Photo Guide to Casco Viejo in Panama
I just returned from a 10-day trip to Panama, where the bulk of our time was spent in the luscious islands of Bocas del Toro (more on them in future). Only on my last night did I finally make it to Panama City’s renowned Casco Viejo neighborhood, & in the words of Julia Roberts: BIG MISTAKE. HUGE!! My first two nights were spent at the Hotel RIU Panama City, which is a fine hotel….but frankly, it has nothing on the character & charm you’ll find in Casco Viejo. In future, I would ONLY stay there. To help prove my point, here’s a “Photo Guide to Casco Viejo in Panama.“
Map of Panama City
How far is Casco Viejo from Tocumen International Airport? My taxi picked me up at 5AM on the dot in Casco Viejo, & I was at the airport by 5:26AM. With more traffic, you may expect a 30-35 minute ride. Because downtown Panama City is so close to Casco Viejo, the drive time to the airport is virtually the same.
PTY (International Airport)
Take a Walking Tour of Casco Viejo….
All shots below were taken on a two-hour stroll right around my hotel: the gorgeous Central Hotel Panama. If you’re traveling to Panama City, I highly recommend staying in the Casco Viejo neighborhood ~ as hotels like the W & Waldorf Astoria are located in a part of town with heavy traffic that is not ideally suited for walking.
Notice how the street above is barred to traffic: one of the things that makes Casco Viejo SO great for walkers is that cars here can only use certain streets. This leaves the majority of streets free from traffic, creating an ideal environment for pedestrians & camera-happy tourists!
Nightlife & Where to Stay in Casco Viejo
The nightlife in Casco Viejo far exceeds the nightlife downtown, & the whole area feels much safer & busier, bustling with people at all hours of the day. I’m obviously partial to the hotel where I stayed, Central Hotel Panama (gorgeous rooftop pool, quiet & elegant rooms…with robes, the best AC I found anywhere in Panama, chic lobby bar, & a perfect central location in Casco Viejo) ~ but younger travelers may want to check out Tantalo Hotel or La Concordia Boutique Hotel, both of which offer very hip rooftop bars, close to all the action.
Great Hotel for Nightlife in Panama City: The hip Tantalo Hotel has vibrant, colorful rooms ~ & it’s also one of Casco Viejo’s liveliest & most beautiful rooftop bars, offering great food as well.
Photo Guide to Casco Viejo in Panama!
I’ll be writing more about Panama soon ~ including an FAQ for travel to the lush & tropical islands of Bocas del Toro. I had a lot of questions about travel there prior to our trip (where to stay, what to pack, etc.), & now that I’ve been, I can help answer the most common questions about this gorgeous part of Panama!
Read Next: Travel Planning Guide for Panama