Things to do in Panama City

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About Panama City

The Panama Canal, particularly the Miraflores Locks, tops the must-see list due to its historical significance and engineering marvel. Casco Viejo, the colonial district, is lauded for its charming architecture and vibrant atmosphere. The Biomuseo, designed by Frank Gehry, is another can't-miss attraction for its architectural grandeur and fascinating exhibits on biodiversity.
Families with kids should visit the Punta Culebra Nature Center for interactive marine exhibits, explore the interactive exhibits at the Panama Canal Museum, or enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife at the Metropolitan Natural Park.
The best outdoor activities include hiking at Ancon Hill, where you can enjoy panoramic city views, wildlife watching, and diving at the San Blas Islands, as well as birding or zip-lining in the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve.
For indoor adventures, consider touring the Panama Canal Museum or the Biomuseo. Indulge in a shopping spree at Albrook Mall or enjoy the artisanal chocolate tasting and learning experiences offered by local chocolatiers.
The best tours in Panama include canal tours that provide insight into the canal's operations, cultural walking tours in Casco Viejo, and natural exploration tours of the country's rainforests and biodiversity.
The most popular museums are the Panama Canal Museum for its comprehensive coverage of the canal's history, the Biomuseo for its focus on Panama's natural history, and the Afro-Antillean Museum which celebrates the culture and history of Panamanian people of African descent.
On rainy days, the ideal tours are those within the Panama Canal Museum or Biomuseo, as they are both indoors. Shopping center and culinary tours are also good choices, combining indoor activities with cultural experiences.
Short tours in Panamá suitable for 1 hour or less include a quick visit to Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal or a condensed walking tour of Casco Viejo, focusing on major landmarks and historical sites.

Best Things to Do In Panamá

Unlock the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Panama as you explore the best things to see and do in this vivacious country.

Panamá City: Metropolitan Natural Park

What is it?
A tropical forest reserve within the city offering hiking and wildlife observation.
Why you should go?
Revered as the 'Lung of Panama City,' the Metropolitan Natural The park serves as a natural retreat for those looking to escape the urban cacophony. Visitors can explore a variety of trails that wind through verdant landscapes, boasting an array of flora and fauna unique to the region. It's a fantastic destination to observe tropical birds, sloths, and other wildlife in their natural habitat. Engaging audio-guided tours enhance the educational experience, explaining the ecological significance of this urban oasis. It's an exhilarating addition to Panamá excursions for nature enthusiasts and families alike.

Panamá City: Panama Viejo

What is it?
The ruins of the original Panamá City, destroyed in the 17th century.
Why you should go?
Panama Viejo stands as a silent narrative of the country's tumultuous past. These UNESCO-protected ruins mark the spot where the city was founded in 1519 and later sacked by pirates. Today, visitors can wander amongst the remnants of colonial churches, convents, and residential buildings. An audio-guided tour provides vivid accounts of life in the old city and tales of the fateful raid by Henry Morgan, encapsulating its historical essence. Panama Viejo is an essential stop for understanding Panamá's roots and experiencing a slice of its storied history.

Panamá City: Miraflores Locks

What is it?
A pivotal segment of the Panama Canal with a visitor center explaining canal operations.
Why you should go?
At the Miraflores Locks, the mechanical marvel of the Panama Canal comes to life. Visitors have the chance to witness colossal ships navigating the narrow channels, lifted or lowered by the intricate lock system. The state-of-the-art visitor center offers interactive exhibits, a detailed model of the canal, and an observation platform with an unbeatable view. An accompanying audio guide contextualizes the ingenuity behind this man-made wonder and its significance in global commerce, making it a not-to-be-missed attraction for both educational and awe-inspiring reasons.

Panamá City: Punta Culebra Nature Center

What is it?
An outdoor marine exhibition by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Why you should go?
Nestled on a small peninsula, Punta Culebra Nature Center focuses on marine education and conservation. Informative outdoor exhibits provide close encounters with sea turtles, starfish, and a variety of tropical fish. The center makes scientific research accessible to all, with touch pools and nature trails that allow for hands-on learning experiences. The audio-guided tour explains the ecological significance of the region's marine life, promoting environmental awareness. It's an outstanding spot for families and anyone with a keen interest in marine biology, adding depth to the varied Panamá activities.

Panamá City: Albrook Mall

What is it?
A large shopping center with diverse retail stores, eateries, and entertainment options.
Why you should go?
Albrook Mall is a shopping paradise that extends well beyond retail therapy. As one of the largest malls in Latin America, it offers an immense variety of international and local brands, numerous dining venues, and a plethora of entertainment choices, including cinemas and arcade games. Those looking for what to do in Panamá when it comes to shopping will find this mall to be the perfect blend of leisure and indulgence. The mall's unique harlequin-themed decor is detailed in the audio guide, adding an element of cultural context to this modern shopping experience.

Panamá City: The Panama Canal

What is it?
An iconic man-made waterway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Why you should go?
The Panama Canal is not just an engineering masterpiece; it's an essential artery of international maritime trade. Observing the complex lock system in action is a testament to human ingenuity. The Miraflores Visitors Center provides an in-depth look at the canal's history and function, complete with panoramic views, making it a top choice when considering what to see in Panamá. An audio guide will enrich the visual splendor with stories of the canal's conception and the colossal efforts that brought it to fruition.

Panamá City: Casco Viejo

What is it?
A historic district showcasing Panamá City's colonial architecture and culture.
Why you should go?
Strolling through the cobblestone streets of Casco Viejo, visitors are transported to a bygone era. The quarter, also known as the Old Quarter, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and features a fusion of Spanish, French, and American architectural styles. Its charming plazas, museums, and cafes are pivotal places to visit in Panamá, revealing the country's layered history. With an audio tour, one can uncover hidden tales of each corner, turning a walk into a journey through time — a definite inclusion in the best Panamá tours.

Panamá City: Biomuseo

What is it?
A museum dedicated to Panama's tremendous biodiversity and its global impact.
Why you should go?
Designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, Biomuseo is an explosion of color and shapes, reflecting the rich biological diversity it exhibits. Inside, eight galleries take visitors through the formation of the Isthmus of Panama and its monumental effect on the planet's climate and ecology. Engaging with the interactive displays and vividly detailed exhibitions offers an enlightening perspective on natural history, making it a must for Panamá excursions and fueling curiosity about the origin of this crossroads of the Americas.

Panamá City: Ancon Hill

What is it?
A prominent hill offering panoramic views of Panamá City and the Canal.
Why you should go?
As the highest point in the city, Ancon Hill is a peaceful refuge from the bustle below and serves as a prime spot for panoramic photography. A gentle hike up the hill leads to views that encompass the urban spread, the rolling greenery, and the snaking canal, accentuating the diversity of things to see in Panamá. Embrace the chance to spot wildlife such as sloths and armadillos along the nature-filled path. An audio guide will enhance the experience by interpreting the sights and sounds of this natural haven in the city.

Panamá City: Amador Causeway

What is it?
A scenic causeway connecting four islands with views of Panamá City and the Pacific entrance of the canal.
Why you should go?
The Amador Causeway is more than just a link to the islands; it's a lively hub of recreational activities, offering some of the most fun things to do in Panamá. Visitors can bike, walk, or rollerblade along the path, relishing the coastal breeze and watching ships queue for the canal. The causeway is also home to cafes, restaurants, and bars, perfect for unwinding with a meal or drink against a backdrop of stunning sunsets. An audio tour can narrate the fascinating creation of the causeway, entirely built from excavated material from the canal.

TOP-5 Tours in Panamá for first time visitors

  • Embark on a journey through the historic Panama Canal, marveling at this engineering marvel and its lush surroundings, a signature amongst Panamá activities.
  • Discover the rich colonial heritage on a stroll through Casco Viejo, filled with things to do in Panamá for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.
  • Relax on the idyllic white sands of San Blas Islands with a guide to the indigenous Guna culture, offering some of the best things to do in Panamá.
  • Immerse in the biodiversity of the Rainforest Discovery Center, an exemplary place to visit in Panamá for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
  • Experience the vibrant Panama City nightlife, with an audio excursion catered to unveil the most fun things to do in Panamá after dusk.

Fun things to do in Panamá with kids

Panamá offers a thrilling playground for families, brimming with activities tailored for children. First, the Punta Culebra Nature Center is a must-visit, where kids can interact firsthand with marine life and learn about conservation. Touch pools and nature trails bring them face-to-face with sea creatures and the tropical forest. Next, the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve promises an adventure amid exotic wildlife, with aerial trams providing a bird's eye view of the lush canopy. It’s both educational and exhilarating, as children discover the importance of rainforest ecosystems. Lastly, Explora Panama is a children's museum featuring interactive exhibitions that ignite curiosity across various scientific fields. From understanding the body to experimenting with physics, it's a space that encourages inquiry and discovery in young minds.

Things to do in Panamá with family

Embrace a truly enriching Panama experience with attractions that cater to visitors of all ages. Engage with the mesmerizing aquatic life at the Punta Culebra Nature Center, an open-air marine exhibit by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, offering not just sights but also interactive learning opportunities that delight both children and adults. For a more immersive natural encounter, the Gamboa Rainforest Reserve is unmatched. Traverse through a mesmerizing landscape on an aerial tram ride, uncover the secrets of the lush forest canopy, and observe a wide array of wildlife, providing a spectacular backdrop for lifelong family memories. Dive into the world of science and creativity at the Panama Canal Museum. Through intriguing and interactive exhibits, families can absorb the canal's riveting history and its global impact, ensuring that learning is as fun as it is informative. These top attractions are essential things to do in Panamá with family, meticulously designed for collective enjoyment and discovery.

Free things to do in Panamá

Exploring Panamá doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag – the country is abundant with free activities that promise adventure and cultural enrichment. A visit to the scenic Cinta Costera provides families with a refreshing outdoor experience, where walking, biking, and enjoying panoramic views of the bay and Panamá City skyline won't cost a dime. Art enthusiasts can delve into the colorful street art scene in Casco Viejo, where historical buildings are adorned with vibrant murals that narrate the country's rich past and present. Guided by an audio tour, stroll through alleys and plazas that transform into an open-air gallery, showcasing local talent. Finally, the Panamá Canal Museum offers free entry on certain days of the month. Discover the titanic efforts and stories behind the construction of this engineering wonder, making it an indispensable experience for visitors fascinated by history and human ingenuity.

Cheap things to do in Panamá

Travelers can delight in Panamá’s rich offerings without straining their budget. For a modest fee, immerse in the lush greenery of Parque Natural Metropolitano, where nature trails wind through tropical landscapes that are a refuge for an array of wildlife, including sloths, toucans, and numerous species of tropical butterflies — ideal for the nature-loving family. The Mercado de Mariscos provides a captivating culinary experience at a fraction of restaurant prices. Guests can savor fresh seafood dishes, witness local fishmongers at work, or simply soak in the bustling atmosphere that defines Panamá's vibrant market culture. History aficionados can explore the ruins of Panamá Viejo, witnessing firsthand the remnants of the old city. With an affordable entrance fee, this cultural heritage site offers a deep dive into the country's colonial past, enhanced with stunning ocean views that serve as a picturesque backdrop to this historical treasure.

Things to Do in Panamá for Couples

Couples seeking a blend of adventure and romance in Panamá will find a trove of activities to strengthen their bond. Begin your journey with a leisurely stroll along the Amador Causeway, offering breathtaking vistas of Panama City's skyline and the Pacific Ocean. The causeway provides a picture-perfect setting for an intimate sunset walk followed by a romantic dinner at one of the many oceanfront restaurants. Indulge in the historical charm of Casco Viejo, where cobblestone streets, charming plazas, and quaint cafes set the scene for love. Immerse yourselves in the rich Panamanian culture as you discover beautifully preserved colonial buildings, vibrant markets, and live music that dances through the air. Escape to the secluded beaches of the San Blas Islands, where the serene waters and soft sands invite couples to unwind in seclusion. The pristine environment and the opportunity to engage with the indigenous Guna community add an enriching layer to a peaceful, romantic getaway.

Things to do in Panamá at night

When night falls, Panamá City transforms into a vibrant hub of activity offering a varietyeda array of nocturnal attractions. Couples and friends alike can explore the pulsating nightlife along Calle Uruguay, renowned for its eclectic mix of bars, clubs, and lounges where you can dance the night away to everything from salsa to modern beats, tailoring a memorable night out in the city. For a more mellow evening, the historic Casco Viejo district serves up a romantic and laid-back nightlife scene. The cobblestone streets come alive with the sounds of live jazz, folkloric music, and intimate concerts within centuries-old buildings turned into chic wine bars and rooftop terraces offering spectacular views of the illuminated skyline. Lastly, experience the enchantment of a night tour through the Panama Canal. Marvel at the colossal ships navigating the locks under the stars, an awe-inspiring spectacle accentuated by the cool evening breeze and the twinkling lights of the canal operations. This unique excursion is a must-do for visitors seeking a serene yet astonishing Panamá night activity.