A couple weeks ago, I was able to spend nearly a week in Panama, my home country! After a wedding and some time with family, my close friend Jess flew in and we spent a few days in Casco Viejo. Casco Viejo is a neighborhood in Panama City and one of my favorite places in the world.
Not only does it feel like home, but the food, the architecture (sooo pretty), the people – everything about the area is beautiful and welcoming. Even walking around the streets is a good time and happy vibes are everywhere. It’s safe, friendly, and it gets lively at night, so there’s a little bit for everyone.
Since we had such a fun few days there, I wanted to put together a little Casco Viejo travel guide. If you find yourself in Panama soon, I definitely suggest visiting Casco Viejo! P.S. Don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to shoot all over town like we did.
Where to Stay
Personally, my choice of hotels in the area is The American Trade Hotel. It’s right in the heart of the neighborhood, so it makes everything easy. You can walk out the doors and be at a bar, restaurant, or shops very quickly.
One of the unique parts of the hotel is that it feels like a mix of old and new – old Panamanian culture but also updated to mimic the newer Panama City energy. The design of every single room is Instagram-worthy and I always find myself in awe of the place.
Plus, it’s a boutique hotel so it’s not too big – which makes the experience of staying there feel even more connected to the culture. The coast is only a couple blocks away and they have a beautiful pool, too!
Where to Eat
There are endless places to each in a small proximity here, which is great. We ate pretty much everywhere when there and I think Casco Viejo offers some of the best food in the world – and I’m not just saying that because Panama is home. So many delicious spots:
- The restaurant at The American Trade Hotel: Amazing for lunch!
- Tacos la Neta: Really, authentic-tasting Mexican food.
- Casa Casco: There are beautiful views here, so it’s ideal for drinks during sunset time and small bites. A perfect happy hour spot!
- Tio Navaja: Yummy brunch and lunch.
- Mula: (above Tio Navaja): A lovely spot for dinner and they have amazing drinks.
- Cafe Unido: (located at the American Trade Hotel): Best coffee shop in the area, so if you’re staying at the hotel or not, it’s worth popping in for.
- Nacion Sushi: Some of the freshest sushi I’ve ever had. If you like sushi, this place cannot be skipped.
- Tantalo: Another wonderful rooftop bar for drinks and Instagrams.
What to Wear
Panama can get hot and very humid, so it’s necessary to pack with this in mind! It basically feels like it’s 100 degrees, at least this time of year – and much of the year. In general, light clothes, thin materials, and pieces that breath, do best. Some of the essentials I always pack are:
- Sandals: Some of the streets are cobblestone or uneven, plus the whole area is somewhat casual, so sandals are a must.
- Hats: To block the sun, for the pool, and to hide sweaty hair.
- Sunscreen: Lots of it!
- Salt spray: Give in to the humidity and let your hair do its thing with salt spray.
- Denim shorts: Again, pretty casual, so I always pack a few different denim shorts to walk around and explore in.
- Bathing suit cover-ups + swimsuits: Light pieces to wear over your suit when at the pool.
- Dresses: I personally love wearing dresses for any dinners out – they just feel the most cool.
- Denim jacket: You won’t need this outside, but might for AC restaurants at night.
Obviously! There aren’t a ton of huge spots around town, but that’s the fun part about Casco Viejo. There are lots of smaller shops and boutiques around the area, where you can find molas, Panama hats, or gifts for friends/family at home. Just walk around the neighborhood and you’ll find hidden gems.
SHOP MY LOOKS
Hope you enjoyed my Casco Viejo travel guide!