research on the best clubs, but if you stay in Calle 12 as your base, you will soon have all the information you need. Follow the crowd! The most popular spots include Coco Bongo, La Vaquita, Coco Maya Beach Bar, and Mandala.

Stay in Calle 12 Nightlife District if Nightlife is a very important part of your holiday; You are looking forward to meeting new people.; You are comfortable in noisy crowds.

Best places to stay in Calle 12 Nightlife District

🔍MORE HOTELS IN CALLE 12

4. Playacar, where to stay in Playa del Carmen for family

Playacar is a development just to the south of Playa del Carmen’s center. The first phase involved luxury villas with lovely beaches on the coastline. While the neighborhood remains quiet, the heart of Playa del Carmen is close by for a night out should you want a change of scene.

The second phase involved luxury all-inclusive resorts and a golf course, Hard Rock Campo de Golf. This is a gated community that appeals to those with no budget issues, wanting a relaxing environment with good amenities.

The white sand and welcoming warm water make this a near-perfect holiday destination with plenty of water sports available should you choose.

In Playacar are, you will also find Mayan Ruins, Xaman-Ha Bird Sanctuary where you can watch local tropical birds. Playacar Beach is one the most beautiful of the beaches with white sand beach, crystal clear water.

There are even some Xaman-Ha ruins to explore where you are likely to have iguanas as companions.

Playacar is close to attractions like a 250-acre theme park Xcaret Park, Cenote Cedral, cenote playa del carmen ruta de MTB, Cenote Chaak Tun, and Emotions Native Park.

Stay in Playacar if Golf is on your list of things to do; You want luxury and are happy to pay for it; Water sports interest you.

Best places to stay in Playacar:

🔍MORE HOTELS IN PLAYACAR

5. North Playa, quiet beach holiday

Located within a 30-minute walk to Downtown, this area of Playa del Carmen offers real quality. That includes luxury hotels, often all-inclusive, the best of restaurants and residences available for rent providing independence to the occupants.

North Plays is where you can find Punta Esmeralda is a beautiful sandy beach just off 5th Avenue near Calle 110 Norte. It is an open coastal cenote, with shallow clear water makes it ideal for children

The Xcalacoco Beach with its lovely white sand.  sits in front of many of the high-end restaurants. Behind, this area is quieter than Downtown, both day and night but is close enough for those wanting a change of scene from days of relaxing on the beach.

Stay in North Playa if You want to avoid crowded areas for most of your holiday; You are looking for real quality, both in accommodation and cuisine; You enjoy good beachside facilities;

Best places to stay in North Playa del Carmen:

🔍MORE HOTELS IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN

6. Mayakoba, where to stay in Playa del Carmen all-inclusive

Mayakoba, where to stay in Playa del Carmen for all-inclusive luxury
Mayakoba @Noticaribe

Mayakoba is the most luxury residential resort community in Playa del Carmen is set in a wonderful natural setting to the north of Playa del Carmen. Mayakoba is located 35 minutes from the Cancun International Airport and 5 minutes from centro Playa del Carmen.

It is home to four world-class resorts including Fairmont, Andaz, Rosewood, and Banyan Tree. They are all connected by a network of lagoons and canals.

Each of this all inclusive hotel has two areas beachfront and lagoon. There ares on-site restaurants, a spa centre, a sauna, and swimming pool by the beach. You can travel from the lagoon to beach by foot, bicycle, or take a golf-cart ride.

Water taxis and footpaths take guests to the lovely white sand but what is different in Mayakoba is the proximity of the jungle, mangrove forest, cenotes, and lovely lagoons none of which have been harmed by tourist development.

Exotic fauna include monkeys, iguanas, and a range of colorful tropical birds. Those interested in an active holiday have plenty to occupy their time. There are many trails with bikes for hire, yacht charters, water sports, a dive center as well as a championship golf course, El Camaleón Mayakoba Golf Course.

Beaches are beautiful and they are well-quipped with lounge chairs, umbrellas. Food and drink is readily available by a gracious wait staff who will bring everything from cocktails and small snacks to full lunch on the beach.

However, if all you want to do is relax, then that is no problem either. More leisure activities include visiting the farmers market or attending a cookery class. 

Best places to stay in Mayakoba:

luxury ($$$): Banyan Tree Mayakoba This 5-star resort has luxurious villas, each with a private pool and landscaped garden. El Camaleón Golf Club is in front of the resort, provides lessons through the Jim McLean Golf School. There is a mangrove boat tour departing from the lobby. It has 11 specialty restaurants including Saffron, a Thai restaurant that has seating on two over-lagoon piers; Italian restaurant, Cello, and Tomahawk Steakhouse for American steaks,

luxury ($$$): Andaz Mayakoba – a concept by Hyatt  This elegant all-inclusive resort is the younger and trendier in the group of 4 resorts. It has two outdoor pools and a private beach area. It has 4 on-site restaurants inclusing Ollataco that serves tacos and Mexican food, and 17 craft beers sold by the bottle. Patron Tequila offers a special tequila, meanwhile, Cocina Milagro and Casa Amate are the fine dining restaurants

luxury ($$$): Fairmont Mayakoba This 5-star upscale resort offers all-inclusive packages fro all ages and families. t is surrounded by a lush tropical forest and offers wonderful sea views. The resort is car-free and guests can access the different areas by boat, on foot following the well-marked nature trails, or by bicycle or staff-driven electric golf car. There is a waterslide at the pool makes this resort the most popular for young families.

🔍MORE HOTELS IN MAYAKOBA

7. North Riviera Maya

This area north of Playa del Carmen on the road to the resort of Cancun and the international airport is where you will find big all-inclusive resorts. There are smaller resorts as well, and each is distant from the two small towns within the area. The result is that the beaches will only be used by those staying in the resorts themselves.

If you want to experience local life, head to Punta Maroma or better still Puerto Morelos where there are beautiful botanical gardens, a crocodile conservation center, and Croco Cun Zoo.

Stay in North Riviera Maya if you want an all-inclusive holiday, you’re traveling with families, you are not especially interested in a ‘’Mexican flavor’’ to your holiday, you prefer relatively quiet beaches.

Best places to stay in North Riviera Maya:

8. South Riviera Maya

This southern area heads towards the Mayan settlement of Tulum which is definitely worth a visit. It has many all-inclusive resorts but it is also a great natural area with a jungle in the interior and the Island of Cozumel offshore.

There are once again lovely beaches and warm water to enjoy with many visitors to the area staying in all-inclusive hotels. Puerto Aventuras is the major town here with the Dolphin Discovery park a daytime attraction. By night, sample the excellent restaurants.

Visitors enjoy snorkeling, exploring caves with underground waterways, or just swimming. Kids will love the adventure parks like Río Secreto, Xel-Ha, and Xcaret.

South Riviera Maya is also where you can find some of the best cenotes in the area such as Cenote Azul, Dos Ojos Cenote, and Jardin del Eden.

Stay in South Riviera Maya if you like experiencing an interesting local environment, you enjoy snorkeling in crystal clear waters, you are traveling as a family with kids enjoying adventure parks.

Best places in South Riviera Maya:

🎬Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Playa del Carmen:

Where should I stay in Playa del Carmen for the first time?

Downtown and Fifth Avenue is the best place to stay in Playa del Carmen for first-timers because it is the most convenient central location and it offers a wide range of tourist amenities. If you stay here, you will be located within walking distance to many attractions, restaurants, bars, and shops.

What is the best place to stay in Playa del Carmen all-inclusive?

Mayakoba is the best area to stay in Playa del Carmen all inclusive because it is the most luxury residential resort community in Playa del Carmin where you can find 5 star luxury hotels such as Fairmont, Andaz, Rosewood, and Banyan Tree that offers world-class restaurants and private beach area.

See Also:

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is a large coastal region in Central America that separates the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It has four different states: Yucatan, Tabasco, Campeche, and Quintana Roo. The Peninsula is packed with tropical beaches, golf courses, cenotes, colonial villages, theme parks, and famous ancient Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza near Valladolid, Ek Balam, Tulum, and Coba ruins.

Even the average low temperature in mid-winter rarely falls below 20C with temperatures over 30C for month after month. Such figures are ideal for enjoying a beach holiday and the tourist infrastructure has grown as visitor numbers have increased.

Overall, Fifth Avenue and Downtown is the best area to stay in Playa del Carmen for first-timers because it is the most convenient and it has a wide range of tourist amenities. If you book a hotel here, you will be located in the heart of action, within walking distance to popular tourist attractions, as well as many restaurants, bars, and shops.

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