Are you looking for where to stay in Panama City? You are in the right place! I spent weeks in the city during my Central America travels, and stayed at different locations, so I am here to help you find the best places to stay in Panama City.
The Panamanian capital sits at the confluence of international trade. It’s through its world-famous canal that thousands of ships pass from one ocean to another, across this tiny portion of the continent, and the city itself is a reflection of this global thoroughfare.
From its oldest district to its newest financial zones, there’s something for every type of traveler in Panama City — whether that’s exploring the nearby jungle-clad landscape, delving into some of the region’s history, or simply strolling along and soaking up the modern city itself.
Working out where to stay in Panama City isn’t too difficult, thanks to its handful of well-connected neighborhoods, all bristling with places to eat, drink and have fun. Here’s a helpful guide to where to stay in Panama City, to help you make the right choice for you and get an in-depth insight into what makes all those different districts tick.
Make sure to also read my post 13 Best Things To Do In Panama City, Panama.
Where To Stay In Panama City, Panama
Casco Viejo – Where to stay in Panama City to explore
Better known as Panama City’s Old Town, Casco Viejo is a warren of historic buildings decorated with balconies and trailing flowers. Over the years this storied district has undergone much restoration, and a lick of paint, and is today a thriving hub of local life, charming eateries and historical sites.
The district is centered around four main plazas, with palm-edged avenues connecting them. Even with all the sights, one of the best things to do here (especially in the evening), is just sitting in one of the plazas and watching the world go by.
Casco Viejo is definitely where to stay in Panama City if it is your first time there. When I arrived to town, I made a beeline and went straight there to find a place to stay!
Staying in this UNESCO-recognized area means that you’ll have some of the city’s main attractions on your doorstep — much of it in walking distance. From here other top neighborhoods of Panama City are a quick Uber or metro ride away. It’s a good place to stay for foodie travelers, as the cobbled streets are crammed full of up-and-coming eateries and cafes serving top-notch brews.
The only downside is that the prices can be higher than in other districts of the city, so if you’re traveling on a budget this might not be the best place to stay.
Below are a few good places to stay in Panama City’s Casco Viejo.
Budget – Los Diamantes
Situated inside a charming colonial-era building, Los Diamantes is perfectly located for sightseeing. It’s in walking distance to restaurants, plazas and historic sights alike. Rooms here offer great value for money, and feature high ceilings, balconies and with vintage features taking center stage. The budget-friendly hotel also features amenities including laundry facilities, air-conditioning and luggage storage.
Mid-range – Tantalo Hotel – Kitchen – Roofbar
Tantalo Hotel provides the perfect mid-range option for travelers to Casco Viejo. Taking up space inside the colorful walls of a historic building, there’s a number of room options to choose from here — from simple double rooms, to larger deluxe rooms with private balconies.
Each of them are fresh and modern, decorated with eye-catching artwork, and feature private bathrooms. The hotel has its own restaurant, so you can enjoy meals onsite, and there’s also a rooftop bar for evening drinks with a view. Location-wise, you’ll find it right in the middle of the district, ideal for sightseeing.
Luxury – Hotel La Compania, In The Unbound Collection By Hyatt
For something a bit more polished in the storied neighborhood, look no further than this luxury hotel. Part of the Hyatt chain of hotels, this five-star property provides polished rooms that do not disappoint.
Expect chic furnishings mingling with the rustic heritage of the old building, complete with exposed brick walls, tiled floors and crisp white linens. Amenities here include an outdoor swimming pool, a plush on-site restaurant and bar and even a spa and wellness centre.
San Francisco and Punta Pacifica – Where to stay in Panama City for families
San Francisco makes up a large portion of the western part of central Panama City. This more upscale part of town is a thoroughly modern one at that, which plays host to a long list of fun things to do. I stayed in San Francisco when I came back from my sailing trip to San Blas and truly enjoyed how modern and clean this area of Panama City is.
Here you can spend your day in Parque Amar. Playing a similar role to New York’s Central Park, this leafy place is a popular spot for picnicking, jogging and generally hanging out enjoying a breather. There’s often events here that take place throughout the year, such as free musical performances.
It’s a good place to stay in Panama City for families and those who want to be close to shopping and entertainment options. That’s largely down to the fact that the Multiplaza Mall — one of the biggest in the city — is located here, boasting a cinema and food court. Some of the best food trucks in the city can also be found in San Francisco, namely at the end of Avenida Los Fundadores.
Below are some of the best accommodation options in San Francisco.
Budget – Casa Areka
This budget-friendly accommodation option is a welcoming place that’s ideal for backpackers, or those traveling on a shoestring budget. It’s an international sort of place with multilingual staff, and where it’s easy to get chatting to other guests.
Even though the hostel dorms are clean and well maintained, there’s also the option to book into your own private room. Casa Areka offers great value for money as guests staying here will have full use of the outdoor swimming pool, plus there’s even a free breakfast.
Mid-range – Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Panama Punta Pacifica
There’s a range of amenities on offer at this branch of Wyndham hotels. From the outdoor pool with views of the city, to the well-equipped fitness center and on-site restaurant, you won’t need to go far to entertain yourself here.
Rooms at the hotel are traditionally decorated, and come with dark wood flooring, ambient lighting and big, comfortable beds. You can expect a quiet and comfortable place to stay, all within easy reach of public transport.
Luxury – JW Marriott Panama City
Rising high out of the modern skyscrapers of Panama Bay, this landmark hotel is hard to miss. Here guests are greeted by five-star service and are welcomed into sophisticated luxury. The hotel has a range of amenities, with three upscale restaurants and bars, a gym that’s open 24-hours, and two outdoor swimming pools.
Rooms here are equally polished, with floor to ceiling windows boasting views out across the bay; some of these even come with their own balconies. The staff here are also very friendly, while the property also goes out of its way to accommodate families.
El Cangrejo – Where to stay in Panama City for nightlife
Meaning “The Crab” in Spanish, El Cangrejo is a lively part of town — the place to be for anyone who likes nightlife. Here you’ll find late night venues, casinos, brewpubs and restaurants galore. This is where to stay in Panama City for those who want to stay up late and enjoy Panama City’s thriving nightlife scene.
This downtown district has a trendy, multicultural feeling, with streets that span out in the shape of a crab (hence the name). There’s a creative edge to it, with a fair few independent establishments and expatriate residents calling it home. In terms of food, think brunch spots and cuisine from all over the world.
El Cangrejo also has good connections with the rest of the city, thanks to the two big metro stops here, which makes getting around a breeze.
Below are the best places to stay in Panama City’s El Cangrejo district.
Budget – Hotel Principe
Hotel Principe may be budget friendly, but it still retains a level of comfort and sophistication that makes it great value for money. The guest rooms here are decorated in a natural color palette with hardwood furnishings and private bathrooms. Large windows allow plenty of natural light to flood the rooms, showing off city views at the same time.
The location of Hotel Principe is in a safe part of town, just a stone’s throw from a number of restaurants and cafes — and all within easy reach of a metro station. Amenities here include a small outdoor pool, a bar and a small restaurant.
Mid-range – Best Western Plus Panama Zen
Providing good value for money, this hotel is a reliable accommodation option in El Cangrejo. The contemporary guest rooms here feature warm decor and comfortable beds, with large, floor to ceiling windows revealing city views down below.
Amenities at this branch of Best Western include a rooftop pool, where you can swim among the skyscrapers, a large gym, and an onsite restaurant and bar.
Luxury – Gran Evenia Panama
Gran Evenia Panama is a contemporary accommodation option with several different room types to suit your travel type. There are the budget-friendly standard rooms, and then there are the suites, with some rooms featuring their own kitchens and lounge areas (making it a good option for families who are staying in the city for an extended period).
Onsite guests will have access to the well-maintained gym and outdoor swimming pool, while there’s also a breakfast buffet served up each morning, and an array of international dishes served up at the hotel restaurant.
Obarrio – Where to stay in Panama City for luxury stays
Obarrio is all about luxury. This well-heeled area of the city is close to the financial hub, and many of those who work in the many skyscrapers of the CBD live in the high-end apartments. Staying here means you’ll be in easy striking distance of urban amenities, with all the convenience of city living at your fingertips.
Glitzy nightlife is a big thing in the exclusive area of Obarrio. Here you’ll find top restaurants and nightclubs — the sorts of places where you can sip cocktails from up high with views out across the city skyline.
While it may lack some of the charm of the Casco Viejo, what you do get in Obarrio is the chance to shop in the upscale Soho Mall (home to designer brands), good transport connections, and a number of big-name hotels to match the atmosphere.
Continue reading to discover some of the best accommodation options in Obarrio.
Budget – Novotel Panama City
Part of the international Novotel hotel chain, this Panama City iteration is a reliable place to stay. Rooms here are freshly decorated and fitted with modern furnishings and make for a good base to stay in the city for a few nights.
Throughout, the property is clean and well maintained, plus there’s a selection of amenities to make use of during your stay, such as the onsite restaurant, bar and fitness centre. Nearby the neighborhood has a string of local eateries to enjoy.
Mid-range – Holiday Inn Panama
Offering up a selection of different room options, Holiday Inn Panama is perfect for both business travelers and holiday-makers in Panama City. This home away from home has all amenities you could wish for in a mid-range hotel — the fitness room has a range of equipment, there’s a buffet breakfast every morning, and there’s an outdoor swimming pool for a refreshing dip too.
Throughout, the hotel is decked out in eye-catching contemporary design. It’s the kind of place that people keep coming back to when they return to the city, thanks to the service and level of comfort.
Luxury – Global Hotel Panama
For a slice of elegance in Panama City, there’s Global Hotel. From the moment you step through the front door, this hotel feels like a sophisticated space. Everything has been carefully designed, from the ambience of the guest lounge to the stylish onsite restaurant.
Guest rooms are equally as fashionable and include sweeping views of the city, as well as large beds and well-appointed bathrooms. Why not start your day here with a dip in the rooftop pool? And then afterwards, tuck into the delicious breakfast on offer.
Calidonia – Where to stay in Panama City on a budget
Calidonia is a more local area of Panama City, and being local this means there is a wider range of budget accommodation options and budget friendly eateries. This is definitely where to stay in Panama City if you have a limited budget, or simply if you are planning a longer stay in the city and want something a bit more affordable.
Once the home of sailors and merchants going through the Panama Canal, nowadays Calidonia is very eclectic, with modern buildings next to older ones; it is lively and international, and also very close to the best attractions of the Casco Viejo, which is a quick metro ride away. Calidonia is also close to the coast – a lovely place to go for a walk.
Calidonia’s safety reputation isn’t the best, so you may want to keep your eyes open and get back to your hotel by taxi at night. In Calidonia, you will find a good selection of accommodation options which include hostels, budget hotels and guest houses, and even a few luxury options, the latter usually closer to Balboa Avenue.
Below are the best places to stay in Panama City’s Calidonia district.
Budget – La Tribu
This recently opened hostel offers plain but spotless dorms and private rooms at unbeatable prices. You’ll be able to use the fully equipped kitchen, count on the helpful staff for plenty of local recommendations, and you’ll be mere steps from the metro station, thus being able to be in the Casco Viejo and other parts of the city in a heartbeat. It’s definitely one of the best hostels in Panama City.
Mid-range – Canova
This small hotel has been recently refurbished in a quirky retro style, so the rooms look brand new, cozy and comfortable, not to mention spotless. You will be able to count on a good breakfast every morning, which will be served right in your room. All rooms are equipped with air conditioners, flat screen TV and you’ll be able to also use the excellent WiFi service. All this, at very reasonable prices!
Mid-range – Hotel Ojos del Rio
If you want a comfortable room at very reasonable prices in a convenient location, look no further: Hotel Ojos del Rio is where to stay in Panama City. Rooms are modern, spacious and comfortable; equipped with anything you may need for your stay. There even is a rooftop bar and a restaurant from where you can enjoy stunning views of the city.
Marbella – Where to stay in Panama City for business travelers
Similarly to Obarrio, Marbella is a high-end district with great restaurants that’s close to the financial district. What’s different, however, is that Marbella is right on the coast. This means making the most of Panama City’s modern promenades that snake around the shoreline here, complete with greenery and places to grab a bite to eat.
Marbella is home to modern buildings, upscale hotels and is safe for visitors to wander around. The nightlife here isn’t too bad, either (though expensive), with a good choice of bars, eateries and other late-night haunts that allow you to stay entertained after the sun goes down.
Popular with expats, Marbella is also home to embassies and international businesses, with convention centers and other city institutions. Overall, it’s a good base for business travelers or if you’re looking for a ritzy part of the city to stay in.
Below are some good accommodation options in Marbella.
Budget – Doña Nancy
Dona Nancy is a homestay in Panama City where you can get a taste of local life. Rooms here are simple, yet clean and comfortable; they have white-washed walls, white linens and unfussy furnishings.
Guests can start their day here with a complimentary breakfast and make full use of the rooftop swimming pool provided. The location is also great, putting you in walking distance of public transport, allowing you to travel around the city with ease; there’s also shops and local restaurants nearby.
Mid-range – Yoo Panama
This mid-range option in Marbella, Panama City, is a good choice for people who want to spend a longer period of time in the capital. Here there are several different apartments to book into; each is slightly different, but they all come with well equipped kitchens and seating areas.
Even though you’ll be staying in an apartment, guests staying here still have access to a list of onsite amenities. These include a restaurant, a fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool and even a children’s playground.
Luxury – Waldorf Astoria Panama
Refined elegance in Panama City does not get much better than this. This branch of the Waldorf Astoria has been carefully curated to create the highest level of comfort going. From the deluxe king room, all the way to the plush king suites, each inch of the guest rooms here has been thoughtfully designed for comfort and style.
Unsurprisingly there are several on-site amenities to indulge in during your trip, some of which include a rooftop swimming pool (complete with pool bar), two restaurants and a cocktail bar.
Bella Vista – The most up and coming area to stay in Panama City
Bella Vista is a good choice if you want to stay in an area that has a bit of everything going on. Situated at the end of Avenida Balboa, the area has flourished in recent years (thanks to a lot of investment) with a string of restaurant openings, trendy bars popping up, and new apartment buildings being built.
Though the neighborhood is a bustling one, there’s still plenty of city parks and outdoor spaces for strolling, jogging and generally chilling out (for example, Urraca Park). Transport connections here are good too, with a number of metro and bus stops to its name. Nearby, the University of Panama campus adds a youthful edge to this corner of the city.
Here are some good places to stay in Panama City’s Bella Vista district.
Budget – Nomada Republic Container Hotel Panama City
Panama City’s legacy of being a shipping hub can be seen in all its glory at this unique hotel. Guest rooms here are actually set inside old shipping containers that have been carefully transformed into accommodation.
The containers are complete with everything you’d expect of a hotel, such as your own private bathroom, large beds and kitchenettes. There’s also a sun terrace available for guests to use, services such as dry cleaning and a breakfast served up each morning.
Mid-range – Riu Plaza Panamá
Riu Plaza Panama is a gleaming tower of a hotel and makes for a vibrant place to stay in Bella Vista, Panama City. Everything here from the guest rooms to the onsite restaurant, offers up fantastic value for money.
You’ll be welcomed into a large lobby, be enticed to dine at the onsite restaurant, or even enjoy a drink at the stylish Ibiza Lounge — located poolside, of course. In terms of location, you’ll be close to a number of city amenities staying here; plus, it’s easy to hop on public transport and explore further afield.
Luxury – Bristol Panama, a Registry Collection Hotel
Bristol Panama is under-the-radar sophisticated — think sleek and pared back. The onsite restaurant here boasts a menu of Panamanian cuisine, and there’s also a chic lounge bar where you can sip cocktails while snacking on tapas.
The soundproofed rooms continue the high-end elegance afforded at Bristol Panama, with a neutral color palette, carpeted floors, cosy seating areas and large, well-appointed bathrooms. Location-wise, the hotel is in easy walking distance to eateries and shops, while the fantastic reception team is always on hand with tips or to book sightseeing tours.
Costa del Este – Where to stay in Panama City if you prefer a quieter place
The Costa del Este district of Panama City is a nice, newer neighborhood closer to Tocumen International Airport, and the result of careful urban planning, and where you’ll find some of the best upscale accommodation options in the city. It certainly isn’t the place to stay in Panama City if you are traveling on a budget – the few available places in this part of town are managed by big European and US chains, and end up being quite expensive.
The main draw to this area is the shopping (Atrio Mall is located in this area), the upscale restaurants and breweries (the area is one of the location of Panamanian brewery La Rana Dorada, which I personally love) and the Paseo del Mar, a waterfront promenade where you can go for a walk or a bike ride.
The following are a few good places to stay in Panama City’s Costa del Este district.
Luxury – The Westin Panama
At the Westin Panama you will be able to make use of the incredibly modern, comfortable and spacious rooms, some of them with stunning views over the city; the swimming pool and the gym; the on-site restaurant that serves local and international staples. There even is a spa available to guests, who can also count on the free airport transfer service.
Luxury – The Santa Maria, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Golf Resort, Panama City
This is one of the nicest hotels in Panama City. You will find spacious, spotless rooms overlooking the city. If you are the sporty type, you can make use of the hotels’ two pools or the gym too. There is an on-site restaurant, Mestizo; there also are free parking and a spa for guests to enjoy. It’s definitely more expensive than other places to stay in Panama City, but worth every cent!
Tocumen – Where to stay in Panama City near the airport
I never recommend staying close to the airport, unless you have specific business in the area or you are on a short layover and just need a place you can get to and from the airport quickly. The same goes for Panama City.
Tocumen, the area that is close to Tocumen International Airport, isn’t exactly charming, and there can be quite a bit of traffic. It’s located about 17 km (10.5 miles) from Panama City (30 minutes drive to the Casco Viejo, depending on traffic), so not ideal if you are keen on exploring the city. The good thing, however, is that there are quite a few good accommodation options in the area.
These are the best places to stay in Panama City closer to the airport.
Budget – Habitacion Marina
This family run guest house is one of the best and most budget friendly options if you are looking for a plain but comfortable room near the airport. All rooms have air conditioning, there’s a nice terrace and an airport shuttle is available for guests. There even are apartments perfect for self-catering guests.
Mid-range – Courtyard by Marriot Panama Metromall
This very classic business-style hotel features spacious rooms, a large pool, a very good restaurant – both buffet and a la carte – and a bar. It’s close to the Metromall, where you’ll find more shops, restaurants, bars and cafes.
Mid-range – Crown Plaza Airport, an IHG Hotel
This is one of the most convenient places to stay in Panama City near the airport. Rooms are plain but spacious, clean and comfortable; there is a large pool where you can exercise or relax and a free airport shuttle. Breakfast is included in the room rate too.
To better prepare your trip to Panama, you should read the following posts:
- A Guide To Visiting The Panama Canal: 11 Best Things To Know
- A Guide To Sailing San Blas Islands, Panama
- A Guide To Bocas Del Toro, Panama: 12 Best Things To Do
- A Guide To Portobelo, Panama
- 15 Best Things To Do In Panama
- 22 Things To Know Before Visiting Panama