best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama

Discover the Charm of Casco Viejo and Panama: A Visitor’s Guide

Discover the Charm of Casco Viejo and Panama: A Visitor’s Guide

Are you planning to spend a day or wondering how to start your visit to Panama?  Don’t worry, because this guide will help you make the most of your time in Panama’s capital!

This summer, I chose to visit Panama, I invited my mom to spend some quality time together and started gathering some valuable tips from a couple of good friends from Panama before setting off.

I started my adventure by strolling through the captivating Casco Viejo, and here’s what I discovered, although I did not visit all of these places, I want to include them so that you know what you can visit and choose accordingly.

best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama (7)

Why Visit Casco Viejo

In 1671, after the Pirate Henry Morgan attacked and destroyed Panama Viejo, the residents decided to relocate to what is now Casco Viejo for better defense against future sieges. This unique walled city, featuring 16th and 17th-century Spanish Colonial architecture, remained relatively unknown until UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site in 1997. Since then, Casco Viejo has undergone a remarkable transformation, becoming a vibrant community that blends old and new, local and foreign. The area now boasts meticulously restored buildings, cultural richness, and a lively atmosphere that is truly one-of-a-kind.

Top Places to Visit in Casco Viejo

Enjoying a Meal and Admiring La Compañía

While exploring Casco Viejo, be sure to stop for a meal near the Church of La Compañía. This area has a rich history, having been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The land once housed a Jesuit Convent from 1688 to 1744 and later became home to the University San Xavier, with a Beaux-Arts American wing added in the early 1900s. Enjoying a delicious meal while admiring the stunning architecture of La Compañía provides a perfect blend of history and culinary delight.

Church of La Compañía Panama Casco viejo best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama (3)

Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama City

Begin your exploration at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama City, located in the main square, Plaza Mayor. This beautiful cathedral showcases stunning architecture and provides a glimpse into the city’s religious history.

Church of San Jose

Famous for its magnificent golden altar, the Church of San Jose is a must-visit. The intricate details and rich history make it a fascinating stop on your tour.

Church of San Jose Panama Casco viejo



Plaza de Francia

Pay homage to the French contribution to the construction of the Panama Canal at Plaza de Francia. This plaza, home to Las Bóvedas, offers historical insights and picturesque views.

Plaza de Francia Panama Casco viejo best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama (3)

Paseo Esteban Huertas

For pristine views of the city skyline and bay, head to Paseo Esteban Huertas. This scenic walkway is perfect for a leisurely stroll and photo opportunities.

Paseo Esteban Huertas Panama Casco viejo best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama (3)

Museo del Canal and Museo de la Mola

Discover the history of the Panama Canal at the Museo del Canal, and explore the traditional textile art of the Guna indigenous group at the Museo de la Mola. Both museums offer unique cultural experiences.

Museo de la Mola best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama (10)

Arco Chato

Visit the iconic stone archway at Arco Chato, the remains of a church built by Dominican friars. This site is perfect for history buffs and photographers alike.

Panama Casco viejo arco chato best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama (3)

Panama National Theater

Admire the stunning ceiling frescoes painted by Robert Lewis at the Panama National Theater. This beautiful venue is a testament to Panama’s rich artistic heritage.


Shopping and Dining

Casco Viejo is a haven for shoppers and foodies. Explore local crafts, high-end boutiques, and indulge in some of Panama’s best cuisine. Don’t miss the rooftop bars for a spectacular sunset view.

Panama Casco viejo best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama (3)





Where to Stay:

Top 3 Hotels to Stay in Casco Viejo

  1. American Trade Hotel
  2. La Concordia Boutique Hotel
  3. Hotel Casa Panamá

Best Time to Visit Panama

Panama can be visited year-round, but your experience may vary depending on the season. The dry season, from December to April, offers sunny skies and warm weather but attracts more tourists and higher prices. The rainy season, from May to November, is quieter and more affordable but comes with more rainfall.

Personally we had a lovely sunny and let’s say, humid time while there, and only one evening there were heavy rains, that was when we decided to be by the beach in the Pacific Ocean side.

Consider the timing of Panama’s festivals, such as the lively Carnival in February or the religious processions of Semana Santa, when planning your trip.

best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama (7)


Visiting Casco Viejo in Panama is like stepping into a vibrant tapestry of history, culture, and modernity. From the lively Plaza de Francia to the picturesque Paseo Esteban Huertas, every corner of this UNESCO World Heritage Site has a story to tell. Whether you’re exploring the rich exhibits at the Museo del Canal or Museo de la Mola, or simply savoring the local cuisine in its charming restaurants, Casco Viejo offers a unique blend of experiences that cater to every traveler’s interests. So pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and let the magic of Casco Viejo enchant you.

Book a tour

Packing list

When packing for a trip to Panama, consider the tropical climate and planned activities.

Lightweight clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton or linen is essential to stay cool, including both short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts for sun protection. Bring a mix of comfortable shorts and lightweight pants, as well as sundresses and skirts for women. Swimwear is a must for beach trips and pools. Since Panama has a rainy season, a lightweight rain jacket or poncho will be useful. Comfortable walking shoes are important for exploring cities, and a pair of sandals will be perfect for the beach. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and UV-protection sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun. For evenings or dining out, pack a slightly dressier outfit. Essential items include high SPF sunscreen, insect repellent, a reusable water bottle, a travel umbrella, a daypack, and personal hygiene products.

Optional items to consider are a light sweater or shawl for cooler evenings, a beach towel or sarong, a portable charger, and snorkeling gear if you plan to snorkel.

With these items, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy Panama’s vibrant cities, beautiful beaches, and stunning natural landscapes.


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best places to visit in Casco Viejo Panama


insiight guide panamaIf you want more in-depth information and a guide you can bring along during your trip, I recommend the travel guide Insight Guides Panama | Optimize Your Travel and Arrange Your Unforgettable Journey to the Crossroads of the Americas. This is an excellent source of information, tips, maps, and everything you need if you plan on visiting Panama. I like the option of having a hard copy version where I can take notes.

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Discover the Charm of Casco Viejo and Panama: A Visitor’s Guide

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