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Welcome to Bustling Panama City

In this post, we’ll take you through the best things to do in Panama City, one of the biggest cultural melting pots in Latin America. Due to heavy influence from the numerous countries, the cuisine here is incredibly diverse, ranging from the typical, Panamanian foods to the South Asian to Mexican cuisines, and much much more. The city also may remind you a lot of Miami – we head people comparing them multiple times!

Overall, Panama City certainly deserves a stop on your Latin American travels! The history, culture, cuisine, nature, and adventure activities make this such an amazing place to travel within Panama. Let’s get into the most exciting things to do in Panama City!

exciting things to do in panama city: casco viejo

10 Exciting Things to Do in Panama City

1. Panama Canal

When you think of Panama, you think of the Panama Canal, so this obviously many travelers’ top thing to do in Panama City. There are a few ways to visit the Panama Canal. You can visit the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo for $15 and then just see the Canal yourself, but to visit the Miraflores Locks the easiest way is to go with a tour! This tour includes visiting the Miraflores Locks and several of the city’s famous landmarks, while this tour will take you through part of the Canal on a boat!

2. Wander the Streets of Casco Viejo

Panama’s Casco Viejo is its vibrant old town lined with beautiful hotels, restaurants, and old architecture. Whether you want to explore this as part of a walking tour or by yourself, this can be done in a quick hour or two. You’ll be sure to find some hidden gems amongst the colonial architecture that lines the quiet streets leading out to the beautiful Pacific ocean.

exciting things to do in panama city: casco viejo

3. Explore Taboga Island by Catamaran

Panama City is HOT, and what better way to escape this than hanging out at the beach, swimming, and lounging on a catamaran? Taboga Island, or the Island of Flowers, is a short ride from Panama City, making it the perfect getaway. If it isn’t too hot, you can hike up to the viewpoints, check out the centuries-old church, or just relax on its beautiful beaches!

exciting things to do in panama city: Taboga Island

4. Trip to the San Blas Islands

The San Blas Islands are a group of 365+ islands off the Atlantic coast of Panama. They are inhabited by the indigenous Guna or Kuna people, range in various different sizes, and are a must-do while in Panama. The beautiful aquamarine waters waiting to be snorkeled, the fresh fish, the white-sand beaches, and the interesting Kuna culture are the best parts of the San Blas Islands. You can do this as a day trip or as a multi-day experience, which we recommend doing if you have time! Book your day trip to the San Blas Islands here, multi-day trip island hopping tour here, or stay overnight on an amazing catamaran here!

Read our post on the Perfect Trip to the San Blas Islands

trip to the San Blas Islands

5. Walk the Cinta Costera

The Cinta Costera is a beautiful walkway splitting the towering skyscrapers and the beautiful ocean. At night, you’ll have a glimpse into how Panama City locals enjoy their time. The walkway is lined with various street food vendors, basketball courts and soccer fields, random events, and tons of Panamanians enjoying the beautiful night.

things to do in Panama City: Cinta Costera

6. Bike the Amador Causeway

The Amador Causeway links four small islands just barely off the coast of Panama City, and is an extremely peaceful place for a bike ride. You can rent bikes at the beginning or end of the causeway and cruise along the causeway splitting the ocean. Travelers find beautiful views of Panama City, as well as restaurants, the very uniquely-designed Biomuseo and more!

things to do in Panama City: Amador Causeway

7. Hike to Great Views of Panama City

While you can see great views of the Panama City skyline from the Amador Causeway as well as Casco Viejo, there are two other popular viewpoints. The first is Ancon Hill, which is fairly close to Old Town and has decent views of the Panama City Skyline. Then there’s Cerro Cedro, which has better views of the skyline but is further away from old town. Both of these viewpoints involve uphill hikes which can be tough in the Panama heat, so make sure to hit these early in the morning!

8. Zipline on a Skyscraper

What’s better than amazing views of the Panama City skyline? Amazing views of the Panama City skyline from a skyscraper that also involves various adventure activities. A zipline connects the two opposing parts of this building, and although you aren’t in the gorgeous Central American nature, is arguably more unique! There is also a swing here, a glass floor, VR tours, and a bar! If this is your vibe, book your experience here!

POIN Skyscraper Panama City

9. Day Tour through Gamboa Rainforest

If you want to see sloths and other wildlife, Gamboa Rainforest is the place for you. A visit to the Sloth Sanctuary guarantees you’ll see these relaxed creatures although you may also see them on your jungle walk as well! If you don’t have time for the Panama Canal, this is a perfect place to briefly see it on your way to the rainforest!

things to do in panama city: Sloths

10. Panama Vieja

Panama Vieja, not to be confused with Casco Viejo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These are simple ruins and not as interesting as the Casco Viejo, and they are fairly outside of the main parts of Panama City. Therefore, we only recommend going here if you’re a history buff or happen to be nearby! Allegedly, Henry Morgan, (the pirate Captain Morgan Rum is based off), burned this outpost down, but there are a few variations of the story.

Best Time to Visit Panama City

The best time to visit Panama City depends on what you prioritize. For sunny skies and comfortable temperatures ideal for sightseeing, the dry season (mid-December to April) is ideal. However, it can definitely be crowded and slightly more expensive during this time. Shoulder seasons (May and November) offer a good balance with chance of rain showers and potentially lower prices. Budget travelers might prefer the rainy season (June to October), during which you may be able to score lower hotel rates.

Panama City Best Things to Do

Where to Stay in Panama City

There are many different neighborhoods in Panama City that have great accommodation options, but we definitely recommend staying in Casco Viejo. Casco Viejo is arguably the most beautiful part of the city, and it’s filled with amazing restaurants and surrounded by things to do.

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How to Get to Panama City

The most popular way to get to Panama City is by flying into Tocumen International Airport. The airport is east of the city and around a 30 minute drive to Casco Viejo. Ubers are extremely cheap in Panama, so we recommend using those to get around if the distance is too long to walk!

Where to Eat and Drink in Panama City

  • Mercado de Marisco: For ceviche and other seafood
  • Kwang Chow Chinese Dive: For Cantonese food (Anthony Bourdain went here)
  • Oro Moreno Tropical Chocolate Cafe: For delicious chocolate
  • Marzola Parrilla Argentina: For great ambiance and BBQ (pictured below)
  • La Rana Dorada: One of the most popular Panamanian breweries
  • Casa Bruja Brewing Co: For US brewery vibes
  • Sofitel Legend Speakeasy: An interesting speakeasy where they use tarot cards to find your perfect cocktail
where to eat Panama City

Keep Exploring Panama…

Our Favorite Travel Resources

Accommodations: We use for hotels and HostelWorld for hostels. We also use VRBO or TrustedHousesitters for longer stays.

Flights: We recommend using Skyscanner to find the cheapest and best flights.

Ground Transport: We use 12Go and Omio for buses and private transfers, and and Discover Cars for rental cars.

Activities: GetYourGuide and Viator are the best websites for booking organized tours.

International Medical Insurance: We highly recommend SafetyWing for Digital Nomads and HeyMondo for those not traveling full-time, or who frequently engage in higher-risk adventure activities.

eSIM: We recommend Airalo or Holafly for getting data internationally.

Check out our Travel Resources Page for more of our favorite travel-related products and services!

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