Panama City Travel Guide

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Panama City Travel Guide

Panama City Local History

There are "three" Panama Cities any visitor should become acquainted with to really appreciate it: the modern skyscraper city, the Colonial-era Casco Viajo and the ruins of the original Panama City in Panama Viejo. Modern Panama City is set on the beautiful Panama Bay. It has a flourishing business district, a first-world infrastructure including 100 banks, a vibrant nightlife, a fantastic restaurant scene and the only rainforest within city limits in the world - the Metropolitan Natural Park.

The "second" Panama City - Casco Viejo sector of the city dates from the 17th century Spanish era. Numerous noteworthy historical buildings dot the area including 17th century churches and convents and beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings which reflect Panama City's long history as the crossroads of the Americas and the world.

The "third" Panama City is the picturesque ruin Panama Viejo ( Old Panama). These are the ruins of the original 16th century Panama City. Founded in 1517, Panama City was the first city built on the Pacific Coast of the Americas. It was founded to facilitate the transfer of riches the Spanish plundered from the Incan Empire to Spain via the Ithmus of Panama. In 1671, it was destroyed and burnt down after an attack by the English pirate Henry Morgan.

Panama City Attractions

Panama City Shopping

Shop for Souvenirs and Native Handicrafts - Don't leave Panama without an authentic souvenir made by one of Panama's seven living Indian tribes. Panama's most famous handicraft are "molas" intricate reverse appliqué embroidery made by the woman of the Kuna Indian tribe. Other items include the hand-woven baskets of the Embera Indians of the Darien jungle, similar to baskets woven by Navajo Indians and tagua nut sculptures- tiny figures skilfully carved from a tagua nut.

You can shop for a large selection of traditional souvenirs at a Gran Morrison variety store near your hotel. Another popular place is the big Balboa Artisans Market, in the former American Canal Zone.

For special jewellery visit the famous Reprosa jewellery store in the Business District. Reprosa has jewellery collections that include authentic reproductions of Pre-Columbian Indian art, reproductions of Spanish colonial jewellery and collections inspired by Panama's flora and fauna. Tel (507) 269 0457)

Panama City Beaches

East Coast Pacific Beaches - Near Panama City. Just an hour and a half from Panama City by car, these beaches are the most accessible. Like most everywhere else in Panama, there are no crowds here, just miles of picturesque beaches and sun 365 days a year.

Panama City Restaurants and Bars

Panama City Restaurants

Café Barko - On Flamingo Island at the Amador Causeway, Tel (507) 314-0000. Café Barko situated on the spectacular Amador Causeway under the stars and close to the sea has the best panoramic view of the City and the Panama Canal. They specialise in seafood, sushi and traditional Panamanian cuisine. They offers a wide variety of seafood dishes including fresh lobster and King Crab from the Atlantic Ocean, jumbo prawns and shrimp, clams, calamari, octopus. Their sushi is some of the best anywhere. Best sellers include the house ceviche, Panama's famous corvina with a choice of tropical and asian sauces and our sushi. They offer a complete wine list, a full cocktail bar and the best sangria in town.

El Trapiche - Located on the Via Argentina, Las Tinajas. This restaurant specialises in authentic Panamanian food served in ample portions. It is very popular and is always bustling at lunchtime with locals, themselves a testimony to the quality of its authentic cuisine. Try the "Panamanian Fiesta" plate which is an assortment of 7 different selections of Panama's most popular foods. It is good to come famished because this is not only a delicious but a large meal.

The meal begins with sancocho, a typical chicken soup and the main plate includes deliciously seasoned shredded beef, fried plantains and hojaldras ( flour fritters). If you want a combination of Panamanian and international, order from their wide variety of Panamanian appetizers and for a main dish, have one of their excellent grilled steaks. Try one of the variety of fresh fruit shakes and juices with you meal. You can choose a sidewalk table from which you can observe Panamanian city life.

Panama City Bars & Clubs

El Livin' Lounge - Panama City. The different kind of choice for a Panamanian night. El Livin' is known for a decor featuring the paintings of local artists and its policy of not playing mainstream music. The Lounge is divided into two connecting areas, the bar which occasionally hosts live bands and the Lounge with a more light and music that is not so loud as to interfere with good conversation. There is a billard table in between the bar and the lounge.

844 - Panama City. This is a combination of a sushi bar, bar and lounge. 844 is one of the new places that have opened in historic Casco Viejo section of the city. A visit to the sushi bar is a must before going down to the extravagant bar on the floor below. The second floor lounge, totally decorated in white, is an excellent option for those looking for a more peaceful ambience.

Liquid - Panama City. This is just about the only disco in the city with a good size dance floor. Liquid is the best option for those who enjoy serious dancing.

Blue - Panama City. All the decoration in this small night spot is blue. This club is known for its great variety of martinis and for being one of the few bars in the city that selects its clientele. Located in the Casco Viejo, it is a popular first stop for those planning to make the rounds. It is recommend that you arrive early since parking space are scarce.

Wine Bar - Panama City. This is the place for wine lovers. The Wine Bar has a selection of more than 300 wines and a big cheese selection as well. Great place for conversation with an in house live music trio. Situated in El Cangrejo in the business district near the Panama Hotel.

El Pavo Real - Panama City. This authentic British pub is set in the heart of Panama City. They offer good pub food, a sedate, friendly bar scene and a favourite place for natives, and other visitors to kick back. Situated around the corner from the Marriot Hotel in the business district.

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