Panama City's oldest and hippest neighborhood comprises a Tejas-tiled cluster of pastel colonial buildings at the tip of a heavily fortified peninsula. These ramparts successfully protected the first Spanish settlement on the Pacific Coast; today they make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with plazas, churches, and narrow streets.
This neighborhood is an essential stop on any Panama City itinerary. Take a guided walking tour to see landmarks like the Metropolitan Cathedral, Palacio de las Garzas, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, and the National Theater. There’s a tour for every interest: Foodies can eat and drink their way through Casco Viejo, while those with an interest in the Panama Canal can combine a Casco Viejo tour with a visit to the Miraflores Locks.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Casco Viejo is one of Panama City’s most atmospheric neighborhoods: a must for couples, history buffs, and first-time visitors.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces; many of the streets are cobbled.
- Sightseeing tours that include Casco Viejo can last from two to eight hours, depending on the activities included.
How to Get There
While the Casco Viejo is well into the process of gentrification, surrounding neighborhoods are not. It’s a good idea to take a taxi, even during the day, or visit the neighborhood as part of a guided tour.
When to Get There
It’s best to visit the neighborhood during the daytime when the majority of its attractions, restaurants, cafés, and shops are open. Some of the city’s top chefs have restaurants in the area—perfect for a dinner date—but this area tends to quiet down early.
Attractions in Casco Viejo
For a relatively small neighborhood, there’s a ton to see and do in Casco Viejo. Learn more about the Eighth Wonder of the World at the Interoceanic Canal Museum, get a sense for the local art scene in one of several galleries, sip a cocktail at a rooftop bar, or shop for handmade indigenous crafts.