Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen: 8 Best areas

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen? for couples, families, all-inclusive? This article goes over the best areas to stay in Playa del Carmen (include map and video), the advantage and disadvantage of each area, the best hotels for all budgets, 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.

Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen?

The best areas to stay in Playa del Carmen for tourists are the Fifth Avenue, Centro – Downtown, Calle 12, Playacar, and Mayakoba. Each with its own unique atmosphere and advantages. The choice of where to stay depends on your preferences and priorities.

Fifth Avenue and Downtown is the best area to stay in Playa del Carmen for first-timers. These areas are packed with shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment options. Staying here means you’ll be right in the center of the bustling tourist scene.

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 luxury hotels and resorts that feature world-class restaurants, golf and beach clubs 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 

Map of the best areas and neighborhoods in Playa del Carmen:

Best Areas to stay in Playa del Carmen for tourists are:

1. Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue (La Quinta)
5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen @Leonora (Ellie) Enking

Fifth Avenue, also known as Quinta Avenida in Spanish, is the best area to stay in Playa del Carmen. It is the center area of Downtown that is packed with restaurants, hotels, bars, and shop.

This 5-mile long pedestrian-only walkway 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.

There are lots of places to do shopping in this area including fashion shops, comestics, flea market with handmade souvenirs. You can find big shopping malls like Quinta Alegría on Constituyentes Street. Calle Corazón, and Paseo del Carmen near the  Playacar Palace Resort.

This area also hosts Aquarium Beach, The Thompson Rooftop Pool, The Carmen – Deck 5 Rooftop Bar and Pool, and Parque Fundadores on this famous street.

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


You might be interested in:

2. El Centro

El Centro - Downtown
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 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 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 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 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, within walking distance from Playa del Carmen Beach, close to Kool Beach Club, Church of Guadalupe. It has free private parking, free wifi, an outdoor swimming pool, and a bar.

mid-range: Antera Hotel & Residences, 4-star hotel features accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, air-conditioned rooms. 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, 5th Avenue. It features rooms with air-conditioned, a seating area, along with a balcony.


3. Calle 12 Nightlife District

Calle 12 is the nightlife hub of Playa del Carmen. 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.

Best places to stay in Calle 12 Nightlife District


4. Playacar

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.

Best places to stay in Playacar:


5. North Playa

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.

Best places to stay in North Playa del Carmen:


6. Mayakoba

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.

luxury ($$$): Andaz Mayakoba – a concept by Hyatt  This elegant all-inclusive resort 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.

luxury ($$$): Fairmont Mayakoba This 5-star upscale resort offers all-inclusive packages for all ages and families. It 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.


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.

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.

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:

In conclusion, , Fifth Avenue, El Centro, Calle 12 Nightlife District, Playacar, North Playa, Mayakoba are the best places to stay in Play del Carmen for tourists and first-time travelers. Consider what you want to prioritize during your visit and choose an area that aligns with your preferences.

Overall, Fifth Avenue and Downtown is the best area to stay in Playa del Carmen for first-timers. 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.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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