For Panama City, 2019 was a big year. Not only did the historic Latin American city celebrate its 500th anniversary, but it was also named the Ibero-American Capital of Culture for its dedication to creative industries.
From the Frank Gehry–designed Biomuseo to the promotion of local artists through think tanks like DiabloRosso, Panama City is a hotbed of innovation. Recently, UNESCO also named it a Creative City in Gastronomy for its high-profile dining spots helmed by international chefs, as well as its exquisite local eateries. For a taste of the local lifestyle, Waldorf Astoria Panama Concierge Lille Arosemena shares her top recommendations for what to do in Panama City, Panama.
NIBA—Authentic Panamanian cuisine meets iconic bay views at NIBA. This farm-to-table restaurant boasts all organic ingredients from local producers to pair with more than 100 wines. Don’t miss their signature Guacho Negro, a Panamanian rice specialty.
Matiz—Inspired by the city’s colonial history, Matiz at Waldorf Astoria Panama blends the bold flavors of Spain with the colorful cuisine of the islands. The restaurant promises rich and diverse cuisine. For dessert, meet the property’s Master Chocolatier.
Cuquita Cookita and 4 Bistro—“If you’re looking for more casual restaurants, stroll down to the area of San Francisco, where you’ll find two of my favorite cafés, Cuquita Cookita and 4 Bistro,” Arosemena says. “Both have amazing pastries and a great ambience. If lady luck is on your side when you visit Cuquita Cookita, you might meet Cuquita Calvo, one of the most respected chefs in Panama.”
DiabloRosso—Self-described as a “creative think tank,” DiabloRosso is a hub for emerging local artists who develop their craft here through exhibitions, screenings and lectures. Drop by to peruse the latest art exhibitions, catch a dance or music performance, shop for crafts, or have a cup of coffee in the café.
Biomuseo—World-famous architect Frank Gehry designed the Biomuseo, an institution dedicated to the incredible biodiversity of Panama. Rather than stick to his classic silver façades, Gehry decided to work in full color for the museum—his first project in Latin America—inspired by the vibrancy of life in the country.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Parque Omar—This sprawling urban park is not just a great place for a leisurely stroll or a picnic—it’s also the go-to spot for locals to work out. Expect beautiful running trails, outdoor fitness equipment, a swimming pool and even free cardio fitness classes such as Zumba.
THE HISTORIC DISTRICT
Casco Viejo—The historic district of Panama City is filled with restored colonial-era buildings full of shops, restaurants and bars, making it one of the most scenic (and fun) neighborhoods. “Yes, it is the prime tourist spot, but it’s also the spot we locals love to visit because we get to meet people from around the world,” Arosemena says. “Then, at night, it is the place to go for fabulous restaurants such as Caliope, a fusion spot with amazing cocktails, or Salvaje, a rooftop bar with Asian cuisine and a spectacular view of the Panama City skyline.”
Explore Panama City like a local from your home base at Waldorf Astoria Panama.