Panama city is arguably the city in middle America with the best skyline but apart from the modern part there is also the old colonial city of Casco Viejo, now a UNESCO Heritage site and subject to renovation. And Panama Viejo, little more then some ruins. From the city you can fly to the beaches of Bocas del Toros and make your way back overland through Boquete and Santa Fe. I combined Panama with Colombia on my trip.
Casco Viejo, also known as Casco Antiguo is the historical part of Panama City. It was build after pirates destroyed the original Panama City, Panama Viejo (now only ruins) in 1671. It is build on a peninsula and was completely isolated by the sea and a defensive system of walls. It used to be a dangerous neighborhood and most buildings were in a bad state when it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1997. Since then things have improved although it begins to look like the whole place is becoming an upmarket place aimed at wealthy tourists instead of a living neighborhood. And the big SUV’s parked in front of all the historic sites should be banned as should all cars from every heritage site.
Bocas Del Toro
The Bocas del Toro archipelago consists of a number of tropical islands, with lush vegetation, nice beaches and places to dive and go snorkeling. But most of all a place to relax and go for the Caribbean vibes. Bocas town of clapboard houses was built by the United Fruit Company. Nowadays Bocas is a relaxed community of Latino’s, West Indians, Chinese shopkeepers and resident gringos. You tend to stay longer then you have planned.
Boquete is a small town in the western-most Chiriquí Province. It lies in the green mountain highlands of Panama, about 60 kilometers from the border with Costa Rica. Because of the elevation of some 1,200 metres its climate is cooler than that of the lowlands. It is a place to cool down after Boquete and for some very scenic walks.
Santa Fe is like a mini Boquete. Smaller and less touristy. But it has its share of scenic walks.