Panama City’s hip historic quarter - Casco Viejo

Not so long ago, Panama City’s gang controlled old town was a no go zone for visitors. However, it has since transformed into a stylish Unesco protected cultural hub.  Take a stroll through narrow  streets lined with restored colonial buildings, try the famous brew at one of the small hip cafes and gaze at the ships from the waterfront promenade. Also, don’t forget to pick up molas – a colorful textile that is part of the traditional costume of Kuna – indigenous people of Panama.

Traditional Kuna Clothing
Kuna people in Panama City wearing traditional costumes.

How to get from the airport to Casco Viejo in Panama City

There are several options to get to Panama City if you arrive to the main Tocumen International Airport. 

If you have data connection on your phone in Panama, then the best way is to get an Uber. The option of entering your hotel address also comes in handy if your Spanish skills are not that great. The ride should cost about $12, but make sure the driver ends the trip before you get off, because sometimes they “forget” to do it and run up your fare after you leave. Uber is usually good at fixing those issues, but it’s easier to just avoid them in the first place.

If Uber is not an option for you then you can always take a taxi. After you exit the main building, head to the official taxi stand where you can pick up a cab to Panama City. The ride costs $30 to Casco Viejo and takes about half an hour with minimal traffic.

The cheapest way to go to Panama City from the airport is by public bus. They are super cheap ($0.25 for a regular bus, $1.25 for express one), however buses are not very convenient to travel with your luggage and it can get very crowded during busy times.

Best area to stay in Panama City, Panama

The best area to stay in Panama City is Casco Viejo, but don’t confuse it with Panama Viejo which is a totally different area. The Panama City’s Old town, Casco Viejo, is home to UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers the most convenient way to explore local culture and history if you are visiting the city for a few days. And while it used to be a sketchy area a few decades ago, it has transformed into an exciting neighbourhood with bohemian galleries, hip bars and trendy restaurants. Accomodation options range from cheap backpacker hostels to fancy boutique hotels and offer something for everyone’s taste and pocket.

Panama Skyscrapers
Panama Skyscrapers fill the skyline
Casco Viejo locals
Casco Viejo locals
Panama Hat seller
Pick up a traditional Panama hat on the promenade
Casco Viejo in Panama City
A view from above - Casco Viejo in Panama City
Cosy Restaurant in Casco Viejo
Cosy restaurant in Casco Viejo
Colonial buildings in Panama City
Some of the colonial buildings in Panama City were still waiting for their turn to be restored
Kuna woman sells traditional molas
Kuna woman sells traditional molas
Panama City's Casco Viejo at night
Panama City's Casco Viejo at night