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Weird & Wonderful


Top Rated Shopping in Panama City

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Fuerte Amador Resort & Marina

Not satisfied with a mere marina and cruise ship terminal, developers on the Calzada de Amador transformed this practical meeting place into a two-story center of shopping, dining, drinking and, of course, appreciating the great view. Catch a boat to Tobajo after a great Italian meal, or stare at the slow movements of massive ships through shiny new sunglasses.

Galería Art Indigena

Those tourists interested in learning about the many remarkable artistic traditions of Panama—and, of course, interested in bringing some examples back home—have few better resources at their disposal than the Galería Art Indigena in Casco Viejo. The store stocks carvings, paintings, woven baskets and bowls, figurines, masks, t-shirts, post cards, maracas, hammocks, decorated gourds, hats, animals fashioned from palm seeds, and many more treasures to be discovered along the shelves. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the Galería also hosts folkloric dancing performances from 6 until 8p.

Avenida Central

Just north of Casco Viejo, Central Avenue makes a turn eastwards and undergoes a remarkable transformation between the Plaza Santa Ana and the Plaza Cinco de Mayo. Cars are permanently barred from this stretch of wide roadway, lined with businesses and teeming with a combination of shoppers, sellers, colors, and noise. Pushcarts and stands vend fresh juices, agua de pipa, candy, hot dogs, produce and ices, while the inexpensive stores bordering the avenue display a cacophony of fabrics, jewelry, electronics, and food presented on steam tables. The crowds that are drawn to this area are endlessly fascinating to be a part of, and if you actually need to buy something at a good price, look no further.

Super Gourmet

A few tables sprout umbrellas out on the sidewalk and a couple more stand inside, but Super Gourmet is generally a place people walk out of with full shopping bags rather than full stomachs. It is mostly a specialty grocery store selling items along the lines of fine wines, fancy coffee, aged cheeses, and dark chocolate. In a pinch, it's also a good place to find more basic items like cereals and pastas. The shop does contain a deli, which puts together mouth-watering sandwiches and other take-away items that are so perfect for a picnic that it's difficult to justify eating them at the provided seating. Super Gourmet has another location in Bocas del Toro, an island off the northeast coast of Panama.

Mercado de Artesanía

Across a small road from the Torre del Catedral, a recently renovated treasure of the Panamá Viejo ruins, the Mercado de Artesanía is one of the best places in the city to find the incredible indigenous handicrafts and artwork that are famed in Panama. Artisans showcase their work on tables or in small shops so that visitors can stroll past woven hats, carved masks, beaded jewelry, and elaborately embroidered textiles sewn into any number of useful forms. Whether looking to carry home a suitcase full of souvenirs or to simply to look and learn about the craftwork traditions of Panama by talking to the people who make them, this Mercado de Artesanía is sure to serve as a splendid resource.

Mercado de Buhonería

A bright colony of hammocks, molas, t-shirts, sandals, maracas, masks, baskets, food stands, and plenty of other trinkets is situated behind the Old Train Station on the eastern side of Plaza Cinco de Mayo. This open-air market, known as the Mercado de Buhonería, is both less frantically busy than the area immediately around the Plaza and less touristy than other markets or stores selling artisanal crafts. Friendly vendors are happy to chat with customers about their products, their prices, and their city.

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