Panama City boasts a broad range of neighborhoods and styles, each with its own energy and advantages. Below, we take you through our seven favorite neighborhoods.
Obarrio is the heart of Panama´s business district. The main street running through Obarrio is Calle 50. This street is one of the city´s main arteries, and it stays bustling all day long. This neighborhood is also home to over 50 different banks. The street is lined with sleek skyscrapers that define the Panama City skyline. The F & F Tower, Tower Financial Center, and HSBC Tower are among the most iconic. The up-scale Soho Mall is also located here. The mall boasts a variety of luxury retailers including Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Dior, Carolina Herrera and more. Outside the mall, favorite restaurants in Obarrio include Paul´s, Coffee Max, La Strega, La Scarpetta, and Beruit.
It´s also one of the places were flip-flop clad tourists stand out the most, as all the locals will be in pants, button downs, and business attire.
Marbella is a comfortable, sleepy district nestled between Balboa and Obarrio. This neighborhood is primarily made up of older apartment buildings. While they may not be the newest apartments, they are notoriously hard to find for sale due to the prime location and abundant square footage—a rarity in many of the new high-rise apartments. Marbella generally has well-maintained sidewalks and trees lining most streets. The neighborhood is within a few blocks of Cinta Costera park and Riba Smith (a favorite of many for finding U.S. grocery products). For the most part, it is a quieter neighborhood as many of its inhabitants are families and professionals.
Avenida Balboa is among Panama´s most glamorous locations. The glistening high-rises that fill this street have some of the best views in Panama. Just a few short meters from the entrances of these apartments lies Panama Bay and one of the best parks in the city, Cinta Costera. Several upscale restaurants are also located in Balboa Avenue including Segundo Muelle, La Cabana, and Lenos & Carbon. The Hilton has a property on the waterfront, however, for those looking to stay long-term Le Meriden and P.H. Waters on the Bay. * Or, check out the InterContinental Miramar where Panama´s president, Juan Varela, resides. The Yoo is also a popular choice for the young and creative.
*In Spanish, P.H. is often used before the name of an apartment building. It stands for Propiedad Horizontal, which means horizontal property.
El Cangrejo, or the crab in English, is a popular neighborhood for foreigners and locals alike. The area is slightly hilly, lush with old trees, and primarily made up of older buildings. It´s charming. And, the price point for real estate is moderate, making purchasing or renting property attainable. The area is currently under significant construction as the city widens the sidewalks, however, once completed the walkability of the neighborhood is expected to increase significantly.
Nonetheless, the area is still bustling. At night, the streets are lit with the glow of neon signs for pizza and shawarma and the local bars and restaurants string up lights for those dining outside. It´s relaxed and artsy. If you´re looking for a local brew or a burger, La Rana Dorada (The Golden Frog) is our recommendation. During the day, New York Bagel Co. is one of the most popular locations for digital nomads in Panama City. They even have bottomless coffee.
This neighborhood is one of the city´s most trendy and the heart of Panama City´s food scene. Restaurants such as Local, Backyard Brewery, Esa Flaca Rica, Miranda Bakery, and Tacos La Neta have made San Francisco a must visit for afterhours drinks and trendy restaurants. While San Francisco is primarily made up of new apartment buildings, a few quiet residential neighborhoods remain tucked within the hustle and bustle. San Francisco is also home to one of the city´s most popular parks, Parque Omar. The park is hilly, lush, and green. Throughout the week, you can join a free yoga and Zumba classes or grab a smoothie. The area also has a multitude of fitness studios, spas, and even an organic specialty to product store. The area is close knit, making it convenient for getting around.
Costa del Este
Ultra-modern towers, wide organized streets, and high-end restaurants and shops make Costa del Este one of the most desirable locations in Panama City. The area has a distinct Miami-vibe that many enjoy. Many of the streets are lined with palm trees. The area is also very international due to the high number of multi-national corporations located in the area. P&G, Copa, DHL, Diageo, and others have large offices in the area. Costa del Este is also home to the city´s only IHop and Krispy Kreme
Clayton (a.k.a. the Former Canal Zone)
If you’re looking for abundant nature, the convenience of the city, and the comfort of the suburbs, Clayton is the area for you. This neighborhood has a distinct style, made up of U.S. military influence and tropical wildlife. There is something distinctly “American” feeling as you drive through Clayton. Decades of U.S. city planning and architecture are evident. Unlike the tight quarters found in the city, Clayton is spacious and open. Large lawns separate buildings government buildings, and the neighborhood streets meander through the hills. Residents of this area are often lucky enough to catch sightings of monkeys, toucans, and tropical wildlife. Clayton is also nearby the Panama Canal and the City of Knowledge (Cuidad del Saber).