The metropolis of Panama City is just as diverse as the rainforests that surround it. But while the jungle has a variety of wildlife, the city has its own variety of aesthetics and cultures. All of the Panama City neighborhoods have their unique vibes, along with pros and cons for visiting travelers.

From the historic colonial architecture of Casco Viejo to the modern skyscrapers of Obarrio, there are plenty of lodging options. But how can you decide where to stay in Panama City with so many choices? Not to worry; we’ve put together a guide to Panama City neighborhoods, complete with our recommendations on where to stay.

Zoom in on the map below to see the outlines of Panama City neighborhoods, along with the locations of our hotel recommendations. Read on to discover which area works the best for your stay in Panama City:

Casco Viejo

This historical district is a must-see when visiting Panama City. Casco Viejo holds many of the city’s most important historical and cultural landmarks, including the Panama Canal Museum, the Cathedral of Panama City, and the Presidential Palace. Check out our other blog post for a full list of attractions and things to do in Casco Viejo.

Old town Panama City, as the neighborhood is also called, is a hub for restaurants and nightlife. Experience the flavors of Casco Viejo and admire its colonial architecture on an evening food tour. Or, stop by during the day on a broader Panama City highlights tour.

Due to its plethora of attractions, Casco Viejo is a popular place to stay and has a number of unique boutique hotels. The district’s popularity with travelers makes for higher prices and limited lodging availability, especially in high season. Nevertheless, we recommend staying in Casco Viejo so that you can be close to some of the best restaurants and travel destinations in Panama City.

Although Casco Viejo is one of the most important attractions in the city, it is still an up-and-coming neighborhood. Years of neglect in the 20th century left some buildings in disrepair. Many of those buildings are now undergoing restoration, so you may hear more construction noise than other parts of the city.

Whether you are staying in Casco Viejo or another area of the city, try to get a hotel room on a high floor to avoid construction and general city noise. What’s more, the further up you go, the better your views will be of the bay and mountains.

While Casco Viejo has come a long way in the last few decades, the areas surrounding the neighborhood have not had as good of fortune. If you are traveling to other parts of the city, take a taxi instead of walking. Avoid walking in the surrounding areas of El Chorrillo, Santa Ana, and San Miguel, especially at night.

Where to Stay in Casco Viejo

Bellavista: Obarrio, El Cangrejo, and Marbella

Bellavista means “beautiful views” in Spanish, and it’s an appropriate name for this district! The central neighborhood of Bellavista looks out over Panama Bay and includes some of the city’s most modern neighborhoods. Obarrio, El Cangrejo, and Marbella are all technically within Bellavista, although each of those neighborhoods has its own feel:

Bellavista is large, but walkable and with plenty of parks, quality restaurants, shops, hotels, cafes, and bars. It’s also safer than other areas of the city, so you should feel comfortable to walk around, taking the usual precautions as you would in any big city.

The stretch right next to the ocean includes parts of the Cinta Costera (coastal beltway) and Avenida Balboa. Between those roads and the ocean, you’ll find green areas and paths to walk or cycle. Both roads continue down the coast, bordering the Calidonia district before arriving to Casco Viejo. Other important streets in the area include Calle Uruguay, Via Argentina (El Cangrejo), and Calle 50 (Obarrio).

Where to Stay in Obarrio and El Cangrejo

Where to Stay in Marbella

Where to Stay in Bellavista

Punta Paitilla and Punta Pacifica

Jutting out into the ocean, Punta Paitilla and Punta Pacifica are prime real estate. These two districts are right next to Bellavista and include luxury hotels, residential areas, and the MultiCentro Mall.

Where to Stay in Punta Paitilla and Punta Pacifica

Calidonia

Although Calidonia includes a long stretch of prized ocean-front properties with incredible views on Avenida Balboa, this district is less fancy than its neighbors, especially as you go inland. In terms of hotels, there are some good budget to mid-range options.

Where to Stay in Calidonia

Panama City Neighborhoods - Where to Stay in Panama City

Other Panama City Neighborhoods

Although the following neighborhoods are not hotel hotspots, they are important parts of Panama City and you may hear about them or visit them during your trip.

Costa del Este and Coco del Mar
These two upscale eastern districts are on either side of Panama Viejo, the ruins of original Panama City. The neighborhoods are modern and quiet, with luxury, suburban residential areas. They are closer to the Tocumen airport, but further away from most of Panama City’s attractions. We recommend staying at The Westin Panama, a luxury hotel with comfortable beds and modern decor.

Amador
Home to the famous Amador Causeway, this area is known for its skyline and ocean views. Walk or cycle down the causeway to appreciate views of Panama Bay and huge ships entering or exiting the Panama Canal. Housing exists within this district, but it’s limited and exclusive.

Clayton
This former US military base to the northwest of the city is right next to the Miraflores Locks. It’s much greener than the rest of the city and is also close to the Metropolitan Natural Park and Camino de Cruces National Park. Today, it has private schools and high-end villas.

Panama Pacifico
On the other side of the Bridge of the Americas, this district centers around the Panama Pacifico International Airport. It is also green and primarily residential.

So, Where to Stay in Panama City?

We recommend staying in the Panama City neighborhoods of Casco Viejo or Bellavista to have the best experience. In Casco Viejo, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the city and experience its unique culture. In Bellavista, you’ll enjoy the central downtown area, along with its close-by restaurants and beautiful ocean views.

With your lodging taken care of, you’ll be able to focus on enjoying your trip. Take a look at our Panama City tours to find the best activities and attractions in and near Panama City.