During the preparation of my 12-day tour of Panama, when I had to choose my hotel, I wanted to select it in the best neighborhood in Panama City. So I had to take a closer look at the different districts in Panama City to compare them. Indeed, even if Panama City is a very secure town, there are some bad neighborhoods in the city that are not really recommended for a tourist stay!
So, this article presents the main neighborhoods of Panama City and their characteristics to be able then to choose the best district for tourism in Panama City.
Panama districts map
Best neighborhoods in Panama City – Amador
Let’s start with Amador area, the southernmost area of Panama City.
Not so long ago, the Calzada de Amador was nothing more than a strip of tarmac used to connect the capital to the small peninsulas of Naos, Perico and Flamenco. Today, this area is home to some of Panama City’s main activities and attractions highlighting its Isthmus (Biodiversity Museum, Casino, Marinas, congress center, shops, restaurants, ferries …). There are few hotels and they are overpriced!
Best neighborhoods in Panama City – El Casco Viejo / San Felipe
El Casco Viejo is the tourist district of Panama City. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, its colonial architecture is appreciated by tourists and its restaurants. Too popular and very close to sensitive areas, I did not choose my hotel in this area.
Best neighborhoods in Panama City – Calidonia
This very popular area has a large number of hotels. Guests choosing this area of Panama City are close to 2 metro stations (5 de mayo and Justo A) but also to the Casco Viejo area and the Cinta Costera (pleasant long walk along the ocean).
For all these benefits, this area can be appreciated by tourists but unfortunately either the hotels are very expensive or they are inexpensive but in very bad condition … In addition, the district Calidonia is deemed dangerous at night. My search for cheap hotel in Panama City will be done on another area of the capital.
Bad neighborhoods in Panama City – El Chorillo / Curundu
Even more dangerous, these two areas are to avoid day and night.
Best neighborhoods in Panama City – – Bella Vista / Obario
Business district by day and lively district on night. Large and beautiful towers hosting international banks and a multitude of bars and restaurants are present in this area.
This office area is also lively and is home to shopping centers such as the upscale SOHO Shopping Center. There are, among others, many chic cocktail bars, pubs and casinos.
Best neighborhoods in Panama City – Marbella / Punta Pacifica / Punta Patilla
The most modern and popular districts of Panama City are Punta Pacifica and Punta Patilla. There are not only important economic activities but also skyscrapers and large residential complexes.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, these neighborhoods are home to some of the most beautiful buildings and palaces in the city. Close to the luxurious Multiplaza Mall, it is a lively district frequented by rich Panamanians, wealthy tourists or businessmen.
Best neighborhoods in Panama City – San Francisco / Alto del Golf
These two districts of Panama City are located on the outskirts of Parque Omar which offers a 4 km circuit in a wooded environment. However, these neighborhoods are difficult to access during peak hours. Here are recent towers with older residential areas.
Best neighborhoods in Panama City – El Cangrejo
El Cangrejo is a central district of Panama City, which has historically been a residential area for middle-class Panamanians. With fewer skyscrapers and more houses, this is one of the few places where you can actually walk in the city amidst real Panamanians. With cafes, offices, pharmacies, schools … it has its own character and a true identity. The central street of El Cangrejo is the Via Argentina where are very good and very popular cheap restaurants like El Trapiche (see the end of my article: What to see in Panama City in 1 day?).
Best neighborhoods in Panama City – Costa del Este
It is the most remote area of Panama City. It is located in the North, along the Pacific coast.
Costa del Este is a modern and upscale neighborhood of Panama City. With its very American atmosphere, it is composed of wide streets with palm trees and glass skyscrapers. Quieter and more orderly than the rest of the city, this is where the largest concentration of luxury cars is. As the headquarters of some of the big companies, Costa del Este is the favorite neighborhood of expatriates and executives living together, creating almost a separate city.
If you are organizing a tour in Panama, discover My 12-day tour in Panama