Top 10 Things to Do in Panama

by Alice

Panama, a country connecting North and South America, is a land of vibrant culture, rich history, and stunning natural beauty. From its bustling capital to its pristine beaches and lush rainforests, Panama offers travelers a diverse array of experiences. If you’re planning a trip to this Central American gem, here are the top 10 things to do in Panama that you won’t want to miss.

1. Explore the Panama Canal

No visit to Panama would be complete without experiencing the marvel of engineering that is the Panama Canal. Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, this 48-mile waterway has been crucial for global trade since its completion in 1914. Visitors can tour the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center near Panama City to learn about the canal’s history, operations, and impact on world commerce. For a more immersive experience, consider taking a boat tour through the canal, where you can witness massive ships navigating the locks firsthand.


2. Discover Casco Viejo

Step back in time as you wander through the historic district of Casco Viejo in Panama City. This charming neighborhood, also known as Casco Antiguo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its colonial architecture, colorful buildings, and cobblestone streets. Spend a day exploring its picturesque plazas, boutique shops, art galleries, and vibrant culinary scene. Don’t miss iconic landmarks such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de la Independencia, and the Presidential Palace.


3. Relax on the San Blas Islands

Escape the hustle and bustle of city life by heading to the San Blas Islands, an archipelago of over 350 pristine islands and cays in the Caribbean Sea. Home to the indigenous Guna Yala people, these tropical paradises boast powdery white sands, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and abundant marine life. Spend your days snorkeling among colorful coral reefs, lounging in hammocks beneath swaying palm trees, and immersing yourself in the local culture. Accommodations range from rustic beach cabanas to luxury eco-resorts, offering something for every traveler.


4. Hike the Camino de Cruces National Park

Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will delight in exploring the lush wilderness of Camino de Cruces National Park. Located just outside Panama City, this protected area encompasses over 10,000 hectares of primary rainforest, home to diverse flora and fauna. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on scenic trails that wind through dense jungle, past cascading waterfalls, and alongside tranquil rivers. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as monkeys, sloths, toucans, and colorful butterflies as you immerse yourself in Panama’s natural beauty.

5. Visit the Biomuseo

Gain insight into Panama’s biodiversity and ecological importance with a visit to the Biomuseo, a cutting-edge museum designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Located on the Amador Causeway overlooking the Panama Canal, this striking building houses interactive exhibits that showcase the country’s rich natural history and environmental significance. Learn about the formation of the Isthmus of Panama, which connected the continents and facilitated the migration of species between North and South America. With its colorful exhibits and educational displays, the Biomuseo offers an engaging experience for visitors of all ages.

6. Experience Panama’s Indigenous Culture

Immerse yourself in Panama’s indigenous heritage by visiting one of the country’s many indigenous communities. From the Emberá in the rainforests of the Darién region to the Ngäbe-Buglé in the highlands of Chiriquí, each group offers a unique glimpse into traditional ways of life, customs, and crafts. Spend a day with the Emberá tribe, learning about their traditional medicine, artisanal crafts, and spiritual beliefs. Or, join the Ngäbe-Buglé people for a cultural exchange, where you can participate in traditional dances, share meals, and hear ancient legends passed down through generations.

7. Wander Through Panama City’s Modern Skyline

Experience the dynamic energy of Panama City by exploring its modern skyline and bustling waterfront. Marvel at iconic skyscrapers such as the towering Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower, the sleek F&F Tower, and the twisting Revolution Tower. Stroll along the scenic Cinta Costera waterfront promenade, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the city skyline. In the evening, head to the vibrant nightlife districts of Calle Uruguay or Casco Viejo, where you can sample delicious cuisine, sip cocktails, and dance the night away.

8. Relax in Boquete

Escape to the cool mountain town of Boquete, nestled in the highlands of Panama’s Chiriquí province. Known for its mild climate, lush landscapes, and coffee plantations, Boquete is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Embark on scenic hikes through cloud forests in search of exotic birds such as the resplendent quetzal, explore hidden waterfalls, or take a thrilling canopy tour through the treetops. After a day of adventure, unwind with a soothing soak in natural hot springs or savor a cup of locally grown coffee at one of the town’s charming cafes.

9. Discover Panama’s Pacific Coast Beaches

With over 1,500 miles of coastline, Panama is home to some of the most pristine beaches in Central America. Head to the Pacific coast to discover secluded stretches of sand, hidden coves, and world-class surfing spots. Playa Venao is a favorite among surfers, with its consistent waves and laid-back atmosphere, while Santa Catalina offers excellent diving and snorkeling opportunities in its crystal-clear waters. For a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, venture to the remote beaches of the Azuero Peninsula, where you can unwind in solitude amid stunning natural beauty.

10. Sample Panama’s Culinary Delights

No trip to Panama would be complete without indulging in its delicious cuisine, which reflects a blend of indigenous, African, Spanish, and Caribbean influences. Start your culinary adventure with a hearty breakfast of gallo pinto (rice and beans) served with fried eggs, plantains, and queso blanco. For lunch, savor a traditional dish such as sancocho (a hearty chicken soup) or ceviche (marinated seafood). In the evening, treat yourself to a seafood feast featuring fresh-caught lobster, shrimp, or snapper, accompanied by a refreshing cocktail or a cold beer. Be sure to save room for dessert, as Panama is known for its sweet treats such as tres leches cake and hojaldres (fried pastries).

In Conclusion

Panama offers a wealth of experiences for travelers seeking adventure, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring the iconic Panama Canal, relaxing on pristine beaches, or immersing yourself in indigenous culture, you’re sure to create unforgettable memories in this captivating country. So pack your bags and get ready to discover the top 10 things to do in Panama.



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