Often I hear that people have either stayed in Panama City and not made it out to see the beaches (shocking I know), or the exact opposite – people come to enjoy the Pacific beach life in Panama for a couple of weeks and don’t make it into the city.
Beautiful Casco Antigua
This week I was asked to spend a day in the city with some clients, who as often happens, have become friends. Typically, whenever I go to the city, it always seems to be a big rush to get one or two things done before hustling back out prior to the end-of-day traffic, which usually starts around 3:30pm. Thus, I decided to say yes to spending the day as a ‘tourist’ and vowed to take lots of photos so that I could share our experience of what can be done in a day in Panama City, Panama.
Our first stop was Casco Antigua – recently renamed from the former ‘Casco Viejo’. We wandered the cobble-stone streets, enjoying the thriving character that this old section of Panama City possesses. There is a great deal of work going on there currently, as they are giving the old city section a makeover. Real estate prices are starting to climb as investors beginning to realize what an uncovered gem this section truly is. Although some of the poorest areas of Panama City surround Casco Antigua, it is truly emerging as a coveted piece of history.
I took them to my favourite little shop that sells great Panamanian coffee as well as the best chocolate bars ever! They are made by the Caribbean Chocolate Company and are handmade using hand picked, roasted and peeled cacao, cane sugar and a splash of milk – no additives nor preservatives! We also went to my favourite section of Casco Antigua where the vendors are lined up underneath an arbour, the view of the city-line is stunning, and you can buy jewellery (especially pearls) and beautifully handcrafted bags.
View of Panama City from a Casco Antigua window.
View of the city from the Amador Causeway.
When we had walked almost every street of this fascinating step back in time, we drove to the Amador Causeway and sat on an outdoor patio for some yummy mediterranean cuisine at one of my favourite restaurants in Panama, Beirut,. The view from our table was awesome, as was the view all along the entire Amador. I must return here one day when I have no agenda, rent a bicycle and explore this area via bicycle!
Next we drove along the edge of the canal (and well, yes, through a little traffic) to the Miraflores Locks. Although I had driven past these locks many times, and over both the Centennario and Bridge of Americas, this was actually
my first time to watch a big ship pass through these giant locks. Admittance for adults to the Visitors Centre costs US$5 (observation terrace) or $8 (including supporting exhibits and video show). Panamanian residents are admitted free of charge. It is truly a spectacular sight to see these gigantic ships being pulled through the locks. The people on board appear so miniature, putting the size and scope completely back into perspective for me.
All were happy with our day, and especially happy that I could then share it with others who are hoping to plan some sight-seeing in and around Panama City while they are here. Please feel free to contact me if you want further information on how to find any of these sights! denise(at)trypanama.com.