With fewer than one million inhabitants, Panama City may seem like a rather tiny capital, yet its cultural diversity also makes it an incredibly vibrant one. From historic districts to the latest hotspots, here are the 10 coolest neighbourhoods in Panama City that showcase the different realities coexisting side by side.
Also known as Casco Antiguo or San Felipe, Casco Viejo is the historic district of Panama City and the most popular tourist destination in town. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the neighbourhood was first built following the destruction of Panama Viejo, the first city built in Panama under Spanish rule. Recently restored, the area is a beautiful example of colonial architecture embellished by vibrant street art, and hosts some of the best boutique hotels, local cafés, artisanal markets, art galleries and nightclubs in town. An absolute must-see.
Costa del Este
Costa del Este is a modern, upscale neighbourhood of Panama City. With an LA flair to it, it is made up of wide streets with palm trees, glass skyscrapers and exclusive restaurants. Quieter and more orderly than the rest of the city, it’s where the highest concentration of luxury cars can be found. As the home to some of the big corporations, Costa del Este is a favourite of expats and executives who live and send their schools in the area, creating a bubble that almost feels like a separate city.
Punta Pacifica is a very central neighbourhood of Panama City. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, it is home to some of the best residential buildings in town. Nearing the luxurious Multiplaza Mall and the private Punta Pacifica Hospital, it is a vibrant area where people both live and work and one of the most sought-after locations for real estate investment.
El Cangrejo is a central neighbourhood of Panama City, which has historically been a residential area for middle-class Panamanians. With fewer skyscrapers and more one- and two-storey houses, it is one of the few places where you can actually walk in Panama City. With cafés, offices, pharmacies, schools and childrens’ playgrounds, it has a character of its own. The central street of El Cangrejo is Via Argentina, and besides hosting some very popular restaurants like El Trapiche, it also displays a statue of Panama’s boxing idol Roberto Durán and a sculpture of Einstein’s head.
Amador is one of Panama’s more unusual neighbourhoods – made up of the Amador Causeway and of three spectacular islands, it is a getaway from the city, within the city. You will be amazed as you cross the causeway, a thin strip of land that cuts into the ocean offering spectacular views of both the city skyline and of the canal. Recently renovated, the causeway is the number one leisure destination in the city, but also a very exclusive residential location due to the very limited housing options.
A former US military base, Clayton looks more like a US suburb than the rest of Panama City. By far the greenest area of the capital, it is also home to some of the most exclusive villas and best private schools in town. A stone-throw’s away from the City of Knowledge, a campus and business center scattered around a park in ex-US military buildings, Clayton is mainly inhabited by expats and people who work for the tech companies and NGOs at the City of Knowledge. Clayton is the closest you can get to a jungle experience whilst living in Panama City.
Avenida Balboa is the oceanfront avenue that stretches along the Panama Bay. One of the most exclusive addresses in town, it is highly appreciated for the spectacular views that it offers as well as for its convenient location. Avenida Balboa is the street that connects the two ends of the city and presents a beautiful promenade that allows for an easy escape if you wish to walk all the way to Casco Viejo. It is also convenient for its proximity to the restaurant and clubbing area of Calle Uruguay and to the Multiplaza Mall.
Panama Pacifico is a green and family-friendly neighbourhood located on the other side of the Bridge of the Americas. Cut away from the rest of the city, it feels like a self-sustainable area with beautiful residential developments, international schools, banks, shops and the headquarters of some multinational companies. The Panama Pacifico International Airport is also conveniently located nearby, and operates flights to neighbouring Central and South American countries.
El Dorado is a very popular area with all sorts of amenities, including shopping malls, banks, offices, supermarkets and residential buildings. Close to some of the reverted areas, there is a dense Chinese community, lots of car workshops and small businesses bursting all over the place. El Dorado’s lively atmosphere is kept alive by the middle and working class.
Coco del Mar
Coco del Mar is a suburban and exclusive residential area located between Punta Pacifica and Costa del Este. Located close to Panama Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the historical landmarks of Panama City, it is only a few minutes away from downtown Panama and yet feels quieter, with a nice mixture of single home family properties and apartment buildings,