Amador Causeway This man-made peninsula on the south end of town is a popular recreation and dining area that provides sweeping views of the city skyline, and a reliable breeze that is a cool tonic on hot Panamanian days. It is also the site of several monstrous condominium and marina developments, as well as the new Frank Gehry museum dedicated to biodiversity.
Balboa/Cerro Ancón/Albrook These are three quiet residential neighborhoods located within the former Canal Zone. The domestic airport, Albrook is here, occupying what once was the U.S. Air Force base, and many young professionals have moved into the "reverted area" for its trademark, sturdy wooden houses with wide verandas and lush foliage. Cerro Ancón hill is the most salient landmark here, offering a 360-degree view of the city and the canal from the lookout point up high.
The neighborhoods El Chorrillo, Santa Ana, and Chinatown, on the eastern side of Cerro Ancón, are dangerous and not safe to visit, especially at night.
Calidonia/La Exposición The shoreline that fronts these two neighborhoods is the future site of many of Panama City's most ambitious high-rise developments. There are many budget (and downright scary) lodging options here, but low-cost lodging can also be found in better neighborhoods like El Cangrejo. Avenida Balboa, which hugs the shore, is an excellent place for an afternoon stroll.
Casco Viejo/San Felipe Panama's loveliest neighborhood was once a collection of homes built during the late 1800s and early 1900s, before it became fashionable to live elsewhere in the city. The historical barrio, now revitalized with public and private funds, is undergoing a thorough renovation that prompted UNESCO to designate it a World Heritage Site. If you have time to visit just one neighborhood in Panama City, make it this one.
The Coastline: Marbella/Punta Paitilla/Punta Pacífica Residential towers and shopping malls are the identifying characteristics of this area, where there's a confluence of Panama's newly moneyed, illegally moneyed, and recently retired residents living in glitz-and-glass high-rises overlooking the sea.
El Cangrejo/Area Bancaria/Bella Vista These three neighborhoods border each other, but they are so compact that they could be considered part of the "upscale zone." Older El Cangrejo has a "lived-in" look and hilly streets that lend this neighborhood charm. Just to the south, the Area Bancaria (Financial District), in addition to El Cangrejo, is where most travelers feel happiest lodging, as everything is within walking distance: top restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Dozens of trendy eateries are concentrated in Bella Vista east of Avenida Frederico Boyd -- the reason why Bella Vista is sometimes referred to as the Zona Rosa.
Panama Viejo On the eastern edge of the city are the ruins of Panama Viejo, the first settlement in Panama that later burned to the ground. Many visit as part of a guided tour, but the area also has a pleasant walking/jogging path along the shore and a self-guided interpretive trail that winds through the ruins.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.