13 free things to do while in Playa Del Carmen
- Hit the beaches. We have a lot of different beaches along the front of Playa. You don’t need to pay for a beach club to enjoy them. In fact all beaches in Mexico are free and open to the public. Either take a walk on the beach or take your beach towel with you and soak up some sun. To see what the Top 5 beaches are in Playa Del Carmen, see our article here. If you do want to go to a beach club, many will give you free chairs if you have purchase a minimum in services like drinks and food.
- Hang out in Park Fundadores. (Also called Founding Fathers Park) This is the block size park just at the foot of Avenue Juarez and the beach, also by the Cozumel Ferry Pier. This park keeps adding attractions for guest visiting Playa and it can be an entertaining place. On one side of the park is the beach with the large “Portal Maya” statue. Under this statue in the afternoons and evenings you can find Mayan dancers putting on a free show here. In the center of this park you will see a tall pole. This is where the Papantla dancers perform (see photo above). They do this throughout the day and it is free but a tip is nice to give. Also in this park there is a children’s play area, also free. To see where this park is and read more, see our article here.
- Walk 5th Avenue. This is the pedestrian street in Playa Del Carmen that runs about 22 blocks. This is one fo the main attractions in the city. There are tons of restaurants, shops and life to watch here. There is an electric air on 5th Avenue and it is different in the day than the night time. When the sun goes down, people come out to dine and stroll the avenue. It can be very entertaining to go into shops and see what they have and if you are not into shopping to much, there are some fun places to take photos along this avenue. Be sure to keep an eye out for street performers. There are impersonators and people acting as statues. Some of the best spots to look are on 5th Avenue and Calle 3 Sur by Paseo Del Carmen shopping center and on 5th Avenue in front of Quinta Alegria Mall.
- See Mayan ruins right in Playa Del Carmen! You think you have to go to Chichen Itza to see Mayan ruins? Think again. There are three places you can see these ancient ruins in Playa Del Carmen. These ruins are certainly not large but they are a reminder of the people here before us. Two spots where you can find Mayan ruins are right in the center of Playa and they are hidden from view. You can see where they are in our article on Hidden Playa Del Carmen. The largest ruins are right in the Playacar Phase 1 neighborhood on the south end of town. Best of all, these are all free to go see. You can see a map of this neighborhood in our article on Playacar Phase 1.
- Check out the art. Every Thursday on 5th Avenue usually from about 26th Street to 30th Street there are artist displaying their work in the middle of the pedestrian way. These works are from local talented artist and some of them are famous outside of Playa and display in galleries around the world. You get to see it for free here! Also check out 16th Street next to Quinta Alegria Mall on 5th Avenue where local artist set up and you can see paintings and photographs here.
- See the street art and murals in Playa. There are hundreds of murals painted around the city and many are very good. You can see more in our gallery and there is also a general map where you can walk to and see some of these murals. Many of these are just our of the downtown area.
- Stop by 28th of July Park. This is the park in front of the Palacio Municipal or City Hall. This is between 15th Avenue and 20th Avenue and 8th Street and 10th Street. This park is home to many concerts and celebrations. Sometimes there are expos from Oaxaca, Mexico where you can see products that are made there or there are music venues. Around Christmas time there are dance recitals here and it can warm your heart and get you in the mood. You never know what is going on here and it is a good place to stroll over to and see if something is going on. Best of all, these events are free! Tip: If nothing is going on you can still go inside the courtyard of the Palacio Municipal and see the large mural there. It represents some of the local history and it makes for a nice photo op.
- Taste some tequila and see how it is made. Hacienda Tequila Store is one of our recommended places for tourist to stop and shop. It has good air conditioning, a large selection of gifts and a very large selection of tequila. In the back of this store is a touristy tequila display that roughly shows the process of where tequila comes from. If you look like a potential buyer they may offer you a closer look at this and possibly a sample of tequila. This does not happen everyday but even if you just go in you can see the display and take photos. This store is on 5th Avenue near 14th Street. Look for the bright yellow front.
- Riviera Maya Film Festival. This film festival takes place in early spring in Playa Del Carmen. It is usually April but can be moved around for scheduling purposes. This movie festival is like many international film festivals and the quality of the films are very good. Films can be presented in many languages and with subtitles. Films are shown in movie theaters, hotel lobbies, and even the beach on large screens. Best of all, this is a free event! This is one week of world class movies and many days there are several films running. For the exact schedule check out their website: www.rmff.mx There is a tab at the top to read it in English.
- Enjoy the holidays in Playa. Most holidays in Playa bring out a celebration. Some of the big holidays that are fun here are: Carnival, Day of the Dead, Halloween, Hanal Pixan, Christmas and New Years. For carnival there are parades in town with floats that you can go see and they end up at the Plaza Municipal in the 28th of July Park. Here there is free dancing and music. The three holidays all associated with Day of the Dead including the Mayan holiday of Hanal Pixan, all are around Halloween time. In stores and businesses you will see alters for Hanal Pixan and for Halloween Playa’s 5th Avenue turns into the largest costume parade. People walk up and down 5th Avenue and take photos and give candy to kids. For New Years Eve many people go out to a late dinner and stay up. Fifth Avenue becomes crowed with people and around midnight the area around 12th Street gets packed. There are fireworks and people party in the street. All of this excitement is associated with free things to do in Playa all around holiday times.
- Swim in a cenote. Cenotes are unique to the area and there are some famous ones that tours go to. There is no need to pay to visit this one though. At the north end of Playa Del Carmen you can find a cenote where the fresh water bubbles up and runs into the ocean. This makes for shallow rivers of fresh water where you can play and swim or just take in this beautiful spot. You can read more in our article about this place, the secret beach where the local go.
- Go out clubbing. Playa Del Carmen has world class clubs and you don’t have to spend money all the time to go out. The best secret is going out before the magic hour, when is that? Usually this is 12 midnight. Many clubs want to start to fill up, so they have free entry early. This is usually most of the year when it is not a major holiday. Also be sure if you are a lady to check out ladies nights all over Playa. Most are during the week and you can have free drinks!
- Get up and see the sunrise! Free every morning is the sunrise. It seems to be different all the time. If you want to see what you have been missing, see our gallery of sunrises in Playa Del Carmen here.
We hope you have a great time on vacation and enjoy some of the free things to do in Playa Del Carmen. For how to save money and also have a cheap vacation, see our article: How to do Playa Del Carmen Cheap and on a Budget.