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All reviews old city narrow streets every corner presidential palace restaurants and bars colonial architecture walk around street vendors under renovation walking tour beautiful area fish market lots of history panama canal gentrification police nightlife
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4,675 - 4,680 of 10,528 reviews
Reviewed May 2, 2011

We were only in Panama City for 3 days but visited the Old City 3 times. Really enjoyed wandering round. It's a good time to go now before they've completely restored all the buildings.

Date of experience: April 2011
Thank Steve R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 11, 2011

I heard nothing but great thing about this area of town. I was excited to see another cute colonial city. Last year I visited Antigua in Guatemala and was blow away. I was expecting the same on a smaller scale. I was a bit disappointed. The blocks were a mix of beautiful colonial buildings and dilapidated slums. We got to that area of town around 4 o'clock. I would suggest getting there around 6. Nothing starts going there until about 7 or 8, but from the very tip of the neighborhood, along the water is an amazing view of the city and a beautiful flowered tunnel to the look out point. Some of the ruined churches are lit very nicely at night.
Overall I had a nice time in the area once the night got going, at night the streets look nicer than during the day. And you can tell the city is working hard to reverse the neglect the area has received for years past.

Date of experience: April 2011
1  Thank khowrad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2011

We took a taxi to Casco Viejo and the first thing you notice is police presence and fairly deserted streets - a bit daunting at first but after a short while, you realize it is a very safe place to be. You can see what the old city used to be like but if you've ever been to Cartagena, which looks similar but fast forwarded 20 years as it is beautiful and full of character with all the renovations which is what Casco Viejo is striving to be I think. The cobblestone streets are charming and some of the buildings renovated so some will have gorgeous flowers, updated painting on the exterior and charming doors and windows. Then the next building - and building isnt the right word as each block is just a continuation of each other - could be completely run down, gutted or have a family living in it. We happened onto an amazing restuarant - an oasis in the middle of what they hope will be thriving one day - called La Forchetta - across from a square that I cannot recall - and was a highlight of our meals in Panama. The owner has brought his Italian roots and culinary expertise to this place! The shops you come across were filled with all sorts of touristy gifts - we bought a Toucan made from palm leaves weaved with many colors for our wall of masks. You can spend a couple of hours to a bit more if you choose to relax and enjoy a great lunch - definitely a must in Panama to visit.

Date of experience: January 2011
2  Thank Icedaddy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 3, 2011

After reading some guidebooks,searching the net,and getting some excellent advice on the tripadvisor forum,we decided to spend our first four nights in Panama in the old city.My wife and I don't speak any Spanish,but with a little luck and advanced planning,we had no big hassles,and completely enjoyed our stay.The first two nights,we stayed at Canal House bed & breakfast in the heart of the Casco,and the second two nights at the newly opened Las Clementinas,the sister hotel,just a few blocks up the hill.
We arrived late on a Sat. night ,and our driver dropped us off to the sound of Salsa music and dancing next door.Safe and sound in our comfortable accomodations,we awoke to the sight of a couple of vultures sunning themselves outside our window.We enjoyed our breakfast,then headed out for a walk.After purchasing the obligatory Panama Hat in a shop closeby,we encountered a Panama resident,who called himself "the walking taxi".He must have spotted us gringos from a mile away,spoke good English,and offered to give us a tour of the Casco,so off we went for a rather unique version of the sights,activities,history,and politics of the place.After a tasty raspado at Plaza de Francia,we wound our way up and out of Casco Viejo proper,into the adjacent busy streets to the fish market,where we enjoyed a lunch of some great cerviche,then back to our hotel and the end of a most entertaining morning,to say the least.That afternoon,we had made arrangements prior to arriving in Panama to meet up with an English-speaking resident of Casco Viejo,to show us around.Steve was an excellent guide,and gave us a whole other take on the area,compared to our morning walkabout.We really enjoyed touring the Canal Museum,and while the first two floors featured Spanish-only narratives,the top floor display was in Spanish and English.We stopped at Granclement for ice cream-not to be missed ! We then had an early dinner with our hosts at La Forchetta,one of many excellent restaurants in the area.The hext day,a tour of Gatun Lake was cancelled due to the rains,so we had our driver take us out to shop at the modern malls,then a trip to Miraflores locks for lunch before returning to the Casco,and checkin at Las Clementinas.This hotel is located across the street from the local police station,so that was interesting,but the best part of the hotel is the rooftop terrace,where you had a panoramic view of the city.The other gem offered,is the private walled garden,where we enjoyed some of the best panini sandwiches created by their chef-memorable!The rooms are like small apartments,and well-appointed-unfortunately,due to all the rains in the region,the hotel and the rest of Casco Viejo,were subject to a loss of water throughout most of our stay,so we didn't have a chance to use much of the facilities during our stay.
Here are a few tips that may be useful,especially if your Spanish is limited:
If you arrive on the weekend,be aware that the hotel housekeeper or desk person may not speak any English.They have a laptop close at hand so use the google translator if you are really stuck.Actually,we had a lot of laughs about this,and eventually got everything squared away.Everybody here is really friendly,and will go out ot their way to help.Also,many restaurants and some attractions may be closed on either Sundays or Mondays,so you may need to change your plans as you go,but there is always a restaurant open to explore just around the next corner.If you are early eaters like us,there is no need for a reservation,unless you dine after 8PM.
Be aware that the hotels here do not have elevators,so you need to be able to negotiate several flights of stairs to get to you room.Staff are glad to help with bags,but we always travel light ,so are able to carry on our own.
As for safety issues that many worry about-we never felt in danger at any time during our stay,and yes we walked to and from our restaurants in the early evening darkness alone.There are tourist police at almost every corner.We were never hassled,and we never saw any panhandlers at any time.Be aware that vehicles in the Casco have and do excercise the right-of-way,so take great care when walking and crossing the narrow streets.
For reliable local taxis-have your hotel desk call one for you to prearrange the destination ,price and return pickup with a reliable driver they are familiar with.
In summary-despite our lack of Spanish,we just loved staying in Casco Viejo.This is a wonderfully eclectic place of contrasts steeped in history and intrigue-from the squattors to the presidential palace,the ornate churches to the oceanside dungeons of centuries gone by,the museums and great restaurants,Casco Viejo is the place to experience life in Panama City!

21  Thank toontowndoc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 18, 2010

Architecturally beautiful buildings mixed with a rundown but recovering feel, great views of the city and ships entering the canal await the visitor by day. At night, great restaurants and local bars make for an exciting night out.

Thank tdm1841
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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