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Things to do in Panama

Things to do in  Panama

Welcome to Panama

From the kaleidoscopic reefs of Bocas del Toro to the dense, steamy jungles of Darien National Park, Panama forms a physical and cultural bridge between Central and South America, lapped by the Caribbean on one shore and the Pacific Ocean on the other. From glossy, sun-drenched Panama City to the tiny fishing villages scattered across the islands, Panama offers a heady mix of nature and culture, modern and traditional. History buffs can take a luxury cruise on the Panama Canal, passing through the Miraflores Locks and stopping in Panama City for a walking tour of UNESCO-listed Casco Viejo, the old colonial district. Many jungle treks and bird-watching trips are also available from the capital. Top draws for nature lovers include Gamboa rainforest, El Valle de Anton, Gatun Lake, and Chagres National Park, home to native Embera people and Monkey Island. Divers and snorkelers flock to Bocas del Toro, not far from the Costa Rican border, for its legendary coral reefs and wrecks. Book a multi-day sailing trip to explore further along the Caribbean coast, and if you dream of deserted tropical isles, charter a private boat to the San Blas archipelago. Only a fraction of its 365 tiny islands are inhabited, despite miles of perfect white-sand beaches. And if time permits, you could sail all the way to Cartagena from here. With easy access to both Colombia and Costa Rica, Panama makes an ideal launch pad for extended trips in either Central or South America.

Top 15 attractions in Panama

Panama Canal

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

Casco Viejo

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

Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador)

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

Miraflores Locks

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

Gatún Lake (Lago Gatún)

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

Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas)

Spanning the Panama Canal that links two oceans, the Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Américas) is a proud symbol of Panamanian history. Its prime location on the Pacific Ocean outlet of the 51-mile (82-kilometer) Panama Canal also makes the bridge a key point of interest on many tours of Panama City, the canal, and Miraflores Locks.More

Monkey Island

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

Soberanía National Park

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

San Blas Islands

A string of 378 tiny islands dotted along Panama’s northwest coast, the San Blas Islands offer a welcome change of pace from the mainland. This region provides everything you’d expect from a Caribbean paradise: coconut palms, white sand beaches, azure waters, and a complete absence of electricity, tourist resorts, and stress.More

Plaza de Francia

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

Presidential Palace (Palacio de las Garzas)

“Garzas” is Spanish for herons, and you’ll see the birds roaming freely in the Andalucian-style courtyard of the Presidential Palace (Palacio de las Garzas) in Panama City. The African herons were a gift celebrating the completion of palace renovations in 1922. The President of Panama lives in the upper floors of the building.More


This world-class museum celebrates Panamanian biodiversity and natural history with engaging exhibits that blend science and art. Since its 2014 opening, the multicolor, Frank Gehry-designed building has also become an important symbol of Panama City. The museum’s exterior features a lush botanical garden of native plants.More

Panamá Viejo (Old Panama Ruins)

Spanish conquistadors laid claim to the land now known as Panamá Viejo (Old Panama Ruins) on August 15, 1519, making it the oldest permanent European settlement on the Pacific. A stark juxtaposition to modern Panama City across the bay, the ruins of Old Panama include a cathedral and several stone buildings and walls.More

Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon)

Panoramic views from Panama City’s highest point make Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancón) a must-see stop for many visitors who come to watch passing ship traffic in the Panama Canal far below. There’s more than vistas to this urban park: it’s also home to sloths, anteaters, and monkeys and makes a great escape from the capital's buzzing activity.More

Panama Interoceanic Canal Museum (Museo del Canal Interoceánico)

This popular museum and top Panama City attraction is located inside a stunning, well-restored colonial building that once housed the French and U.S. companies charged with building the canal. Visitors interested in learning more about the famous waterway can wander the halls of this beautiful four-story white and green structure where displays showcase information about the political, social and historical impact of the iconic Panama Canal. Although signage is in Spanish only, English-speaking guest can opt for audio tours for a small additional fee.More
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Top activities in Panama

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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5hr Combo-Panama Canal Boat Ride w/Monkey Safari &Rainforest Walk
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Panama Canal Partial Tour - Southbound Direction
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Combo: Sloth Sanctuary and Gatun Lake boat Trip
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Top Destinations

Top Destinations

People Also Ask

What is Panama’s number one attraction for tourists?

The Panama Canal is one of the country’s top destinations—visit Miraflores Visitor’s Center to watch huge ships from around the world pass through the locks and learn about the construction of the famous canal. Ships are lifted 85 feet (26 meters) in the air at the canal’s highest point.

What activities can you enjoy in Panama?

Discover the history of the country in Old Panama—the former capital is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 16th-century ruins. Later, take a day trip to the San Blas Islands to bask in the tropical sun and admire the molas—traditional textiles made by the Indigenous Guna people.

What is the nicest place in Panama?

The San Blas Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Panama governed by the Indigenous Guna people, is one of Panama’s top spots. You can relax in the clear water, dine on fresh seafood, and spend time island-hopping. Opt for a day trip or settle down in a beach bungalow.

What is Panama mostly known for?

Panama is known for the Panama Canal—this feat of engineering is used by ships from around the world, and watching them in transit is a special experience. The country is also known for fresh seafood and nature, while Panama City’s Old Quarter, called Casco Viejo, showcases the region’s rich history.

Is Panama worth visiting?

Yes, Panama is worth visiting, whether you want to spend your days lounging on a white sand beach, exploring 16th-century ruins, or dining on fresh seafood in the Old Quarter. The weather stays tropical year-round, and locals offer a warm welcome.

Is Panama a good tourist destination?

Yes, with its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful scenery, Panama is the perfect tropical getaway. Its status as a tourist destination means that navigating and booking activities is easy, and plenty of people speak English.


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