One of Panama’s oldest settlements, the hot city of Chitré is hardly geared toward travelers, but it’s an agreeable stop on the way to the peninsula. Though it has mostly cement structures, a handful of ornate red-tiled row homes hark back to the early days of Spanish settlement. Colonial records indicate that there was a village here as early as 1558. The capital of Herrera Province, it’s the largest city on the Península de Azuero, and the cultural and historic capital of the region.
For most travelers, Chitré serves as a springboard for nearby attractions like the ceramic shops in La Arena, the Humboldt Ecological Station at Playa El Aguillito, historic Parita, the seco (alcoholic drink made from sugarcane) factory at Pesé and the wildlife refuge at Cenegón del Mangle. Some of the country’s best festivals are just a quick bus ride away, but Chitré does host a few wild parties of its own.