Last Updated on March 30, 2020
The capital city of Panama is a popular tourist destination that offers visitors a variety of places to roam around and activities to take part in. With so many different available options, it is only natural that you may feel a bit overwhelmed when you set foot on the city for the first time.
Here is a list with the top-rated and well-worth things you could do when you visit Panama City.
1. Panama Viejo
Founded back in 1519, Panama Viejo was an attractive target for thieves from all over the world due to its silver and gold wealth. Its cultural significance and high touristic value made this site a well-funded one.
Nowadays, this archaeological site which is considered an UNESCO heritage site, offers visitors with a 57-acres of remains connected with small paths.
If you have some free time, you can visit the museum and the visitor center of the site that are about 15 minutes away on foot.
2. Soberania National Park
If you are a lover of nature, then a walking down the Soberania National Park is one of the first places you should visit when you arrive at the Panama City.
There are actually 2 different paths you can follow, both of which offer a great insight of the rich fauna and flora of the city.
The Pipeline Road is the ideal track for those wishing to watch from very close a variety of different birds, while the Plantation Road offers visitors a wonderful view of lots of animals, including monkeys, white-faced capuchins and agouti.
Visitors are advised to bring some water along and some insect repellent, as well. Do not forget to wear comfortable shoes and an umbrella if you go to the park during the rainy period.
3. Iglesia del Carmen
One of the few churches in Panama that inspires meditation and reflection from the moment you step your foot in, the Iglesia del Carmen is stands out in the middle of the Panama City.
A Spanish artist built the towers of the church and part of its altar. The church is impressive on the inside, as well. It offers a glimpse into the Panamanian history and although it was built in the 20th century, the whole architecture of it resembles a church of the Middle Ages.
4. The Miraflores Locks
We all know that the Panama Canal is one of the best engineering constructions in the world. Having the opportunity to visit the observation deck and have a close look at ships passing by through the locks is something you should not miss when you visit Panama.
A small museum where you can get info on how the whole process of building the canal was performed is the perfect way for you to finish your visit at the Miraflores Locks.
A short film on the history of the canal is also, available upon request. On the third level, there is a restaurant where you can taste some quality food if you feel a bit hungry, as well.
5. Punta Culebra
A non-profit center that aims at the preservation of the biodiversity of the city of Panama, the Punta Culebra is a good destination for everyone. The center hosts mainly outdoor exhibits, including sea turtles and sharks. Fish tanks are also, present inside the building.
A combination of tropical forests, wildlife and view of the beach, and with a non-profit aspect, the Punta Culebra is ideal for both adults and children.
6. Panama’s Fish Market
Panamanians are known for their fishing abilities. That is the reason why their main fishing market is full of people, both locals and visitors daily. You can either buy some delicious, fresh seafood from the locals or you can taste some delicious and really affordable ceviche. The market is open daily from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
7. Museum of Contemporary Art
The city’s Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-see destination for the fans of modern art. Situated on a leafy hill in a converted building, the museum is home to a variety of artworks, including paintings, as well as a unique series of movie posters.
Local and international artists have offered their works to the museum and the whole site is ideal for children, since it offers personalized activities for each age group, as well.
The museum offers visitors a corner where they can taste some free tea or coffee, as well.
8. Amador Causeway
A strip of land that connects the nearby Amador Islands with the city of Panama, the impressive fact about this causeway is that it was initially created using the rocks and soil that came from some excavations that were performed to the canal of the city.
The Amador causeway has been recently renovated and it is nowadays, a favorite place for tourists and for locals, as well.
A good idea is to hire a bike and ride the whole causeway, but it is quite easy to walk along its surface, as well.
9. The Biomuseo
The most popular museum in Panama, the Biomuseo is known for its modern architecture and unique style. The museum was initially designed with the intention to tell the story of the creation of the isthmus of Panama.
The worldly famous isthmus united two continents and separated the grand ocean in two pieces, changing for ever the biodiversity of the whole world.
Interactive and creative pieces of media are used to enlighten tourists around the history of the isthmus. A botanical walk around the museum is also, something you should not miss. The museum is home to temporary exhibits, as well. For example, some time ago there was a chili pepper exhibit.
10. San Blas Islands
A day trip to the nearby San Blas Islands will provide you with a quiet and peaceful time admiring the uninhabited and beautiful islands with the long, sandy beaches and the crystal blue waters. A private charter is the ideal way for you to visit the islands. Do not forget to bring your passport along, since the security check in the islands is quite strict.
If you are up to it, you can swim along the crystal blue waters of the islands or snorkel down the beautiful coral reefs.
11. The Cathedral
A must-see cathedral in Panama, the Cathedral of Santa Maria is a catholic building located in Casco Viejo. Its unique architecture and style, along with its majestic atmosphere make it a great destination for everyone and a wonderful sightseeing monument you should not miss.
Depending on the time of the year you visit the place, you will be able to see some fascinating interior decoration, as well.
12. Local food
You cannot possibly visit a foreign country without spending some money on tasting some quality local food. Panamanians are known for their chicken and rice plates, but seafood, yuca and plantains are also, popular. The traditional dishes including ceviche and petacones are also, delicious choices.
Apart from going to a local restaurant or street food stall, a great option is to go on a food tour. That way you’ll be able to taste a lot of different local foods. You could also, try some local drinks.
We can assure you that Panamanians know how to be creative and make some exclusive cocktails, apart from the well-known local beers, like Atlas and Balboa.
13. Tantalo Roofbar
The roof bar of the Tantalo boutique hotel is another great way of spending an evening admiring the city from above.
The bar offers live music daily and particularly during the evening as the sun sets down, the whole atmosphere becomes really enchanting. From above the city, you’ll be able to watch the lights of Panama and admire some of the city’s monuments, historic buildings and the churches.
Cocktails are served daily and there are different flavors you can taste. The popular Zen-Jito is made of gin muddled with lemon juice and cucumber along with a ginger-enriched syrup.
14. Pedro Mandinga
The first craft rum distillery in Panama is the well-known Pedro Mandinga. There, you can try a variety of spirits, but you should not miss the opportunity to taste some good beer and rum.
A distillery tour is also, available if you are a fan of learning new things. Another great opportunity is to combine your tour with a mixocolgy class offered by a world-class barista.
15. Teatro Amador
Once the theater of the elite class, where they enjoyed some well-known films, including the ones starring Charlie Chaplin, the Amador Theater was built in 1908, but it was closed down until 2012. Nowadays, the venue is a two-leveled place where a variety of shows, performances, concerts and art shows take place.
Paying a visit to Panama City can be a great experience for everyone: whether you are traveling alone or with company. From the wide variety of activities you can take part in when you visit the city, some of the greatest ones are listed above.
Ideally, you should plan your trip carefully in advance in order to enjoy most of the activities without feeling overwhelmed. After all, proper organisation can be the key to every successful outing.