Past and present collide in Panama City, a Central American capital that was once the biggest connecting point between East and West. Today, it’s a modern metropolis with seriously historic roots—it was the first European settlement on the Pacific Coast. You can travel to Panama City on the extension of our tour, Explore Central America: Nicaragua & Costa Rica. Check out our five reasons not to miss it!
The Panama Canal
Of course, the world-famous waterway is a must on any trip to Panama. When the canal opened more than 100 years ago, it forever changed how people moved around the world. Today, it’s still in operation—on tour, you can cruise down the Panama Canal and follow the route thousands of explorers, traders and locals have taken.
From contemporary art to natural history, Panama’s museum scene isn’t lacking in diversity. Whatever your interests, you’re sure to find an amazing space where you can spend the afternoon (or longer!). One of our favorites? The BioMuseo, along the palm tree-lined Amador Causeway. Built by the famous architect Frank Gehry, the colorful, quirky building is filled with exhibits dedicated to Panama’s biodiversity.
Sometimes described as the “beer halls of Central America,” Panama City’s jardines are steeped in tradition. The outdoor gathering spaces are often packed with people out for a night of music, dance, food and fun. Visiting one is the best way to meet the locals and get a taste of what life in the city is like.
Historic Casco Viejo
The Spanish named this neighborhood Casco Viejo for “Old Quarter.” Already historic in the 1600s, today it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and an up-and-coming district all about the blend of old and new. Visit the Plaza de la Independencia or La Catedral Metropolitana, or just stroll the cobbled streets and admire the beautifully preserved colonial buildings.
Beaches right nearby
When you’re in the hustle and bustle of downtown Panama City, it can be easy to forget that you’re spending time in a tropical paradise. Luckily, your oasis is just a short trip away. Drive about 30 minutes outside the city and you’ll find yourself at Playa Farfan, a strip of white-sand beach that’s perfect for relaxing with a good book or going for a swim.
Visited Panama City on tour? Have a trip to Latin America on your wish list? Let us know in the comments!