Panama City Travel Diary

A Fruit Market in Casco Viejo from Jess Kirby's Panama City Travel Diary

If you’ve seen any of my other posts from Panama City you can probably tell by now that I fell in love with this magical place. The food, the culture, the people, the architecture, I was blown away by a place that still feels very undiscovered. Exploring Panama City, and in particular the neighborhood of Casco Viejo with Pam, a native Panamanian, was even more special. I must admit I was pretty embarrassed by my pathetic ability to speak Spanish, something I definitely need to work on (I studied French so I’m giving myself a little break but it was pretty bad). I don’t want to go on here too long because the photos speak for themselves. Hope you enjoy. xx

The American Trade Hotel in Casco Viejo, Panama City
Pam Hetlinger and Jess Kirby at Cafe Unido in Panama City

Where We Stayed

Pam and I stayed at the American Trade Hotel in Casco Viejo. I couldn’t wait to arrive at this hotel after seeing the incredible photos of the property. Sometimes places don’t live up to the online hype, but the American Trade exceeded my expectations. No detail goes unnoticed at this beautiful building with it’s incredible tile work and architectural beauty. We had an incredible lunch at their restaurant and the most amazing coffee and pastries at Cafe Unido attached to the building. And of course spent some time at the pool which overlooks Casco Viejo. In terms of location and ease of getting around it was really the perfect place to stay.

Lunch at the American Trade Hotel Restaurant in Casco Viejo, Panama City
Stunning architectural details in Casco Viejo, Panama City
Architectural details in Casco Viejo, Panama City
Jess Ann Kirby wearing a floral Shoshanna one piece swimsuit and Levi's cutoff shorts in Casco Viejo Panama City
Jess Kirby wearing an Onia One Piece from Anthropologie at the American Trade Hotel in Panama City


When packing for Panama, pack light! It was so hard for me to get out of the mindset of being cold and thinking I might need a jacket but it is hot, hot, hot. Think light dresses, shorts, sandals, bathing suits, etc. The only time I felt cold was at a few of the restaurants because most buildings have the AC cranking. Bring a light jacket and you’ll be fine but if you’re outside even at night you really don’t need anything. For more of what I wore in Panama see my outfit posts here, here, here and here.
Jess Kirby and Pam Hetlinger wearing Prose and Poetry and French Connection dresses in Panama City Casco Viejo
Jess Ann Kirby grabs a photo of the beautiful flowers on building fronts in Casco Viejo, Panama City
Jess Ann Kirby's Travel Diary in Casco Viejo Panama City
Lunch at Tacos La Neta in Casco Viejo

Where to Eat

We didn’t have a bad meal in Panama. I just could not get over how good the food was everywhere we ate. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Tacos La Neta

Cafe Unido
MULA (above Tio Navaja)
Tio Navaja
Restaurante OCHOYMEDIO

Breakfast at Cafe Unido in the American Trade Hotel
Art galleries and shopping in Casco Viejo Panama City

What to Do

First things first, bring your camera! We could’ve spent hours just walking around Casco Viejo taking photos of the buildings, flowers and store fronts. It’s so fun to see the transformation happening in the neighborhood. If you happen to stumble upon an icey cart you have to get one, I recommend coconut. There’s plenty of shopping in Casco Viejo and I picked up lots of great gifts including the traditional mola made by the Kuna women. It wouldn’t be a trip to Panama City without getting a Panama hat. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, the one I wanted was $85 and I ended up getting it for $50.

Beautiful old buildings in Casco Viejo, Panama City
Jess Ann Kirby's Casco Viejo Panama City Travel Diary, Kids After School
Jess Ann Kirby in Casco Viejo wearing a white dress and panama hat
Mandiga Rum Bar in Casco Viejo, Panama City
Jess Kirby exploring Casco Viejo in levis cutoff shorts and a stripe shirt
Shopping for Panama Hats in Casco Viejo

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  1. Jenn Lake wrote:

    So amazing! Looks like you two had the most wonderful trip!

    5.7.17 | Reply
  2. Laurie wrote:

    Beautiful pictures. Looks fantastic.

    5.7.17 | Reply
  3. Gemma wrote:

    Stunning photographs!!


    5.7.17 | Reply
  4. Jenny Hall wrote:

    Gorgeous pictures! I can’t imagine how amazing this trip was, I loved following along.

    5.7.17 | Reply
  5. Mary wrote:

    Every picture is stunning! I absolutely love the ruffle dress from anthro + every other look you’re in! 🙂

    5.7.17 | Reply
  6. Eva wrote:

    Loved watching your journey and how much you enjoyed it.
    Great photos dear.


    5.9.17 | Reply
  7. Lovely photos!


    5.14.17 | Reply
  8. Love these photos and all the bright colors. Great job negotiating for that hat!

    5.18.17 | Reply
  9. jayden wrote:

    I also spent a really good time there with beloved during my last summer holidays. I really enjoyed there photography and came back with a lot of pleasant memories. I would love to go there again my free time with my family and I want to try there my favourite activity.

    1.5.18 | Reply
  10. Brandon Reeves wrote:

    This was a great read and thanks for sharing! In your picture next to “What to Do” , I have been trying to find the name of that shop. I actually was just in Panama and we wanted to get mola pillows and left without getting any. Could you tell me the name of that shop? Thanks!

    1.29.24 | Reply

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