Panama City is a big metropolis with a huge skyline and is said to be the most cosmopolitan capital in Central America. The city is a center for international banking and trade with tall high towers and malls and on the other hand the Casco Viejo with his colonial vibe with boutique hotels and shops. Panama City is located in the center of the county which you will pass during your travels. I stayed not to long in the beginning knowing that I was going to see it again a couple more times.
Tip: While you are traveling and passing through Panama City, please check if you can leave your luggage that you don’t use for example to the San Blas island in the hotel and pick it up afterwards. Same if you travel to Bocas de Toro for example.
The hotel I booked in the Casco Viejo neighborhood I will not recommend it to you; it was the Hotel Gatto Blanco Rooftop Club. The name already said it, a bar and club in or close to the hotel, I could not sleep a bit. The hotel looked nice and clean but the noise was unbearable (the jet lag did not help either…). The next night I moved out to the Sortis Hotel in the Obarro area. Was a bit luxury I have to admit but needed my rest and comfort after not sleeping the first night, great service and awesome pool in the hotel.
I visited Casco Viejo a couple of times whenever I came through Panama City during my travels in Panama. The place has a lot of history but you don’t see that much of the ruins and old buildings, not if you compare it to Cartagena in Colombia for example. Of course if you stroll around you see many nice places like the Place de la Independence and Parque Bolívar. There are a lot of shops and markets in this touristic area and also a Centro de Artesanías Donaruea, to buy local souvenirs.
The Arco Chato considered a World Heritage Site, is one of the old building that have been rebuild to keep the historical feeling of the site.
If you walk to the far end of the Casco Viejo at the Av. Central, you have a great view over the skyline of the new Panama City. By nights it is even more impressive.
I liked the breakfast place Casa Sucre Coffeehouse in the Casco Viejo. Nice colonial vibe, good food and great service which a warm welcome.
Treat yourself to an eight course haut cuisine dinner at Donde José, make the booking in advance! The place looks a little bit dark inside and my Spanish is not the best so I did not really know what I was eating, but it tasted very good anywhay.
See here my blog on the Panama Canal, you can’t leave Panama without visiting this immense handmade wonder, and this is a perfect day trip from Panama City.
Enjoy your travels!!!