At the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, a 2km palm-tree-lined calzada (causeway) connects the four small islands of Naos, Culebra, Perico and Flamenco to the mainland. The Causeway is a popular place to be in the early morning and late afternoon, when residents come to walk, jog, skate, cycle or simply escape the noise and pollution of the city. The Causeway also offers sweeping views of the skyline and the old city, with flocks of brown pelicans diving into the sea.
Panama City’s historic quarter is known as the Casco Viejo (pronounced CAS-coh Bee-EH-hoh). It’s spread over a small point in the city’s southeast corner, where timeless streets and plazas are complemented by views of a modern skyline. The Casco Viejo’s narrow brick streets, wrought-iron balconies, and intricate cornices evoke visions of Panama’s glorious history as a major trade center.
A stroll here offers opportunities to admire a beautiful mix of Spanish colonial, neoclassical, and art nouveau architecture. And though many of its buildings are in quite a bad state of neglect, and some of the neighborhood is poor, it is nevertheless a lively and colorful place, where soccer balls bounce off the walls of 300-year-old churches and radios blare Latin music.
Movie fans may spot a few places used as settings for the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace.