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Panama City Trips

  • Panama City
  • Panama City, Casco Antiguo

Founded five centuries ago as the Pacific terminus of Spain’s pioneering transcontinental trade routes, Panama City has always thrived on the flow of commerce and imperial power. Today, perched at the entrance to the Panama Canal, its multinational banks and corporate headquarters are driving rapid development across the isthmus. Extravagant high-rise condos, boutique shopping malls, luxury car dealerships, showy international bars, restaurants and nightclubs all cater to the city’s booming nouveau riche, who make no apologies for their ostentatious displays of wealth.

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Gentrification advances with a prodigious zeal in the city’s most historic neighbourhoods, where lavish colonial mansions and elegant public plazas are receiving multi-million dollar renovations.

Elsewhere, brand new mass transit systems, bold contemporary architecture, convention centres and a slew of modern festivals dedicated to music, food, dance, film and fashion all signal Panama City’s emergence as a dynamic regional player.

Buffered by the Panama Canal and the protected forests of its watershed, Panama City has evolved on a narrow lateral trajectory, skirting the bays and promontories of the Pacific coast in its perpetual search for new ground. The best part of the capital is framed by two wave-swept points. In the west, the historic district of San Felipe, also known as Casco Viejo, is the opulent symbol of Old Panama, boasting a mix of newly restored colonial mansions and elegant public squares, chic new guesthouses and upmarket eateries. In the east, the burgeoning Area Bancaria is the dynamic reality of New Panama, home to luxury condos and high-rise office blocks, frenetic urban boulevards and rapidly evolving horizons. Beyond and between these two points lies an intriguing patchwork of disparate and self-contained neighbourhoods.

The working-class districts of Santa Ana and Calidonia are places to glimpse the barter and hustle of authentic Panamanian street life. The planned community of Balboa – unique to the capital’s development as a crossroads destination – is home to a slew of functional canal-zone architecture. Although Panama City is the most urban destination in the country, the exuberance of tropical nature is never far off. Breezy Ancon Hill and thickly forested Metropolitan Park are places to escape the city’s relentless noise and movement and soak up some restful natural ambience. The ruins of the original city (Panama Viejo) can also be visited six and a half kilometres to the east of the city.

Trips visiting Panama City

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