What Is Balboa Avenue All About
The city’s at your fingertips on Avenue Balboa. Within walking distance from Calle 50 and the Banking District, Avenue Balboa is the place to be.
Running over 3km along the Pacific, Balboa Avenue is named after Vasco Núñez de Balboa. Vasco Núñez de Balboa was the first European explorer-conquistador to cross the Isthmus to the Pacific Ocean in 1513.
Balboa Avenue, though, is anything but a relic of the past. It’s where global modernity and local tradition intersect. And this is the tops expat lists on where to live in Panama City. It’s a glistening scene of world-class restaurants overlooking the Pacific. A shopping mecca for Latin America’s fashionistas. A reshaping skyline that seems to grow before your eyes.
It’s also home to the famous Mercado de Mariscos. This is where local fishermen unload and serve up the freshest octopus ceviche for those in the know. And, to top it all, it boasts the Cinta Costera! The city’s beautiful waterfront boulevard, loved by all ages and all fitness levels.
Get Moving On The Cinta Costera
Jog, roller-blade, downward dog, move and shake it however you want. You’ll be doing it looking right out to the Pacific, all the way from Paitilla to Amador. There’s something for everyone on the Cinta Costera!
The Cinta is 9km wide and has palm-tree-lined trails and bike lanes that all await you. A state-of-the-art skate park is a favorite stomping ground for teenagers. You will also find playgrounds, workout stations, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. All of which are nestled between the landscaped green spaces.
Learn more about the Cinta Costera
Within walking distance, you will find Riba Smith by Urraca Park. The Riba Smith supermarket chain offers a wide selection of fresh produce, in-house bakeries, and great fish and meat counters.
Close by you will also find Foodie. Foodie stocks specialty hard-to-find produce and spices, yellow dates and dragon fruit.
Rincón del Chef also lives up to its name by offering a great variety of gourmet products. Products are both local and imported, as well as hydroponic and organic.
Inside the Multicentro Mall, Deli Kosher Market has a counter that sells ready to go take-out kosher meals.
And of course, the Mercado de Mariscos is THE place for fresh seafood in the city. Browse the endless counters spread with lobster, oysters, octopus, white bass and fish we’ve never heard of State-side. The restaurant upstairs will cook your lobster or fresh fish for a modest fee too.
Shop Til You Drop Avenue Balboa
Panama is a shoppers haven and a hub for shopaholics from all over Latin America. Given its competitive tariffs, VAT and taxes. Over 40,000 shoppers land in Panama for the 48-hour frenzy of Black Friday Sales. And, you guessed it: Avenue Balboa is at the heart of Panama’s luxury new retail infrastructure.
Soho Mall and Multiplaza Pacific Mall both feature designer fashion. You’ll find Panamanian couture and Parisian runway fashion. In addition, high-end boutiques, leather, and home goods and everything between.
Chanel, Burberry, Prada, Bottega Veneta, Dior, and Valentino are right at home in Soho Mall. While its main competitor, Multiplaza is a fun mix of high-end brands like Hermès and Gucci and high-street players Zara. When you enter, ask for the Panama Shopping Card at reception to get the best discounts and deals inside. Including automatic tax deductions for foreigners at many stores.
Multicentro, a mall for the high street fashionista features Kenneth Cole, Clarks, Nike and the like. It also hosts the Megapolis Convention Center, which can fit up to 3,000 guests.
More Fitness, Spas & Pampering
If you didn’t get enough of a fix on the Cinta, go to the Akila Yoga Institute, Electro-body Center or Udaan Fit Gym for aerial and functional training. They all have custom-made plans to get you looking your best. The Animo Express Gym offers $19.99/month unlimited access to great and modern equipment.
Balboa Avenue is also home to some of the classiest spas in the city. Rossana Tabares Medical Spa, inside Balboa Boutiques, is loved by celebrities and others in the know.
For a less star-studded setting, visit the Eforea Spa inside the Hilton. It has a steam room, sauna, hydrotherapy and a whole host of treatments and services.
Rock Spa does it all for a real rockstar treatment. Here sound vibrations and organic products go hand in hand.
Blending Hair Studio is our go-to for cuts and color (as well as make-up and mani-pedis). While Salvador Uomo is an upscale barbershop and spa for men.
A waterfront district in the city center generally commands some of the highest prices in the city. Especially in newer, high-end buildings such as YOO Tower, and Allure. Avenue Balboa also has a few older buildings featuring very large floor-plans. All of which can be purchased for less than the neighboring newer high-rises.
Sales and rental prices vary by the age of the building, the floor of the apartment, amenities, and construction quality.
There’s a wide range of property options on Balboa Avenue starting around $1,300/month for a one-bedroom rental. And $180,000 for a one-bedroom studio sale.
Getting Around Balboa Avenue
Getting around Balboa Avenue is easy as it’s a hub for city transportation. The Metrobus has many stops along Balboa Avenue and along the Cinta Costera to get you anywhere in the city. The metro stops in nearby El Carmen and Plaza 5 de Mayo. For $2 you can get a card that also works on the subway, with each ride costing 35 cents.
Uber and Cabify will cost you $2-4 for a ride to the surrounding neighborhoods. These providers are a safer option than the yellow cabs which overcharge foreigners.
For a day trip outside Panama City, there are a host of car rental companies located close by. Including Dollar, Rent-A-Car and Budget. Renting a car will cost ~$40/day, including insurance.
And last, but not least, the Cinta Costera is made for biking. Rentals are $3 an hour at Get One Bike. And you can also get a scooter or rollerblades for the day at Urban Bikes near Casco Viejo.
Eating Out On Balboa Avenue
Inside Balboa Boutiques check out Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which has excellent coffee. You’ll also find great horchatas and brunch options.
If you’re in the mood for a fresh ceviche the famous Mercado de Mariscos fish market is an easy stroll down the Cinta. Buy a paper cup filled with shrimp, octopus, corvina or black conch ceviche for $1.50 (and pair it with a cold beer for $1.25).
To eat in style, head to Makoto and sample the exceptional sushi and hand-crafted sake.
Segundo Muelle (Peruvian) has gorgeous views over the Pacific is a perfect spot for a special occasion. Any of the ceviches or the tacu tanque and pisco sour are the best in the city.
Cabana inside the Yoo Tower has a gorgeous terrace opening up to views over the bay. It offers exquisite Italian-inspired cuisine. Try the various carpaccios or tuna tartare and enjoy their wine cellar.
The famous Boulevard Balboa is a local diner-like favorite, with great lunch specials and delicious seafood stew. Gaucho’s (Argentine) serves up the best steaks and churrasco in town. While Da Stefano Trattoria is a home away from home for many Italian expats. Cafe Mar for sushis and cocktails is always a fun option, especially on Saturdays for karaoke.
And since it’s Balboa Avenue, the malls are always an obvious bet. The food courts and restaurants in the malls can be surprisingly good, especially in Multiplaza. Here you will find Leños y Carbón Gourmet (Panamanian fare), Tacontento (Mexican) and Tony Roma’s (ribs, seafood, and steaks).
Was Balboa Designed With Kids In Mind?
The hype for adults is obvious, but Balboa Avenue is also a great option for raising kids in the heart of the city. It’s one of the safest parts of town. On weekends, the Cinta Costera is the obvious draw for families with toddlers all the way to skateboarding teens. It has the cleanest, widest, safest and absolutely most pot-hole free sidewalks. In addition, on Sundays, the Cinta Costera is closed to cars from 6 am to noon.
Its daycares, pre-K and great quality high schools are right up there with the top options in the city.
There are three great bilingual options in the area. Oxford International School, Panama School, and Instituto Alberto Einstein. They all offer well-rounded instruction from elementary through to high school.
For daycares, Keydoh has fantastic facilities to keep little ones busy (magnetic climbing wall, mini sky trail). At Las Naciones, you can watch your baby remotely at the rec park on the baby cam from 0 – 6 years. And Born to Learn has great classes (aikido for tots), as well as behavioral and developmental therapists on site. They also offer drop-in care.
Nightlife, Entertainment, and Culture-Vulturing in Casco Viejo
After hours let the games begin at the 45,000 sq ft Majestic Casino at Multicentro. Here you will also find live salsa music, karaoke or other on-stage entertainment. Catch a movie at the luxury VIP Cinepolis movie theater at Soho Mall (3D and 4D).
For after-work drinks, head to Inédito, a bar-restaurant inside Balboa Boutiques. Here you can mix hookahs with arepas and bask in the sun setting over the Pacific.
Panama Brews is a hidden gem offering over 35 local craft beers on tap. Order a six-shot sampler for $3 but you can’t go wrong, as they all go great with their ceviche. For live music, check out El Apartamento-Sotano. This is a relaxed art and cultural space with a cocktail bar and restaurant. They also host to great alternative music, from punk rock to hip hop.
BITS Roof Lounge stands for “bar in the sky,” which, on the 62nd floor, is exactly what you get. The highest nightclub in Latin America opening up to 360-degree views of the city.
The Theatre Guild of Ancón, a Panama City institution dating to the 1950s, is right on your doorstep for a more cultural soiree.
Productions are in English at the art deco Teatro Balboa and run the gamut of the theatrical spectrum. From dramas to comedies and musicals. The Guild is a non-profit and provides a training ground for actors in the making. Its stages launched the careers of Robert Loggia and Rubén Blades.
Culture-Vulturing in Casco Viejo
For a really good time on the weekend, you’ll want to head out of Balboa and dip into history in Casco Viejo. This is the city’s beautiful colonial quarter and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Casco Viejo’s colorful buildings have been restored and its picturesque streets buzz with creative energy. It hosts the coolest bars in town and an after-hours avant-garde art scene. Enjoy pre-dinner cocktails at Lazotea for views across the city from the rooftop.
Balboa Avenue is home to Mi Clinica Hospital, where an insurance plan for $25 a month. This gets your coverage under their extensive in-house services 24/7. These include primary care, urgent care, specialists, plus all labs, ER, hospitalizations.
The private Centro Medico Paitilla, as well as the public Hospital Santo Tomas and pediatric Hospital del Niño, are all excellent choices. Nearby, Punta Pacifica Hospital is also a great private option.
For pharmacies check out Farmacias Arrocha and Farmaplus Panama in the main entrance of Multicentro mall. Here they stock everything you could need (generic and brand names).
Postal Service & Deliveries
If receiving stuff by mail is important for you or your business be prepared. It’s a challenge, no matter where you go in Panama (or the region, for that matter). PO Boxes were introduced to solve the problem but it’s not cheap ($3-5 per pound). The good news is that there are plenty of options for this around Balboa Ave.
You can find Mailboxes Etc close to Urracá Park and nearby Casco Viejo and Paitilla.
Airbox Express is on La Cresta, 50th St and they have another location in El Cangrejo.
DHL has locations inside Multiplaza, Marbella, Bella Vista, and Punta Pacífica.
Lastly, FedEx in Trump Tower and Paitilla and UPS close by in Bella Vista.
Hotels on Avenue Balboa
Avenue Balboa is also a hub for all the international hotel chains for business and leisure trips.
Le Méridien Panama, Golden Tower (Hotel Las Américas), Intercontinental Miramar, and Waldorf Astoria Panama and Hilton Panama are all there.
Panama Equity Real Estate
Panama Equity was founded on a commitment to deliver a professional real estate experience to all of our clients. Our real estate agents understand the concept of working hard, working smart, and always doing what’s right. We appreciate the trust that our clients put in us, and are always looking to improve the way we deliver the Panama Equity experience.