Where to Stay in Panama City – 5 Amazing Areas (w/ Hotels!)

Panoramic view of Panama City skyline with modern high-rise buildings and lush greenery in the foreground, under a cloudy sky

Are you looking for the most incredible areas where to stay in Panama City? Amazing!

After comparing all the beautiful places where to stay in Panama City and finding all the TOP hotels, I am here to deliver the ultimate guide for your dream vacation to this stunning city!

Spoiler alert: the best area for first timers in Casco Viejo (the Old Town), it is the top area for historical sites and traditional Spanish architecture. But there are more neighborhoods to choose from, so stick around to uncover all 5 areas!

Read this post because I basically did all the planning for you – I compared all the accommodation options out there in the city and hand-picked the best ones for each budget (and area) – now all you have to do is choose from la creme de la creme!

Keep in mind the best hotels get booked super fast, so you should book ASAP!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Here are best hotels in Casco Viejo, the best area to stay in Panama City for the first timers:

luxury hotel
Luxurious waterfront hotel, Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo, against a dramatic sunset sky in Panama, reflecting elegance and historical charm
mid-range hotel
Minimalist bedroom with a rustic touch at Corcho Rooms, featuring a cozy double bed, wooden headboard, and modern air conditioning unit

Corcho Rooms

Best value for money

budget hotel
Minimalist bedroom with a rustic touch at Corcho Rooms, featuring a cozy double bed, wooden headboard, and modern air conditioning unit


Best affordable accommodation in the center

Watch my video, it will give you a visual explanation of all the areas:

To help you visualize their locations, here is a handy map of Panama City showing you the 5 best areas that I will be talking about in this post:

A colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in Panama-City, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigation

1. Casco Viejo – where to stay in Panama City for first-timers

Colorful colonial buildings with blooming red flowers in Casco Viejo, Panama, on a bright sunny day with parked cars lining the street.

Casco Viejo, also known as the Old Town, is without a doubt the top area for first-timers and history lovers because all the main attractions are located here!

NOTE: keep in mind this area is a 30-minute ride by public transport from the skyscrapers and businesses of modern Panama City – it is just the way the city is organized.

This area nestles most of all the historical landmarks, and a unique colonial style dating back from the time of Spain’s domain. It is also a vibrant part of town filled with restaurants and bars, where you can discover another side of Panama!

One of the main attractions in the city is the National Theatre, which was built in 1908 and features a beautiful interior with frescoes on the ceiling. If you have the chance, I highly suggest you watch a show there!

Did you know Casco Viejo was declared by UNESCO a World Heritage site in 1997?

Enjoy the ocean views from Plaza Francia (France Square), and get lost in the beautiful streets of Casco Viejo until you stumble upon Arco Chato (map), which offers free entry, BTW! 

Nearby, you can find the stunning Independence Square, which is surrounded by cool attractions such as the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria the Ancient, Panama Canal Museum and the Museum of Panamanian History.

Something you cannot miss is visiting the Mola Museum (BTW it’s free!). Mola is a type of indigenous handmade textile art typical of Guna people. This form of art is truly beautiful, and this museum even offers workshops sometimes! 

Go for a scenic waterfront walk to Avenida Balboa and take in the beauty. To end your day on a high note, stop by CasaCasco for some sushi and a drink on their roof terrace for more iconic views!

NOTE: Casco Viejo used to be a rundown area, but improvements have been made to it, and it is now safe. But keep in mind the neighborhoods that surround it are still very poor, and sometimes there is gang violence (I did not include it in the list for this exact reason).

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Panama City: an elegant waterfront hotel building with white balconies and terraces, a serene hotel bedroom with classic furniture and a window with a view, and a cozy sitting area with modern art and a comfortable blue couch

This hidden gem will become your dream hotel. The location and decor are simply stunning, it is luxurious and unique. It is located on the beach and comes with a terrace with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. Some rooms come with balconies overlooking the ocean or the old town.

Other accommodation options in Casco Viejo

A spacious, well-lit bedroom in Corcho Rooms with a comfortable double bed, modern amenities

Beautiful hotel offering traditional yet trendy rooms. The property is located in the heart of the Casco Viejo

Cozy outdoor patio seating area surrounded by lush greenery and potted plants, with a rustic wooden table and chairs under a thatched roof

An adult-only accommodation in the middle of trees and plants with a barbecue place and an incredible terrace

Elegant interior hallway featuring vintage patterned floor tiles, white walls, a brown leather chair, and natural light filtering through French doors

A Classic place with modern touches within walking distance from the historic center in Casco Viejo

Things to do in Casco Viejo

  • Visit the Arco Chato ruins 
  • Check out the street art on the buildings of Casco Viejo
  • Take a stroll along Plaza de la Independencia, the town square
  • Visit and attend a Mola art workshop at the Mola Museum

2. Obarrio – the coolest place to stay in Panama on a budget

Urban street view outside the Time Square Plaza in Panama with parked cars, modern buildings, and a large billboard for U.S. Polo Assn

Obarrio is quite the Gem in Panama City, and it is part of the huuuge area of Bella Vista, which encompasses many more neighborhoods, for example, the cool areas of El Cangrejo, Marbella, and the unofficial Financial District, also known as the Area Bancaria.

The super central Obarrio is the perfect mix of old architecture and modern deluxe buildings. And one of the coolest things about this area is that you can find top-notch stunning accommodation for a budget price!

Locals LOVE this area. It is one of, if not THE safest place to stay in Panama City; it has a nice residential area, and it can get pretty luxurious with all the restaurants and shopping malls with high-end brands. 

Don’t forget to check out the unique F&F Tower while you are in the area. This eclectic building is unique in size and shape. It is 796 feet (243 meters) tall!

By the way, the most popular in the area is Soho City Center (map), which also nestles cafes and restaurants if you feel like having a shopping spree break! 

Multiplaza Pacific Mall (also known as Multiplaza Panamá) is one of the biggest ones in the city, it is in San Francisco, but is literally on the border between the areas!

One of the sights you need to visit is the Parish National Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (map). Its architecture and interiors are quite unique; you will love it!

All this walking around Obarrio is going to make you hungry, so I suggest you stop by Napoli, an Italian restaurant with a pizza that slaps!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Panama City: a spacious hotel bedroom with a large window offering city views and modern decor, a sophisticated living room with contemporary furniture and artistic touches, and a sleek high-rise hotel building with a glass facade and urban surroundings

If you want to discover all that Panama City has to offer, this hotel is the ideal spot for you. Whether you’re sipping cocktails in the sky bar or relaxing by the swimming pools, you will feel pampered and taken care of! Don’t forget to try out their 4 onsite restaurants!

Other accommodation options in Obarrio

Contemporary hotel room with a king-sized bed, cream sofa, blue armchair, and large windows offering a city view.

A fancy, affordable hotel with a sea and mountain view, 10 minutes drive from the Old City Centre. One of the best hotels in this price range

Rooftop swimming pool on a sunny day with wooden decking, lounge chairs, and a view of Panama City's skyscrapers in the background

A perfect spacious location and great hotel for those who love a comfy bed, oceanfront Balboa Avenue is a 15-minute walk away

Innovative container housing with several black and orange cargo containers set up as living spaces in an urban outdoor setting

A private unique experience for the adventurous in you, located in the center of Panama City

The Former Hyatt Place, now MARINN PLACE, is another great accommodation in the financial district of Obarrio. The hotel comes with a roof terrace with a pool and unique vistas. Every Morning, you can enjoy a free breakfast!

Things to do in Obarrio

  • Get yourself a treat at the fantastic Café Madero
  • Try your luck at the casino Bingo90 (map)
  • Check out the amazing F&F Tower
  • Admire Parish National Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

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3. San Francisco – where to stay for bustling restaurants

Scenic view of the Panamanian flag waving in front of the historic yellow and white Palacio de las Garzas building under a cloudy sky.

Located directly east of the city center, San Francisco is one of the most vibrant and chic neighborhoods in Panama City. The area is super BIG and encircles many mini areas, such as Punta Pacifico and Punta Paitilla

Honesty, San Francisco has it all. It is super safe and nestles beautiful parks, has a lot of amazing restaurants, elite shopping malls, and a vibrant nightlife. Basically, It’s suitable for all types of travelers thanks to its many entertainment features! 

Multiplaza Panama is literally the most popular shopping center in the area. It has thousands of high-end brands and amazing restaurants, so make sure you buy a nice souvenir for yourself there! 

Although Multiplaza Panama is super big, the biggest shopping center in Panama is Albrook Mall, it has over 700 stores!

If you are craving some greenery after all the bustling city lights, I highly suggest you stop by Parque Omar (map). A green lung in the middle of the city, with a lot of playgrounds for kids, and many football and tennis courts!

Atlapa Convention Center is in the zone, so if you are attending an event there, this area is great for you! For a nice night out, you should head to Maito Restaurante, a top-class restaurant with a lovely black rice dish!

NOTE: Costa del Este is only a 15-minute car drive away from San Francisco, so if you find accommodation there is great too, the area is super good for families!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Panama City: a grand hotel lobby with large red pendant lighting and modern seating arrangements, a luxurious hotel room with neutral tones and ocean views, and a spa-like bathroom with a large window next to a corner bathtub.

Looking for a relaxing escapade? With a spectacular view of the Bay of Panama, this hotel offers you a 24-hour gym and room service. Relax like you never did before in their outdoor swimming pool and spa. Located just 10 minutes drive away from Tocumen International Airport

Other accommodation options in San Francisco

Modern infinity pool at Aloft Panama, bordered by stylish outdoor furniture and high-rise buildings in the backdrop

Amazing modern hotel with a fitness center, outdoor swimming pool, and pet-friendly rooms!

Simple yet inviting bedroom at Casa Areka, Panama, with a clean white bed, wooden furniture

This rustic hotel offers great value for money. It comes with shared and private rooms, all with pool access!

Bright and airy living room with modern decor, white furniture, colorful cushions, and abstract wall art, with ample sunlight

A comfortable intimate place located very close to Atlapa Convention Center and Multiplaza Mall

 Things to do in San Francisco

  • Have a fun night out at El Green Room Karaoke
  • Do some jogging in Park Omar (map)
  • Relax in Omar Park
  • Go on a shopping spree at Multiplaza Panama

4. El Cangrejo – where to stay for an authentic local feel

The Iglesia del Carmen, a striking neo-Gothic church in Panama City, with its intricate white spires against a cloudy sky, juxtaposed with modern skyscrapers and bustling street activity

El Cangrejo is one of the coolest places to stay in Panama City and one of the most central zones!

Locals love this area since it offers a peaceful and safe atmosphere, but still, it is filled with restaurants and bars and a vibrant nightlife. It is also quite popular amongst young people since Panama University is around the corner!

By the way, El Cangrejo is part of Bella Vista, and it is next to Obarrio. It is super easy to get to the area and visit other areas and attractions by metro. Families and young people will love staying here the same!!

Legend says the name of the neighborhood is not ordinary; it means “the crab”, and it’s because the streets are shaped like crab legs!

Wander around the beautiful streets of El Cangrejo, and have a picnic at Andrés Bello Park (map)! The park has ramps for skating and some tennis courts and playgrounds! So there is fun for all ages!

I suggest you visit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (map) during your stay. The church was built in the 1950s, and the facade and interiors are unique and beautiful!

The main hubs for restaurants and bars are the HIP Avenida España and Avenida Argentina. If you are looking for traditional Central American dishes, El Trapiche is a top rated option in the area. For a trendy ambience, go to La Rana Dorada for artisan beer, a burger, and a nice chat with locals!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Panama City: the facade of the Best Western Plus Panama Zen Hotel with visible branding, a simple and elegant hotel room with a comfortable bed and city view, and a unique rooftop pool area with patterned sun loungers and a panoramic view of the city

Located in the heart of El Cangrejo, this hotel features a stunning modern vibe! The rooms are classy and spacious, perfect for a restful sleep. The rooftop terrace comes with a fantastic infinity pool overlooking the city and its skyscrapers.

Other accommodation options in El Cangrejo

Sleek rooftop pool at Tryp by Wyndham Panama Centro, with panoramic views of the city's skyline, illuminated by the ambient light of dusk

This trendy hotel comes with a swimming pool and gorgeous rooms for families, and couples!

Compact and clean bedroom in Hostal Ibrais, Panama, featuring essential amenities for a comfortable stay

The best value for money hostel with a sun terrace and rooms are simple but comfy and come with a private bathroom

Bright living room with beige sofas, glass coffee table, and floor-to-ceiling windows offering a view of the city, accentuated with a vibrant flower arrangement

Breakfast buffet and a one-minute walk to the Iglesia del Carmen metro station

Things to do in El Cangrejo

  • Visit the amazing Iglesia del Carmen
  • Play some sports at Andres Bello Park
  • Try your luck and have a meal at Salsa’s Bar and Grill

5. Marbella – best place for luxury travellers

View of Panama City's modern skyline with distinctive blue glass towers, seen from a shaded street lined with older buildings and lush trees

Marbella is located in the greater Bella Vista area, and it is one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Panama City. It is located right by the waterfront, and its neighboring areas are Obarrio, Punta Paitilla, and Punta Pacifica (which are also great areas). 

The area is filled with high-end brands, upscale restaurants and bars, casinos and sweeping ocean views! This neighborhood is definitely for travelers who want to have an elite time in Panama City!

Cinta Costera stretches along the coast, and it is the perfect place for a scenic walk along the ocean in the morning to take in the beauty and prepare for all the city fun!

If all the city lights make you wish for some wilderness, go to Metropolitan Natural Park, located in the heart of Bella Vista and home to more than 600 hundred animal and plant species!

For shopping, I highly suggest you stop by Balboa Boutiques Panama Strip Mall (map). You can find tons of fashion deluxe stores, beauty salons, and spas. Afterward, pick up all your shopping bags and go to the top-tier restaurant Azahar Panama and try their risotto to gain back all your energy!!

In Calle República de Uruguay (Uruguay Street), the surroundings of the streets are quite good for nightlife, so go there and that is what you are looking for. I would go for Cerveceria Legitima. It has a lovely rooftop terrace with fairy lights, craft beer, and finger food! Hip, laid back, and DELISH! 

If you are continuing your trip from Panama City to the Beach, I have a comprehensive guide with the best hostels in Bocas del Toro with views and private beaches!

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in Panama City: an opulent hotel lobby with intricate ceiling design and marble floors, an inviting poolside lounge area with orange umbrellas and city views, and a spacious hotel room with plush seating and a cozy ambiance.

Enjoy a glamorous stay while in Panama City and get all the action with this hotel located in the city’s center. With wood and marble accents, this hotel will offer you an amazing experience with four restaurants to choose from, a bungalow terrace, and a gold-tiled outdoor swimming pool and spa

Other accommodation options in Marbella

Luxurious bedroom with a large bed, contemporary furnishings, and panoramic windows showcasing an urban skyline at dusk

Enjoy the celebrity treatment in this modern hotel located in the lively business district of Panama City

Secluded pool area at CulturaHumana Guesthouse in Panama, surrounded by tropical foliage and vibrant colored stepping stones

This amazing cheap hotel offers private rooms with shared and private bathrooms for solo travelers and big groups

Modern living room with sleek furniture, a large wall-mounted painting, and an open-plan layout leading to a dining area under soft ceiling lights

A sea view stylish one-room apartment with a swimming pool area and a gym

Things to do in Marbella

  • Go shopping at Balboa Boutiques Panama Strip Mall
  • Enjoy some sightseeing at Cinta Costera
  • Discover amazing restaurants on Uruguay street
  • Go bird watching at Metropolitan Natural Park
👑 Luxury price:$200
💵 Mid-range hotel:$130
🛏️ Budget:$60
📍 Best area:Casco Viejo
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo
🧳 Best mid-range hotel:Corcho Rooms
👛 Best budget hotel:Bodhi

BONUS 1: Where to stay near Tocumen International Airport Panama

Exterior view of Tocumen International Airport in Panama, showcasing the busy terminal with parked cars and palm trees under a partly cloudy sky

If you have a long layover in Panama City and need to catch a plane early in the morning, then it is a good idea to stay near Tocumen International Airport Panama.

I will give you a few options in Tocumen and its surroundings so you can have a peaceful sleep the night before you take off.

Keep in mind options around this airport are quite limited, so it is vital to book in advance any of these Panama City lodging options.

Luxury (from US$100 and up)

  • Crowne Plaza Airport – This hotel rating is lower than what I usually recommend, but options in the area are limited, and it is still a great hotel! The hotel is literally next to the airport and offers a free shuttle service, so you won’t have to carry heavy bags! The hotel comes with a lovely pool and an onsite restaurant, and you can opt for a breakfast meal before catching your flight!

Mid-Range (from US$60 to US$100)

  • Habitacion Marina – What a unique property! This cozy property offers beautiful and clean rooms with a cozy, homey vibe! The accommodation offers a paid shuttle service that will get you to the airport in 10 minutes!

Budget (up to US$60)

  • Chelox Panama Airport –  Stay in an amazing apartment offering value for money! This cute small apartment has everything you need for a comfortable sleep before you head to the airport. The apartment has a paid shuttle service, which is super convenient!

BONUS 2: 6 things to know before traveling to Panama City

road avenue in Panama City with rows of palm trees and modern high-rise buildings, leading towards a monument and a cloudy sky backdrop

I always like to learn some facts about the places that I’m going to visit, especially those that have a whole different culture from mine. So here’s a list of the things you should consider while you stay in Panama City. 

1. The huge importance of the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, divides the Isthmus of Panama, and is crucial for maritime trade. You can easily get to the historic Panama Canal, and if you want to see the ships going through the channel, you better wake up really early and be there from 9 a.m. 

The Miraflores lock is the one usually visited by tourists, as it’s the most easily accessible. Here, you can get the full Panama Canal experience, visit some of the exhibition halls or take pictures from the observation decks, and maybe grab a souvenir for a loved one from the gift shop. The tour lasts almost two hours, and it is open daily.

2. Venturing outside of Panama City
If you’re looking for places to stay outside of Panama City, make sure you take someone who speaks Spanish because outside of Panama City, not many people know English, and it might be hard for you to get around or find the best places to stay.

3. The currency is the US dollar
Although these days, people don’t use cash to pay for stuff, it’s good to know, just in case. Though you might read online about the Panamanian Balboa, in reality, most of the money in Panama is from the US. There are, however, some coins that are Panamanian cents.

4. Panama has one of the most expensive coffee in the world
If you’re a coffee lover and you’re looking for some local tastes, then you’ve come to the right place. Panama’s Geisha coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world. 

This type of coffee requires unique cultivating conditions, only a certain amount of coffee can be grown every year. The flavor is quite distinct and exclusive, hence the price and high demand for this type of coffee. Casco Viejo has numerous coffee shops from where you can find this hip coffee.

anoramic view of Panama City's skyline from across the water, with high-rise buildings reflecting the sunlight and fishing boats moored in the foreground

5. The Panama region has around 1600 islands
If you are in Panama City and wish to take a small detour, you can visit one of the most beautiful island chains in the world, called the San Blas Islands. You can find accommodations there and stay for the weekend.

You can get there either by flying from Panama City to Isla de Corazón de Jesús, which will take you 45 minutes, or by car, from Panama City to Carti, San Blas, but you’ll need a tall truck SUV, and it will take you 3 hours to get there. Once you get there, you can sail for days in this amazing place.

Aside from the San Blas, Panama City’s islands have plenty more to offer for visitors. Many of these are accessible from Panama City. For example, you can head to Taboga even just for one day. It is located just 13 miles away from Panama City. You can take the ferry, which departs from the Amador Causeway, and get there in 30 minutes.

The Pearl Islands are another popular choice. You can either go to Panama’s city airport and take a 15-minute flight to Contadora Islands or take the ferry from Punta Pacifica or Amador Causeway and get there in one hour and a half.

6. Don’t freak out if all the lights go out
Power outages are normal in Panama City, and they occur, on a large scale, somewhat frequently. Don’t fret if everything turns off and shuts down suddenly, randomly, day or night!

FAQs about lodging in Panama City

Aerial view of the Bridge of the Americas in Panama, spanning the entrance to the Panama Canal, with the city's skyline in the distance and lush greenery surrounding the area

🏡 What is the best area to stay in Panama City?

The Casco Viejo and Obarrio area is the best one to stay while visiting Panama City. It has all the tourist amenities covered, and some of the most luxurious hotels, many restaurants and it is the main shopping site.

🚫 Where should I NOT go in Panama?

All the areas I am recommending are safe for travelers, but the city has a few slums and poor areas you should avoid, such as San Miguelito, El Chorrillo, Calidonia, Ancón, and Carundú.

❓ Is Panama City safe for tourists?

Yes, Panama City is a safe country to visit, and many families visit the developed tourist areas with their children. However, it’s advised to exercise caution, particularly in crowded areas, as pick-pocketing and mugging is a common issue even in the city’s best areas or hotels.

🏝️What is the best beach in Panama City?

One of the best beaches is just 2 hours away from Panama City by car. Playa Blanca (map) is a magical place; the water is so clear, and you can hide from the sun under the big trees. You’ll wake up in paradise.

🚘 Uber vs Taxi: Which one is better in Panama City?

In short, use Uber! In Panama City, taxis don’t have a taximeter, so taxi drivers usually overcharge, and sometimes they might even let other passengers in. Uber is, in general, safer and cheaper than taxis.


Twilight view of a park in Panama City with illuminated walkways, a serene pond, and a skyline of lit-up skyscrapers reflecting on the water surface.

That is all for today, my sweet angels! Those were the best areas where to stay in Panama City! I am sure that after reading this article, you are ready for an iconic stay!

Honestly, all the hotels mentioned above look dreamy, but if I had to choose my top 2 favorites, I would go with

  • Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo – this hotel looks incredible, like it came out of a movie set. And it is in the heart of the city of Casco Viejo!
  • Global Hotel Panama – hard to believe such a gem has these amazing prices! Amazing value and amenities in Obarrio!

Hotels in the city get booked super fast, so it is better to book in advance to avoid last-minute booking issues.

Which of these areas where to stay in Panama City was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

Enjoy the journey,


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