My friend Princess Angela of Liechtenstein is originally from Panama. As a former fashion designer she also has an excellent sense of style. So when it comes to the best and most beautiful places to visit in Panama, I always trust her advice. Here are her top picks for the perfect escape:
What would be your perfect day in Panama City?
A perfect day in Panama City would be to wake up at my parent’s house in the morning and have a casual chat with my mother over a freshly brewed cup of Panamanian coffee. I would then meet my friend Laura, who would take me shopping. I especially like to visit some of the local artisan shops.
What would be your ideal outfit for the day?
It is hot in Panama, so normally I would wear white jeans, easy tops, lots of colorful bangles and necklaces, sandals or my Panamanian mola ballerinas. If I am on the coast, I love to wear flowing kaftans and beach dresses, with lots of prints, embroidery, and colors.
Where would you have dinner and what dish would your order?
My favorite place to have dinner is at Manolo Caracol in the old town, where chef Andrés Morataya uses local, organic ingredients. My favorite dishes are the sea bass carpaccio with hibiscus powder and lime zest or the zucchini flowers stuffed with mushrooms, green onions, goat cheese, and leeks.
What attraction would you visit?
In Panama City I would visit the Museum of Biodiversity designed by Frank Gehry. The museum was created to tell the origin of the Isthmus and its significant impact on the planet’s biodiversity. It is really fascinating.
Where would you stay?
I would stay at the American Trade Hotel. It is a beautifully restored Spanish colonial mansion that evokes old world charm but is equipped with modern amenities.
And where would you have a cocktail?
You’ll hear great Latin jazz at Danilo’s Latin Jazz Bar, also in the American Trade Hotel. It’s small, intimate, and serves excellent cocktails.
What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city?
My favorite area is the Casco Viejo (the old town). The city was built in the 1600s and is on a peninsula by the sea. I love strolling its cobbled streets looking at the old architecture. It is also a cool place with great restaurants, artisan shops, old ruins and Latin jazz clubs.
What makes Panama City special to you?
Panama City is special because it is always evolving. There is always something new to see and the city is culturally diverse and vibrant. It is filled with energy.
What are the best escapes near the city?
My favorite escape is to the AMA Estancia in the charming town of Pedasi, on the southern tip of the Azuero Peninsula. The AMA is a gorgeous secluded retreat on a private beach. The terrain is really green and unspoiled. We go for beautiful walks on the beach. My husband and son love to surf, snorkel or go fishing in the early morning. In the afternoon they either play tennis or go horseback riding in the hills.
When is a good time to visit Panama?
From December through April to escape our grumpy winters and then again July and August when the whales migrate and we can see them from our breakfast table at AMA Estancia.