Playa del Carmen Introduction Walking Tour, Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen, often referred to simply as 'Playa', is a renowned resort city nestled along the stunning Caribbean coastline in Quintana Roo, Mexico's Riviera Maya. With its pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush rainforests, Playa del Carmen beckons tourists seeking sun-soaked adventures.

Originally known as Xaman-Ha, which means "waters of the north" in the Mayan language, this coastal gem boasts a rich history dating back to pre-Hispanic times when it was a Mayan pilgrimage site. Despite Spanish conquests in the 16th century, the area remained sparsely populated until the 20th century, when a fishing and coconut palm community emerged. In 1908, a chiclera company obtained a concession to explore local forests, leading to the foundation of the Playa del Carmen (“Carmen's Beach”) settlement. Its name pays homage to Our Lady of Carmen, the patron saint of the town, whose chapel stands as a testament to its colonial past.

By the mid-1980s, Playa del Carmen was still a small community with under 1,500 residents. However, in recent decades, fueled by tourism, it has undergone significant transformation, becoming a vibrant destination. Thanks to its geographical location, Playa del Carmen was the set of various TV shows and became one of the fastest growing, in terms of population, regions of the country.

The downtown area revolves around the bustling Fifth Avenue (La Quinta Avenida), a busy pedestrian thoroughfare lined with numerous shops, clubs, and restaurants. One of the focal points of Playa del Carmen is Founders Park (Parque Los Fundadores), where visitors can learn about local history while enjoying scenic views of the Caribbean.

Art enthusiasts will surely find delight in the Frida Kahlo Museum, which celebrates the iconic Mexican artist's life and work. For a unique sensory experience, the 3D Museum of Wonders offers interactive art installations that captivate the imagination.

When the sun sets, Playa del Carmen comes alive with an exhilarating spell of music and entertainment. Whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, this place can give you all of it and more. So, come discover the magic of this coastal paradise and create memories that will last you a lifetime!
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Playa del Carmen Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Playa del Carmen Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Mexico » Playa del Carmen (See other walking tours in Playa del Carmen)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: ChristineS
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Parque Los Fundadores (Founders Park)
  • Paseo del Carmen Shopping Mall
  • Chapel of Our Lady of Carmen
  • La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue)
  • Frida Kahlo Museum
  • 3D Museum of Wonders
  • Zenzi Beach Bar & Restaurant
  • Coco Bongo
  • La Perla Pixan
Parque Los Fundadores (Founders Park)

1) Parque Los Fundadores (Founders Park) (must see)

Founders Park or Founding Fathers Park is a public park in the city center. The park is just outside of the ADO Bus Station on 5th Avenue, next to the Cozumel Ferry Pier. The park is the first attraction you will see in Playa del Carmen if you come by bus from the airport.

In the park you will find the Portal Maya Statue, a gorgeous sculpture depicting two figures rising up to touch each other. There are street vendors selling souvenirs, food and snacks. From time to time public performance by dancers are also held in the park. No matter what time you visit, you will always find a good vibe in the area.
Paseo del Carmen Shopping Mall

2) Paseo del Carmen Shopping Mall

Paseo del Carmen is an outdoor shopping center located near the Cozumel Ferry Pier and the popular Founders Park. It is a relatively small shopping center, featuring Mediterranean architecture with an up market atmosphere. Along the cobblestone path you will find a number of international brands and local boutiques as well as a few eating options. This lovely shopping center is a favorite with locals and visitors alike.
Chapel of Our Lady of Carmen

3) Chapel of Our Lady of Carmen

Up until early 20 century, the population in Playa del Carmen was small and it did not grow until the trade in first mahogany and later gum resin took off. Back then there was not a church in the city and the religious services were performed by missionaries or priests from Cozumel.

This lovely white Catholic church was the creation of Fr Juan Amezcua who named the church as Our Lady of Carmen. Masses here are a quintessential Mexican experience and the performance by their 150 member choir and orchestra is not to be missed. Sunday masses are at 10 am in English, and 12 pm, 5 pm, and 7 pm in Spanish. The church is also a popular place for weddings.
La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue)

4) La Quinta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) (must see)

La Quinta Avenida, or Fifth Avenue in English, is a vibrant pedestrian street stretching well over a kilometer parallel to the beach. It is the main artery in Playa del Carmen - you cannot visit Playa del Carmen without walking down the street a few times. The street is lined with shops offering everything from designer handbags, clothes, souvenirs, and art works.

There are plenty of eating options on this street too. You will find many outdoor restaurants and food stalls offering authentic Mexican cuisine and street foods. Three are also many bars, cafes and nightclubs on this street or in the nearby alleys. At night, street performers line the street sides dressed in costumes and break dancers show off their skills, all for small tips. This is a great place to be for having a nice meal, sipping a traditional Mexican drink and people watching.
Frida Kahlo Museum

5) Frida Kahlo Museum (must see)

Frida Kahlo is arguably the most famous female Mexican painter so it is not surprising to see a museum in Playa del Carmen dedicated to this iconic artist. This museum leads visitors into the life and story behind her art. The museum presents, in chronological order, many photos and diagrams showing the life events and works of the artist. There also is a mini theater which shows a 15-minutes video about the artist.
3D Museum of Wonders

6) 3D Museum of Wonders (must see)

Have you ever dreamed of being immersed into the art world of past art masters of DaVinci, Michelangelo and others? The 3D Museum of Wonders makes your dream come true. It is the first 3D illusion art museum on American continent. Through an illusional effect, the museum allows you to travel back in time and become a figure in the art work of past masters of DaVinci, Michelangelo and others. It is a cool treat that both kids and adults can enjoy.
Zenzi Beach Bar & Restaurant

7) Zenzi Beach Bar & Restaurant

Zenzi Beach Bar & Restaurant, as its name implies, it a full service bar and restaurant right on the beach. Here you can enjoy a meal or have a drink with your feet in the sand and a full view of the ocean. Free Salsa lessons are offered three times a week on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and on Sunday free Samba lessons. Every Sunday afternoon from 2-6 pm, all-you-can-eat BBQ is served.
Coco Bongo

8) Coco Bongo

“Coco Bongo” is a new dance club on the corner of Calle 12 and 10th Avenue. The pleasant atmosphere of this club makes is the perfect spot for a night out with your friends, with a wide range of top tunes on the playlist.
La Perla Pixan

9) La Perla Pixan

As you walk down Fifth Avenue from Founders Square, when you almost reach the end of the pedestrian street, you will find Le Perla Pixan, a restaurant specializes in authentic Mayan food. The restaurant's menu is both traditional and innovative. If you are the adventurous type, try one of the dishes made with grasshoppers – it will be an experience that you will not forget. The restaurant has a mezcal store where you can buy some of the famous Mexico liquor to take home.