Casco Viejo is the second only to the Panama Canal as a tourist destination in Panama. However, the streets are not crowded with tourists and there are not the typical solicitors in the streets as you would find in many other cities in Central America. One of the best hotels the city has to offer, they are located in Casco Viejo (in historically preserved buildings). They range from small hotels like Casa Sucre Bed & Breakfast, to hostels like Luna's Castle (one of the top ranked hostels worldwide!) to 5 star high end Boutique hotels such as the ACE hotel American Trade. If you plan on staying a little longer, rent a beautiful apartment in Casco Viejo.
As mentioned before, Casco Viejo is home to some of the best restaurants in Panama City. You will find everything from Tapas and Sushi to Italian and French, or you may opt for a surprise 12 course meal at the famous Manolo Caracol. There is nothing like sitting in Plaza Bolivar on a warm night with a local musician playing, a cold Panama (one of the local beers) in hand and enjoying good food with friends.
Another one of the must see places in Casco Viejo is at the entrance to the neighborhood, the Fish Market (El Mercado del Mariscos). In what is one of the most impressive displays of local fish and seafood you'll find anything from fresh yellow fin tuna, shrimp & prawns the size of your hand, red snapper (pargo rojo), mahi mahi (dorado), octopus (pulpo) and much more! The best part is that you can select a fresh piece of fish downstairs and take it upstairs with you to the quaint restaurant where for $6 they will prepare it for you any way you like! Or you can simply order off the menu. But be prepared to wait in line, as this little secret is highly popular among the locals and on any give Sunday afternoon there could be a line all the way the stairs. However, if you find yourself having to wait, make sure you pick up a cup of fresh ceviche from the "Ceviche Girls" downstairs to munch on while you wait. This ceviche is known throughout Panama and at only $1 - $2 a cup, it is a must!
Casco Viejo is something you can not miss in Panama, along with the Panama Canal. In fact, Casco alone is a good reason to come to Panama... once you see it you may not leave! Opening up your French Doors out on to your street facing balcony in the morning with a cup off coffee (maybe from Boquete) never ceases to put a smile on your face. The sound of people in the streets, music (which never ends here) and the call of the street vendors is alluring and almost magic; There is no other place like Casco Viejo. Come find out for yourself!