About Maria Camila R
Lives in Bogota, Colombia
Since Feb 2012
25-34 year old female
Industrial Designer · Foodie · Traveller
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Historic Walking Areas, Neighbourhoods
Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Points of Interest & Landmarks
With only 30 minutes of travel from the city, you can immerse yourself in a variety of jungle adventures or simply disconnect yourself from the city chaos. Amazing Gamboa is the meeting point between the rainforest and the Chagres River, which feeds Gatun Lake. Located on the Pacific side of the city, pretty close to the Panama Canal, this small town originally served as housing for the Canal employees and their families. Today, it's home to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort, which manages the rainforest as a natural reserve and promotes research and responsible eco-tourism.
The Panama Canal is probably one of the greatest works of modern engineering. Many people do not find it attractive, but it is still an icon of Panama, and a must-visit spot. Built in the early 20th century to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Canal created an important shortcut for ships, and has thus played a major role in world trade and the global economy. The most visited place is the Miraflores Locks, where you will find the Canal Museum, videos that explain its operation, and a viewpoint for watching ships of all sizes inch their way through the canal.
Also known as 'Casco Antiguo,' Casco Viejo is Panama's historical and cultural district, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. This is one of my favorite places in the city; there is something about the sea breeze mixed with the magic of history and culture that provides a truly special feeling when walking through those narrow alleyways. You will find beautiful buildings — some undergoing restoration, a few almost in ruins, and others completely restored — and there are many charming restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, and craft shops. A nice feature is that Casco Viejo has not only the colonial architecture but also neoclassical and Art Deco buildings, which makes it different from old towns like Cartagena in Colombia or Quito in Ecuador.
As it name suggests, La Casa del Marisco is truly a 'House of Seafood.' Delicacies of the sea are the specialties at this refined, classic place, that is perfect for anything from a business lunch to a special family celebration. This is a high-end spot, but it's worth the splurge. I recommend it for first-time visitors to Casco Viejo because it provides a good taste of the real atmosphere of Panama City's historic district.
This small, simple church is one of the most important and ancient places in both Casco Viejo and all of Panama. An exact replica of the church of the same name that once stood in Panama Viejo (Old Panama,) San Jose Church protects the only relic that was salvaged when pirate Henry Morgan ransacked the old city. Legend has it that a wily priest caked the beautiful Altar de Oro (Golden Altar) in mud to disguise it from the pirate, telling Morgan that it had been stolen by another pirate. He even managed to extract a donation from Morgan, who is said to have quipped, ‘I don't know why, but I think you are more of a pirate than I am.’
Before the U.S. built the Panama Canal, the French made an initial attempt to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Situated on the south in of Casco Viejo, Plaza de Francia, also known as 'Las Bovedas,' pays tribute to that attempt — and to the thousands who died (most from yellow fever and malaria) in the process. The square is dominated by an obelisk, with some smaller monuments and 10 panels that tell the history of the Panama Canal construction. In addition to the square's historic importance, there is a beautiful path above the panels, known as 'Paseo de las Bovedas,' which makes a wonderful place to sit and look out over the big Puente de last Americas and the boats waiting to pass through the canal.
Situated in a boutique hotel in the center of Casco Viejo, Tantalo Kitchen is a lively restaurant and bar that is popular with locals and tourists alike. Take a seat in the dining room to enjoy local art and delicious tapas, and then head up to the roof bar for drinks against a magnificent view of the city skyline.
For me, San Blas Islands are a highlight of Panama, a paradise with truly stunning beaches. Located in the Caribbean Sea, the San Blas archipelago encompasses more than 300 islands — all part of the the indigenous Kuna-Yala territory. Although you could easily spend a few days enjoying the tranquility here, you're sure to have a memorable visit, even if you can only stay a day.
Situated next to the public pier, Mercado de Mariscos is the city's principal fish market, where you can find really cheap and good seafood. A few years ago this was just the traditional fish market with one restaurant on the second floor, but now you can go outside and find a lot of booths where you can pick up tasty fish and maybe a refreshing beer. Even if you don't want seafood, this is a really important and iconic place to visit, because it's the best place for Panamanian fishermen to sell their products.
Panama La Vieja, or Old Panama, was founded in 1519, the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was destroyed in 1617 by the infamous pirate Henry Morgan, and in 2003 the ruins were declared World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2003. Close to the ruins is the museum that displays archaeological artifacts and tells about the city's history.
A busy waterfront boulevard and one of Panama's main streets, Cinta Costera is one of the city's most recognized public spaces because of its length and location. In addition to a street for cars, there is a lovely park with a footpath and cycle path bordering the sea, where many people go to exercise or enjoy the view.
Sitting at the foot of Cerro Ancon (Ancon Hill,) Mi Pueblito is picturesque place that offers a glimpse into the cultures that initially inhabited Panama. Here, you can explore the Caribbean-style homes of the afroantillana (Afro-Caribbean people,) and the thatched-roof huts of Kuna and Emberá Indians. There are also small exhibitions featuring typical costumes, craft vendors, and some restaurants. This is definitely a tourist spot, but it's worth a visit if you're interested in the culture and history of Panama.
I love the Biodiversity Museum, one of the newest attractions. On one hand, the Frank Gehry building is an amazing piece of architecture. On the other, the museum itself provides a fascinating look into one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Panama's location provides it with unique geographical characteristics, and so much natural wealth, and the museum examines everything from a diorama rainforest experience to the many local species in the isthmus.
Amador causeway, which connects the city with four little islands (Naos, Culebra, Perico, and Flamenco) in the Pacific area, was build with rocks that were excavated during the Canal construction. Panamanians come here to get a bit of exercise, walking, cycling, jogging, or skating. Whatever you choose to do, the sea breeze will keep you company, as will amazing views of the Canal and the Panama bay.
Mi Ranchito is one of the traditional restaurants favored by local families. Visit at night to enjoy live music, amazing views of the city lights, and the cool breezes that characterize Causeway Islands. The menu offers a lot of options, but the best are ‘pescado frito entero’ (fried fish) with rice and ‘patacones’ (fried plantains,) or maybe the 'camarones a la criolla’ (shrimp stew.)