A Travel Price Comparison for Mexico Playa del Carmen vs. Mexico City for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Playa del Carmen or Mexico City? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is a stunning, vibrant, and picture-perfect town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the shopping, nightlife, and food.

Mexico City

Mexico City is a diverse, vibrant, and dynamic city. Visitors will also find so much to do here because it's a large city with many sights and attractions. Other popular activities here include shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Playa del Carmen and Mexico City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for shopping
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Big city activities
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Mexico City than Playa del Carmen. It is bigger and it has more sights, attractions, and activities for travelers. Mexico City is very popular for its museums, food, historical sights, shopping, and big city activities, while Playa del Carmen attracts visitors for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty. Playa del Carmen is more touristy than Mexico City and is popular for its coral reefs, luxury resorts, and white sand beaches. Mexico City is famous for its vibrant street food scene, colorful markets, and historic architecture. It is also well known for Zócalo.

How is Playa del Carmen different from Mexico City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Mexico City and Playa del Carmen. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Mexico City is an amazing city to visit for its museums and landmarks. However, Playa del Carmen is a town with minimal options for its historical sights.

You'll find many recognizable landmarks that put Mexico City on the map. The city is filled with historic buildings, fascinating museums, and interesting landmarks. At the heart of the city is Zócalo, where the country's constitution was signed. Nearby you'll find the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Templo Mayor. Other interesting museums in the city include the National Museum of Anthropology, the Palace of Fine Arts, and the National History Museum.

While most people don't head to Playa del Carmen specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. If you're willing to head out of town, there are world class Mayan ruins not far away, but if you want to hang out near town, then you'll likely spend most of your time enjoying outdoor water activities.


Is the Food Better in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Mexico City is an amazing city to visit for its restaurant scene. Also, Playa del Carmen is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

For foodies, Mexico City is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. The city food scene is as diverse as the population itself. There are countless ways to experience the amazing street food, but there are also world class chefs working in award winning restaurants. Make sure you try the chilaquiles, tacos al pastor, and chiles en nogada.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Playa del Carmen. You'll find a good number of overpriced tourist restaurants in the area, but if you do some research you'll also find amazing and authentic Mexican food as well. There is everything from food trucks to fine dining that offer ceviche, tacos, or burritos. There are also plenty of places to grab pizza or burgers.

Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Nightlife?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

It's hard to distinguish whether Playa del Carmen or Mexico City has a better nightlife scene.

Playa del Carmen has a colorful and one-of-a-kind nightlife scene. It rivals some of the country's best nightlife and you'll find plenty of venues to choose from, ranging from dive bars to swanky cocktail lounges. Head to the main walking street for some of the most active venues.

Mexico City is a party destination, and you'll find plenty of activity all night long. It's a huge city, so of course there's no shortage of diverse nightlife activities. Some of the most popular neighborhoods for nightlife include the downtown, La Condesa, and Colonia Juárez. For upscale clubs head to Polanco and for trendy and eclectic venues check out Roma.

Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Resorts?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Playa del Carmen is very popular for its luxury resorts. However, Mexico City is not a resort destination.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Playa del Carmen is a great choice. You'll find a huge number of luxury resorts in the area, particularly along the beach. There are fancy pools and beachfront properties that offer the perfect vacation retreat.

Mexico City is not a resort destination.


Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Playa del Carmen is very popular for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Mexico City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

The clear water and abundant marine life make Playa del Carmen a world-class scuba diving and snorkeling destination. There's not a lot to see right off of the beach, but there are plenty of snorkeling excursions in the area that take you to beautiful reefs. The diving is world class as well and you'll find wonderful reefs, bull sharks, and hidden gems.

Mexico City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Beaches?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Playa del Carmen is very popular for the beach. However, Mexico City is not a beach destination.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Playa del Carmen. The area is filled with world class beaches, long stretches of white sand, and beautiful blue water. You might even stumble across a sea turtle or two while you're swimming.

Mexico City is not a beach destination.

Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for its Old Town?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Mexico City is a popular place for its historic old town charm. However, Playa del Carmen does not have a historic old town.

Mexico City offers a nice historic old town area. Centro Historico spreads out from Zócalo Plaza, and has many buildings that date back as far as the Aztec period. Many tourists gather here to explore the history and wander down the pedestrian-only Calle Madero.

Playa del Carmen does not have a historic old town.


Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Hiking?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Playa del Carmen is a popular place for its hiking trails. However, Mexico City is not a hiking destination.

Playa del Carmen is a good destination for hiking. There are well marked trails in the area that get you out in nature or take you along the coastline.

Mexico City is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Mexico City is an amazing city to visit for its shopping areas. Also, Playa del Carmen is still popular, but not quite as popular for shopping.

Mexico City is a world class destination for shoppers. The city has everything from open-air bazaars (tianguis) to modern shopping malls. There are international brands as well as local art galleries, handicrafts, and retail outlets.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Playa del Carmen. Much of the shopping is geared towards the tourists, but you'll find some local items, interesting galleries, and colorful markets to explore.

Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Families?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Playa del Carmen is very popular for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Mexico City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Playa del Carmen is a very family-friendly destination. From eco parks to kid-friendly snorkeling opportunities, there are many activities for kids of all ages. There are also adventure parks and playgrounds that are perfect for a fun afternoon.

Mexico City is a very family-friendly place to visit. It's a huge city, so there are enough diverse activities to keep everyone entertained. There's even a Six Flags. Popular museums for kids include Papalote Museo del Niño and Museo de Geología. There's also the Acuario Inbursa, and make sure you check out a Lucha Libre show.


Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Couples?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Playa del Carmen is very popular for couples. Also, Mexico City is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Playa del Carmen makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Beautiful beaches and tropical jungles make this a paradise honeymoon destination. You'll find luxury resorts, fine dining restaurants, and countless opportunities to enjoy the stunning setting. Take a sunset cruise of explore one of the many natural wonders in the area.

Mexico City is a nice destination for couples. The city is filled with parks where you can enjoy a picnic, museums that are fascinating to walk through, and cultural activities that are one-of-a-kind. You can ride on a gondola in Xochimilco or spend the day exploring the amazing food scene.

Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Mexico City is a great destination for backpackers. Also, Playa del Carmen is still popular, but not quite as popular for backpackers and budget travelers.

Mexico City is a very popular city for backpackers and budget travelers. It's a big city with a wonderful atmosphere and many hostels. Backpackers who want to experience the culture, food, and personality of Mexico will love a visit here.

Playa del Carmen is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. It's filled with tourists staying at luxury resorts, but you'll also find a couple of hostels tucked away in town. If you're interesting in scuba diving, then it's well worth the trip.

Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Students?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Mexico City is a great destination for students. However, Playa del Carmen is not popular with students.

Mexico City is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. International students love the art, architecture, food, and culture that this colorful city has to offer.

Playa del Carmen is not popular with students.


Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Mexico City is a great destination for its public transit. Also, Playa del Carmen is still popular, but not quite as popular for times when you don't have a car.

Mexico City offers a very effecient public transportation network. The city has a complex and comprehensive public transit system that includes a metro, metrobus, and local buses.

While Playa del Carmen offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are local buses, collectivos and the ADO bus.

Is Playa del Carmen or Mexico City a more walkable city?

Playa del Carmen
Mexico City

Playa del Carmen is very popular for its ease of walking around. However, Mexico City is lacking in options for its walkability.

It's very easy to get around on foot in Playa del Carmen. It's a compact and very walkable town. La Quinta is the main strip and it's pedestrian-only.

Mexico City is generally not very walkable. While you can walk within many neighborhoods, such as the historic city center, it's impossible to walk between neighborhoods and in many parts of the city.

For even more information, also check out Is Playa del Carmen Worth Visiting? and Is Mexico City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Mexico City or Playa del Carmen?

How long in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

In either Playa del Carmen or Mexico City, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Playa del Carmen than Mexico City because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Playa del Carmen, and 3-5 days is enough time in Mexico City.

Families should spend more time in Playa del Carmen than Mexico City. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Playa del Carmen, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Playa del Carmen than Mexico City. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Playa del Carmen that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Mexico City than Playa del Carmen if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Mexico City.


  • How many days in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City? Ideal Length of Stay
    Playa del Carmen 3-7 
    Mexico City 3-5

One day in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the picture-perfect town of Playa del Carmen. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

People visit Mexico City because there is so much to do. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.


A weekend in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Visitors enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the picture-perfect destination of Playa del Carmen. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

People visit Mexico City because there is so much to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring.

Five days in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the stunning town of Playa del Carmen. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Mexico City is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A week in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Playa del Carmen. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this town.

Mexico City is a great place to explore. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours in Mexico, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in Mexico, The Best Adventure Tours to Mexico, and The Best Sightseeing Tours in Mexico.


Which place is cheaper, Mexico City or Playa del Carmen?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Playa del Carmen is $81, while the average daily cost in Mexico City is $213. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Playa del Carmen and Mexico City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Playa del Carmen $39
    Mexico City $41
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Playa del Carmen $78
    Mexico City $82
Compare Hotels in Playa del Carmen and Mexico City

Looking for a hotel in Playa del Carmen or Mexico City? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Playa del Carmen


Hotels in Mexico City


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Playa del Carmen Hotel Prices and Mexico City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Playa del Carmen $24
    Mexico City $13

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Playa del Carmen

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Playa del Carmen:

  • Wedding Transfers Services in Round Trip Playa del Carmen: $180
  • Transfers in Lincoln StretchLimo from Puerto Aventuras-Cun Airport.: $194
  • Transfer in Private vehicle from Akumal City - Cancun Airport (CUN) : $74
  • Tour Bacalar Ponton with Transfer from Cancun & Playa del Carmen : $147
  • Shared roundtrip transfer from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen: $71
  • Private Transfer: Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport CUN in SUV: $87
  • Private Transfer to/from Cancun airport: $42
  • Private Transfer to Xel-Há Park from Playa del Carmen: $140
  • Private Transfer to Xcaret Park from Playa del Carmen: $80
  • Private Transfer to Xavage / Xoximilco: $140
  • Private Transfer to Cenote at Tulum: $213
  • Private Transfer from Puerto Aventuras to Cancun Airport CUN by Minivan -Minibus: $95

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Mexico City

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Mexico City:


  • Metro
    $1.20
  • Uber Ride
    $4.19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Mexico City

Also for Mexico City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Aguascalientes Airport (AGU) to Aguascalientes - Arrival Transfer: $24
  • Airport Transfer: Mexico Airport MEX to Mexico by Business Car: $87
  • Airport Transfer: Mexico Airport MEX to Mexico by Luxury SUV: $91
  • Airport Transfer: Mexico Airport MEX to Mexico by Luxury SUV/Van: $92
  • Airport Transfer: Mexico to Mexico Airport MEX by Business Car: $87
  • Airport Transfer: Mexico to Mexico Airport MEX by Luxury SUV: $91
  • Airport Transfer: Mexico to Mexico Airport MEX by Luxury SUV/Van: $92
  • Arrival Transfer: Mexico Airport MEX to Mexico by Business Car: $87
  • Arrival Transfer: Mexico Airport MEX to Mexico by Luxury SUV: $92
  • Arrival Transfer: Mexico Airport MEX to Mexico by Luxury SUV/Van: $91
  • Departure Transfer: Mexico to Mexico Airport MEX by Business Car: $87
  • Departure Transfer: Mexico to Mexico Airport MEX by Luxury SUV: $92

Is it cheaper to fly into Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Prices for flights to both Mexico City and Playa del Carmen change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Playa del Carmen $24
    Mexico City $27

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Playa del Carmen

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Playa del Carmen.

  • Cenotes by Bike and Mayan Cooking Class Half-Day Guided Tour: $61
  • Walking Food Tour: $65
  • Playa del Carmen Walking Food Tour: $79
  • Playa del Camen Vegan Mexican Food Tour: $85
  • Mexican Cooking Class: $102
  • PDC Traditional Mexican Cooking Experience: $107
  • Isa’s Authentic Mexican Cooking Class: $120
  • Cultural Coba Sunset Adventure with Dinner and show from Cancun: $130
  • Cancun: Cultural Coba Sunset Adventure with Dinner and Show: $132
  • Sunset Adventure in Coba and Dinner with Show from Riviera Maya: $155
  • Riviera Maya: Sunset Cruise with Beach Dinner and Open Bar: $162
  • Playa del Carmen Mexican Gourmet Food Tour: $214

Typical Food Prices in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lunch for Two
    $13
  • Coffee and Snacks
    $4.67
  • Dinner for 2
    $27

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Veracruz and Boca del Rio Food Tour with Mangroves Boat Trip: $50
  • Virtual Mexican Cooking Class (private and personalized): $50
  • Local Markets & Food Tour in Mexico City: $50
  • Tortilla Crawl: Food Tour in Mexico City: $55
  • Uruapan Food Tour: $61
  • Muchos moles: Multi-variety mole cooking class and feast: $72
  • Mexico City Vegan & Veggie Market Explorer plus Cooking Lesson: $73
  • MEXICO CITY FOOD TOUR: flavors on two wheels: $78
  • La Roma Authentic Downtown Food Tour: Tacos and Local Flavors: $78
  • Food Tour with Ride an Electric Bike in Mexico: $80
  • Flamenco Live Show and Dinner in Mexico City: $83
  • Flamenco Tablao Live Show & dinner: $83

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Playa del Carmen $17
    Mexico City $15

Tours and Activities in Playa del Carmen

Here are a few actual costs in Playa del Carmen for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • ATV Mayan Jungle Adventure: $110
  • Romantic tour in Akumal: $115
  • Tulum Ruins, Turtle Sightseeing & Underground Cenote from Tulum: $140
  • VIP Cenote Scuba Tour, Certified Divers Only: $230
  • 3D Museum of Wonders Admission Ticket: $43
  • 4 amazing places for 1 price and 1 full day tour Tulum, Coba, Cenote and PDC: $54
  • 4x1 (4tours For 1 Price) Tulum, Cobá, Cenote Swim And Playa Del Carmen Vip: $51
  • 5X1: Tulum and Coba Ruins, Cenote & Mayan Village Full Day Tour : $117
  • A Lifetime Experience: Whale Shark Snorkeling Tour: $254
  • AQUA WONDER (Half-Day Aquatic Tour in Tulum with Snorkeling and Meals): $119
  • ATV Adventure with Ziplines Cenote from Playa del Carmen: $75
  • ATV Extreme and Snorkel Adventure from the Riviera Maya: $139

Tours and Activities in Mexico City

For Mexico City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • MUCHO Museum of Chocolate Entrance Ticket: $4.79
  • Franz Mayer Museum Regular Admission Ticket: $5.99
  • Double Decker Bus Night Tour: $5.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour-Moctezuma and the Zocalo:The Aztec Empire : $6.99
  • Night Bus Tour Knowing Mexico City: $7.37
  • La Roma's Famous Sights and Local Lore: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $7.99
  • Memory and Tolerance Museum Entry Ticket: $8.39
  • Mexico City (Coyoacan) City Sights Self-Guided Tour: $8.75
  • Mexico City (Historic Centre) City Sights Self-Guided Tour: $8.75
  • Mexico City (Coyoacan) Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $8.95
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: $11
  • Night Tour in a Double Decker Bus: $12

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Playa del Carmen $21
    Mexico City $21

Sample the Local Flavors in Playa del Carmen

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Playa del Carmen:

  • Cenote and Artisanal Brewery Experience: $169

Sample the Local Flavors in Mexico City

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Mexico City:

  • CDMX Pub Crawl: Mexico City Bar Crawl: $29
  • Mexico City Pub Crawl: $31
  • Mexico City Bar Crawl: $40
  • Best Bar Crawl at Downtown: $49
  • Nightly Historic Center From Above© Rooftop Bar Crawl +Taco Snack: $129
  • 2 Hours Private Mexican Wine Tasting in Polanco: $155
  • Third Largest Monolith in the World:Bernal with wine tasting: $235
  • Cavas Freixenet Wine Tour from Mexico City: $255


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Playa del Carmen and Mexico City, we can see that Mexico City is more expensive. And not only is Playa del Carmen much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Playa del Carmen would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Playa del Carmen and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Mexico City would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Mexico City than you might in Playa del Carmen.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Playa del Carmen Expensive? and Is Mexico City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Playa del Carmen or Mexico City?

Mexico City has a larger population, and is about 210 times larger than the population of Playa del Carmen. When comparing the sizes of Playa del Carmen and Mexico City, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.