Several hours can be spent wandering Casco Viejo, the old city, founded in 1673 and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Once a slum, today it is being restored and there are a number of upmarket restaurants, hotels and other accommodation. Old rundown buildings still remain, some just the façade standing, amongst two and three-storey brightly coloured colonial buildings featuring wrought-ironed, narrow balconies along cobbled streets. The stone wall, built to protect from pirate attacks, can be walked. A wide path with sea views, there are a number of souvenir stalls situated along it and it leads to a monument honouring the failed French Canal effort with a number of busts of the men involved. There are several of old churches to visit – Iglesias San Jose has a gold altar, Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Merced has wooden pillars and roof and several interesting altars, one to Saint Hedwig a women saint who Panamanians come to, to request a home. Miniature homes are left at her feet.
Plaza Herrera, once used for bullfights, is leafy and green and Plaza Independencia is a large square with seating and where the cathedral, Municipal Palacio and Museo del Canal are situated.
Another scenic walk is the waterfront promenade, Avenida Balboa, which runs from Casco Viejo to Punta Paitilla, a distance of around 4 kilometres. With park-like surroundings, pass by the fish market and take in views of the old and new cities, skyscrapers soaring at the Punta Paitilla end. It’s a great place for a run.