Welcome to Panama City, a vibrant and diverse destination that promises to take your breath away with its perfect mix of history, culture, and beauty. Prepare to embark on a journey filled with adventure and excitement, as you discover what to do, see, and eat in this enchanting city.
Exploring Panama City’s Rich History
History buffs will love exploring Panama City’s rich past. The city is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the historic district of Casco Viejo and the ruins of Old Panama, also known as Panama Viejo.
Casco Viejo: The Historic District
Take a step back in time and wander through the narrow streets of Casco Viejo, a charming neighborhood that dates back to the 17th century. Here, you’ll find a plethora of colonial-style buildings, colorful facades, and ornate balconies. The neighborhood was originally built as a walled city to protect against pirate attacks, and many of the buildings have been restored to their former glory. Stop by one of the many cafes or restaurants for a taste of Panamanian cuisine, and explore one of the many art galleries or boutiques that dot the area.
One of the most popular attractions in Casco Viejo is the Panama Canal Museum, which showcases the history of the canal and its impact on Panama and the world. The museum is located in a beautiful old building and features interactive exhibits and artifacts.
Panama Viejo: The Ruins of Old Panama
If you’re interested in history, be sure to visit Panama Viejo, the first European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas and the original capital of Panama. Founded in 1519, the city was destroyed by the infamous pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. Today, you can explore the ruins of the city’s former homes, churches, and administrative buildings while learning about its fascinating history. The site also features a museum with exhibits on the city’s history and archaeology.
One of the most interesting things about Panama Viejo is the contrast between the ruins and the modern city that surrounds it. From the top of the ruins, you can see skyscrapers and other modern buildings in the distance, highlighting the city’s evolution over the centuries.
The Panama Canal: A Modern Marvel
No visit to Panama City is complete without a trip to the famous Panama Canal. Witness this engineering marvel in action, as massive cargo ships make their way through the locks. The canal was completed in 1914 after decades of construction and has since become one of the most important waterways in the world. You can visit the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center to learn more about the canal’s history and construction.
In addition to the visitor center, there are several other ways to experience the canal. You can take a boat tour through the canal, which offers a unique perspective on the locks and the surrounding jungle. You can also hike through the Soberania National Park, which is home to a diverse array of wildlife and offers stunning views of the canal and surrounding area.
Overall, Panama City is a fascinating destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and engineering. With its mix of old and new, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Must-Visit Attractions in Panama City
In addition to its rich history, Panama City is home to a plethora of must-see attractions that are sure to amaze and delight visitors. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply looking for a scenic stroll, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city.
Biomuseo: Discover Panama’s Biodiversity
For a unique experience, check out the Biomuseo, a museum dedicated to Panama’s biodiversity and natural history. The colorful, modern architecture is a sight to behold and highlights the country’s unique position as a bridge between two continents. Inside, visitors can explore a variety of exhibits and interactive displays, learning about the flora, fauna, and ecosystems that make Panama such a special place.
One of the most fascinating exhibits at the Biomuseo is the “Panamarama,” a 3D projection that takes visitors on a virtual tour of Panama’s diverse geography. From the rainforests of the Darien to the coral reefs of the Caribbean, this immersive experience is not to be missed.
Ancon Hill: A Panoramic View of the City
For stunning views of Panama City, head to the top of Ancon Hill. The hike to the summit is moderately difficult, but the panoramic views of the city and the Panama Canal are well worth the effort. Along the way, visitors can spot a variety of wildlife, including sloths, monkeys, and toucans.
At the top of the hill, visitors can take in breathtaking views of the city skyline, the Pacific Ocean, and the lush rainforest that surrounds the city. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic or a romantic sunset stroll.
Amador Causeway: A Scenic Walkway
The Amador Causeway is a scenic walkway that offers stunning views of the Bay of Panama and skyline as well as access to the nearby islands of Naos, Perico, and Flamenco. Perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride, this picturesque promenade is also home to numerous restaurants, shops, and nightlife venues.
Along the way, visitors can admire the impressive yachts and sailboats that line the marina, or stop for a refreshing drink at one of the many outdoor cafes. At night, the causeway comes alive with live music, dancing, and entertainment, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
Overall, Panama City is a vibrant and exciting destination that offers something for everyone. From its rich history to its stunning natural beauty, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this fascinating city. So why not book your trip today and discover all that Panama City has to offer?
Outdoor Adventures in and Around Panama City
Panama City offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration, and the lush rainforest surrounding the city is home to a variety of wildlife and stunning landscapes. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking for a relaxing day in the sun, Panama City has something for everyone.
Metropolitan Natural Park: A Jungle in the City
For a nature escape in the heart of the city, visit the Metropolitan Natural Park. This park is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including monkeys, sloths, and a wide variety of bird species. Hiking trails wind through the lush jungle, offering a chance to explore and admire the scenery. The park also offers guided tours, allowing visitors to learn more about the local wildlife and the importance of conservation efforts in the region.
One of the highlights of the Metropolitan Natural Park is the stunning panoramic view of Panama City from the top of the Ancon Hill. The hill is the highest point in Panama City and offers breathtaking views of the city skyline and the surrounding rainforest.
Soberania National Park: Wildlife and Hiking
Just a short drive from Panama City, Soberania National Park offers incredible wildlife viewing opportunities and beautiful hiking trails. Keep your eyes peeled for toucans, sloths, and even jaguars as you wander through the rainforest. The park is also home to the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, which offers educational exhibits and guided tours of the rainforest canopy.
For the more adventurous, Soberania National Park offers zip-lining tours that allow visitors to soar through the treetops and get a unique perspective of the rainforest. The park also has several camping areas, providing a chance to experience the rainforest at night and listen to the sounds of the jungle.
Isla Taboga: A Beach Getaway
If you’re looking for a beach escape, take a day trip to Isla Taboga, located just a short ferry ride from Panama City. This beautiful island boasts pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere that’s perfect for a relaxing day in the sun. The island is also home to several restaurants and bars, serving up fresh seafood and tropical cocktails.
For those looking for a bit more adventure, Isla Taboga offers snorkeling and scuba diving tours, allowing visitors to explore the vibrant coral reefs and see a variety of marine life. The island also has several hiking trails, offering a chance to explore the lush vegetation and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding ocean.
Overall, Panama City and its surrounding areas offer endless opportunities for outdoor adventure and exploration. From hiking through the rainforest to relaxing on pristine beaches, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful region of Panama.
Indulging in Panama City’s Culinary Scene
No trip to Panama City is complete without indulging in the local cuisine, which is a fusion of African, Spanish, and indigenous influences. From street food to high-end dining, there is something for everyone to taste and savor.
Traditional Panamanian Cuisine
Be sure to try some of Panama’s traditional dishes, like sancocho (a hearty chicken soup), arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), or ceviche (a seafood dish made with lime and spices). You can find these dishes at local eateries and street vendors across the city.
One of the most popular traditional dishes in Panama is sancocho. This hearty soup is made with chicken, yucca, plantains, corn, and other vegetables. It’s a staple in many Panamanian households and is often served at family gatherings and celebrations.
Another traditional dish that you must try is arroz con pollo. This flavorful dish is made with chicken, rice, vegetables, and spices. It’s a staple in many Latin American countries, but each region has its own unique twist on the recipe.
Ceviche is another must-try dish in Panama. This seafood dish is made with fresh fish or shrimp that is marinated in lime juice and spices. It’s a refreshing and light dish that is perfect for a hot day.
International Dining Options
If you’re looking for something different, Panama City offers a variety of international dining options. Check out one of the many Japanese sushi spots, Italian trattorias, or upscale steakhouses.
For a taste of Japan, head to one of Panama City’s many sushi spots. You’ll find a variety of sushi rolls, sashimi, and other Japanese dishes that are sure to satisfy your cravings.
If Italian food is more your style, check out one of the city’s trattorias. You’ll find classic Italian dishes like pasta carbonara, margherita pizza, and tiramisu.
For a fancy night out, head to one of the city’s upscale steakhouses. You’ll find high-quality cuts of meat and a variety of sides and sauces to complement your meal.
Local Markets and Street Food
For an authentic taste of Panama, visit one of the local markets, like Mercado de Mariscos (Seafood Market), where you can indulge in fresh ceviche and other seafood dishes. Or, sample some of the city’s street food offerings, like empanadas, tamales, and churros.
Mercado de Mariscos is one of the most popular markets in Panama City. Here, you’ll find a variety of fresh seafood, including shrimp, lobster, and octopus. You can also try some of the market’s famous ceviche, which is made with fresh fish and served with crackers or tortilla chips.
Street food is a big part of Panama’s culinary scene. You’ll find vendors selling empanadas, which are pastry pockets filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables. Tamales are another popular street food, which are made with masa (corn dough) and filled with meat or vegetables. And for something sweet, try a churro, which is a fried dough pastry coated in sugar and cinnamon.
No matter what your taste buds are craving, Panama City has something to offer. From traditional Panamanian dishes to international cuisine and street food, you’re sure to find something delicious to eat.
Experiencing Panama City’s Vibrant Nightlife
Once the sun goes down, Panama City comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for stunning views, live music and dancing, or late-night entertainment, this city has it all.
Rooftop Bars with Stunning Views
Lounge at one of the city’s many rooftop bars, like Mamallena Rooftop Bar or Gatto Blanco’s Sky Bar, for stunning views of the skyline and nearby ocean. Sip on a cocktail or enjoy a cold beer while taking in the breathtaking scenery. The rooftop bars in Panama City are the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring the city.
For an even more unique experience, head to the Tantalo Hotel’s rooftop bar, which features a vertical garden and a rotating selection of local art. The atmosphere is trendy and sophisticated, making it a popular spot among locals and tourists alike.
Salsa Dancing and Live Music
Check out one of the many venues for live music and dancing, like Havana Panama or Tantalo Rooftop Bar, where you can indulge in the local music and dance scene. Salsa dancing is a popular pastime in Panama City, and there’s no shortage of places to show off your moves.
For a more laid-back evening, head to Casa Jaguar, a popular bar with a bohemian vibe. They often have live music performances, and the atmosphere is cozy and intimate.
Nightclubs and Late-Night Entertainment
If you’re looking for more late-night entertainment, check out the many nightclubs and bars that stay open until the early hours of the morning, like Teatro Amador or La Tana. These venues often feature local DJs or live music performances, and the crowds are always lively and energetic.
If you’re feeling adventurous, head to the Casco Viejo neighborhood, where you’ll find a variety of bars and clubs with a more eclectic vibe. From speakeasy-style bars to underground clubs, Casco Viejo has something for everyone.
Overall, Panama City’s nightlife scene is diverse and vibrant, with something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for stunning views, live music, or late-night entertainment, this city has it all.
Before your trip to Panama City, it’s essential to know a few things about getting around and staying safe in this bustling city. Panama City is a vibrant metropolis that offers visitors a unique blend of history and modernity. With its beautiful beaches, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine, Panama City is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Central America.
Getting Around: Public Transportation and Taxis
Public transportation in Panama City is plentiful and affordable, with both buses and metro lines available. The metro system is clean, efficient, and easy to use, with trains running every few minutes. Buses are also a popular mode of transportation, with routes that cover most parts of the city. Taxis are readily available, but be sure to negotiate the price before getting in. It’s also a good idea to have the address of your destination written down in Spanish, as many taxi drivers do not speak English.
Staying Safe in Panama City
While Panama City is generally safe for visitors, it’s important to take precautions. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Stick to well-lit areas and avoid walking alone at night. If possible, travel with a companion or in a group. It’s also a good idea to keep your valuables in a safe or locked in your hotel room.
One area to be cautious of is the Casco Viejo neighborhood, which is known for its pickpocketing and purse-snatching. While this area is popular with tourists, it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings and avoid walking alone at night.
Best Time to Visit and Weather Considerations
The best time to visit Panama City is from December to April when the weather is dry and sunny. However, keep in mind that the city can get quite hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Be sure to stay hydrated and wear lightweight clothing to stay comfortable in the heat.
Another thing to consider is the rainy season, which runs from May to November. While it’s still possible to visit Panama City during this time, be prepared for frequent rain showers and occasional thunderstorms. If you do visit during the rainy season, be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella to stay dry.
Overall, Panama City is a vibrant and exciting destination that offers visitors a unique blend of culture, history, and modernity. By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to this beautiful city.
Panama City truly has something for everyone, from history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts to foodies and nightlife lovers. Whether you’re exploring the city’s rich past, indulging in the local cuisine, or experiencing the vibrant nightlife scene, Panama City promises to be an unforgettable destination that’s sure to leave you with lasting memories.