Top Things To Do In Casco Viejo

While visiting Panama, I attended two weeks of Spanish classes at Casco Antiguo Spanish School.  The school is located in Casco Viejo, a revitalized historic quarter of the city.  The popular UNESCO World Heritage Site features beautiful churches, nice plazas, a variety of museums, countless stores, and hip restaurants.  Every day after class, I took in a few sites.  Below is a list of things to do:

LET’S GO

The Plazas of Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo is the old quarter in Panama City and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The hip and eclectic area features many restaurants, bars, shops, churches, and plazas.  While I was studying Spanish for two weeks at Casco Antiguo Spanish School, many times I spent 30 minutes either before or after class just taking in the scene.  Each plaza has a unique vibe.  See the differences below.

TAKE A SEAT

The Churches of Casco Viejo

While studying Spanish for two weeks at Casco Antiguo Spanish School in Casco Viejo, I spent much of my free time strolling the streets of the Old Town.  I loved taking in the different scenes which range from ruins to restored buildings and everything else in between.  Unlike many places in Europe, the churches are free to visit.

While I visited the churches at various times of the day, I found that popping in just before class between 7:30 and 8am or just after an early dinner before they close at 8pm are the most rewarding as the atmosphere is very tranquil.  Both the art and architecture vary in each place of worship making each visit interesting, even for the non-religious tourist.

Below is a list of the churches in Casco Viejo:

DISCOVER
panama city

Why Panamá?

I recently went to Panamá to study Spanish at the Casco Antiguo Spanish School.  Some Americans might ask why not Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Spain as these are popular places to visit for United States citizens. 

Of course, they all have draws, but having visited each country previously, I was pleasantly surprised by Panamá.  Below I’ve listed some wonderful conveniences about Panamá City. 

FIND OUT MORE
view of the panama canal from the causeway

Life at My Homestay in Panama

I recently spent two weeks in Panama studying Spanish at Casco Antiguo Spanish School.  While I could have stayed at a tourist hotel in Casco Viejo, I decided to experience a complete immersion in Panama.  As such, I stayed at Jamraka Homestay, an option among many included on the school’s website for places to stay.

The Jamraka Homestay, located in between Casco Viejo and the causeway which was great for sunset walks from the yacht club to the Biomuseo, is operated by Cachy and her son Ciro, and is a short $3 Uber ride away from the school.  Having said that, it is best to avoid the evening rush hour from 4pm to 7pm.

STAY AT A HOME

Learning Spanish at Casco Antiguo Spanish School

About one year ago, I visited Panama for one week.  I spent half my time in Panama City and the other half in Boquete.  I really enjoyed both places, so much so, that I returned to Panama City for the opportunity to improve my Spanish at Casco Antiguo Spanish School.

Though I didn’t learn of the school while in Panama, at the time I also wasn’t looking for classes despite feeling like Americans are the only people in the world that don’t know at least two languages.  Frustrated with only getting by, however, I ultimately reached out to David, the owner of the school.

LEARN SPANISH

W Costa Rica – Reserva Conchal

On my way to Panama for a Spanish Immersion class, I stopped off in Costa Rica for a few days.  Somehow, despite having been to all seven continents, all 50 states, and around 60 countries, I had never made it to Costa Rica, despite its close proximity to the USA and my desire to visit.

RELAX AT THE W
coffee beans drying in Boquete

Top Things to Do in Boquete

Upon booking my impromptu trip to Panama, I hadn’t even heard of Boquete.  After sifting through a Panama travel guide, I ended up in this small mountain town for three days! Boquete is located in Panama’s western-most Province of Chiriquí about 40 miles from the Costa Rica border.  At 3,900 feet above sea level, its climate as well as its natural environment attracts locals, tourists and a large ex-pat community.

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along the creek on Three Waterfalls Trail

Hiking Three Waterfalls Trail in Boquete, Panama

The top two things to do in Boquete on Trip Advisor are to hike Sendero Los Quetzales and Tres Casacadas (Three Waterfalls) Trails.  The Three Waterfalls Trail is also called the Lost Waterfalls Trail.

It is highly recommended to take a guide for Sendero Los Quetzales which also requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and there is a two-person minimum.  As such, just to take a hike was going to cost $190.  As an experienced hiker with an all-wheel drive car, that seemed a little ridiculous to me.

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fishing harbor with panama city skyline

Two and a Half Days in Panama City

I found a cheap flight to Panama, so I picked up a Lonely Plant guide and figured out a week’s itinerary…three days in Panama City and three days in Boquete.  Aside from the Panama Canal, I hadn’t heard much about the country, so I went with guarded expectations.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I found the wonderful Latin America culture coupled with some American conveniences such as safe drinking water, easy and cheap Uber rides, excellent food, and US currency.  To me, this was perfect!

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