Central + South America

Panama – Truly Breathtaking

Anna Blunden, Destination Expert

Casco Viejo, Casco Antiguo or San Felipe all refer to the same area, the unique and beautiful walled city of Panama consisting of 16th and 17th Century Spanish Colonial Architecture. It was relatively unknown to most of the outside world until 1997 when it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shortly after this foreign investment poured into an area which previously, most Panamanians wouldn’t have touched. It has now developed into the hip and trendy part of the city, a world away from the high rise, business district that makes up the new. It is Casco Antiguo where the young and affluent Panamanian community come to unwind after work, especially during the weekends. The city comes alive at night, the steady hum of music beating through the streets, like I imagine it does in Havana. And it was here where I found myself after a long day on my feet, with a drink in one hand and my camera in the other.

what to do in Panama

Hidden behind the façade of crumbling buildings and down narrow little streets you can now find many gems in Casco Antiguo, whether it’s a restaurant, bar or hotel waiting to be discovered. After a very busy day which started with a tropical storm in the San Blas islands, a quick stop off at the Panama canal and then ending up in the city, I was in desperate need of a refreshing cocktail.

South America Holida Specialists

Word on the street was that Tantalo was the place to go, not only did it have a spectacular view from its rooftop bar, but the freshly made mojitos were said to be the best. I thought it only necessary that I did a little more research and tried it out for myself. I tactfully made this my last port of call for the day and after a little nosey around the hotel itself (which is fabulously bright and trendy) you hop into a relatively cosy elevator to take you up to the bar. I was first hit by a wonderfully cool breeze, which was incredibly welcome after a hot and busy day, and then by the view. It sensationally displayed the difference between the old and the new and to use the ever famous cliché, it was truly breath-taking. It couldn’t have dramatised more how much has changed in this city and how much it continues to change. Once I had gotten my head around the skyline, I sat down with arguably one of the best mojitos I have ever had; it was the icing on the cake.

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