Places of Interest in Panama City

Find inspiration on things to do and places to visit in Panama whether you're looking for a day trip, weekend break, local excursion or annual vacation...

Highlights of Panama City include the historical sites of Casco Viejo, the 17th century colonial district, and Panama Viejo, the 16th century ruins of Panama City's first settlement.

Literally meaning "old helmet", Casco Viejo is a cove which became a residential settlement as it was slightly sheltered from privateers and pirates. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is frequently compared to Havana in Cuba and San Juan in Puerto Rico due to its colonial charm.

Casco Viejo is one of Panama City's key cultural centers. Its carefully restored plazas are thriving social hubs for locals and foreigners. The area features restaurants, shops, cultural statues, museums and monuments. Churches and historic ruins sit alongside restaurants, bars and arts venues.

Other landmarks include the fish market, the National Theater, where classical and modern plays are performed in a Neo-Baroque setting, and the Palacio de las Garzas, the official residence of the president of Panama. The palace owes its name to its resident African Herons who were given as a gift in 1922 upon completion of the building. These birds now roam the courtyard at will. The palace is not open to the public, but guards will often allow tourists to take pictures of the lobby.

The Esteban Huertas Promenade is located at the edge of the water in Casco Viejo and features a trellised walkway covered in bougainvilleas and other local plants and vines. The promenade is a popular place for locals to set up stalls selling their wares to tourists.

Located on a small peninsula, Casco Viejo boasts outstanding views of the Panama City skyline, Amador Causeway, and the Bridge of the Americas. Las Bovedas, the old dungeons of colonial Panama, are now home to a restaurant of the same name.

The National Institute of Culture (Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Panama - INAC), used to be an administrative government building. It is now home to a small theater, Anita Villalaz Theater, which hosts events throughout the year. The building was featured in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.

Panama Viejo features the ruins of Panama's first settlement that was sacked and burned in the 17th century. The remnants of homes, churches, plazas and bridges, as well as a visitor's center and museum, can be found on the Eastern side of the city.

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