No two people are alike. The same can be said for any two neighborhoods. Regardless of which city you’re in, there’s always a different ‘feel’ to each neighborhood. The architecture, shops, restaurants, entertainment options, and the people who call a neighborhood home all contribute to its unique vibe. So what are Panama City’s most notable and popular neighborhoods? There are quite a few. Whether you’re new to the city or have been here for a decade, this brief read will catch you up on some of Panama City’s most distinctive neighborhoods and what makes each one special.
If you’re in Punta Pacifica, you’re bound to find yourself looking up. This small but centrally located area overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is home to some of the city’s most impressive skyscrapers. Many of these luxurious buildings are popular residences for locals and expats alike, which makes Punta Pacifica an important location for real estate investment.
Aside from stunning residential offerings, Punta Pacifica offers luxury in other ways as well. The large Multiplaza Mall is nearby, as is the private Punta Pacifica hospital. What the neighborhood lacks in size it certainly makes up for in height and services.
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Panama City’s historic center oozes with history, culture, gastronomy, and charm. Thanks to efforts by the government to revitalize and repair parts of the city’s once-crumbling historic center, Casco Viejo is now home to many of the city’s top boutique hotels, fine dining options, and picturesque streets.
Cocktail lounges, rooftop bars, and award-winning restaurants are all hidden away within stunning colonial buildings of every color. Whether you’re looking for an organic café, a charming plaza, or a club where you can dance the night away, Casco Viejo has it all.
Another area with plenty of nightlife options is, El Cangrejo. Traditionally a residential neighborhood for middle-class Panamanians, El Cangrejo has become a hub for young professionals and bohemians alike. Plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, and cafés are clustered along the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Via Argentina. Nearby, residents take advantage of Andres Bello Park to go for a jog, relax in the shade of a tree, or spend time outdoors with friends and family.
Unlike many centrally located neighborhoods in the capital, El Cangrejo is more dominated by one and two-story houses than it is by newer skyscrapers. It’s also one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Panama City lending it a charming and friendly vibe.
Stretching along the Panama Bay, Avenida Balboa (AKA, Balboa Avenue) is one of the most highly sought-after addresses in town thanks to its luxury buildings, stunning views, and convenient location. This is where some of the city’s newest and highest-profile apartment buildings are located, most complete with rooftop pools, and ample social areas.
There’s plenty else along Avenida Balboa besides just residential buildings, though. From the avenue, it’s easy to access the Cinta Costera for all of your outdoor exercise needs. It’s also near Calle Uruguay which is packed with restaurants and nightclubs, and not far from the Multiplaza Mall. You’ll likely pay a premium for an address on Avenida Balboa, but most residents would agree that it’s worth it.
Obarrio really does have a little bit of everything to offer visitors and residents. Home to the famous screw-shaped F&F Tower (also known as the Revolution Tower), Obarrio continues to grow in popularity with young professionals since it’s home to many companies and businesses.
Obarrio isn’t just about work though. The area also offers tons of great restaurants, shopping (including the popular SOHO mall), and grocery stores. There are plenty of large hotels, casinos, and varied dining options in Obarrio, which makes it popular with out-of-towners as well. Whether it’s dining or apartments, and whether you’re looking for something upscale or laid-back, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in Obarrio.
Costa del Este
Costa del Este almost feels like a mini city-within-a-city. Popular with expats, many residents of Costa del Este work at corporations and send their children to schools in the area, and rarely find a need to leave this little paradise on the city’s periphery. This insular feeling means that Costa del Este has a vibe that’s all its own. Many would describe the palm-lined streets filled with luxury cars to feel a bit like Los Angeles. There are plenty of shiny skyscrapers that residents call home and trendy gourmet restaurants to try. While the vibe is definitely swanky, many love Costa del Este for its relative peacefulness compared to some of the more centrally located areas of the city.
Another part of the city that you could almost confuse with somewhere in the United States is Clayton. Formerly a US military base, you may think you’re in the suburbs Miami when you’re there. The area is chock full of lush green space that is utterly jungle-esque. Clayton is also just down the road from the City of Knowledge, a business center and collaborative space popular with tech companies and NGOs. As a result, you’ll find that most of Clayton’s residents are expats and individuals who work for said companies.
El Dorado may have once been overlooked in favor of other more trendy or centrally located neighborhoods, but in more recent years this little corner of the city has become a respite for both locals and expats. One thing that makes El Dorado unique is its vibrant Chinese community. Chinese families who had historically lived in Casco Viejo made their way to El Dorado to open their own businesses and enjoy the space and security of living outside the city’s downtown. Today this means lots of locally owned businesses and great Chinese restaurants. El Dorado also has plenty of shopping options (including a large mall with a movie theater), banks, offices, and supermarkets.
Marbella is a ritzy neighborhood just off of Avenida Balboa that is packed with top-notch real estate and plenty of amenities and entertainment to match. This affluent area includes plenty of cafés, cocktail bars, and gourmet restaurants where residents and visitors flock. It also includes the exclusive Balboa Boutiques Panama Strip Mall, which contains a number of health spas, beauty salons, and high-fashion shopping. Residents who enjoy spending time outdoors will head to the Cinta Costera where they can walk, jog, or bike to their heart’s content, all while they take in stunning views of the coast and city skyline.
It’s pretty easy to see that Panama has something for everyone when it comes to different neighborhoods, but if you had to choose one area of the city that offers something for everyone, it would have to be in San Francisco. Almost like a little city within a city, San Francisco offers everything you could possibly need in the way of day-to-day amenities.
In addition to grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, and schools, San Francisco might also have the greatest diversity of awesome restaurants and dining establishments of any neighborhood. Whether you’re looking for white table cloths, food trucks, or something in between, San Francisco has it all. Add to that the variety of indoor and outdoor recreation activities and plenty of great real estate options for both renting and buying, and it’s hard not to appreciate all that San Francisco has to offer.
As you can see, the different neighborhoods in Panama City cater to all different types of residents and visitors. Whether you’re looking for hustle and bustle, quiet and relaxing, or something in between, we’ve got you covered.
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