• Photo: Noraluca013 / Shutterstock

Downtown Panama City

The area northeast of the old city, stretching from the neighborhoods of El Cangrejo to Punta Paitilla, is where you'll find most of the city's office towers, banks, hotels, restaurants, and shops. As Panama City's economy grew and diversified during the 20th century, those who had money abandoned Casco Viejo and built homes in new neighborhoods to the northeast; apartment buildings and office towers soon followed. Many of Panama City's best hotels and restaurants are clustered in El Cangrejo and the Area Bancária (Financial District), which flank busy Via España. Calle 50, another of the city's main arteries, defines the southern edge of the Area Bancária. A few blocks southeast of Calle 50 is Avenida Balboa, another of the city's major thoroughfares, which curves along the coast between the Casco Viejo and Punta Paitilla and is lined by the parks and waterfront promenade of La Cinta Costera. Between Calle 50 and Avenida Balboa you'll find the neighborhoods of Bella Vista and Marbella, which hold an interesting mix of apartment towers, aging mansions, shops, and government offices. Just to the east of Marbella is Punta Paitilla, a small point packed with skyscrapers and a few hotels.

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