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The buzz around Panama City’s historic district of Casco Viejo has only just begun. Having recently undergone a surge of renovation, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a colourful and lively little pocket within Panama City, bursting with boutique hotels, art galleries and a smashing nightlife. Here is why Casco Viejo is Panama City’s hottest district.
Casco Viejo’s narrow cobblestone streets, colourful mansions and historical landmarks reawaken visions of Panama’s historic greatness. A walk in the neighbourhood will reveal a beautiful architectural landscape that brings together Spanish colonial, neoclassical and modern design, alongside ancient cathedrals and churches.
While the rest of Panama City is congested with cars and has almost non-existent sidewalks, Casco Viejo is the only neighbourhood that remains quiet and peaceful during the day. This allows for plenty of time and space to discover the little gems that are hidden in the most coveted area of the tropical capital.
Casco Viejo is home to some of the best boutique hotels, restaurants and bars in town. Whether you are looking for an underground rock venue, a salsa bar, a classy rooftop lounge, or for a fine dining experience, Panama City’s historic district has got it all.
Design and beauty are at the core of Casco Viejo. Home to designer hotels and high-end restaurants, Casco Viejo has an artsy feel to it that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Visit art galleries such as Diablo Rosso if you want to discover the best of Panama’s creative talent.
Casco Viejo used to be a popular working-class barrio (neighbourhood) of Panama City. While most of it has been renovated, some of the original buildings and residents can still be spotted towards the outskirts of the area, chatting to their neighbours in front of rundown homes or playing football in the street. To discover the authentic soul of Casco Viejo, join a tour with Fortaleza and let ex-gang members show you around what used to be areas of conflict.
Though the historic district of Panama City is rather small, you can literally get lost in its tiny streets, hopping from one souvenir shop to the other, tasting some of the world’s best coffee, having a delicious brunch or discovering local talent at some of the city’s best art galleries. One unique way of getting to know the neighbourhood is to download the app LiveWalkPTY, an audio guide that allows you to discover Panama City at your own pace while listening to local storytellers.
As the creative hub of the city, Casco Viejo is also the place to go if you are looking for an alternative shopping experience. Forget about household brands and lose yourself in small concept stores such as Viviendo or Franklin Panama, that aim at commercialising handmade and sustainable accessories and fashion items inspired by traditional crafts that will make great souvenirs.