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Panama City is a city with real contrasts. During my first hours in Panama City I was almost convinced that Panama City are two cities in one; on one hand the modern, Americanized side of the city and one the other hand the real old Panama City.

I prefer the older part as it is definitely the most authentic one. But no matter which part of the city you prefer, there is one thing that you need to do in Panama. Buy a hat!

I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t impressed by the variety of panama hats I came across during my stay in Panama City. Some less crazy and some crazier, there are hats for every style, size and age!

So I got surprised when I found out that the famous Panama hat is actually of Ecuadorian origin! But Panamanian or Ecuadorian, it doesn’t matter.

These hats are beautiful so try on as many as possible until you finally make up your mind. There are no posh places to buy them, and there are no Panama hat boutique addresses to share. You can only discover them by walking around mainly the old part of the city. So let yourself mingle with the crowd because that’s definitely the best way to get to know this city. Just be careful not to get mixed with the wrong crowd!

After wandering around, you will eventually come across all the different hat merchants of Panama, as well as locals living their daily life in a colourful way!

While searching for the perfect hat, you will notice the fresh fish smell coming from the fish market where you can enjoy a cold beer and most probably the freshest fish in Panama City. Don’t let the look of the market influence you. I can definitely say that it was the most authentic, delicious and interesting dinners I had in Panama City.

Apart from satisfying your hunger and in parallel with hat searching, you can plan a short day trip to visit the famous Panama Canal as well as a visit to the Metropolitan National Park.  

After satisfying your hunger and your call for exploring, you can continue you search for a beautiful hat. Yes if you are lucky you will find your very own Panama hat that you will bring back home together with many memories!

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