Panama City Casco Viejo Walking Tour

Want to get to know Casco Viejo on foot? From Magnolia Inn, visitors are footsteps away from over 30 points of interest, where some date back to the 17th century. Check out the following Casco Viejo Walking Tour, where the Panama Tourism Authority has conveniently placed bilingual explanations (in Spanish and English) at every stop.

Casco Viejo Walking Tour

  1. National Theatre (Teatro Nacional)
  2. Saint Francis of Assisi Church (Iglesia San Francisco de Asis)
  3. Bolivar Palace (Palacio Bolivar)
  4. Bolivar Plaza (Plaza Bolivar)
  5. Saint Philip Neri Oratory (Oratorio San Felipe Neri)
  6. Palace of the Herons (Palacio de las Garzas)
  7. Former Saint John of God Complex (Antiguo Conjunto de San Juan de Dios)
  8. Saint Anne Plaza (Plaza Santa Ana)
  9. Saint Anne Church (Iglesia de Santa Ana)
  10. Municipality House (Casa de la Municipalidad)
  11. Our Lady of Mercy Church (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de La Merced)
  12. Tiger’s Hand Bulwark (Baluarte Mano de Tigre)
  13. Boyaca House (La Boyacá)
  14. Herrera Plaza (Plaza Herrera)
  15. Saint Joseph Church (Iglesia San José)
  16. Society of Jesus (Compañía de Jesús)
  17. Municipal Palace (Palacio Municipal)
  18. Santa Maria La Antigua Basilic Cathedral (Catedral Basílica Santa María La Antigua)
  19. Main or Independence Plaza (Plaza Mayor o de la Independencia)
  20. Interoceanic Canal Museum (Museo del Canal Interoceánico)
  21. Gongora House (Casa Góngora)
  22. Flat Arch (Arco Chato)
  23. Saint Dominic Complex (Conjunto de Santo Domingo)
  24. Colonial Religious Art Museum (Museo de Arte Religioso Colonial)
  25. Charles V Plaza (Plazoleta Carlos V)
  26. National Institute of Culture (Instituto Nacional de Cultura)
  27. The Vaults (Las Bóvedas)
  28. France Plaza (Plaza de Francia)
  29. Panama Canal Memorial (Monumento al Canal de Panamá)
  30. Esteban Huertas Promenade (Paseo Esteban Huertas)
  31. Soldier’s House (Casa del Soldado)
  32. Ministry of Government (Ministerio de Gobierno)

Casco Viejo, Panama City’s Old Quarter

Panama was founded on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in 1519, and was the first Spanish city on the America’s Pacific coast, as well as the oldest capital established on mainland. After an attack in 1671 by the infamous English pirate Henry Morgan, Panama’s capital city was moved 8 kilometers away to what is now known as Panama La Vieja. The main buildings were constructed within a protective wall, which was mostly demolished in the 19th century.

After Panama’s separation from Colombia in 1903, the city’s streets were paved, water and sewer systems were implemented and new buildings were built. Following the creation of new suburbs, like Chorrera and Arraijan, many inhabitants left the city. By 1950, Casco Viejo’s deterioration and abandonment were obvious. However, by the end of the 20th century, the area had turned back in to the city’s historic center.

#1 – National Theatre (Teatro Nacional)

The National Theater, located in the heart of Casco Viejo next to the Church of San Francisco and the Plaza Bolivar, is a representative work of Panama’s neoclassical architecture. Prior to the theater’s construction, the site was occupied by the former convent of the Cloistered Nuns of the Embodiment until 1862, when the government of General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera made it a military barracks.

The theater was designed by Italian architect Genaro Ruggieri, with a style of Italian operetta theater. Its construction was ordered by Act 52 of 1904. It opened on October 1, 1908. The theatre can accommodate 853 people.

National Theatre Casco Viejo Panama

*image credit

#2 and #3 – Saint Francis Complex

#2 – Saint Francis of Assisi Church (Iglesia San Francisco de Asis)

The temple and convent of Saint Francis of Assisi caught fire in 1737 and 1756. Though the structures were rebuilt, they were abandoned in the 19th century. The temple was remodeled in 1918, which altered the facade and interior, as well as greatly increasing the height of the bell tower. Becoming deteriorated, the temple was restored, and consecrated in 2016.

Iglesia San Francisco de Asis Casco Viejo Panama

*image credit Soy del Casco

#3 – Bolivar Palace (Palacio Bolivar)

The former area of the convent is now occupied by the Bolivar Palace, which is home to Panama’s Ministry of Foreign Relations. Delegates met at this site in the 19th century to negotiate the union of the Americas, which was unsuccessful. Panama’s first constitution was also approved here.

Palacio Bolivar Casco Viejo Panama City Panama

#4 – Bolivar Plaza (Plaza Bolivar)

Built in 1756 following a devastating fire in that left the block devoid of building, Bolivar Plaza was originally called Saint Francis Plaza, named after the church located in front of it. The current ensemble was inaugurated in 1926 in honor of Simon Bolivar, and includes the sculptures “The Architect of Nations” and “Father of American Freedom”, created by Mariano Benlliure. The monument to Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, located on Panama City’s Cinta Costera, was also sculpted by Benlliure. Balboa is credited as the first European that saw the Pacific Ocean (or South Sea) from the Panamanian Isthmus.

Plaza Bolivar Casco Viejo Panama City Panama

*image credit Trip Advisor

#5 – Saint Philip Neri Oratory (Oratorio San Felipe Neri)

Affected by the fires of the 18th century, the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri was handed over to the Saint Vincent of Paul Charity in 1875, who built the building that now hides its facade.

The temple was renovated in 1913, during which the original walls from 1688 were conserved. The Oratory’s prized possessions are its colonial pulpit, its 2-level wood choir and its 14 Stations of Cross, made from enameled glass. The nave’s moving tombstones date back to the 19th century. Its large Nativity scene is on permanent exhibit.

Oratorio San Felipe Neri Casco Viejo Panama

San Felipe Neri in 1875. Photo by Eadweard Muybridge. Part of Vicente Pascual’s collection.

#6 – Palace of the Herons (Palacio de las Garzas)

The Palacio De Las Garzas (Palace of the Herons), or Presidential Palace of Panama, is the official residence of the President and a governmental office. Built in 1673, the palace is home to large African herons, who were gifted to the palace in 1922 during the presidency of President Belisario Porras.

Serving as the home for the Spanish governor during the 17th century, the home has been remodeled a few different times over the course of its history. In 1922, the largest renovations were completed under the management of architect Leonard Villanueva-Meyer. A courtyard, a ‘Moorish’ room, and two new towers were added. It is fun to note that in 1934 an elevator was added for a visit from United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt so that he could get to his bed chambers during his stay. The Salon Amarillo (Yellow Room) is the room where most of the formal events are held. It is widely considered to be one of the most important rooms at the Presidential Palace of Panama. The Salon de los Tamarindos (Tamarind’s Room) is the dining room of the President and it is named for its beautiful murals which were completed by Panamanian painter, Roberto Lewis. Lewis was inspired by his visit to Taboga Island and loved the tamarind trees he saw there.

Panama’s current president, does not live at the palace residence, but several of the Presidents of Panama have lived here.

Palacio de las Garzas Casco Viejo Panama

*image credit

#7 – Former Saint John of God Complex (Antiguo Conjunto de San Juan de Dios)

The order of Saint John of God occupied an entire Panama City block, which included a convent, a church, a courtyard, a cemetery and an infirmary that attended male patients. In 1862, the area was sold at auction and divided into small private estates. Today, the complex site is home to a school and private residence.

#8 – Saint Anne Plaza (Plaza Santa Ana)

Saint Anne Plaza, located in the heart of the Santa Ana neighborhood, is located on Casco Viejo’s highest point. Decades ago, when Santa Ana was the city center, the plaza was the scene of political rallies, riots and popular fairs.

Originally, the plaza was an empty space, but was was transformed into a closed park with paths, benches and trees in 1892. A gazebo was built in the middle between 1920 and 1922. Santa Ana’s heyday took place during the first 30 years of the 20th century, when hotels, cinemas, shops and cafeterias appeared around the plaza. The Grand Hotel was located there, as well as the famous Cafe Coca Cola.

The neighborhood went into decline over the years, but is now it is experiencing a renaissance and has become the anteroom of the Historical Monumental Complex of Casco Antiguo.

plaza santa ana casco viejo

*image credit La Prensa

#9 – Saint Anne Church (Iglesia de Santa Ana)

The Saint Anne Church was built to honor Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary’s mother. It was consecrated in 1764, and, following a fire, was rebuilt in 1854. Further renovations were made during the 20th century, which gives the church its current appearance.

The Saint Anne Church was declared a national historic monument in 1980.

iglesia santa ana casco viejo panama

*image credit La Prensa

#10 – Municipality House (Casa de la Municipalidad)

The Arias Feraud mansion stands opposite the Our Lady of Mercy Church, known today as the Municipality House. This building was one of the first to be constructed in Casco Viejo, and was originally intended to be a residence, though the bottom floors were commonly uses as shops. The mansion stands atop the site of the original city gate to the walled city. The gate, which closed daily at nine o’clock, was accessible by a wooden drawbridge, which was later replaced with stone.

Considering the city’s rapid growth, the wall was almost entirely demolished in 1856.

Mansion Arias Feraud (1881), Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama

*image credit Flickr sminor

#11 – Our Lady of Mercy Church (Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de La Merced)

The Our Lady of Mercy Church is Casco Viejo’s only church that maintains its original wooden roof and columns, dating back to the Spanish colonization. The impressive baroque facade was transported stone by stone from its original site, which was abandoned after an attack in 1671 by the infamous English pirate Henry Morgan. The temple’s four bells, located within the right tower, can turn 360 degrees, allowing for great sonority and beauty in its range of tones.

Our Lady of Mercy Church is home to a pipe organ possessing 1,032 tubes, all housed within an antique 18th century armoire. The Our Lady of Mercy museum features valuable objects of worship, a large nativity scene on permanent display and the city’s oldest parish archive.

Iglesia de la Merced Casco Viejo Panama

#12 – Tiger’s Hand Bulwark (Baluarte Mano de Tigre)

The Tiger’s Hand bulwark, or “Baluarte Mano de Tigre” in Spanish, was part of Panama City’s land-based defensive wall, which was demolished in 1856. Following the wall’s demolition, the Tiger’s Hand bulwark was sold “up to and including the outer wall of the dry moat”. Later, several wooden houses were erected in the area, including the Boyacá in 1890.

baluarte mano de tigre casco viejo panama

*image credit

#13 – Boyaca House (La Boyacá)

The Boyaca House is a triangular-shaped wooden house located next to the Tiger’s Hand bulwark ruins. The house is named Boyacá after a Colombian gunboat. One of its walls belongs to a section of the colonial city’s second protective wall.

Casa Boyacá Casco Viejo Panamá

#14 – Herrera Plaza (Plaza Herrera)

Originally, Herrera Plaza was a residential block, but was abandoned after a fire in 1781. After the fire, the area was used for celebrations and bullfights until 1928, the year in which bullfighting was prohibited. Following the prohibition of bullfighting, the plaza became what it is today.

  • In the center of Herrera Plaza, 0ne can find an equestrian sculpture of General Tomás Herrera (1808 – 1854), a noteworthy Panamanian from the 19th century.
  • On Calle 10a. Oeste, one can find the former headquarters of the National City Bank (circa 1930), which participated in the financing of the Panama Canal’s construction. The interior has been restored as a banquet hall, featuring floors made from the wood of trees that would have been submerged by the Panama Canal.
  • On Call José de Obaldía, one can find “La Reformada” (1917 – 1921), Panama’s first “skyscraper”. The original building included elevators, a novelty at that time. “La Reformada” was restored in 2013.

Plaza Herrera Casco Viejo Panama

#15 – Saint Joseph Church (Iglesia San José)

This rectangular-shaped Augustinian temple was one of the first to be built in Casco Viejo. Church San Jose was rebuilt after a major fire in 1737 left it in ruins.

Following the passage of a law in 1832 that abolished all convents, the Augustinians left Panama. The church was used as a school chapel until the religious order returned in the late 19th century.

The Golden Altar is the main altarpiece of this temple. The altar was covered with gold leaf in the early 20th century.

More information here.

Iglesia San Jose Casco Viejo Panama

#16 – Society of Jesus (Compañía de Jesús)

The Society of Jesus features the ruins of the Jesuit temple and convent. In 1741, a school was built on its grounds, which became Panama’s first university 8 years later. The university functioned until 1767, when the Jesuits were expelled from all Spanish lands. The church was built after 1749, and was most likely never completed. The building fell victim to a fire in 1781, and then an earthquake in 1882, resulting in even more deterioration.

Society of Jesus Casco Viejo Panama

#17 – Municipal Palace (Palacio Municipal)

The City Hall’s original building stood firm until a large portion collapsed after an earthquake in 1882, after which it was rebuilt. In 1903, Panama’s separation from Colombia was proclaimed here. In 1910, a new building was finished by the new Republic. Two structural groups stand out. To the left is Wisdom (standing) and Commerce (seated). The second set includes Work (standing) and Agriculture (seated).

Palacio Municipal Casco Viejo Panama

#18 – Santa Maria La Antigua Basilica Cathedral (Catedral Basílica Santa María La Antigua)

Originally constructed from wood, the Santa Maria La Antigua Basilica Cathedral initiated services in 1674. In 1688, following a devastating fire, the Cathedral’s masonry foundation was laid, though it was not consecrated until more than a hundred years later in 1796. Its two towers, decorated with mother-of-pearl, were the city’s highest for many years. The Cathedral’s interior has 36 large cross-shaped columns and a simple, elegant wooden altarpiece, which dates to 1791.

Santa María La Antigua was Panama’s first Marian advocation. She was officially proclaimed Patron of Panama in 2000.

Catedral Basílica Santa María La Antigua Casco Viejo Panama

#19 – Main or Independence Plaza (Plaza Mayor o de la Independencia)

The Main Plaza, also known as Cathedral or Independence Plaza, was intended to be the city’s only plaza. It was originally square, but changed to a rectangular shape after fire destroyed two city blocks. The plaza was a wide, open space for many years, used for bullfights, horse races and other events.

The plaza is surrounded by busts of Panamanians who participated in Panama’s separation from Colombia in 1903. A figure of Manuel Amador Guerrero, Panama’s first president, is featured in the center.

Plaza Mayor Casco Viejo Panama

*image credit

#20 – Interoceanic Canal Museum (Museo del Canal Interoceánico)

Built in 1874, the Interoceanic Canal Museum building was originally the Grand Hotel, which was very modern for its time, including gas lights, bathrooms and indoor plumbing. Later, it housed the main offices for the French and American canal construction efforts. Beginning in 1910, it became the headquarters of several public offices. Then, in 1997, it was refurbished and reopened as a museum.

Museo del Canal Interoceánico Casco Viejo Panama

#21 – Gongora House (Casa Góngora)

Gongora House is the best preserved colonial house in Casco Viejo. Though the exact year it was built is unknown, it has appeared on maps since 1779. The house is named after Pablo Góngora, a pearl merchant that called it home. The house was restored in 1999, and retains its original design of thick walls, large plank doors and a wooden balcony.

Casa Góngora Casco Viejo Panama

#22 – Flat Arch (Arco Chato)

The Convent of Santo Domingo, built in 1678, was one of the first to be founded in Panama. It was ravaged by two fires in the 18th century, which toppled the tower and the interiors. Nevertheless, the walls and arches were maintained, especially the flat arch built to support the wooden choir of the church.

The complex became relevant during the twentieth century because of the construction of the canal since the flat arch served as an example of the seismic stability enjoyed by the isthmus.

Arco Chat or Flat Arch in Casco Viejo Panama

#23 – Saint Dominic Complex (Conjunto de Santo Domingo)

The Santo Domingo church and convent were amongst the first buildings to be built in Casco Viejo. They were damaged by two fires that took place in the 18th century. However, the walls and low arch that supported the wooden choir remained standing. This arch, commonly referred to as “arco chato”, was commonly cited as proof of Panama’s seismic stability during canal negotiations.

Conjunto de Santo Domingo Casco Viejo Panama

Saint Dominic Complex in 1876

#24 – Colonial Religious Art Museum (Museo de Arte Religioso Colonial)

The current location of the Colonial Religious Art Museum used to be a chapel that was constructed after a fire that destroyed the original temple and convent.

Colonial Religious Art Museum Casco Viejo Panama

#25 – Charles V Plaza (Plazoleta Carlos V)

Charles V was Europe’s most powerful monarch during the 16th century. His empire encompassed a total area of approximately 4 million square kilometers (or 1.54 million square miles). It was known as “the empire where the sun never sets”.

In 1534 Charles V requested that the unification of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans via the Panamanian Isthmus be evaluated, a feat that would be undertaken four centuries later with the construction of the Panama Canal.

Plazoleta Carlos V Casco Viejo Panama

*image credit Minube

#26 – National Institute of Culture (Instituto Nacional de Cultura)

The National Institute of Culture building used to house Panama’s Legislative and Judicial bodies. The Latin words for justice and law can be seen on its façade.

Instituto Nacional de Cultura Casco Viejo Panama

#27 – The Vaults (Las Bóvedas)

Las Bóvedas, or The Vaults, is the name commonly used to refer to the structures that form the walls that surround the Plaza de Francia, or France Plaza. The monumental complex consists of seven vaulted spaces that made up the city’s defensive system.

Built in the 18th century, The Vaults got its name from the system of arches or vaults that is supported on columns. A chemin de ronde, also called a wall-walk, was built upon The Vaults during the 19th century.

The space, due to the walls’ great thickness, was used as a barracks and prison. One of The Vaults most prominent tenants was the guerrilla Victoriano Lorenzo, who was shot on May 15, 1903 in front of the Chiriqui Plaza, which is the current France Plaza.

The area was declared a national monument by law No. 2 of January 8, 1920.

Las Bóvedas Casco Viejo Panama

#28 – France Plaza (Plaza de Francia)

The France Plaza area was originally used for military purposes. It was also the site of a prion until the beginning of the 20th century. Around the plaza, visitors can find:

  • National Institute of Culture (1935) – The National Institute of Culture building used to house Panama’s Legislative and Judicial bodies. The Latin words for justice and law can be seen on its façade.
  • Statue of Pablo Arosemena, the fifth President of Panama (1910 – 1912)
  • The Vaults (18th Century) – Used as a barracks and prison.
  • French Embassy (1915) – The French Embassy was constructed where a military building known as The Castle originally stood.

Plaza de Francia Casco Viejo Panama

#29 – Panama Canal Memorial (Monumento al Canal de Panamá)

The Panama Canal Memorial, built in 1921, honors France’s unrealized effort to construct a canal across the Panamanian Isthmus during the 19th century.

  • Five busts pay tribute to the participants that played a part in France’s construction efforts, including Panamanian engineer Pedro J. Sosa.
  • In the semicircular gallery, ten plaques tell the Panama Canal story (in Spanish).
  • Embossed plaque dedicated to Carlos J. Finlay, who discovered that yellow fever was transmitted through mosquito bites, an indispensable discovery to complete the Panama Canal.
  • 18-meter obelisk topped with a French rooster in bronze, which represents hope and faith.

Fun fact: The embossed plaque covers a tunnel opening, which could be opened until just recently.

One can enjoy beautiful views from the Esteban Huertas Promenade.

Monumento al Canal de Panamá Casco Viejo Panama

*image credit Trip Advisor

#30 – Esteban Huertas Promenade (Paseo Esteban Huertas)

The Esteban Huertas Promenade is located on top of the city wall that faced the sea. The promenade is dedicated to the Colombian general Esteban Huertas, who played an integral role in favor of Panama’s separation from Colombia in 1903.

  • The dome, which is currently a theatre, is part of the enclosure where Panama’s Legislature once met.
  • The islands of the Amador Causeway are a breakwater for the Panama Canal. In the past, they served as the city’s docking ports for large ships. Now, the islands Culebra, Perico and Flamenco are home to beautiful walkways, delicious restaurants and the Biomuseo.

Paseo Esteban Huertas Casco Viejo Panama

#31 – Soldier’s House (Casa del Soldado)

The Soldier’s House, or “La Casa de Soldado” in Spanish, constructed in 1910, was the National Museum’s original headquarters. It was refurbished in the 21st century, and is currently home to a cultural center.

This section of the Esteban Huertas Promenade, located on top of what once were Panama’s defensive walls, is now covered by an arbor of Bougainvillea plants, and is also known as Lover’s Lane.

Casa del Soldado de la Independencia Casco Viejo Panama

#32 – Ministry of Government (Ministerio de Gobierno)

Work began on the current building of the Ministry of Government, also called “Palacio de Gobierno, in 1905, where the contract for the neo-Renaissance structure was awarded to the company Duque y Arias. The supervisor of the work was the engineer Florencio Harmodio Arosemena (President of the Republic in 1928).

The first stone was placed on February 13, 1906. The building was completed in 1908, and inaugurated along with the new President of the Republic, José Domingo de Obaldía, on October 5, 1908.

Ministerio de Gobierno Casco Viejo Panama

*image credit La Prensa


Defensive Bulwarks

The Nuns’ Bulwark formerly occupied an area of the city, along Avenida Central. A bulwark is a fortified stronghold used as a platform to attach the enemy. Panama City was surrounded by a defensive wall reinforced by eight bulwarks, with their respective barracks and battery of guns.

Former Union Club

The former site of the Union Club, built in 1917, served as the headquarters for Panama’s social elite until 1969. Following the Union Club’s move to Punta Paitilla, the building housed a military club until 1989. While empty, the structure was used to host parties and as a film location for the movie “Quantum of Solace” from the popular James Bond series. It’s currently undergoing major renovations to reopen as a hotel.

Former Union Club Casco Viejo Panama

10 Best Restaurants in Casco Viejo, Panama (that are relevant in 2018)

Magnolia Inn Hotel and Hostel has been around for over a decade, bearing witness to the rise and fall of many a local restaurant in Casco Viejo. Here’s a list of our top 10 restaurants (that are relevant in 2018).

10 Best, Locally-Approved Restaurants in Casco Viejo, Panama

From Panamanian street food to health-conscious traditional cuisine and everything in between, we’ve got you covered! These restaurants and bars provide you with an array of different experiences ranging from amazing food to magnificence ambiance: including romantic, fun and energetic, as well as calm and relaxed. You can’t go wrong with any choice from this hand-picked list created by Casco Viejo locals… Now you just have to decide what sparks your interest!

Lo Que Hay

Lo Que Hay has become a fast favorite from Casco Viejo locals to high end chefs running the best restaurants in Panama! So why is the food at this pop-up restaurant in such high demand? The answer to that question lies in the chef! Lo Que Hay is run by one of Panama’s most sought-after chefs, Jose Carles, who currently heads an award-winning restaurant called Donde Jose, which serves a ten-course, Panamanian infused menu and requires reservations to be made months in advance. At Lo Que Hay, however, you can skip the reservations and enjoy some local comfort and street food from the famed chef, with his special flare.

Lo Que Hay roughly means “What There Is”. In practice, this means that they freshly cook whatever food they have available and once they are out, that’s it!

Address: Avenida A and 5th Street, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Hours: Wednesday to Saturday: 12-3pm & 6:30-10:00pm; Sunday: 11:00-4:30pm


Caffé Per Due

Are you craving good pizza? How about award winning pizza?! Look no further than Caffe Per Due! Winner of the prestigious People’s Choice Award in Pizza Rock, the largest pizza contest in Panama, Caffe Per Due won’t disappoint!

Caffe Per Due is known for their delicious and authentic Italian food, served right in the heart of Casco Viejo. Well-known for its award-winning Pizza Bianca, Caffe Per Due offers options you won’t soon forget, including appetizers, salads, authentic pastas, and scrumptious homemade desserts; not to mention tasty sangria! For those that are vegetarian or need to adhere to gluten-free diets, you need not worry, Caffe Per Due has a menu that accommodates you!

Meanwhile, the ambiance is enough to make you want to stay awhile in the outdoor seating patio in the back, or enjoy the crisp coolness of the air-conditioned inside. Either way, you can’t lose. So sit down, have a few glasses of your favorite wine with your meal and enjoy!

Address: Located on Avenida A y Calle 3a, Casco Antiguo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: 507.228.0547
Hours: Sunday: 9:30am-10:00pm; Tuesday-Saturday: 9:00am-10:00pm


Pizza Bianca Caffe Per Due Casco Viejo Panama

Pizza Bianca – Handmade dough, brie cheese, grana padano cheese, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, semi-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, arugula, truffle oil

Super Gourmet

If you’re looking for a healthy and nutritious option for breakfast or lunch, look no further than Super Gourmet! This cool little eatery offers a wide variety of breakfast and lunch options, ranging from pancakes and eggs to sandwiches and salads; add in the fact that they go the extra mile with their organic chocolate, fresh orange juice, homemade hummus and impressive selection of beers and wine, and you know you’ve got something special!

Their food isn’t just focused on being health conscious, however, it’s focused on being delicious, as well! Super Gourmet serves amazing empanadas, a “Panama Jungle Chocolate” pie that is a hands-down winner, and don’t forget to try the arepas with ropa vieja (pulled beef with avocado and vegetables).

The quality of Super Gourmet’s food is not the only thing it has going for it. Super Gourmet has excellent service and prices. So when you visit, you know you’re getting the most value for your meal.

The central location of Super Gourmet (behind the Palacio Municipal), the fact that it’s an American-owned deli, and that it has free Wi-Fi have made it popular with the local expats.

Address: Avenida A between Calle 6 & 7, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: 507.212.3487
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 8:00am – 5:00pm; Sunday: 10:00am – 4:00pm



Need to beat the heat, traffic, stress, or just need to kill some time? Why not do so in Mahalo’s hidden oasis! The seating in Mahalo’s outdoor patio is amazing, a retreat from the hectic hustle and bustle of Panama City.

Mahalo is nothing if not relaxed. Their purpose is to help you find your inner peace and if that means playing board games with your dog, Skip, while eating some of their avocado toast or thai coconut chicken curry, then so be it!
Mahalo has a refreshing assortment of vegan and vegetarian friendly meals, but that doesn’t mean that they skimp on the meat friendly options. Their fare ranges from yogurt bowls, to salads, avocado toast, curry, sandwiches, and wraps. You’re sure to find something to satiate your appetite on a hot and potentially humid day.

But food isn’t the only thing that Mahalo serves! Mahalo also offers yoga classes and private pilates sessions.

Address: Avenida A between Calle 4 & 5, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: 507.399.3432
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 9:30am-10:30pm


Aki Sake Bar & Japanese Kitchen

Aki is, by all measures, a Japanese restaurant. It offers Japanese, tapas style plates, with a variety of sake and sake cocktails. However, what makes Aki special is that it does this with a Panamanian twist! Their sushi rolls aren’t your conventional fare, there is distinct Panamanian influence to their menu which will have your tastebuds thanking you! For example, one of their offerings is a sushi roll with sweet plaintain, crab, tuna, and avocado.
But it’s not just the food that will keep you entertained! The ambiance of Aki is wild! There is writing all over the walls, which will keep you preoccupied, if need be. Furthermore, there is eclectic art on the walls that, if you absolutely love it, you can purchase.

In keeping with the amusement, Aki offers trivia night every Tuesday.
Aki has certainly found its niche by offering delicious Japanese food with a Panamanian twist, and it’s working!

Address: Calle 8 between Ave. B & Central, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: 507.397.2381
Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 12:00pm-12:00am; Thursday-Sunday: 12:00pm-2:00am


Nazca 21

A “gastronomic pleasure”, Nazca 21 is an awesome little Peruvian restaurant that provides excellent food at an affordable price. It is a cozy restaurant that is notoriously never empty, so reservations are highly recommended.

Favorite dishes are theoctopus al carbon, the seafood jalea (a dish prepared with dried seafood from northern Peru), ceviche, and sea-bass Fujimori. Furthermore, the prices won’t break the bank despite the amazing food that you receive.

Address: Calle 8a and Catedral, across from Centro de Salud de San Felipe, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: 507.393.7262
Hours: Sunday: 12:00pm – 9:00pm; Monday – Saturday: 12:00pm-11:00pm


Tio Navaja

Tio Navaja is an amazing restaurant, but it also contains a delightful upstairs bar called Mula where you can conveniently go for after dinner drinks once the meal has finished! In fact, Mula bar is such a cut above the rest that it’s recommended by other bartenders in the city!

Known for their pork and rice and yucca dishes, Tio Navaja offers a unique twist on well-known Panamanian ingredients to ensure that your tastebuds don’t get bored. But if you’re suffering from a little bit of travel fatigue or just looking for a good burger, they have that, too! Their menu is eclectic, ensuring that you’re bound to find something you enjoy, no matter how adventurous your tastebuds are feeling.

And lest we forget their awesome brunches, complete with thoroughly enjoyable mimosas!

Address: Avenida Central, Between 2nd and 3rd Street East, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: 507.395.1749
Hours: Monday – Friday: 11:00am-11:00pm; Saturday: 9:00am-11:00pm; Sunday: 9:00am-7:00pm


Lessep’s Bistro Cafe

Lessep’s is an adorable French bistro that stays true to the traditional French ‘bistro’ concept. According to its website, Lessep’s is imbued with a sense of Joie de Vivre (joy of living) in the heart of Casco Viejo. According to reviews, diners have experienced this in both the food and service.

Lessep’s only just opened in Summer of last year but has already started to cement itself into the Casco Viejo and Panama City scene for its authentic Parisian atmosphere and delicious French cuisine. You can expect to get such classic dishes as onion soup, foie gras, and the wonderfully cooked steak.

And not to worry, Lessep’s provides the perfect wine list to accompany any item you may choose from the menu.
Don’t feel like a full meal? Lessep’s would be worth visiting for the dessert alone. They are very rich and quite memorable, with special mention going to the profiteroles!

Address: Avenida A & Calle 4, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: (507) 385-2547
Hours: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday: 12:00pm- 10:00pm; Friday and Saturday: 12:00pm-11:00pm


The Strangers Club

Talk about an interesting origin story! The Strangers Club is the love child of 6 entrepreneurial bartenders, from New York City’s Employees Only, who saved their money and opened The Strangers Club doors in June, 2017. Interestingly, The Strangers Club garners its name from the diversity in Panama City and “providing a platform for hospitality that’s unique to Panama.” It is also a nod to the heritage of Panama, borrowing the name from an old bar in Colon, Panama, known as Strangers Club, which operated from 1920 to 1970.

Stop in and enjoy the comfortable, darkened atmosphere and music one night while enjoying one of their top selling cocktails, the Angie. If you decide to order dinner then can’t go wrong, either, because the food is delicious!
Not a night person? That’s not a problem, there’s brunch every Sunday!

Address: Calle B Avenida Central, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: 507.282.0064
Hours: Sunday: 12-4pm, 6pm-12:00am; Monday – Wednesday: 6pm-2am: Thursday – Saturday: 6pm-4am



Tomillo is a tapas-style restaurant that takes classic dishes and puts a modern twist on them which creates flavorful and unique options. Some popular items from Tomillo’s extensive menu include the Tuna Ceviche, Puerco Carnita Flatbread, and Pepperoni Gnocchi. For dessert, there is the famous “Kaboom”, which consists of a ball of chocolate with lemon mousse, vanilla and almond biscuits that the waiter will cause to explode at your table. It is a dining experience that you won’t soon forget!

Food isn’t the only alluring aspect of Tomillo. The restaurant is set within the hollowed-out courtyard of a centuries-old building in Casco Viejo, making it immediately stand out for its casual and romantic atmosphere.
Tomillo is an excellent place to come for the food and stay for the ambiance!

Address: Calle Victoriano Lorenzo, Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Phone: 507.202.6873
Hours: Monday and Sunday: Closed; Tuesday-Saturday: 7:00pm-12:00am


Panama has some of the most delicious and unique food that the world has to offer due to the cultural diversity that abounds in the city. Take advantage of this hotspot for great food and vibrant atmospheres by visiting some of the restaurants mentioned above for some truly memorable experiences!

Panama & China

Panama – China relations, also called Sino-Panaman relations, made headlines on June 12th 2017 when the Republic of Panama established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, and thereby severed ties with Taiwan.

Jump to the following sections:

Panama had maintained diplomatic relations with Taiwan, also called the Republic of China, since 1911, following the Xinhai Revolution that overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty. However, beginning in 1909, Panama had maintained diplomatic relations with the Qing Dynasty.

Panama had maintained uninterrupted diplomatic relations longer than any other country with the Republic of China, whose sovereignty includes the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other smaller islands.

Read more about Panama’s relationship with the Republic of China (Taiwan) below or here.

Panama – China Establish Diplomatic Relations

On June 13th 2017 (June 12th 2017 Panama time), Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Panamanian Vice President and Foreign Minister Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado in Beijing, China to sign the joint statement.

The official communication released by Panama’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be found here.

The translated version is:

Joint Statement Between the Republic of Panama and the People’s Republic of China on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations

In light of the interests and desire of both nations, the Republic of Panama and the People’s Republic of China decide to grant mutual recognition and to establish diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level, effective upon the date this statement is signed.

The two Governments agree to develop friendly ties between the two countries on the basis of the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-aggression, non-intervention in one of the other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.

The Government of the Republic of Panama recognizes that there is only one China in the world, the Government of the People’s Republic of China, the only legitimate Government that represents all of China, and that Taiwan forms an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. Today, the Government of the Republic of Panama breaks its “diplomatic relations” with Taiwan, and commits itself to break all official relationships and contact with Taiwan. The Government of the People’s Republic of China expresses its appreciation for the aforementioned position of the Government of the Republic of Panama.

The Government of the Republic of Panama and the Government of the People’s Republic of China agree, in accordance with the stipulations of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and international practice, on the prompt and mutual sending of Ambassadors and to provide, according to reciprocity, all the necessary help for the establishment of the Embassy of the other Party in their respective capitals as well as facilitating the execution of their functions.

With the authorization of their respective Governments, the representatives of both Parties sign the statement in the city of Beijing, on the thirteenth (13) day of the month of June of 2017, in two copies in the Chinese and Spanish languages, both texts being equally authentic.

Juan Carlos Varela’s Message to Panama on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with China

Juan Carlos Varela‘s message to the nation on June 12th 2017, given from the Palacio de las Garzas prior to the actual signing of the Joint Statement, can be seen below or downloaded here.

 The translated version is:

Announcement to the Republic of Panama by the President Juan Carlos Varela on the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Panama and the People’s Republic of China. June 12, 2017.

I am addressing the nation today to announce that we have made the decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Since 2007, I have made my position public that the Republic of Panama should establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Today, as constitutional President of Panama, being consistent with this position, I ratify it because I am convinced that it is the right path for our country.

Therefore, the Vice President and Foreign Minister of the Republic, Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, is in Beijing.

A moment ago, the Foreign Ministers of Panama and China met to finalize negotiations and to sign the Memorandum of Understanding, establishing diplomatic relations between our countries. In about an hour, the joint statement will be signed by which this decision is made public to the world and both Foreign Ministers will address the Press.

Until the Panama Canal opened, the railroad transported the largest volume of cargo per unit of length of all railroads in the world. The existence of the railroad was a key factor in the selection of Panama for the construction of the Canal.

On June 26th 2016, the Chinese ship Cosco Shipping Panama made history by being the first to use the expanded Canal. Today, almost one year after the opening of this great work and the decision to establish relations with China, I see this choice made at random by the Panama Canal Authority as a pleasant coincidence and a point that brought both countries closer.

This step is also an acknowledgment to the Chinese – Panamanian community, which has played an important role in Panama’s economic and social development, participating in all economic, social and political activities of our country, some even reaching important positions in the Panamanian government.

The role of Chinese associations in our country has been of great importance for Panamanian society: they have provided us with a space for a friendly and ongoing exchange between our countries.

To this day, the Republic of Panama lacked diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, a State that alone represents 20% of the world’s population and constitutes the world’s second largest economy. This is a situation that a responsible leader could not continue to allow.

During several administrations, the governments of Panama and China have tried to come together to take this step, but for reasons that are not my responsibility to explain, the negotiations could not be finalized.

The People’s Republic of China has always played an important role in Panama’s economy. Currently, it is the Canal’s second most important user and the Colon Free Zone’s largest merchandise supplier.

Large Chinese multinationals from the logistics, energy, banking, telecommunications, construction and technology sectors have established themselves in Panama, taking advantage of our country for its world-class services and being a gateway to the Americas, which in turn translates into new jobs and training for Panamanians.

The role that the People’s Republic of China plays at a regional and global level is important. Both countries are committed to the connection of an increasingly integrated world, which also creates a whole new era of opportunities for the relationship that we begin today.

With this decision we join the 174 other nations that have recognized Resolution 2758 of 1971 of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Therefore, today, as President of the Republic of Panama, I am confident that the time has come for this relationship to strengthen: Panama and China are developing nations and we share the same views on the importance of globalization and the States’ shared responsibility to make the global development agenda, as indicated within the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, a reality.

Taiwan has been a great friend of Panama and we are very grateful for their friendship and for their cooperation on Panama’s development during our diplomatic relationship.

We will ensure that the process resulting from this decision is seamless and satisfactory. For this purpose, we have appointed a team within the Foreign Ministry to handle this in a constructive way.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Panama and the People’s Republic of China has great potential for all. For this reason, I have instructed my Cabinet to ready their teams so that Panama can sign the necessary agreements in the short and medium term for tourism, commercial, immigration, agricultural, cultural, educational, maritime and for all other topics beneficial to our people.

We will lay the foundations to build a relationship based on trust, respect and the common good.

Today we have taken a historic step with transparency, based on mutual respect and the permanent search for our peoples’ welfare through international cooperation on the consolidation of social peace in our countries and in the world.

I am sure that this step will benefit our nations, present and future generations.

Looking always with my head held high, I can tell the Panamanian people that we have once again fulfilled our word in the pursuit of the best interests of the nation.

Panama and China Sign 19 Tourism and Trade Agreements

On November 19th 2017, Panama and the People’s Republic of China signed agreements related to trade, agriculture, tourism and the maritime sector.

Varela visited China to witness the signing of these agreements, and was hosted by Xi  Jinping, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, with whom he spoke about bilateral issues and the resumption of diplomatic relations.

Varela said that the agreements coincide with Xi Jinping’s closing message during the Congress of the Communist Party, where he affirmed that “politics is service and the search for the welfare of the people, who own the country’s wealth.”

The economic and commercial agreements formalized “a policy for the promotion of investments, the financing of development projects and infrastructure,” said the Secretary of State Communication.

In addition, “the terms and conditions” were established to facilitate and promote Panamanian exports to China.

Additionally, tourism “will be revitalized” with the inclusion of Panama as an approved and promoted tourist destination, especially given the relaxed visa requirements Chinese citizens.

Varela published the following Tweet on November 17th 2017, saying:

I want to thank President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China for hosting this historic state visit that strengthens the new diplomatic relationship between our nations. #PanamaChina

Flights from Beijing, China to Panama

Panama is soon to add yet another destination to its flight repertoire. As of March 2018, Air China will offer a direct flight between Beijing and Tocumen. The aircraft will be a Boeing 777-300ER (“ER” for Extended Range), considered the world’s largest commercial twin-engine plane, with a capacity of 380 people. The Beijing, China – Tocumen, Panama flight will have a duration of 17 hours and 27 minutes.

Boeing 777-300ER Flights from Beijing China to Tocumen Panama

Boeing 777-300ER in flight

Currently, the longest journey to and from Panama is with Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, Turkey, with a duration of 13 hours and 19 minutes.

During the week of December 18th, representatives from Air China inspected the Tocumen terminal, where the Boeing 777-300ER will land.

History of Panama – Taiwan Relations

The Consulate General of the Republic of China (Taiwan) was established in Panama at the beginning of the 20th century, attending to the isthmus’s Chinese immigrants, which began to arrive in the latter half of the 19th century.

On March 30, 1854, the first group of Chinese laborers arrived aboard the Clipper Sea Witch to work on the Panama Railroad. By the early 20th century, they were already established as a critical player in Panama’s economy, owning over 600 retail stores and playing a crucial role in providing the entire country with provisions.

Read more about Ethnic Chinese in Panama here. Don’t forget to check out the reference section!

In 1922, a diplomatic delegation was founded in Panama City, being elevated to the category of embassy in 1954. The Republic of Panama had established an embassy in the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1933.

The Republic of China (Taiwan) had a cultural presence in Panama, being one of the benefactors of the creation of the Chinese Panamanian Cultural Center – Sun Yat-sen Institute. The Chinese-Panamanian Friendship Park, a symbol of friendship between the two countries, was inaugurated in Panama City in September 1997.

Since January 1st 2001, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Panama had a Free Trade Agreement. In 2005, Taiwan exported to Panama approximately 26 million dollars worth of goods, whereas Panama exported to Taiwan approximately 20 million dollars worth of goods.

As can be seen from the following screenshot, the Republic of China (Taiwan) no longer maintains a presence in Panama.

Taiwan no longer maintains a presence in Panama

Rana Dorada in Casco Viejo – New & Improved!

After three years of restoration, the Rana Dorada of Casco Viejo has finally opened the doors of its new location.Image by Rana Dorada

Situated on Calle 9 Este with Calle Boquete, located just behind Magnolia Inn, the Rana Dorada features inside seating, upscale furnishing and decor, and an expanded menu, as well as valet parking.

The Rana is a perfect place to meet up with friends and have a drink (or two). Read more about their artisan beer here, which include Blanche, IPA, Pils, Pale Ale, Porter, Grand Cru, Coffee Porter and Coco Porter.

Rana Dorada Casco Viejo Restoration

Restoration Efforts. Image by Rana Dorada.

Rana Dorada Casco Viejo

Rana Dorada, Casco Viejo. Image by Rana Dorada.

Panama: The Perfect Choice for Your Next Holiday Vacation

Looking for a vacation destination in the months of December and January? Look no further: Let Panama be your vacation destination!

But why visit Panama when there are so many other amazing places to visit in the world? The answer is easy. Panama is a vibrant country, filled with a passion, spirit, and comfort that is almost palpable.Panama Canal Panama 2017

Although Panama is known mainly for the Panama Canal, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (which is one of the seven wonders of the modern world) there is so much more to Panama waiting to be explored by the adventurous traveler! However, a visit to see such a wonder is worth the trip alone!

A nice alternative to cold and snowy winters, Panama is warm and tropical during the December and January months. When visiting during December and January, just make sure to pack light. The average temperature in December is 79°F (26°C) and in January the average temperature is 81°F (27°C).  Although, it would be prudent to bring an umbrella, seeing as how Panama is a tropical climate and you’re likely to get caught in a few rain showers (albeit warm ones!)Panama Highlands 2017

Panama is great for people who want to fill their trips with activities. For example, if you’re an avid hiker then visiting Panama during the dry season would be your best bet. The dry season lasts from mid-December until May. Enjoy the experience of hiking in gorgeous rainforests teaming with wildlife in places such as Boquete, El Valle or Cerro Punta. Due to the altitude, however, slightly warmer clothes are recommended.

Or, if you’re a bit more of an adrenaline junkie, December is also a good time to go whitewater rafting in the Chiriquí Province due to the fact that it will be the tail end of the off-season, when rivers are high.Panama-Carribean-2017

Perhaps you’re more of an ocean person? Once you get tired of reading on the beach, you can try your hand at scuba diving or snorkeling. Perhaps you’re keen for a bit of surfing? For the best results and most fun, it is advisable to participate in these activities in the dry season (between December and April) when visibility in the water isn’t interrupted by rain.

Specific Places to Visit in Panama:[1]

The eclectic nature of Panama enables travelers to have experiences that are truly once in a lifetime and provides numerous “can’t miss” opportunities to create unforgettable memPanama Canal Railroad 2017ories.  Here is a list of some amazing activities and trips that would be sure to pique any traveler’s interest:

  1. Panama Canal Railway Ride: The Panama Canal Railway is comprised of an old-fashioned locomotive and runs from Panama City, on the Pacific Ocean, to Colón, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is historically significant due to the fact that it is the original and world’s first trans-continental railway! During the approximately 90 minute ride, visitors are able to enjoy views of the Panama Canal, Gatun Lake, and surrounding tropical rainforest from numerous vantage points along the railway cars.
  1. Monkey Island: Monkey Island is located in Soberania National Park. Soberania is not just home to monkeys, however, it is also known for its plethora of various bird species. In fact, the Audubon Society’s annual bird count once spotted over 500 species in 24 hours! Soberania National Park is full of wildlife and is a wonderful place to watch for a menagerie of animals including monkeys, sloths, eagles, and plenty more. But let’s not forget what caught your eye. The monkeys! You will take a boat to Monkey Island – where you will (most likely) view a variety of different species of monkey. There are reviews of monkeys being extra comfortable cozying up to people,  beautiful landscapes, and even crocodile sightings!
  1. Embera Indian Village Tour: The Embera tribe is comprised of incredibly friendly people who love to show visitors their way of life. They will make you feel welcome in their village and introduce you to their traditional food, music, and dance. You can even hang out for a bit and go for a swim…under a waterfall! And no need to worry about souvenirs, you will also have the opportunity to buy handmade gifts from the townspeople. Reaching the Embera Village is an adventure in and of itself. This   involves traveling up the Chagres River in a canoe and then trekking through    the rainforest. The benefit of such a trek is that you will be up close and   personal with all of the gorgeous splendors that the rainforest of Panama has to offer.
  1. Portobelo: This unassuming little town has a pretty awesome origin story! It was first given the name “Puerto Bello” aka “Beautiful Port” by Christopher Columbus in 1502. As some things do over the course of time, the name Puerto Bello morphed into Portobelo. This fort has had quite the history with pirates! Rumor has it that Francis Drake was buried in a lead coffin near Portobelo Bay after dying of dysentery in 1596. The two most famous pirates to have captured Portobelo were privateer William Parker, who attacked and captured the city in 1601, and Captain Henry Morgan, who captured the fort in 1668. Unsurprisingly, the 18th-century fortifications one sees today were built by the Spanish to protect their gold from pirates. Along with Fort San Lorenzo, the fortifications have achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
  1. Barro Colorado Island: Barro Colorado Island is a unique wonder that no one should miss out on if given the chance to see! The island is run by the Smithsonian Institute of Tropical Research and is a living tropical research laboratory! Now is your chance to see 381 bird species, 102 mammal species and 1,316 plant species, some of which you will not see elsewhere, in a protected habitat, by tour operators with knowledge that far surpasses anything you can imagine. Previously only research scientists were allowed on the island, but now tour operators can take tourists on day trips along its nature trails. Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity!

Casco ViejoCasco Viejo Panama City Panam

One particular jewel in Panama is Casco Viejo, which was founded in 1671, after the Governor at the time, Juan Perez de Guzman, ordered much of the original city to be burned to the ground upon hearing of the imminent arrival of the famous pirate Sir Henry Morgan, who was intent on pillaging and looting the city.

Casco Viejo is a traveler’s paradise.  Not only does it hold great cultural and historical significance, but it is also a thriving hot spot of ingenuity and rebirth in Panama City. One could consider it the heart of Panama. In fact, UNESCO officially recognized it as a World Heritage site in 1997 due to its historical value, significance, and tenacity. While there, one can witness an unusual mixture of Spanish, French, and early American architectural styles that one need not be an architectural buff to find captivating.

Magnolia Inn[2]

One can immerse themselves in the rich history of Panama by staying in one of the hotels in Casco Viejo. One hotel that is particularly impressive is the Magnolia Inn. The Magnolia Inn is a repurposed French Colonial mansion in the heart of Casco Viejo, its foundations dating back to the 18th century and owned by one Señora Rosa Icaza de Briceño, with the final structure being completed in the early 1900s. Feel free to let your imagination run wild with fantasies of what could have been. Panama Viejo, Casco Viejo’s predecessor, was left a raging inferno, compliments of Sir Henry Morgan, a pirate given free rein to pillage and plunder Spanish holdings due to a “letter of marque” from the King of England.

The history of the Magnolia Inn is not the only breathtaking characteristic about the hotel. Despite being located in the historical district, it has all of the modern amenities one could desire. But the real selling point of Magnolia Inn is the remarkable view. The Magnolia Inn is located on a street corner with a balcony that gives one an amazing view of art and architecture which comprise Casco Viejo. It’s truly a sight to see!

A famous saying with regards to Panama is, “The only thing Panamanians take seriously are their holidays.”

Luckily for those traveling to Panama during the month of January, several festivals make the experience worth it!

The Flower and Coffee Festival takes place in Boquete every year in mid-January. This festival is one of the most robust celebrations of flowers in the world!  It draws thousands of people to Boquete for 10 extravagant days of lush flower displays, tasty food stands, live music, amusement rides, and booths filled with handmade crafts. It would be wise to book hotel rooms in advance.

Located in Panama City, Jazz Festival takes place in late January, extending over one 3-day weekend. During this time, Panama City is alive with vibrant jazz performances by renowned international musicians. Tickets to see all of the performances cost a fee; but there are some events which are held outdoors that are open to the public. In order to receive more information about this event, please log on to

For more information about specific events throughout Panama, please call the ATP tourism board at tel. 800-962-1526, or check out their website at, for more information.


Panama is a country which contains an adventure for everyone! You simply can’t go wrong with choosing to visit Panama for your next vacation during the December and January months; whether you want to relax on the beach and read a book, hike in the rainforest, go whitewater rafting, have the pleasure of meeting indigenous people and experiencing a culture different from your own, make friends with monkeys, or explore ruins once pillaged by pirates. To make your experience more memorable, you can even stay in one of the historical sites that give Panama its rich and flavorful culture people know and love the world over!



Panama Black Weekend, September 2017

Panama’s Black Friday 2017, a commercial event organized by Panama’s Tourism Authority (ATP), will take place in September, called Panama Black Weekend 2017, as opposed to the traditional month of November.


Gustavo Him, head of Panama’s Tourism Authority (ATP), explained that, “The change of Panama’s Black Friday date to September is because September is a historically slow month for trade and tourism, during which purchase behavior needs to be stimulated via offers, in an effort to avoid saturating December, which is traditionally busy due to holiday shopping.”

The measure was agreed on by the stores that make up the 11 shopping centers affiliated with the Panamanian Association of Shopping Centers.

Panama’s Best Beaches

From the tried and true to the unexplored, here’s Magnolia’s list of our favorite Panamanian beaches.

Panama is an isthmus squeezed between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean and has 1,786 miles (2,857 kilometers) of coastline. Between the mangroves and the mud flats, there are some gems of beaches out there. This list gives a sampling of the beaches across Panama, from Bocas del Toro in the west to the Darien in the east; from the Caribbean coast in the north to the southern Pacific beaches in the Azuero; the beaches close to Panama City and out on the Pearl Islands.

Panama’s Northern Coast Beaches

To clear up any confusion from the start, Panama City is located on the southern coast of Panama on the Pacific Ocean. Sixty miles north of the city sits Colón, Panama’s second largest city and the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal. There are three main destinations along the Caribbean coast to enjoy great beaches – in Colón province around the town of Portobelo; dotted all over the San Blas Islands in the semiautonomous indigenous province of Guna Yala; and in Bocas del Toro province located near Panama’s western boarder with Costa Rica.

The Caribbean coast is much different than Panama’s southern coast in landscape, vegetation and culture – from the Afro-Antillean roots of Colón and Bocas del Toro to the semi-autonomous indigenous province of Guna Yala, you’ll find the white sand and salty water of the Caribbean with most beaches on small islands located relatively close to the mainland.

Panama’s Southern Coast Beaches

Beaches located on Panama’s southern shores are as varied as they are beautiful. Close to the city the beaches are not spectacular, but they are great beaches, nonetheless, and their convenience can’t be beat. These beaches in the provinces of Panama and Coclé are easily accessible from the city and can be enjoyed even if you have only one day to spare.

If you have more than a couple days, the spectacular Pearl Islands are just a short flight or ferry ride away from Panama City. The most popular and easily accessible island is Contadora, which boasts 11 gorgeous beaches and is small enough to cover on foot (or scooters and golf carts). Farther afield in the west are the surf beaches of the Azuero peninsula. Towns like Pedasí, Playa Venao and Playa Cambutal are perfect spots for catching some waves or blissing out at a yoga retreat. The vibe is chill and the people are friendly.

If you really want to get off the beaten path and explore a wild and remote beach, head to Jaqué in the Darién province. Close to world renowned deep sea fishing outfits like Tropic Star Lodge, the town of Jaqué has been cut off from the rest of Panama’s tourists boom due to the FARC rebels, but as the Colombian crisis ends and the rebels put down their guns, expect more travel into the awesome rugged beauty of the Darien. For now, travel with a reputable tour guide and don’t forget to pack your sense of adventure.

Helpful Info

Similar to beach towns everywhere, you can often expect a quick afternoon shower daily. The driest months run mid-December through May, and the rainy season lasts from June to mid-December. During the wettest months, expect daily afternoon showers that last an hour or two. Rarely does it rain all day.

Panama is renowned for its riptides. No matter how refreshing the water looks, analyze conditions, stay out of choppy water, or head to a beach known for calm water.

Without further adieu, here are our picks for the best beaches in Panama:

Beaches in Panama Province

Punta Chame Beach
Central Panama

Punta Chame Beach, Panama

Punta Chame is a long, stretched out, semi-deserted beach with soft sand and a beautiful mountain backdrop across the Bahía de Chame in central Panama. Because of the nearly constant wind, it is a first rate beach for kite surfing, though more relaxing activities can surely be had like bird watching and walking the expansive beach checking out the views of Panama City’s skyscrapers and the islands of Otoque and Taboga in the distance.  If you do want to try your hand at kite surfing, there is a school on the beach that caters to both beginners and more advanced students. The windsurfing/kite surfing season runs from mid-November to the end of April.

To arrive at the punta (point) you exit the Inter-American Highway and drive 25 km down a long, thin peninsula passing shrimp farms and mangroves. It’s only an hour and a half drive from Panama City (70 km west). While it is a popular spot for adrenaline-junkies who visit the Nitro City adventure sports hotel, there are few amenities (only a few hotels and residences) so it’s not overcrowded or obnoxious. It’s simply a great spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Be advised, however, that the waves are great for kite surfing but can sometimes be rough for swimming, and there are times when there are stingrays in the water, so watch out for the signs and shuffle your feet!

There are only a few services in Punta Chame. Along the beach there are a couple hotels with restaurants. The nicest restaurant in town is the lovely Casa Amarilla. It’s a charming French restaurant that you definitely shouldn’t miss (it has great vegetarian options, too!). You can pick up ice and beer and other convenience store items at the chino in Punta Chame, but for a bank, ATM, and basic grocery stores you have to stop in the town of Chame, located along the Inter-American Highway.

Just west of the turnoff for Punta Chame along the Inter-American Highway are located a string of other lovely beaches: Playa Coronado and Playa Farallón, both beach resort destinations, Playa El Palmar, a surfing beach, and the laid back white-sand beach of Playa Santa Clara.

Santa Clara Beach
Central Panama

Santa Clara Beach Panama

Santa Clara is located along the Pacific coast in Central Panama, just off the Inter-American Highway 108 km east of Panama City and only 13 km past Coronado. Santa Clara’s calm waters make it great for swimming, and it has soft sand that is nice for lounging. The beach is nice and long, perfect for running or walking. Though it’s not very crowded during the week, it’s a popular local spot on the weekends and holidays.

There are a few hotels and restaurants located right on the beach. For a more rustic experience you can rent out a hammock or rancho for a few bucks a night, or pitch your own tent along the shore. If you want to go the other way and really splurge, you’ll find popular all-inclusive resorts nearby, which boast water sports, beach activities, fine dining and nightly entertainment.

Las Veraneras Restaurant is on the beach at the western end where you’ll also find the crowds on the weekends. Keep in mind that this can turn into a party beach on some days, but because the shore is plenty, everyone can usually coexist peacefully. Also, be aware that there are rip currents all along Panama’s central coast, so you shouldn’t go deeper than your waist to be on the safe side.

If you’re taking a bus, take any of the buses heading west and they can drop you off at the turnoff (Río Hato, Anton, or Penonomé buses will all get you there). The nearest larger town is Penonomé located 36 km west. Santa Clara also makes for a great stop off when heading from El Valle back to Panama City.

Isla Contadora Beaches

Gulf and Canal Zone – Pearl Islands

Isla Contadora Beaches, Pearl Islands, Panama

The Pearl Islands are a group of some 200 islands about 30 miles off the Pacific coast of Panama in the Gulf of Panama. The islands have been made famous as a popular location for reality TV shows like Survivor and other programs like The Real Swiss Family Robinson, The Island with Bear Grylls and the Dutch show Adam Looking for Eve. Vasco Nunez de Balboa named the islands because of the many pearls that were found there and legend has it that Spanish conquistadors used the Contadora Island to take account of their inventory before returning to Spain (contadora means counter or bookkeeper in Spanish).

Today you’ll find impressive mansions, quaint accommodations, luscious vegetation, and some of the most spectacular beaches in Panama. The island is small, only half a mile square (1.2 square kilometers), but there are eleven stunning beaches to enjoy. Rent a golf-cart, scooter or bike for the day and visit all of these lovely beaches. For snorkeling, try Playa Galeón and Playa Larga. For peaceful isolation, try the marvelous Playa Cacique. And to forget about tan lines, try the tide pools at Playa de las Sueces, Panama’s only nude beach. If you wanted to hire a boat, you can check out the neighboring islands of Pacheca, Isla de los Párajos, Saboga, Casaya and Mogo Mogo.

There are a few restaurants on the island, as well as a dive shop and other convenience stores. There are no ATMs or banks so bring what you will need. You can arrive to the island by air or sea. Flights from Panama City are 25 minutes or you can take a fast ferry that will get you there in 2 hours. A wonderful time to visit is during the whale migration between July and October. Every year Humpback whales migrate north from the southern hemisphere to mate, give birth, nurse and prepare the young whales for the long journey back south.

Colon Province Beaches

Isla Grande
Central Caribbean Coast


Isla Grande Beach Panama

Isla Grande is a small island in the Caribbean just 15 km past the historic town of Portobelo. The island is a great spot with nice beaches and a very chill vibe. You won’t find any roads, but you will enjoy lots of coconuts, fresh fish and reggae music. There is good swimming and snorkeling, as well as a decent surf spot over a shallow reef. If you do plan on surfing, wear booties and don’t get in the water alone if you’ve never surfed here before.

For a breathtaking panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea, follow a forested trial to the El Faro Lighthouse. The lighthouse was designed and constructed by the French during their Canal building campaign in the late 1800s. The original light that sat on top of the lighthouse is now in the Panama Canal Museum in Panama City, and was designed by Gustav Eiffel. Today the lighthouse still serves as a landfall light for ship arriving at the Panama Canal from the northeast. The hike is about 30 minutes and is accessible from town and the nearby resorts.

Isla Grande is a two-hour drive by car from Panama City. To get there from Panama City drive towards Colón. Take a right turn at the El Rey grocery store and McDonalds in Colón, heading towards Portobelo. After passing Portobelo, La Guaira is the end of the road. You can park your car in the secured areas, which cost a few dollars a day. You can catch a boat taxi on the dock that will take you about 300 meters to the island and cost a couple bucks. Buses leave from the main street in Portobelo to La Guira

Isla Mamey
Central Caribbean Coast

Isla Mamey Beach Panama

Near Isla Grande is the small island of Isla Mamey. If you’ve been looking for a great camp spot in Panama, you’ve found it. Located along Panama’s Caribbean coast, Isla Mamey is small — only about one acre in total — but has a good beach, crystal clear water, nice trees and a beautiful landscape.

There are concrete camping pads where you can pitch your tent or you can choose to set up on the grass behind them. Bring all of your water and provisions for your stay, as there is nowhere to buy anything on the island. With your friends and a barbeque you’re all set for a glorious couple days enjoying the ocean breezes in the sand and surf. At night you’ll enjoy the peaceful lull of the ocean waves while gazing up at the stars.

Try not to visit on a weekend, it will be packed with local families, but if you can make it on a weekday you might have the whole island to yourself. Admission to the island costs a dollar and boat taxis from the town of Puerto Lindo run about six dollars round-trip. Pack smart. If you camp be sure to bring a tarp in (the likely) case of rain.

Comarca Guna Yala Beaches

Isla Aguja
San Blas Islands

Isla Aguja Beach Panama

There are a number of destinations in the Panama’s Guna Yala archipelago where you can enjoy great beaches. Accommodations range from rustic to above average (keep in mind that you’re there for the area’s idyllic island beauty, not any swanky accommodations). You can fly into Achutupo, Mulatupo or El Porvenir and travel to islands close to those nearby airports, or you can drive or fly into the small town of Cartí, a short distance from the beautiful little Aguja Island.

The island, which means Needle Island in the native Guna language, has a white-sand beach and swaying palm trees. The clear water is great for swimming, snorkeling, or just cooling off. The island is fairly accessible—it takes about ten minutes to get here by boat from the coast.

Isla Perros
San Blas Islands

Isla Perros Beach Panama

Isla Perros is one of the biggest and most popular islands in San Blas. A small island surrounded by crystal-clear, warm water, it’s a little paradise. There is a nearby shipwreck that is a great place to snorkel and see the colorful fish and corals. And there are plenty of palm trees to hang out in the shade.

It’s usually not crowded and the island is clean and beautiful. There are cabañas with great views or you can opt to camp out on the beach.

There is a bathroom and rustic restaurant on the island, but do bring water, snacks and towels with you when you go.

From Cartí, take a 45-minute boat ride to arrive at the island.

Los Santos Province Beaches

Playa Cambutal
Azuero Peninsula

Want to chase down tuna, roosterfish, wahoo, marlin, and grouper? Playa Cambutal is located on the Azuero Peninsula’s “Tuna Coast” – so named because the seafloor dives steeply just beyond the coastline, creating an area that’s ideal for large fish. Deep-sea anglers will have a great time at this laid-back beach town on the southern Azuero Peninsula.

If fishing isn’t your thing, Playa Cambutal also boasts nice waves with no crowds. Just a couple years ago, only a few surf fanatics and the locals knew of lovely this off-the-beaten path destination. Today there is the impetus of development to welcome more travelers to this beautiful part of the country. There are nice hotels located along the beach that serve great food and drinks and offer activities and equipment, like surf boards and kayaks.

The black sand beaches, great surf waves, mountain backdrops, and magnificent sunsets make for an excellent getaway and well worth the effort to get there. You can enjoy a morning horseback ride, explore the Cerro Hoya National Park and look for the endangered scarlet macaw in the beautiful costal forests, take an afternoon surf lesson, and sit and sip cold drinks by the pool at sunset. Driving from Panama City will take you between five and six hours, but you won’t mind once you’re on the beach sipping a cool cocktail watching a spectacular sunset.

Darien Province Beaches

Eastern Panama

Jaque Beach Panama

The vast and unexplored beaches of Jaqué in the Darién

Never hear of Jaqué? Most people haven’t. It’s located in Panama’s Darién province. The Darién is a vast undeveloped area that connects Central and South America and in the very recent past has been notorious for FARC rebel activity. Still, the Darién National Park contains an extremely rich biodiversity with varieties of habitats, like beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, swamps, and lowland and upland tropical forests containing remarkable wildlife. On top of that, the province is home to a number of indigenous tribes.

Jaqué sits on a beautiful coast with powerful waves. There is no road access in this sleepy fishing village, so you must arrive by boat or by plane. There’s a diverse population of Afro-Darienitas, Emberá and Wounaan, which make the town a uniquely cultural experience. Adding to Jaqué’s wild and untamed beauty are the huge and majestic marine turtles who come to nest here seasonally. Not for the novice traveler, this is admittedly a difficult spot to travel to, but it just goes to show Panama’s wild and unexplored treasures in the Darien.

Although much of the Darién is impassable and dangerous, there are some parts that can be visited, although travelling by yourself limits your opportunities and can be dangerous. To visit Jaqué contact a reputable tour operator who could arrange accommodations and the flight from Panama City for you. Another way to get there (or close) is by booking an epic fishing trip at the exclusive Tropic Star Lodge in neighboring Bahia Piña. At this world-renowned fishing resort, you’ll get up close and personal with black marlin, blue marlin and sailfish.

Social Media Day Panama 2017

Social Media Day Panama 2017, organized by DELL, the Innovation Center of the City of Knowledge Foundation, and Social Snack, will take place on Friday, June 30th at the City of Knowledge Convention Center. Social Media Day is a worldwide event, taking place not only in Panama but in hundreds of cities around the world.

Social Media Day was started by, a popular source for tech, digital culture and entertainment content, to herald the contributions made by social networks.

Social Media Day Panama (#SMDayPA) was held for the first time in 2010 in the City of Knowledge, and has taken place there ever since. Social Media Day is the first and largest event that focuses solely on social networks in Panama. It is a space where different digital and marketing communities and professionals can meet, as well as the general public interested in social networks and the Internet.

Registration for the #SMDayPA is open!

Social Media Day Panama 2017

Panama will increase its wind power production by 2018

Panama will increase its wind power production by 2018


Next year, three new wind energy projects will be added to the National Interconnected System (SIN), which will provide approximately 170 MW, making Panama one of the region’s most productive countries.

The new projects, located in the province of Coclé, will add an additional 63% of wind energy to existing capacity, which reaches 270 MW in the dry season of the year, according to the National Public Services Authority (ASEP).

According to statistics from the National Drought Center (CND), wind power in Panama reached high levels of production during the 2017 dry season, supplying 14% of the market’s energy.

he new projects, which will operate in the communities of El Coco, Toabré and Tolú, in the district of Penonomé, will give a significant contribution to the energy matrix, mainly those of the renewable category.

Urban Market in City of Knowledge

Date: Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21, 2017

Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Urban Market Area in City of Knowledge (in front of La Plaza)

What is Urban Market?

In order to promote sustainable agriculture and artisan production, as well as creating new spaces for people to meet and interact, the City of Knowledge Foundation (Fundación Ciudad del Saber) is holding a new edition of Urban Market, or Mercado Urbano (MU) in Spanish. Urban Market facilities trade between the community and organic producers.

This market, located next to La Plaza in the City of Knowledge, will include handicrafts, agrochemical-free products and ornamental plants from the nursery of the City of Knowledge Foundation.

The Urban Market stalls will offer vegetables, fruits, free range eggs, unprocessed honey, handmade foodstuffs, cosmetics made from natural ingredients and more. Refreshments and food will be sold as well.

urban market city of knowledge panama