We spent a few days in Panama City and mainly stayed to the old city, Casco Viejo. It’s a unique area where you see the starkest of differences all within 10 city blocks. This post has a lot of photos with tips for exploring the area at the end.
To sum it up, the old city is really gentrified. You have squatters, stray cats and dogs, broken manholes, million dollar hotels, rich locals, incredible history, beautiful architecture, ruins, rebuilds, market stalls, traveling vendors, high end restaurants, stained glass, broken glass…you name it!
I found that we walked around the old city nearly 20 times and we really enjoyed exploring, here were some of my favourite sights.
- Casco Viejo is a must. Make sure you stay inside the safe zone though (most hotels/hostels have maps).
- If you’re staying in the old city, be prepared for it to be noisy at night.
- Make sure you check hostels and hotels for bed bugs, the Magnolia Inn was fine and we enjoyed staying there.
- The Amador Causeway was nothing I’d want to visit again. Don’t bother with it.
- Bargain with the taxi drivers. $5 should get you 10 km.
- Breakfast: Super Gourmet, Lunch: $4.25 meals along Ave. A., Dinner: Browse the menus of the restaurants set up in the squares, we found one where entrees were $10-15 each, Happy Hour: Bikes and Coffee 2-1 Drinks.
- Do try to see a ship going through the canal, you may only be there once in your lifetime.
- Watch your step for missing manhole covers!