Photos of Casco Viejo, Panama City
Casco Viejo, Panama City’s historic old quarter, is proudly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is arguably the most popular tourist attraction in Panama City (along with the Panama Canal). In this blog post, we share photos of Casco Viejo and it’s impressive architecture.
This trendy neighbourhood, also known as Casco Antiguo or San Felipe, has a mix of old Spanish colonial and neoclassical architecture. It’s an interesting place, with many layers. Some buildings are completely restored to former glory, while others are left to crumble and fall apart.
It many ways, the streets of Casco Viejo personify Panama City – stylish and cultured, yet mismanaged and neglected.
Casco Viejo is a relatively safe part of Panama City, where tourists are able to wander aimlessly. You will notice a military and police presence here. That said, like most big cities in Central America, you should remain vigilant and protect your belongings from pickpockets.
You can book a sightseeing tour of this historical old quarter, or you can simply show up and let the narrow cobblestone streets guide you. This is where you will find trendy restaurants and bars, boutique hotels, artsy shops and hipster cafes.
During our visit to Panama City, we stayed at multiple hotels; the Marriott Finisterre and the Plaza Paitilla Inn Hotel. Both are good hotels with nice pools, which is essential when traveling with kids. However, after exploring the Casco Viejo area, we feel like this neighbourhood might be a better place to stay for a few nights.
Here are photos of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s Old Town.
Above is the bell tower of Panama Metropolitan Cathedral.
Many of the old colonial buildings in Casco Viejo are falling apart and in need of repair. The decaying buildings have so much character and detail, from the windows to the balconies to the tall door frames.
The streets of Panama City’s Old Quarter looks similar to Old San Juan in Puerto Rico.
I love this old character building (above). It’s the perfect backdrop for a movie set.
Related post – Our trip to Monkey Island from Panama City
I love the contrast between this elegant colonial building (which is home to the Museum of History of Panama) and this crumbling abandoned building to the left (I love the street art, too). These two buildings are located in Independence Square, beside the Panama Metropolitan Cathedral.
Bell tower of San Francisco de Asis Church in Plaza Bolivar, Casco Viejo Panama.
Panama Metropolitan Cathedral in Casco Viejo
The Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria la Antigua is a Catholic church located in the old town of Panama City. This beautiful church is located in the heart of Casco Viejo at Plaza de la Independencia (Independence Square).
It’s also known as Catedral Basílica Santa María la Antigua de Panama in Casco Antiguo.
Colourful buildings at Independence Square Panama City.
The alter inside the Panama Metropolitan Cathedral in Casco Viejo.
Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus
This 1741 convent and church is a historical site in Casco Viejo. It’s part of the Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and the Historic District of Panama (Casco Veijo), which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Fun fact – Panama City was founded in 1519 and is the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the Pacific coast of the Americas.
Every corner reveals another unique building. It’s a very photogenic neighbourhood.
Above is the Embassy of France in Panama City.
The pink Spanish colonial building is the Museum of History of Panama.
Tower at San Francisco de Asis Church near Plaza Simon Bolivar.
Government buildings on the waterfront of San Felipe.
The Casco Viejo area also offers some of the best views of the Panama City skyline.
Read more posts from Panama here.
Most of the streets are one way, which limits the amount of vehicle traffic. That said, if you plan to grab a taxi in Casco Veijo, you’re best to go to the entrance of the old quarter. Otherwise, you may spend 20 minutes stuck in one way traffic trying to get out.
Street art in Casco Veijo Panama City.
Beautifully restored building in Independence Square.
As you wander the old streets, you will come across local artists selling their artwork.
Views of the waterfront neighbourhood at low tide.
Inside the Parroquia San Felipe de Neri, located near Plaza Bolivar. It’s a Catholic church with neoclassical architecture, ornate mosaics and religious statues. It also has an impressive miniature nativity scene with several buildings and characters (see photo below).
Paseo Las Bovedas Shopping
This is the place to visit if you’re looking for small souvenirs and local crafts. You will find indigenous Guna Yala artwork and fabrics, woven baskets, carved wooden masks, handmade jewelry and inexpensive souvenirs to take home with you.
Views of Panama City’s skyline from Paseo Las Bovedas.
The bridge you see in the above photo is the Cinta Costera(Coastal Beltway). The 2.5 kilometre marine viaduct encircles Panama City’s historic and governmental district of the Casco Antiguo.
Nicole taking photos of the monument and church at Plaza Simón Bolívar.
An outdoor restaurant at Plaza Simón Bolívar square. There are several outdoor restaurants and rooftop patios in Casco Viejo. It’s the perfect place for lunch or afternoon drinks.
Read more posts from Panama here.
Swing chairs at Finca Del Mar restaurant in Panama City. This restaurant is a little gimmicky, but it has a fun and lively atmosphere.
One boy is not happy about having to take “another photo” in front of Finca Del Mar.
Street vendor selling shaved ice to tourists in Casco Veijo. This is a popular drink/dessert in Panama.
We had a fantastic breakfast at Tantalo Hotel restaurant and would recommend it. It’s located near the entrance to Casco Veijo, so it’s a convenient place to get dropped off and picked up.
Funky murals and decor inside Tantalo Hotel restaurant. It’s a fun place for breakfast or lunch, and it has a roof top patio for afternoon drinks or dinner.
Connor enjoyed his fresh fruit smoothie at Tantalo Hotel restaurant. The fresh fruit in Panama is so sweet and juicy. We highly recommend you feast on as much fresh fruit as you can during your trip to Panama City.
Many of the Casco Veijo restaurants and cafes have big colourful murals inside. It’s a stylish and artsy neighbourhood that is definitely worth visiting. Add it to your short list of things to do in Panama City.
Getting to Casco Viejo from Panama City
It is easy to get to Casco Viejo from Panama City. If you plan to use a taxi, it’s safer to hire the taxi from your hotel, instead of flagging a random taxi on the street. Prices will vary depending on where you are staying.
That said, we prefer to use Uber for transportation around Panama City. It works great and removes language barriers. You don’t need to download a different Uber app. The app you use in Canada or the US works fine in Panama City.
By using the Uber app, you avoid giving bad directions or having issues explaining where you want to go. You also don’t have to worry about exchanging money, so it removes the fear of getting ripped off by an opportunistic taxi driver.
Read more posts from our trip to Panama:
- Our experience visiting the Panama Canal in Panama City
- The Abandoned Hotel Contadora Resort in Panama
- How to get to San Blas Islands from Panama City
- Photos of Contadora Island, Panama
- Contadora Island Ferry from Panama City
- Is flying Copa Airlines Business Class worth it
- Photos from Monkey Island Panama
Have you visited Panama City?
Share your Panama City travel tips in the comments below. Our readers thank you.