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Here’s What To Do If You’ve Got 48 Hours In Playa Del Carmen

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Playa del Carmen, the quaint beach town turned eclectic party city with lots of soul in the Riviera Maya, has tons of things to do and see. Whether you’re a beach bum, an outdoor explorer, or a culture seeker, Playa is a destination that really fulfills. If you’ve only got a few days in this amazing city, here’s what to do in 48 hours in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

While this is a list of some of the best things to do for your two-day itinerary in Playa del Carmen, you can pick and choose what you’d like to do based on your travel preferences. Plus, this will help you discover your favorite places, and you’ll be planning your next trip in no time!

Mayan Portal, bronze monument on the Playa del Carmen Riviera symbol of new life and prosperity for the Mayan civilization of Yucatan. Image during the day, beach and blue skies behind the statue.

Enjoy The Beach(es)

It’s in the name. Playa del Carmen has no shortage of beaches, so on your 48-hour trip here, you have to check out at least a few (which won’t be difficult!). Enjoy the sun and sand and find your favorite beach, whether it’s Playa Fundadores in the center of town, the bustling local Coco Beach, or further north to Playa Esmeralda. 

Being on the east coast, sunrise is really a peaceful experience in Playa del Carmen, so try and commit one morning to start your day the right way and watch the rising sun. For a beachy morning into the afternoon, head up to Playa Esmeralda (past Calle 88) to get your outdoor exploring in and discover a more hidden beach in Playa del Carmen. You’ll find one restaurant on two along the coast, so you can easily spend the afternoon here.

For more inspiration, check out this post on the top beaches in Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen beach

Hit Up Playa Del Carmen’s Best Brunch Spots

After your sunrise, there’s no better thing than brunch at a picturesque little spot to continue your day in Playa del Carmen. Be prepared because you’ll want to laze around in the brunch cafe all day (if you do, don’t worry, we won’t judge). Playa del Carmen’s Gonzalo Guerrero neighborhood is where you can find some of the best outdoor brunch experiences in the city (in my humble opinion). 

Top spots include Choux Choux on 20th and Ressio Cafe, a hidden garden space on the corner of Calle 22 and Avenida 25. They serve up quaint vibes and amazing coffee, waffles, and huevos (not to mention mouthwatering smoothies) that you’ll be telling your friends back home about the fantastic brunch scene in Playa for weeks afterward. 

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poached egg on belgian waffles, coffee, tasty breakfast, close-up.

Relax And Unwind At A Playa Del Carmen Beach Club

Playa del Carmen has some amazing beach clubs for a lower price than you’ll find in neighboring Cancun, so take advantage during one day of your two-day trip. You buy a day pass for the beach clubs, which typically includes a spending minimum on food and drink (500 pesos or more) so you can live it up for the day, enjoying guac and margs by a stylish pool with amazing sea views to boot.

tourists at a private beach club on the beach equipped with straw beds and umbrellas in the Caribbean sea in Mexico with palm trees and white sand.

Take In A Live Music Show

The thing about Playa del Carmen is that it’s not just your typical party place. There’s lots of arts and culture here that thrives in part from the eclectic expat scene (hailing from all parts of the Americas, Asia, Europe, and beyond), and one of the best introductions to it is to head for dinner and take in a live music performance while you’re at it.

If you want to start your night out, head to dinner at La Vagabunda on Calle 38 (there’s also one on 5th Avenue) where they have a different type of live music happening every night. It’s a perfect location to keep exploring the area after dinner, along the picturesque 38th Street and then further along 5th Avenue.

Playa del Carmen bar street. Bars and restaurants on the 5th avenue

Stroll 5th Avenue

This part of the itinerary brings us to the ultimate bucket list item for Playa del Carmen – 5th Avenue. Sure, it’s touristy, but you gotta do it. You can eat, drink, party, and shop til you drop here pretty much any time of day. You’ll find big brand names but also lined with independently-run restaurants and bars that serve up some seriously amazing food and drink. We recommend wandering up and down the avenue after sunset when the air is a little cooler – it’s also a much more interesting time to take in the vibes and people-watch.

small clothing boutique exterior in Playa del Carmen, surrounded by luscious palm trees and greenery during the day.

Visit The Outdoor Market At Palacio Municipal

The Palacio Municipal is also known as the Playa City Hall and the center of town. During the evenings from Thursday to Sunday, usually every week, this outdoor space fills up with booths for local artisans and food vendors, making for a great evening of food and some souvenir shopping. Come hungry and with lots of pesos in your pocket! The market here is a more “local” thing to do, and we haven’t met any travelers that haven’t loved this experience.

Decorative columns with signs of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Chetumal, Tulum and other towns from Riviera Maya. Columns located near city hall in Playa del Carmen.

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