10 Free Things to Do in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen for Budget Travellers

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    This guide of Playa del Carmen for budget travellers may show you a few ways of experiencing the local culture without putting a huge dent in your wallet. This tropical town may be known for its luxury villas and all-inclusive beach resorts, but with a bit of research, you’ll find that it’s one of the most affordable beach destinations on the Yucatan Peninsula.

    The gorgeous beaches are free to enjoy all year round, despite the number of beach clubs charging for sun loungers and umbrellas. Meanwhile, in Playa del Carmen itself, you’ll find a thriving arts scene, with local designers displaying their artwork in public spaces, including the streets and walls. Plan a budget-friendly holiday by checking our list of free things to do in Playa del Carmen.

    1

    Playa del Carmen Beach

    Walk along the Caribbean coastline

    Playa del Carmen Beach is a long expanse of sand divided up by the town’s many beach resorts and clubs. The widest beach here is located in front of Parque Fundadores, which you can recognise from its whimsical ‘Playa del Carmen Arch’. It’s often packed with tourists thanks to its close proximity to Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue), and the beach is lined with plenty of beach clubs that rent out sun loungers for a few pesos. You can have some fun at the full-sized volleyball court, or try your hand at kite-surfing and paddleboarding on the Caribbean Sea.

    Asukoht: Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    2

    Parque Fundadores

    Check out traditional Mayan performances in the evening

    Parque Fundadores is a recreational park overlooking Playa del Carmen’s main beach. It’s one of the town’s most photographed locations thanks to its 16-metre-tall bronze arch, which consists of a man and a woman holding hands. There’s a playground built in the shape of a pirate ship, and a stage that hosts live shows all year round. A must-see is the Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers), which is a Mayan performance featuring acrobatic skills and traditional music.

    Asukoht: Av. Benito Juárez, Centro, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

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    foto: Falco Ermert (CC BY 2.0) muudetud

    3

    Fifth Avenue’s outdoor art exhibitions

    See colourful exhibits by local artists every Thursday

    Explore the streets of Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) on Thursday evening and you’re likely to see colourful works of art on display. Also known as La Galeria de Playa (Jueves), these outdoor art galleries are set along Calle 26 towards Calle 32. From 6.30pm until 11pm, you get to see a variety of paintings and photographs by local artists. On other days, smaller art exhibitions take place nearby the Quinta Alegria Shopping Mall, located 400 metres southwest of La Galeria de Playa.

    Asukoht: Calle Quinta Avenida 301, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77720 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

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    4

    Rio Secreto

    Swim among stalactites and stalagmites

    Rio Secreto is a series of semi-sunken caves interconnected with Quintana Roo’s longest underground river. This unique cenote attracts swimmers and snorkelers with its bright turquoise waters, and it’s large enough to feel as if you have the whole place to yourself. As you swim in the 600-metre-long river, you’re bound to see thousands of stalactites and stalagmites above you. Accessible within a 20-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, you can make your way to Rio Secreto on your own or join a guided tour. Admission is free.

    Asukoht: Carretera Federal Libre Chetumal- Puerto Juárez Km. 283.5 Ejido Sur, 77712 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    foto: PriceTravel pictures (CC BY-SA 2.0) muudetud

    5

    Xaman-Ha ruins

    See iguanas lounging on this Mayan site

    The Xaman-Ha ruins (or Playacar ruins) are a complex of 3 stone structures dating back to AD1200. This ancient fishing village is where Mayan women departed for Cozumel Island to honour the Goddess Ixchel. Compared to the iconic Chichen Itza and El Rey, Xaman-Ha may seem miniscule but it’s one of the few Mayan sites that’s free to explore. This archaeological site is just a 10-minute walk of Playa del Carmen Beach, but it’s relatively quiet thanks to its jungle surroundings. You may encounter iguanas lounging on the stone structures.

    Asukoht: Playacar, 77717 Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    foto: Bill McChesney (CC BY 2.0) muudetud

    6

    Playacar Beach

    Visit Xaman-Ha, a Mayan site dating back to AD1200

    Playacar Beach is part of a gated residential area just outside central Playa del Carmen, with a golf course, all-inclusive resorts, villas, and luxury condominiums overlooking the ocean. Parts of the beach (but not the resort) are open to the public, so you’re bound to find a nice and free spot for swimming, and sunbathing. Playacar is also known for its Mayan site, called Xaman-Ha, which comprises 3 stone structures dating back to AD1200.

    Asukoht: Playacar Beach, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    7

    Street art in Centro Playa del Carmen

    Enjoy a self-guided tour of the town centre

    A stroll through Centro Playa del Carmen often results in beautiful photos, thanks to the neighbourhood’s extensive collection of street art. The walls of most buildings are decorated with colourful designs by local artists. Some of the best street art in Playa del Carmen runs along Quinta Avenida and towards Punta Esmerelda, which takes about 5 minutes to explore on foot.

    Asukoht: Centro, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    8

    Go clubbing before midnight

    Explore Quinta Avenida’s nightclubs and beachfront bars

    Playa Del Carmen’s nightlife scene is mostly concentrated within the trendy Quinta Avenida, with dozens of nightclubs and mezcal bars lining up the streets of Calle 10 and Calle 12. While drinks aren’t exactly wallet-friendly, you can save some cash on cover charges by entering these venues before midnight. Take advantage of ladies’ nights during the week, such as La Chopería on Mondays, Dirty Martini on Thursdays, and Diablito Cha Cha Cha on Fridays and Saturdays

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    9

    Punta Esmeralda Beach

    Enjoy a dip in the freshwater cenote

    Punta Esmeralda Beach attracts local families looking to swim in its gentle waters, as well as those looking to escape the touristy beaches of Playa del Carmen. This scenic beach features a cenote (natural sinkhole) with freshwater flowing up from an underground river system. The pool is relatively big, but shallow enough for kids to enjoy a dip in. Note that there aren’t any food vendors crowding up the beach, so be sure to pack a picnic when visiting Punta Esmeralda.

    Asukoht: Punta Esmeralda, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    10

    Parque 28 de Julio

    Visit Palacio Municipal’s mural of Playa del Carmen

    Parque 28 de Julio (28th July Park) is known for hosting Mexican celebrations and music concerts all year round. This urban park is located in front of Palacio Municipal, about 1 km northwest of Playa del Carmen Beach. On a typical day, you often see locals jogging and cycling along the tree-lined pathway and children at the onsite playground. Head to the courtyard of Palacio Municipal to see a beautiful wall painting of the town’s history.

    Asukoht: Av. 20 Norte entre Calles 8 y 10 Norte, Centro, Gonzalo Guerrero, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico

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