Once a small fishing village, Playa del Carmen, part of the Riviera Maya, has seen impressive population growth since the 1990s. Referred to simply as “Playa” by locals, it is a haven for foodies, golfers, newlyweds, and shoppers who want everything from local handicrafts to familiar name brands.
If you’ve ever researched a trip to Riviera Maya, you’ve likely seen or heard mention of “La Quinta Avenida,” or Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue. But a passing mention can’t do justice to this expanding and increasingly popular three-mile stretch that sits just one block west of the beach.
Olympus Tours President Lakis Charlambous tells us what La Quinta Avenida is all about and how best to enjoy is many experiences.
Q: What is the general scene like on Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue? What kind of shops are there, what should first-time visitors expect?
A: Fifth avenue is one of the most famous Playa del Carmen attractions. It is lined with shops, bars, restaurants, cafes, gelato shops, convenience stores, and pharmacies. This main strip is a pedestrian walkway that runs for about three miles through Playa del Carmen town and is continually expanding and getting longer. It is a general handicraft scene, combined with jewelry shops, coffee shops, and nightlife.
[Shopping ranges from] tiny handicraft shops to medium-size galleries. There is a brand new shopping mall located in the heart of the 5th avenue where you can find Forever 21, Starbucks, and a winery store.
A: Customers must experience walking from the start to the end of 5th avenue to mingle with locals. There are flea market-type stalls and stores selling handicrafts and knick-knacks the whole way through.
For the most part, you are expected to bargain, except when the prices are already listed on the items. Check to make sure that the items are actually made in Mexico. Shops have also expanded into the surrounding areas, so you can also wander to 1st Avenue and 10th Avenue to find many more options.
Q: What are some of the most famous shops along 5th Avenue?
A: Shops range from the name-brand Lacoste, and Hurley to small stalls, and there are even two small shopping malls. Paseo del Carmen is at the far south end past the ferry dock and includes shops such as Zara, Bershka, American Apparel and the official Harley Davidson store. The newest mall on the corner of Consituyentes, Quinta Alegria, was the talk of the town when it opened in 2014, and it includes a Forever 21, Victoria’s Secret, The Body Shop, and other brand-name stores.
Q: What are some of the can’t-miss places to eat and hang out in Playa del Carmen?
A: Bars and nightclubs: Blue Parrot, Cocobongo, and Mandala. Restaurants: For Mayan cuisine, Yaxche has excellent food. For Mexican, Aldea Corazon. For seafood, Almirante Pech. For steak, Sur or Bovinos. For Italian, Di Vino. And for international cuisine, Casa del Agua or Alux. Alux is amazing because it is in an underground cave!
Q: Any recommendations for visitors to Playa del Carmen?
A: Don’t miss walking 5th avenue to enjoy a very nice dinner, a taste of a delicious coffee, and handicraft shopping. And discover art in some of the galleries along the way, or just have a fresh drink or beer in the bars and nightclubs!
Related: Top 5 Riviera Maya Beaches
Tips for Visiting La Quinta Avenida!
Ready to hit the shops and restaurants? Olympus Tours President Lakis Charlambous shares some insider tips.
Best way to get to and from: By taxi
Best time of day to go: From 5 p.m. until the night ends for you.
How much time for a full experience: If you go for some dinner and shopping, four hours should be more than enough.
- Ceramic — Hand-painted works that will add charm to any home. Check out the sinks!
- Mirrors — You will find mirrors bordered with punched tin and embellished with hand painted ceramic tiles. They are simply beautiful.
- Leather — Anything from boots to sandals
- Blankets — Choose amongst the colorful blankets, perfect for a picnic once you are back home or to add a bit of color to a room.
- Embroidery — You will find many options if you are looking for embroidered items. The little girl’s dresses are adorable.