Panama City Vacation
Panama’s vibrant capital, Panama City, provides the perfect starting point for exploration plus a glimpse into the country’s colorful history. Straddling two mighty oceans, the Pacific and Atlantic, on a thin isthmus bridging Central and South America, this dynamic hotspot is still growing.
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Long considered a prime area for viewing the epic man-made wonder, the Panama Canal, the city offers so much more. Founded in 1673, the remarkable old town of Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, provides a look into the country’s colonial past. Once the hub of Panamanian culture, its quaint cobblestone streets, churches, and palaces now sit side-by-side with modern restaurants, cafés, and shops.
Vacationers can find fantastic bargains in the markets of the Esteban Huertas Promenade. Get a real taste of the city at Mercado de Mariscos, where local fishermen sell their freshly caught wares. Sit in an open-air plaza sipping a café con leche and watch the world go by, before heading beyond the city to explore Panama’s myriad natural wonders.
What To Do
Explore Panama City’s Old Town of Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the city’s historic churches, including La Merced, Catedral Metropolitana, San José, or San Francisco de Asis with its majestic bell tower.
Explore Panamanian culture at one of the city’s renowned museums, such as the Reina Torres de Araúz Anthropological Museum or Panama Canal Museum.
Enjoy an evening of music, theatre or dance at the 100-year-old Teatro Nacional.
Visit the Miraflores Visitors Center for a close-up look at the Panama Canal, just twenty minutes from downtown. Or hike up Ancon Hill for sweeping views of Casco Viejo, modern Panama City and the Panama Canal.
Visit the multi-colored, Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo, which showcases the country’s biodiversity. Or observe native plants and animals at the Metropolitan National Park, a rainforest within the city, where deer, monkeys, iguanas, toucans and other wildlife play.
What To See
View France’s touching monument – a dedication to the 22,000 Frenchmen who died building the Panama Canal in Casco Viejo.
Biodiverse Panama is home to more wildlife species of birds than all of North America. Learn more about the amazing creatures of Panama through technology, science and art at the brightly colored Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo.
Stroll or bicycle along the Amador Causeway, which connects four tiny islands near the entrance to the Panama Canal. Visit Casco Viejo with its stunning Spanish Colonial buildings, historic museums, sidewalk cafés and sweeping views.
From air-conditioned shopping malls to native markets, Panama City offers some of the best shopping in Central America. Shop in the Avenida Central Pedestrian Mall next to Casco Viejo for great buys. Although Panama’s official paper currency is the balboa, the United States dollar is widely accepted, as well, making shopping in Panama a breeze for Americans.
Locals and vacationers in Panama City clearly love to party. You’ll find a variety of pubs, discos and casinos to dance or gamble the night away.
The most popular area for nightlife in the city is the Casco Viejo section, where the historic ambiance of Old Town provides the perfect backdrop for numerous nightclubs and restaurants.
Panama City with Kids
Take your kids on a strolling history lesson through Panama City’s 16th century Panamá Viejo, the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. Visit the Panama Canal Museum or Biomuseo, showcasing the country’s unique biodiversity. Explore the city’s wilder side with a hike through a rainforest at the Metropolitan Natural Park, which showcases nearly 300 native animal species.
Off the Beaten Path
Enjoy a marvelous road trip through the verdant Chiriquí Province to the Parque Nacional Volcán Barú, with its amazing volcanoes, cloud forests and wildlife.
Food and Drink
A traditional Panama City menu usually includes meat, coconut rice and beans, tropical fruits and vegetables such as squash, yucca and plantains. Ceviche of chopped raw fish, shrimp, or conch marinated in lime juice and served with fresh tortilla chips is a popular dish in this republic bordering the sea. Dessert often includes raspados (snow cones) or delicious tres leches cake soaked in evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream.