Are you looking for fun things to do in Panama’s capital? Whether marveling at this cosmopolitan city’s architecture, cruising through the Panama Canal, or enjoying its throbbing nightlife, you will not run out of things to do in Panama City.
If you visit Central America, don’t miss out on the pleasures and wonders Panama City has to offer. This article will guide you through this vibrant city’s best and must-see attractions.
Why Is Panama City So Special
Panama City is home to beautiful islands and beaches. It has all the tourist spots a traveler desires to make their trip memorable. Top of the list is the Panama Canal: one of the seven man-made wonders of the modern world!
Try to visit Panama City between January and April. This tropical jewel of a city looks absolutely stunning at this time of year. The temperature hovers between 25-30 degrees Celsius (75-85 Fahrenheit) while gentle winds lighten up the mood and improve the whole experience.
20 Best Things To Do in Panama City
1. Panama Canal
The man-made wonder of the modern world, the Panama Canal, is a 77km artificial waterway that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean across the Isthmus of Panama.
Many people visit Panama City just to experience this absolute marvel of human engineering. It will leave you in awe.
2. Casco Viejo
Include Casco Viejo in your itinerary. Away from the tall skyscrapers, this breathtaking corner of the city best preserves its old culture and heritage architecture. With quaint colonial buildings and time-worn churches, it’s the perfect place for sightseeing, museums, or taking a (self) guided tour.
3. Plaza Bolivar
Plaza Bolivar is another architectural masterpiece in Panama. The Plaza has a giant statue of one of the most famous South American historical figures, Simon Bolivar. He liberated Panama along with Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela.
In front of the Bolivar Plaza, you will find Panama’s National Theater. You can enjoy live Spanish music performances and plays.
4. Panama la Vieja
To get deeper into the history, head to Panama La Vieja, one of the oldest ruins of the early Spanish settlements. Built in 1519, the old citadel sustained countless attacks from bands of marauding pirates over the years, wearing it down bit by bit.
The site is a fantastic tourist spot where you can see old traditional houses and cathedrals. You can also learn about its colorful history, which makes it what it is today.
Brought the kids along? Biomuseo is a fantastic family-friendly experience. Positioned at the juncture of South and North America, the museum explains how the two continents connected and how this tectonic event impacted the biodiversity of our whole world forever.
Inside the Biomuseo, you’ll find information on the diversity and formation of Panama, an aquarium, and much more. Hours will fly by as you wander around, soaking up the wealth of knowledge on offer.
6. Metropolitan National Park
The Metropolitan National Park is home to various fun activities, from hiking to feeding monkeys. It is the only protected national park located at Panama City’s border.
The wildlife in this park is not easy to spot, but more than 227 species of birds, monkeys, and sloths are said to roam this state park.
7. Ancon Hill
If you want to take in the three different cities within Panama City from the top, get atop Ancon hill. From sunrise to sunset, this lookout boasts some of the best views of Panama City and has wildlife on offer too. You can also see some sloths, armadillos, and anteaters if you visit in the early morning. Just be sure to bring a camera to take some snaps for the folks back home!
8. Shopping at Albrook Mall
There are many shopping spots in Panama, but with more than 700 stores, Albrook mall is the best. It is one of Central America’s largest shopping malls. Here you can find the most popular brands, such as Armani, Nike, and Tommy Hilfiger. In addition, there are more than 100 food stalls for you to relax and dine in.
9. Shell Island Boat Ride
Visiting Shell Island by boat is a great experience, but there are a few things that you need to know. First, you won’t find any amenities on the island. Second, a boat is the only ride you can take to reach the island.
The main purpose of this activity is to enjoy the boat ride and views along the way.
10. Helicopter Ride
A helicopter ride is another way of experiencing Panama City from above. You will see the pearly white sandy beaches connecting and tall skyscrapers along the way. Helicopter tours can be expensive, but they are worth every penny if you travel with family or friends.
11. Take the Airboat Ride
If you want an airboat ride, head to the beach on the West Bay side. The fast, bumpy water ride shows you beautiful Tupelo Gum and cypress trees.
12. Enjoy a Free Summer Concert
You can enjoy a free concert at Aaron Bessant Park every Tuesday. Soak up the atmosphere with amazing food and drinks. This is a local tradition where great bands perform in the park all summer long.
13. Cycling at Amador Causeway
Cycling is a great way to keep yourself active. There is a 6 km long causeway where you can explore many city attractions such as Biomuseo and Panama Canal. You will also discover some great restaurants and bars you can visit late at night.
Islands To Explore Around Panama City
1. San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands are a magnet for tourists. The turquoise waters, pearly white beaches, and coconut trees make the place seem like heaven on earth. It’s perfect for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and catching sunsets.
The archipelago features 378 uninhabited islands, so there is much more to explore than just a piece of sand with blue water.
The San Blas Island route is a fun way to cross over from Panama into Colombia. In Colombia, you’ll land in a fun city named Cartagena, where there are many things to do.
2. Monkey Island
As its name suggests, Monkey Island is filled with (non-human) primates. This small island is home to howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin, and Geoffroy’s tamarin. Take a tour guide who can help you feed the monkeys without disturbing them. It’s the perfect day trip from Panama City.
3. Taboga Island
Taboga Island is closest to Panama City. It has hotels and restaurants where you can easily spend 2 to 3 days. You can get there in about 30 minutes via ferry.
The tour to Taboga island is cheap compared to other islands, costing only $20 for an adult. The island has some breathtaking beaches, comparable to the famous Rosario island beaches. Take your time exploring the island, taking pictures, and enjoying the stunning views.
4. Saboga Island
Saboga Island is 35 miles away from Panama City. There are very few hotels and resorts on the island, which makes it a bit more expensive than Taboga. Like Taboga Island, you can use the Ferry Las Perlas service to get there.
Best Nightlife Spots in Panama City
1. Tantalo Rooftop Bar
Tantalo is one of the best rooftop bars in Panama City. It’s a little pricey, but the views over the city are well worth it.
Expect world-class customer service at Alejandro’s. This bar has the most professional staff in Panama City. Though the drinks are expensive, the live music and cigars make up for it.
3. El Green Room
If you are a karaoke lover, spend a night in the El Green room. It is a must-visit if you are with your partner because of the romantic atmosphere.
How To Enjoy Your Panama City Visit?
Panama City is a slice of heaven on earth, but it is better to take precautionary measures to ensure that you get the best out of your trip. Here are some tips for you to enjoy your Panama City visit:
- Learn some Spanish phrases
- Use Uber as licensed taxis here are often not metered
- If you travel in November or October, don’t go hiking without a guide. The chances of land sliding are quite high in these months.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Is Traveling to Panama City Safe
Yes, Panama City is safe for tourists. However, you can run into some pickpockets if you don’t keep your valuable items secure in crowded areas.
What Is Panama City Most Known For
Panama City is most known for the Panama Canal. It is a 77 km long man-made waterway that connects the Pacific and the Atlantic ocean.
Is Panama City Worth Visiting
Panama City is a must-visit if you want to enjoy trendy restaurants, amazing views, and electric nightlife.
Panama City has much more to offer than simply the Panama Canal or the famed Panama hat. It fuses its charming historical legacy with its unique contemporary flair to make for a well-rounded, fun destination.
If planning your Panama or Central American tour, don’t miss out on exploring Panama City for a memorable travel experience.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Marjolein is the founder of Radical FIRE. She has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. Radical FIRE is a personal finance blog that helps you live your dream life by making more money and investing. We want you to reach your financial goals and have fun while doing it!