A growing number of budget travellers bed down in Casco Viejo. The restoration of many of the area’s colonial buildings makes it a pleasant retreat from the congestion and the pollution of the rest of the city – though there’s constantly some construction noise to contend with – and the nightlife is pretty good. The Calidonia/La Exposición area offers unexceptional but affordable modern hotels and residenciales, while further east along Via España, the districts of Bella Vista and El Cangrejo, the hub of the city’s nightlife and commercial activity, have a couple of hostels, some mid-range options and the expensive chain hotels. In high season (Dec–April) it’s highly advisable to book in advance no matter where you’re staying; hostels, in particular, are almost always booked up. It’s also best to exercise caution in all neighbourhoods after dark.

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