Panama: Old Town

Old Town, Panama City

This section of the city is adjacent to the more modern areas and the two overlap in various spots as well. The buildings are distinctly different from the modern, hi-rise apartments and commercial buildings, but this older section is not at all deserted or neglected.

Google Cruise Map


HAL Excursion

Panama City Tour

Hop-on-Hop-off bus

Stops in front of the Fuerte Amador port building; buy tickets at the bus. Returns to the same stop.


I'm sure there are many sources; check reviews online. Cabs are plentiful and supposedly they will take a group for sightseeing at a set fee but my experience was that they wouldn't





The older part of the city

Part of our second day in Panama was spent on the ship’s Panama City tour; it’s the same as the Panama by Night tour except in the daytime you can actually see what you’ve come to see. We had an excellent guide; a British-Panamanian school official who enjoys doing tours on his days off. He led an excellent walk through the old town, and took us to a pre-Columbian museum that wouldn’t have, without a guide, meant much to those of us who don’t speak Spanish since there was essentially no other signage.

Our guide explained that you really can't judge housing by its exterior appearance in the city. Not everyone living here values exterior housing beauty and he explained that the interiors of some homes that look very run-down are actually very attractive, with many modern conveniences, including state-of-the-art media and entertainment centers.

We don't speak Spanish, and appreciated being able to learn more from a knowledgeable guide than browsing through this area ourselves, although that certainly can be done as the place where the tour bus parked while we were walking through Old Town is right next to one of the Hop On-Hop Off bus stops. It should be noted that unlike other cities where we've used the Ho-Ho bus, Panama City stops aren't well-marked and the name on the map may not match the name of anything you see around you. You should be prepared to step right up and ask questions of the onboard tour guide; you'll certainly need to be sure you know where the return stop is.