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Things to do in Panama City

Things to do in  Panama City

Welcome to Panama City

Often compared to Miami, Panama City is Central America's most glamorous, cosmopolitan capital, blessed with year-round sunshine and refreshing coastal breezes. The country's most famous attraction, the Panama Canal, is just outside of town. This 48-mile (77-kilometer) feat of engineering can be viewed from the banks, but for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, book a full or partial canal cruise through the Miraflores Locks. Be sure to reserve ahead—private canal tours often fill up months in advance. Shimmering skyscrapers and luxury hotels dominate the downtown area, but a history tour reveals the city's colorful past as a Spanish treasure port and buccaneer hideaway. UNESCO-listed Casco Viejo (Old Town) holds 17th-century colonial landmarks such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Palacio de las Garzas, the Church of St Francis of Assisi, and the National Theatre. Sample some fresh, local ceviche and a microbrew, perhaps topped off with Panamanian coffee and a taste of raw chocolate. Head to Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador) for fantastic harbor and skyline views, as well as high-end shopping. Check out Biomuseo, Frank Gehry's first building in Latin America, and stick around Amador if you like the nightlife—it's home to the city's trendiest clubs. Take a break in the lush, urban gardens of Parque Natural Metropolitano, or escape on a day trip to Soberania National Park to see Monkey Island. Active nature lovers can kayak down the Chagres River, or soak up the sunshine on a boat trip to Taboga Island or Gatun Lake.

Top attractions in Panama City for Spring

#1
Panama Canal

Panama Canal

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The first ships sailed through the Panama Canal in 1914, shaving nearly 9,000 miles off what was otherwise a very long sailing trip around South America. The engineering marvel transformed global trade, and today, 100 years after it was first installed, the canal has once again been expanded with new locks and widened existing ones, modernizing Panama Canal transit by allowing larger ships to pass from Panama City on the Pacific Ocean side to Colon on the Atlantic Ocean side.More
#2
Monkey Island

Monkey Island

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Panama’s Monkey Island on Lake Gatun is home to four monkey species—mantled howler, white-faced capuchin, Geoffroy’s tamarin, and lemurine owl monkeys)—as well as crocodiles, toucans, sloths, iguanas, and numerous exotic birds. Riverboat tours to the island offer visitors the chance to observe the monkeys and other wildlife.More
#3
Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo

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Panama City's oldest and hippest neighborhood comprises a Tejas-tiled cluster of pastel colonial buildings at the tip of a heavily fortified peninsula. These ramparts successfully protected the first Spanish settlement on the Pacific Coast; today they make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with plazas, churches, and narrow streets.More
#4
Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador)

Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador)

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The palm-lined Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador) follows Panama Bay and then heads onto the Bridge of the Americas, which runs parallel to the entrance to the Panama Canal and leads to three small coastal islands. The 3.7-mile (6-kilometer) road includes popular paths for runners and cyclists and passes a number of sights.More
#5
Miraflores Locks

Miraflores Locks

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The world-famous Panama Canal is a must-see for visitors to Panama City, but to fully appreciate it, head to the Miraflores Locks. The engineering marvel in action is a mesmerizing scene, with some 700 tons (635 tonnes) of machinery, reinforced against the mighty Pacific, and cargo-laden ships squeezing through with just inches to spare.More
#6
Gatún Lake (Lago Gatún)

Gatún Lake (Lago Gatún)

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The tree-lined shores, tiny islets, and blue-green waters of Gatún Lake (Lago Gatún) cover what was once the fertile Chagres River Valley. When it was created in 1913, Gatún Lake was the largest man-made lake, buttressed by the biggest dam, in the world. Today, it forms an integral part of the famous Panama Canal.More
#7
Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas)

Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas)

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The Bridge of the Americas (Puente de lasAmericas)****spans the Panama Canal, which is perhaps the most important public works project in history. Made of steel and reinforced concrete, the bridge is 5,425 feet long, and at high tide, the clearance is 201 feet, under which ships crossing the canal must pass.Twenty million U.S. dollars went into building the four-lane bridge, which replaced smaller ones and greatly increased road travel and capacity over the canal. It was inaugurated on Oct. 12, 1962, and allows the passage of cars, bikes and pedestrians.The Bridge of the Americas was originally called the Thatcher Ferry Bridge, named after the ferry that used to operate on the canal before the span was built. Panama aptly renamed the bridge, since it not only connects the capital with the rest of Panama, but also unites Central and South America.The bridge is not just useful, it’s beautiful. Seen from different angles, whether on a sunny or cloudy day, at sunset or when it is brightly lit at night, the Bridge of the Americas is a piece of world history worth the effort to see.More
#8
Soberanía National Park

Soberanía National Park

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On the east side of the Panama Canal, Soberanía National Park—one of the most accessible of the country’s protected parks—is a paradise for hikers, fishers, and bird-watchers. Some 1,300 plant species, 55 amphibian species, and hundreds of mammals, birds, and reptiles call the park home.More
#9
Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon)

Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon)

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Visible from nearly anywhere in Panama City, Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon) stands proudly above everything else in an otherwise flat region, with its immense flag flying high. At 199 meters above sea level, it’s the highest point within the city, and from the top you can see all the main points of interest. It’s possible to see not only the modern part of Panama City, but also the Panama Canal, the Amador Causeway, the Bridge of the Americas and Old City.In the middle of this bustling city, Ancon Hill serves as a little natural paradise. The forest has plenty of animals—sloths, armadillos, toucan and deer—and a slow walk up the hill provides the chance to see many of them. Once at the top, spend time watching the ships pass through the canal. It’s a pleasant walk from Mi Pueblito, and serious bikers take the challenge of riding up the hill. Go early to beat the heat, and don’t forget your camera!There’s also history wrapped up here. The name Ancon was used for the first boat that officially crossed the Panama Canal in 1914, and although it was under the jurisdiction of the United States during part of the 20th century, Panama took control in 1977.More
#10
Plaza de Francia

Plaza de Francia

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When visiting Panama’s Old City (Casco Antiguo), check out the Plaza de Francia on the far southeast side. This public square stands as a testimony to the people who worked on—and gave their lives for—the Panama Canal.Built in 1921 by Leonardo Villanueva Meyer, the square's main attraction is a 60-foot (18-meter) obelisk.The monument outlines the history of the canal and honors those 22,000 workers and engineers who died, mainly due to disease, while building it. The statues surrounding it show prominent people who participated in the construction at the time of the French involvement, and the Gallic rooster sitting on top of the obelisk is one of the national emblems of France.Besides the monument, near this plaza you will find the France Embassy and the Esteban Huertas Promenade. There’s also an impressive view of the Panama City bay, the Bridge of the Americas and the Amador Causeway.The plaza is also near the former Supreme Court building, which now serves as the National Institute of Culture and is home to the Anita Villalaz Theater, where theater performances, concerts and conferences take place throughout the year. In fact, you might recognize the building from some scenes in the James Bond movieQuantum of Solace.On one side of the plaza, vaults known as Las Bóvedas, which were originally part of the fortified wall around the Old City, are the source of legends and urban myths. Stop in at any of the stores in the area and listen to the shopkeepers tell you about the experiences prisoners once had in these dark recesses. In recent decades, the vaults have been restored and are now home to galleries, shops and a French restaurant.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in Panama City

How to Spend 1 Day in Panama City

How to Spend 2 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 2 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 3 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 3 Days in Panama City

Top activities in Panama City

Day Tour in San Blas Islands All Included Visiting 4 Islands
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Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
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5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
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BLISS in San Blas Islands Panama!!! - Includes Tour & Transport from Panama City

Special Offer

Private Tour Layover in Panama

Private Tour Layover in Panama

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48
From
$85.00
Panama Canal Full Transit Tour

Panama Canal Full Transit Tour

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144
From
$180.00

Recent reviews from experiences in Panama City

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Layover tour
Jeff_h, May 2022
Layover (Stopover) City tour and Panama Canal Visit
Great way to see Panama City and the canal.
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Amazing tour with an amazing tour guide as
Patrice_C, May 2022
Panama City Bike Tour
This tour is a must on day 1 or day 2 for anyone looking to see more on Panama City and to learn more about the amazing history of this beautiful country.
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AMAZING!!
Gea_A, Apr 2022
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
A great thing to do on your first day in Panama City to see what the city has to offer.
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Wonderful tour!
Johanna_M, Mar 2022
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
Although the Panama Canal Visitor Center is closed on Mondays, Jose was able to get us to a vantage point to see some boats making their way through the locks!
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A must tour of Panama City
MARIAM_M, Mar 2022
Panama City Bike Tour
A must do tour to see Panama City from a different view.
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Fun and informative!
John_d, Feb 2022
Sightseeing: Legends of Casco Viejo
And spoke perfect English!
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Great Tour!
Jianjian_W, Feb 2022
Panama City Night Tour
I will tell my friends to visit Panama City specially take the night tour.
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Nice trip
SauRen_T, Jan 2022
Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
Tony ensure you get to see a vessel passing by the canal lock
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Worthwhile tour of Panama City's Treasures
Michael_S, Dec 2021
Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
I really enjoyed my tour of some of the main attractions of Pamana City.
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Excellent Tour of Casco Viejo, Customized to fit our needs
Jason_T, Apr 2022
The best of The Panama Canal and The Casco Viejo tour
Yes we wanted to see the standard sights, be we wanted a more authentic walk that could evolve organically.
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Experience with Panama Layover Tour
Enna_I, Apr 2022
Private Tour Layover in Panama
In a couple of hours, we were able to see the historic and modern city as well as the canal.
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Highlight of our Panama City Vacay
smportillo26, Mar 2022
Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
It started with a boat ride in the canal which was very awesome, then few stops to see monkeys.
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A must do excursion!
Kiara_P, Jan 2022
Day Tour in San Blas Islands All Included Visiting 4 Islands
There are also some beach activities and equipment available to use on the island.
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Escaping the city
Britt_B, Jan 2022
Anton Valley Uniqueness
I also had a chance to visit the sloth sanctuary and a tropical garden, did a bit of shopping and had a nice lunch.
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Fantastic tour
Nataliya_D, Dec 2021
Embera Village and Jungle Tour
It took us upriver to begin with and 1st stop was a beautiful waterfall when we arrived there was just us and one other canoe but being a waterfall the canoes kept coming.
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Best tour and tour guide
Jeffrey_P, Aug 2021
Half Day City and Panama Canal Tour
Our tour guide, Roberto was very knowledgeable about the history and geology of Panama City and made sure we got to see ships going through the canal.
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Great layover tour
Lily_S, Feb 2020
Private Tour Layover in Panama
Great way to see the highlights of Panama City on layover.
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Fantastic tour
Irena_S, Nov 2019
Monkey Island Tour from Panama City
The monkeys were fantastic to see and interact so close.
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Good Exercise to See the City
Alan_B, Jan 2022
Panama City Bike Tour
This was an excellent bike ride to see the various highlights of Panama City.
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A day out of the city
Austin_L, Jul 2019
Day Trip to El Valle Anton from Panama City
This tour out of the city allowed us to see more of what Panama had to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
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