Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen: Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Playa del Carmen for both first time and returning tourists are the neighborhoods of Quinta Avenida, Centro – Downtown, Calle 12, Playacar, Mayakoba. This article goes over where to stay in Playa del Carmen for couples, families, and all-inclusive accommodations.

Playa del Carmen, known as “Playa” by locals, is set 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.

Some tourists want all-inclusive resorts but others want the opposite; the chance to get out of the resort to sample local restaurants. The appeal of Mayakoba is the setting itself with luxury for those wishing to pay a little extra.

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

📌8 Best Areas to stay in Playa del Carmen

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

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 (or Quinta Avenida in Spanish) is named after the famous thoroughfare in Manhattan, New York. Just as in the USA, Quinta Avenida is a place with plenty of shops, restaurants, and nightlife in general.

It stretches from near the Cozumel Ferry Pier and runs parallel to the coastline to the beginning of the resort area in North Playa del Carmen.

It is a 5-mile long pedestrian-only walkway with a huge number of shops, bars, and restaurants. Street musicians entertain while vendors try to sell their wares. It is busy, day and night. 

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.

Along the street, you will find some cultural and historical attractions such as the Frida Kahlo Museum and Gaston Charo Gallery.

There are plenty of shopping opportunities from Forever 21, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, Zara, and Lacoste, to flea market with handmade souvenirs, Fifth Avenue has it all! 

Fifth Avenue is home to big shopping malls like Quinta Alegría on the corner of Constituyentes Street., Calle Corazón, and Paseo del Carmen which is 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.

You will find plenty of accommodation along its route. That includes budget hostels, boutique hotels, and others of top quality.

Best places to stay in Quinta Avenida – Fifth 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, El Centro -a center of shopping, dining, nightlife.

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 hotels in Playa del Carmen downtown:

luxury hotel: 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 hotel: 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 hotel: 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.


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


4. Playacar, where to stay in Playa del Carmen for a luxury holiday

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


5. North Playa, where to stay in Playa del Carmen for 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 Hotels in North Playa del Carmen:

Best luxury hotel: Grand Velas Riviera Maya – All Inclusive Amidst the tropical beauty that embraces the Riviera Maya and overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Grand Velas opens its doors to offer natural environments dedicated to pampering the senses and inviting you to reconnect with the carefree, yet sophisticated, Caribbean lifestyle.

Best mid-range hotel: Petit Lafitte Hotel is a tranquil beachfront hotel located 15 minutes’ drive from Playa del Carmen Airport. Set in tropical gardens, it offers air-conditioned rooms with ocean or garden views, a spa and free WiFi.

Best budget hotel: Casa de Colores Lovely house near the beach is 3.9 km from 5th Avenue. 28 de Julio Square is 6 km from the property. The area is popular for snorkelling


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

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

The most luxurious area in Playa del Carmen is set in a wonderful natural setting to the northeast of North Playa. 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.

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. 

Stay in Mayakoba if You are interested in plenty of daytime activities; The immediate environment is important to you; You do not mind paying for luxury.

Best Hotels in Mayakoba:

Best luxury hotel: Andaz Mayakoba – a concept by Hyatt Offering two outdoor pools and a private beach area, Upscale Andaz Mayakoba is in the gated Mayakoba complex in Playa del Carmen. The 5-star resort has a spa centre and sauna, and guests can enjoy a meal at one of the 4 restaurants.

Best mid-range hotel: Mayakoba House Boasting an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, and a shared lounge, Mayakoba House features accommodation in Playa del Carmen with free WiFi and garden views. This holiday home offers free private parking and a 24-hour front desk.


7. North Riviera Maya, one of the best areas to stay for families

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 hotels in North Riviera Maya:

Hotel Amar Inn Only 50 m from Puerto Morelos’ Playa Mar Beach and 400 m from Plaza Central, Hotel Amar Inn features some rooms with sea view. Free Wi-Fi access is available.

Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort is located at the edge of Puerto Morelos. Desire Riviera Maya Pearl Resort is only 20 minutes from the Cancun Airport. This clothing-optional resort offers oceanfront swimming pools with social activities only for couples over 21 years old.


8. South Riviera Maya, where to stay in Playa del Carmen for best cenotes

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 hotels in South Riviera Maya:

Catalonia Riviera Maya Resort & Spa- All Inclusive Experience pristine beaches, endless activities, and exceptional amenities at this all-inclusive resort and spa. Situated on a private beach in the Riviera Maya, this resort includes free WiFi.

Barceló Maya Palace – All Inclusive Boasting instant beach access, numerous dining options, and endless recreational activities, this family-friendly all-inclusive resort is situated in the Mayan Riviera and offers everything needed for a memorable stay.


🎬Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Playa del Carmen in this video or continue reading:

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.

The small fishing town known as Xaman Há has long gone. Today sees a city with a population of a quarter of a million with high-rise developments, all-inclusive and boutique hotels, plenty of bars and restaurants, beach, and golf. Tourists require a little more. 

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The decision on where to stay in Playa del Carmen depends on your interests. It goes without saying that you are looking for a beach holiday if you pick this stretch of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline.. All-inclusive accommodation is readily available for those wanting not too concerned with much more.

Perhaps you just want to relax and there is no problem in that. Water sports are readily available while the caves in the south are interesting. Tourists have the opportunity to experience the history and culture of the region if they so wish without having to travel too far. Downtown is the best place to find budget accommodation while the luxury of Mayakoba is at the other end of the spectrum. 

Now as you know where to stay in Playa Del Carmen, all you need to do is book accommodations and ready to go!

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