The Best Areas to Stay in Panama City
The Best Areas to Stay in Panama City

Best Areas to Stay in Panama City

Where to stay in Panama City – a guide to the Central American metropolis

Without a doubt, Panama City is the most cosmopolitan capital in Central America.

Panama City is a vibrant metropolis, definitely urban, with a skyline that few cities in these latitudes can boast of.

With a towering financial district full of bright skyscrapers and a peaceful colonial atmosphere in Casco Viejo, Panama is a city of contrasts.

Being such a small country, the good news is that escaping the bustle and urban chaos is never far away in Panama. A few kilometers from the capital you can admire the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal or venture into the country to discover paradise beaches and lush tropical forests teeming with howler monkeys.

Getting around Panama City is relatively easy using the metro system. Although this means of transport does not cover the entire city (it only has 1 line), it is one of the most efficient ways to get around in a city plagued by traffic. For areas where the metro does not reach, it is best to use a taxi or go by bus.

Choosing where to stay in Panama City will depend on your particular taste. The quiet Historic Center of the city presents the most colonial side of Panama, while the Bella Vista area is a more modern district. See accommodation in Panama City Old Town | See accommodation in Bella Vista.

This is a guide with the best areas to stay in Panama City.

The best areas to stay in Panama City, Panama

1. Our recommended area: Casco Viejo (Old Town)

Panama City’s Casco Viejo (Historical Quarter or Old Town) is located on a small peninsula in the southwestern corner of Panama Bay.

The Old Town, also known as San Felipe, is the most picturesque and historically interesting area in Panama City and is home to many of its most important sights.

Its colorful colonial buildings and several museums make this small neighborhood the best area to stay in Panama City.

In addition, Casco Viejo has an important leisure and restaurant area, with bars and restaurants of different types.

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, little by little Casco Viejo is recovering to its former glory after decades of neglect.

The metro line does not reach the Historical Center, so transport to and from other areas of the city must be done by taxis or urban buses.

A handful of boutique-style hotels have sprung up in this area in recent years.

Where to stay in Panama - Centro Histórico
Where to stay in Panama – Old Town
Accommodation in Panama City's Old Town - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Panama City’s Old Town – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Why we love this area:

  • Panama City’s colonial district
  • Boutique hotels
  • Nightlife and gastronomy

2. Bella Vista

Bella Vista, located a few miles north of Casco Viejo, is one of the most affluent districts in Panama City. It includes the popular areas of Marbella, Obarrio, El Carmen and El Cangrejo, among others.

This area of the Panamanian capital houses Avenida Balboa, known as the “Copacabana of Central America“. This artery borders the Bay of Panama and the Cinta Costera and extends from the elegant neighborhood of Punta Paitilla to Casco Viejo.

This avenue is bordered by a succession of impressive skyscrapers.

Bella Vista is has multiple Metro stations (Santo Tomás, Iglesia del Carmen, Vía Argentina and Fernández de Córdoba), so traveling around the city is simple.

Panama Banking Center is located in Bella Vista, as well as the largest number of hotels.

This is definitely a central area to stay in Panama City.

Thanks to its good connections, its developed urbanism and the presence of important banking centers and residential and office skyscrapers, Bella Vista is a high-end (and high-cost) district to stay. Accommodation prices here are usually higher than in the rest of the city.

Where to stay in Panama City - Bella Vista
Where to stay in Panama City – Bella Vista
Accommodation in Bella Vista - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Bella Vista – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Why we love this area:

  • Modern area
  • Very central
  • Best area for business travelers
  • Metro stations
  • Restaurants and nightlife
  • Great views


3. Calidonia

Calidonia stretches along the coast between the Historic Center (to the south) and the elegant district of Bella Vista (to the northeast).

Calidonia owes its name to the one that the Romans gave to Scotland (Caledonia). It is the only remain of that country’s efforts to colonize the isthmus at the end of the 18th century.

Calidonia is a district of contrasts. On the one hand, it has Avenida Central, a busy commercial avenue, and on the other, its southern limit offers a large concentration of sophisticated skyscrapers facing the Bay and the Coastal Belt.

Only five streets separate the working-class north from the chic south.

Central Avenue is now a pedestrian street with Latin American street market flair. In contrast, Balboa Avenue offers unparalleled views of the sea.

Some of the attractions in this central area include Belisario Porras Park, the Afro-Antillean Museum and the Anthropological Museum.

This neighborhood is connected by the metro (5 de Mayo, Lotería and Santo Tomás stations).

Mejores zonas donde hospedarse en Panama City - Calidonia
Best districts to stay in Panama City – Calidonia
Accommodation in Calidonia - Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area
Accommodation in Calidonia – Click on the map to see all available accommodation in this area

Why we love this area:

  • Commercial heart of the city
  • Cheap accommodation
  • Avenida Central

4. Around the airport

Tocumen International Airport is located 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Panama City.

Tocumén is the base and main hub of the Panamanian airline Copa Airlines. Copa connects Panama City with the main cities of Central America, South America, the Caribbean and the United States.

Named the “hub of the Americas“, Tocumén is one of the most important airports in the region.

In addition to inter-American flights, Tocumen also has connections to Europe and Asia.

Staying near the airport is a good option for international travelers who have a connection in Panama City.

Tocumén and Panama City proper are connected by buses and taxis.

Where to stay around Panama City Airport
Where to stay around Panama City Airport

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|ES| Dónde alojarse en Ciudad de Panamá