24 Hours in Panama City

PTY is the largest hub in the Central and South Americas, making it a big option for many travelers in terms of a layover. I definitely recommend taking a little extra time and extending your layover to explore this beautiful, vibrant city. 

As a growing tourist destination, Panama City has a plethora of luxury accommodations. We were definitely missing the amenities of home after our week in Cuba. The view from the infinity pool at the Trump in Panama was amazing.

We spent the morning walking through the beautiful streets of the old city, Casco Viejo means "old quarter", a fitting name for an area just four streets wide. It's full of grand colonial houses, reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans. You can wander the streets and be brought back to a different era filled with live music and dancing.


You cannot leave Panama without trying Geisha coffee. There's normal coffee that breeds basic bitches at your local Starbucks, and then there's coffee from Panama. Geisha coffee is one of the world's best and most expensive.

It was originally brought to Panama from growers in Ethiopia, when traders realized Panama's climate made for thriving coffee beans. However, in the United States, Geisha coffee goes for about $350 a pound (compare that to the $2 a pound local shops pay for their coffee shipments from vendors). 

There's an amazing little shop in Casco Viejo, called Nomada, where you can find some amazing coffee like Geisha coffee and grab a few great bites before heading off to explore the city.

We recommend that you also take advantage of the wifi and buy tickets to go see Panama's star attraction, the canal. First of all, I know people will tell you that the canal is overrated, but it's an ambitious, ill-planned feat of human engineering and design so, it cannot be missed. You can also learn about the canal in the Interoceanic Canal Museum, located in Casco Viejo.

For a quick bite, I recommend you step into Pedro Mandinga, the first rum bar to open in Casco Viejo. Happy hour runs daily from 12-6pm. Before you order your drinks, I suggest you sample the silver and spiced house rums. The menu boasts great cocktails, but nothing beats the Mandinga mojitos. Tropical print armchairs and vintage salsa records make this space an easy spot to while away the afternoon.

You have to pick up a straw hat while in Panama. They're easily found all over the city, with pieces starting from $15 to $800. Just think, the tighter the weave, the pricier the hat.

Lido, a beautiful store in Casco Viejo, carries embroidered molas that make amazing gifts for your jealous friends back home.

They have so many colorful prints and have managed to transcribe the vibrance of the city into the fabric they carry.

However, don't take too long to shop or you'll end up missing your flight!

Frank Gehry's Biomuseo is an architectural center of gravity for the city. You'll only need an hour here at most, but the faceted, multi-hued metal roof panels are the real star of the museum. 

Have a favorite place in Panama City? Share and comment below!