2 Days in Playa del Carmen: Ultimate 2-Day Itinerary

Visit Playa del Carmen in 2 days: itinerary

Planning to visit Playa del Carmen in 2 days and looking for the best places to visit and things to do?

You are in the right place!

To make your stay memorable, I have prepared this 2-day Playa del Carmen itinerary that will allow you to discover the unmissable places of the city while maximizing your time.

You’ll find all my top tips for making the most of your trip to Playa del Carmen, with the best things to do and see  and my hotel recommendations based on your budget.

So what to do and see in Playa del Carmen in 2 days?

The best 2-day Playa del Carmen itinerary

Day 1: Enjoy the Beach Life

Today you can enjoy all that Playa del Carmen has to offer, from its beautiful beaches to the lively atmosphere of Quinta Avenida, the city’s main shopping street.

1. Eat a good breakfast

Start your 2-day Playa del Carmen itinerary refueling with a hearty breakfast. You’ll need it to fully enjoy the action-packed day ahead.

  • For local and inexpensive breakfast, head to Tortas del Carmen. There are tortas (Mexican sandwiches) with different fillings, including vegetarian options. You can also head to Que Huevos on Quinta Avenida which serves chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, omelettes and burritos.
  • My favorite place for breakfast is La Cueva del Chango with friendly service, a beautiful garden and a varied menu. I love their chilaquiles, a typical breakfast dish in Mexico with tortilla, red or green sauce, onions, cheese and fresh cream.
  • For a French bakery, visit Chez Celine. They offer quiches, omelettes and the best pastries in Playa del Carmen
  • For breakfast or brunch in a cozy atmosphere, try Choux Choux. They serve dishes such as eggs benedict with salmon, pancakes, waffles and sandwiches.
Playa del Carmen itinerary
Choux Choux Playa del Carmen

2. Discover the best beaches

After breakfast, head to the best beaches in town: MamitasPlaya Avenida ColosioPlaya 88, and Punta Esmeralda.

These gorgeous stretches of sand are perfect for lounging in the sun, swimming, or just relaxing with a good book.

Playa del Carmen has several public beaches with free access: Playa Mamitas is the most central, but you can also walk a little further (20-30 minutes) to other less crowded beaches like Playa Avenida Colosio, Playa 88 or Punta Esmeralda.

Tips for your Playa del Carmen itinerary:
If you are looking for more comfort, there are also many beach clubs that offer food, drinks, music, such as Lido Beach ClubCoralina Daylight ClubMamita’s Beach club.

Before you settle, don’t forget to find out about the price (and how you can use your credit ), because it can increase quickly!

Playa del Carmen itinerary
punta esmeralda beach playa del carmen

3. Fill up on adrenaline

For thrill seekers, there is no shortage of activities with a small dose of adrenaline (you can click on the links to book) :

You can take a catamaran excursion with snorkeling, try parasailing or embark on a quad and speed boat tour.

My favorite activity is the Cenote Buggy Tour, during which you drive a buggy through the Riviera Maya jungle for three hours, before cooling off in a beautiful hidden cenote.

Buggy in the Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen itinerary
Buggy in the Riviera Maya

4. Discover the city center

In the afternoon, it’s time to discover the city center!

Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), the city’s main shopping street, is a great place to spend some time during your two days in Playa del Carmen.

This lively pedestrian street stretches for several kilometers and bursts with energy day and night.

Countless shops and boutiques line the avenue, where you’ll find everything from clothing and jewelry to handcrafted souvenirs and traditional Mexican crafts. This is the perfect place to buy some souvenirs from your trip.

Visit the Parque Fundadores, a pretty, bustling park by the sea. The highlight of your visit will be to witness the traditional ‘Voladores’ ceremony, in which ‘Those who steal’ gracefully descend from a pole to the using ropes to the ground.

I have attended the Danza de los Voladores countless times in many places in Mexico, but it never ceases to amaze me! The unique blend of tradition and skill exhibited by the artists is truly impressive.

Ruins of Xaman-Ha
You can also walk to the hidden ruins of Xaman-Ha (13th-16th century). In addition, there is a beautiful beach right in front!

The ruins are located in the Playacar area ( here ). From Calle 10 Sur, take Abraira de Arriba (right next to the shopping center).

Locate the Playacar Palace (here), then turn right. It can only be accessed on foot as it is private property, but you can walk and the caretaker will let you through.

The Founders Park in Playa del Carmen
The Founders Park in Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen itinerary
Papantla Founders Park

5. Check out the nightlife

Playa Del Carmen is a great place to enjoy the night after a delicious dinner.

The nightlife here is vibrant and very varied, with many bars, discos, lounges, live music especially around Quinta Avenida and Calle 12 Norte.

For an unforgettable evening, don’t miss Coco Bongo : it’s more than a club, it’s a great pop culture show, with acrobats, imitators (The Mask, Beetlejuice, Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury etc. .), dancers, balloons, etc. – Buy your tickets here!

Day 2: Explore Outside the City

The Riviera MayaCancun, and the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula are full of places to visit, but for your second day, I suggest you choose between Tulum and Cozumel.

Both are easily accessible from Playa del Carmen and will provide you with a memorable experience.

Option 1: Visit Tulum

1. The ruins of Tulum

The archaeological site of Tulum is fascinating, perched on a cliff overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea. These Mayan ruins were once an important trading post, and their spectacular location makes them a must-see attraction.

Visit these five structures: El Castillo (the Castle), the Temple of the Frescoes, the Temple of the Descending God, the Great Palace (the House of the Columns), and the Wall with the Watchtowers.

Tulum Ruins Beach, 2 days in Playa del Carmen
Tulum Ruins Beach

2. Tulum Beaches and Beach Strip

Tulum’s Beach Strip is a small road that runs along the beach, connecting the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve to the ruins of Tulum.

There are many hotels, restaurants, beach clubs and chic boutiques.

Do not miss the beautiful beaches of Tulum, such as Playa Paraíso, Playa Pescadores or the public beach Las Palmas. If you are looking for a beach club with stunning views and a great atmosphere, you can try Papaya Playa Project or Be Tulum

One of the most popular attractions on Tulum’s Beach Strip is the Escultura Ven a la Luz, a 10-meter tall wooden sculpture that represents the harmony between man and nature.

Tips for your Playa del Carmen itinerary:
As the sculpture has become a major attraction in Tulum that attracts a lot of visitors for a photo, they finally decided to make access chargeable.

That is why, since 2021, it is inside the sculpture garden of the Hotel Ahau!

Playa del Carmen itinerary
Tulum sculpture.

3. The cenotes of Tulum

Tulum is also home to beautiful cenotes, natural freshwater wells found all over the Yucatan Peninsula .

The Cenote Dos Ojos, with its turquoise and transparent waters, is very popular with divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. Not far from there, the Gran Cenote amazes with its semi-open structure that lets sunlight through, creating a magical atmosphere. These two cenotes are perfect for families.

The Cenote Calavera, despite its ominous name – “Cenote Death’s Head” – is the ideal choice for more adrenaline.

Finally, the less touristy Cenote Zacil-Ha is perfect if you’re looking for a more laid-back experience.

Each of these cenotes offers a unique perspective on the beauty of these natural wonders.

Cenote Calavera in Tulum
Cenote Calavera in Tulum

Visit Tulum from Playa del Carmen:

Tulum is located about 64 km south of Playa del Carmen, so getting there is quite easy:

1. By car: 55 minutes on Highway 307

 2. By ADO bus : departure every hour from the ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen (1 hour trip). Once you arrive at the ADO bus station in Tulum, you can take a taxi or a collectivo to the ruins – You can book your bus tickets on the website and choose “Tulum” or directly “Tulum archaeological site” as your destination

3. By c olectivo: shared minibuses run along the highway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. In Playa del Carmen, you will find them in front of the Chedraui, at the corner of Calle 1 Sur and Avenida 45 Norte (click to see the map). Once in Tulum, you can take a taxi to the ruins or rent a bike if you feel like exploring.

4. Guided tour : For more comfort and ease, you can also take a day trip.

Tips for your Playa del Carmen itinerary:
My favorite excursion in Tulum (click here to discover it!) includes hotel pick-up, guided tour of the ruins, exploration of a hidden cenotelunch in the jungle and snorkeling with the turtles in the Akumal Bay!

Playa del Carmen itinerary
Renting a bike in Tulum, a good way to explore the surroundings!

Option 2: Spend the day in Cozumel

Cozumel Island is known for its beautiful beaches, clear waters, and coral reefs. If you love nature, this is the option that suits you best!

Here is what you can do and see in Cozumel :

  • Punta Sur Eco Beach Park is my favorite spot on the island, as well as Cozumel’s largest ecological reserve. You can go to the beach, explore Laguna Colombia, visit the Celarain lighthouse (with incredible views of the surroundings!)
  • Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park is another must-see in Cozumel,  ideal for families with children. It is a natural park with a beautiful beach, zip lines, a botanical garden and several activities. – Buy your tickets here with full access to the park
  • Cozumel is a paradise for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts, with its magnificent coral reefs and great marine biodiversity. Explore Palancar Reef, and El Cielo, a sandbar where you can admire the starfish that dot the shallow sea. Remember to be respectful and not to touch them. – Book snorkeling at Palancar and El Cielo here!
  • Playa Mia Grand Beach Park is Cozumel’s largest beachfront park with pools, waterslides, kayaks, paddleboards, buffet restaurant, multiple bars, and the family-friendly Buccaneer’s Bay area

Visit Cozumel from Playa del Carmen:

The ferry dock to Cozumel is located at the south end of Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, next to Parque FundadoresBuy your ferry ticket here!

The journey takes 45min-1hr, and ferries run frequently throughout the day, from early morning to late evening.

Remember that Cozumel is a very large island: you will need to rent a vehicle (jeep, scooter, etc.) or take a taxi (expensive) to get around, unless you take a tour that includes transport.

Playa del Carmen itinerary
diving in cozumel mexico

So that’s my ultimate guide to spending two days in Playa del Carmen.

With its magnificent beaches, lively downtown and numerous activities, time will pass quickly!

Tips for your Playa del Carmen itinerary:
You can also check out my other guides to Playa del Carmen:

Accommodation in Playa del Carmen – best hotels

  • Che Playa Hostel & Bar Adults Only : ideal hostel for meeting other travelers and partying, roof terrace with bar and small swimming pool, several activities offered. Clean, good wifi and great welcome. From only €9 for the dormitory or €35 for the private room!
  • Hotel Lunata : charming hotel with hacienda-style decoration, which is hidden on Quinta Avenida, very close to the beach. Quiet, with garden, rooms with balcony, very friendly service. From just €66 a night!
  • Porto Playa Condo Beach Club : here is a spacious apartment ideal for a family close to Quinta Avenida with fully equipped kitchen, living room and terrace. On site there is a large swimming pool, gym and restaurant. From €160 per night!
  • The Reef 28- Adults Only : all-inclusive hotel in the center of Playa del Carmen, spacious rooms, superb roof terrace with sea view, swimming pool and jacuzzi. Gym, spa, excellent buffet breakfast. From €225 with all-inclusive formula
  • Hotel Xcaret Mexico All Parks All Fun Inclusive : this is definitely the best hotel in Playa del Carmen! Ideal for couples and families with children because this luxury hotel offers an exceptional formula that includes meals and access to its parks (Xcaret, Xplor, Xplor Fuego, Xenses, Xoximilco, Xel-Ha and Xenote). From €626 per night all inclusive

Tips for visiting Playa del Carmen in 2 days

1. Early Bird Advantage: Start your day early, especially if you’re visiting popular tourist sites like the Tulum Ruins or the Cenotes. This will allow you to avoid the crowds and better enjoy the visit.

2. Stay hydrated : it’s a tropical climate, so it can get very hot, especially in the afternoon. Make sure you have a bottle of water with you at all times and snacks to  keep your energy up.

3. Don’t miss the street food: Playa del Carmen offers a wide variety of street food, from tacos to elotes. The best way to sample local flavors and learn about the culture is to take a food tour of Playa del Carmen (click the link to book!)

4. Respect the environment: did you know that ordinary sunscreens can be harmful to aquatic life? This is because many sunscreens contain chemicals that can harm coral reefs and other marine life. Opt for UV clothing to protect yourself from the sun or a biodegradable, reef-safe sunscreen.

5. Bring light, breathable clothing for your visit. A hat and sunglasses will also be useful to protect you from the sun. And if you go to the cenotes, don’t forget to bring Aquashoes (water shoes), it will be much more comfortable!

6. Cash is king: Credit card service charges can be high, and some places only accept cash (cenotes, colectivos, street food stalls, some restaurants, etc.). so absolutely have some for tips, small purchases or unexpected expenses.

Playa del Carmen itinerary
Tacos, always the cheapest option to eat in Mexico!

Are you going to Mexico? Read also

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Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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