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Home 101 Exciting Things to do in Panama!

101 Exciting Things to do in Panama! - 33-44: Casco Viejo

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Article Index
101 Exciting Things to do in Panama!
Index by Topic
1-32: Panama City
33-44: Casco Viejo
45-53: Near Panama City
54-56: Kuna Yala Comarca
57-58: Province of Darien
59-65: Province of Colon
66-70: Province of Cocle
71-74: El Valle de Anton
75-80: Province of Veraguas
81: Province of Herrera
82-84: Province of Los Santos
85: Ngobe Bugle Comarca
86-92: Province of Chiriqui
93-94: Province of Bocas del Toro
95-98: The Perl Islands
99-101: Anywhere & Everywhere
All Pages



33-44: Casco Viejo


33) Visit Casco Viejo (aka Casco Antiguo, aka San Felipe) the new location of the burned capital, built in 1673. This new location, at the foot of a large hill and with a shallow water-covered rock shelf surrounding it was  much easier to defend. With its 17th and 18th century Spanish colonial architecture and wrought iron railings, it looks and feels a lot like New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina. See the French Quarter where cannons  fired upon Colombian warships in 1903 which signaled the independence of Panama from Gran Colombia. Tourist police on motorcycles make sure you stay within the safe areas. This area is a MUST SEE!

Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo photo courtesy

34) Have dinner in a dungeon - Las Bovedas in The French Quarter - built into the wall of the city's fortress. Down below  was the torture chamber where prisoners were chained up to their necks and when the tide came  in, crustaceans would feast on their exposed flesh. Their screams of agony helped many other prisoners chained up above in the dungeons see the evil of their ways and confess - to anything. The high arched brick  dungeons are now a bar and quaint restaurant.


  • Entrées $7 - $14.
  • Live Jazz Fri./St. 9 p.m. - 1 a.m.
  • Closed Sundays.
  • Otherwise open 5:30  p.m. - 1. a.m.
  • Tel: 228- 8068



35) See the Golden Alter in Iglesia San Jose - carved from mahogany and covered two fingers thick with gold, it was hidden from Henry Morgan's pirates by a clever Augustine priest who painted the massive two-story  alter with black oil to look as though it was unfinished wood. Despite the fact that Morgan sacked the city for over twenty days and burned most of the existing buildings, the alter survived untouched. It was moved to  it's present location when the City of Panama was relocated in 1673. This is one of the main tourist attractions of Panama. On Ave A between Calle 8 and Calle 9,


  • Open 7 am - noon, 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. Mon. - Sat.
  • 5 am  - 8 p.m. Sun.
  • No Phone.



36) Watch the Pollera de Gala (the national woman's folkloric dress) being hand sewn in La Casa de la Pollera, across the  street from the Golden Arch. These dresses made of fine Irish linens and hand- sewn sequins take  thousands of hours and cost many thousands of dollars to make. On Av A and Calle 8.


  • Open 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
  • Tel: 228- 8671/223-5375



37) Marvel at the forty foot flat arch built without a keystone in 1756 that seems to defy gravity. Lobbyists pushing for the  canal to be built in Panama sent a stamp showing an exploding volcano in Nicaragua to every  member of the US Congress and Senate along with a sketch of the arch still standing after hundreds of years to demonstrate how stable Panama was - and the ploy worked. Despite two devastating fires and the  almost total collapse of the building the arch stood for over 240 years. Left to the elements, in 2003 the arch collapsed but has since been restored. $0 .75 cent visitors fee. Iglesia de Santo Domingo. Ave A. next to the  Colonial Art Museum. No Phone.


38) Visit the Canal Museum (Officially known as the Museo del Canal Interoceanico) housed in the former Great Hotel on Plaza de la Independencia. The hotel was built in 1875. The Museum exhibits include a  fascinating history of one of the world's marvels of engineering and a terrific history of The Isthmus. The interior artwork is worth seeing on its own, as is the coin and stamp collection upstairs. Get the English audio guide for $5 as everything is in Spanish. Av Central between Calle 5 and Calle 6.


  • Open 9:30 am - 5:30 Tues. - Sun., closed Mondays.
  • $2 adults, $0.75 students with valid ID.
  • Tel: 211-1995/211- 1649



39) Sail off into the sunset:


  • Panama Yacht Adventures vessels from 30 feet to 100 feet, sail and power. 
    • Web:
    • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    • Tel: 263- 2673/ 6614- 0660
  • The Panama Yacht Club 
    • Tel: 213-3087/ 6616- 2408
  • Club de Yates y Pesca 
    • Tel: 227- 0145 
  • The Balboa Yacht Club 
    • Tel: 228-5794
  • Flamenco Yacht Club at the end of the Amador causeway 
    • Tel: 314- 0665
  • Panama Sailing School. 
    • Las Brisas on the Amador Causeway - sailing lessons or a daily sunset and champagne cruise (6 people $450, 8 people $650) or try the Moonlight Madness cruise (6 people $500, 8 people $700)
    • Web:
    • Tel: 314- 3393, Cell (English): 6413 - 6113


40) Sneak onto the secret roof garden of The National Theatre. Bribe your way back stage and climb the windy stairs up above the lights to the secret roof garden with a spectacular view of the entire City of Panama.  Inside the lobby, gaze  up at the Sistine Chapel-like paintings on the ceiling of the spectacular National Theater opened in 1908 . Hear a  concert by The National Symphony, see a performance by The National Ballet  or get swept away by Madame Butterfly by The National Opera. Rock and pop concerts, modern dance, and jazz music are all performed here. (It also has the only ATM in Casco Viejo). Between Ave B and 3rd Street


41) Say hello to the President of Panama at Presidential Palace of the Herons, the oldest building in Casco Viejo built in 1673. Ave Eloy Alfaro (on the waterfront) and Calle 6. (NOTE: Tours on Sundays only). If the guards  point guns at you  is best to leave them be, as the President might be busy at the moment - instead, just shop the shops, try the great restaurants, or visit the magnificent cathedrals in the area. DO NOT tell them  Roberto Chocolate sent you!


42) Pick up a gourmet lunch to go from Super Gourmet in Casco Viejo. Avenida A and Calle 6 . Imported cheeses, fine wines, imported beers, cigars, a savory lunch for under $10


  • Tel: 212-3487



43) Sip Italian coffee and snack on sinfully good cheesecake, listen to the expat gossip at Caffe Per Due Ave A, Casco Viejo. Tues. - Sun (closed Mondays) 8:30 A.M. - 10 P.M.


  • E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Tel: 6512- 9311



44) Let the good times roll at the annual Jazz Festival in Casco Viejo in January, but enjoy outdoor concerts in the square all year long. Just follow the music. Enjoy outdoor patio restaurants and bars. Las Bovedas (French  Quarter, Casco Viejo) has live jazz in the bar


  • Tel: 228 - 8068



Tell them Roberto Chocolate sent you!


Last Updated on Monday, 06 April 2015 17:28  

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