The people in Portobelo are SUPER friendly and are always down to buy a stranger a beer. If you just visit the church and the ruins and leave you've really missed out on a great opportunity to make friends. 5 minutes in the plaza and you can strike up a conversation with a local. We met so many folks we ended up staying and hanging out all day. If you can speak a little spanish, a "buenas" and a smile goes a long way. Stop someone on the road with a question and next thing you know you may be at someone's dinner table for a meal!
Portobello is endowed with many forts – sign of significance in the old days. They have been destroyed and rebuild. The version available for inspection now is the latest and most modern for the times of construction but what really saved it from yet another phase of destruction was Portobello’s transition into obscurity after the change of the trading route over the Cape Horn in Chile. Never mind this inglorious detail; it has a number of guns, rusting with zest and dungeons dripping with humidity. The macabre impression is magnified by the vultures perched on turrets and bastions.
There is one building which is worth the effort to visit - the Customs House. It is restored to former glory by the Spanish government. It has a dubious exposition of objects not necessarily from the historical period mostly relevant to the building. The movie shown in the opposite hall is informative and interesting. The charge for the visit is minimal, probably a dollar.
tipico seafood, chicken or maybe beef. cooool beer, which is nice. i asked if they had eggs for breakfast, she said yes and promptly went across the street to buy some :).
The torist office is right "downtown", meters away from the Customs House. Chances are you will pass it on the way the House. For a little place it is almost a miracle to have an office like that and it is very useful. The friendly staff has suggestions for places to stay and eat. The majority are out of town, so a car is an indispensable tool.
Fondest memory: The view of the bay dotted with pleasure boats oblivious to the menacing forts on all sides.