Panama City is known for its vibrant nightlife: from the stylish, hip lounges of Panama City’s Casco Viejo, to the laid back wine bars and pubs dispersed throughout the city. To make the most out of barhopping and partying in Panama City, keep in mind that the city is divided into three prime entertainment zones: colonial Casco Viejo, the Causeway and the financial district. Bars and pubs in these areas vary in terms of service, clientele and music, and we’re happy to guide you in finding the right fit for your night out.
As our Panama Luxury Vacations team is a group of expats that live in Panama City, we are happy to recommend where it is best to barhop, grab a glass of wine or listen to an assortment of music.
Calle Uruguay: For the best in Panamanian clubs and after-hours partying, ¨Calle Uruguay¨ (literally ¨Uruguay Street¨ but referred to in Spanish even among expats) is your place. The area typically doesn’t get busy until after 10pm and offers a variety of experiences ranging from bars/pubs to karaoke to dancing. Our suggestion? Get dressed up for a night on the town. Covers and drink prices are comparable to Miami prices. Staff Favorites: The Londoner, Prive, Seis and the rooftop bar at the Hotel ManRey.
Casco Viejo: Panama City´s new ¨in¨ spot, the recently revitalized old quarter has become a center for nightlife and entertainment, buzzing with creative energy. Tantalo is the freshest new hot spot, with its cool mural artwork adorning the restaurant walls, and open-air rooftop bar looking out over the city. The rooftop is especially popular among 20-30 somethings, but the restaurant caters to everyone and is worth having a stop by. Barlovento is another great rooftop bar that also has some of the best vibe in the city and a staff favorite.
For avid salsa dancers, Habana Panama is your spot. The cover for men is typically $10, but with it’s 1950s style Cuban-salsa-club décor, it’s a neat place for hours of steamy salsa dancing. Next to Habana Panama is La Rana Dorada, a fun and relaxed Irish-style brewery with indoor and outdoor seating. Live Jazz music most nights at Platea, housed in a century-old mansion, and serving light tapas and cold drinks all night long.
For a casual meeting spot to enjoy a few evening drinks or a bottle of wine, grab a table outside in Plaza Bolivar. The mojitos at Vieja Habana (located a block North of the Plaza Bolivar) are the best in town, served with Havana Club rum (and not served in the U.S.!). Relic, located in the basement of Luna’s Castle hostel, is the late night spot in Casco. With its outside patio and super cool bar area, it’s always packed full of young travelers, typically coming to enjoy a casual scene of drinks, large tables and music.
Casinos: The biggest ‘Vegas-style’ casino is located inside of the Wyndham Grand Veneto hotel. Minimums typically begin at $5 for blackjack, poker etc. For smaller minimums, check out the Royale Casino at the Marriot Hotel as well as the facilities at the Sheraton Atlapa. Veneto and the casino attached to the Radisson Decapolis (just cross the sky walk to enter) are the only places in town with a craps table.
Via Argentina: Located in the middle class neighborhood of “El Cangrejo”, this is the best spot to find a good mix of both foreigners and locals. La Rana Dorada (the Golden Frog) is the best pub in the city and packed just about every night. El Pavo Real (the Royal Turkey) is another good watering hole stocked with a variety of beers, pool tables and darts.Tavern 21, a Spanish tapas bar, has great crowds throughout the week as well. Staff Favorites: We love to grab a few pints at La Rana Dorada for happy-hour or sangria at Tavern 21 and catch a game.
The Causeway: Perfect for couples and families, the Amador Causeway links together four islands with rock excavated from the Canal, and gives a romantic view of the city. Great for restaurants, drinks, ice cream and walking around to see the docked yachts and ships entering the Canal. Have dinner at Lebanese restaurant Beirut, stroll with an Italian gelato, and hop around to a restaurant or two to enjoy late-night drinks. (Note: The strip of bars and clubs known as Zona de la Rumba (also referred to its former name of “Zona Viva”) was once popular for the tourist crowd, but now is more of a local nighttime hangout.).
The family-owned German bar Steinbock is a staff favorite for authentic cuisine and of course great beer. They also have a wine selection.
Terrace-club Isabella in Multiplaza Mall has become a hotspot for the young crowd with outdoor hookah lounge, restaurant and indoor discoteca.
Hard Rock Cafe in Multicentro Mall is just plain cool with its rock-and-roll theme and contemporary decorations. Walk around and take pictures with the stars! With 11 bars, 4 restaurants, a nightclub and an outdoor rooftop lounge, there is something for everyone. We enjoy getting drinks in the cabañas surrounding the infinity pool in Hard Rock’s outdoor lounge; it’s located on the 65th floor and has amazing views of the city.
In Panama City you might also run into ¨chivas:¨ curiously decorated former U.S. yellow school buses that are converted into a moving nightclub. The seats are cleared out, a bar, lights and DJ are put in and the party begins. Chivas are most typically seen traveling around the Causeway. Popular among teenagers´ birthday parties, these buses are also popular for bachelorette parties, engagements, birthdays of any age, and really any reason to celebrate. They also vary from the most basic open-air BYOB buses to A/C, live music and open-bar.
Note about the dress code: Varies from place to place, but young women typically get dressed up for the night’s events, especially if it is late-night, sporting dresses and high heels. Rule of thumb: you can never be too dolled up going out at night as a woman in Panama, makeup, hair and all. For guys, jeans, a nice button down or fun T-shirt with dress shoes is advisable in order to meet the dress code of wherever the night may take you.