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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 10 attractions in Panama City

#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
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
#4
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
#5
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
#6
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
#7
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
#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
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
#10
Biomuseo

Biomuseo

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In a country with so much biodiversity, it’s not surprising to see a museum dedicated to the natural marvels found here. The 4,000-square-meter Biomuseo was designed by Frank Gehry, the same architect who designed the beautiful Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. This site takes visitors on a journey through time to when the Isthmus of Panama was formed, joined two continents and divided oceans.There are seven permanent exhibitions that focus on art and science education here. When the isthmus was formed, there was an interchange of species between North and South America, an effect depicted in a series of 72 sculptures of those species. Audiovisual presentations also show the natural wonders of Panama’s ecosystems.Another exhibition consisting of 16 columns tells the story of the cultural diversity in Panama. Two aquariums examine how the Pacific and the Caribbean changed when they were separated by the isthmus, and another display explores the relationship between Panama’s biodiversity and the rest of the world.An outdoor Biopark serves as a living extension of the museum, with a selection of endemic plants that contribute to an understanding of Panama's biodiversity and makes for a pleasant place to take a walk.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

Panama Canal Partial Transit
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Panama Canal Partial Transit

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Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
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Day Tour in San Blas Islands All Included Visiting 4 Islands
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Monkey Island Tour from Panama City

Monkey Island Tour from Panama City

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Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
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5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
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San Blas Adventure - 4 Days Island Hopping in San Blas Islands - All included
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Panama Canal Full Transit Tour

Panama Canal Full Transit Tour

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Tour at the Chagres Rainforest and Embera Indigenous Village
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Recent reviews from experiences in Panama City

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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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Best tour and tour guide
Jeffrey_P, Aug. 2021
5-Hours CITY TOUR & THE PANAMA CANAL. Group & Private Option Available!
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.
star-5
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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Great day in Panama City
Inga_N, Nov. 2021
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
Traveling with a child adds its own challenges, thanks to Eustacio we had a great time and got to see quite a bit.
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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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Great layover day tour in Panama
losethemap1, Jan. 2020
Private Tour Layover in Panama
Dan was a great guide, very informative, and I got to see and learn a lot about places in Panama City I would never have found or discovered on my own in the short amount of time allotted.
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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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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.
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This is a great trip to get familiar...
Margo E, Sep. 2016
Panama City's Top Tour
Our personable english-speaking guide shared his extensive knowledge and love of the city.
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This tour is a great way to see the...
Trevor H, May 2017
5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
This tour is a great way to see the canal and wildlife in Gatun Lake!
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Unfortunately Viator could not...
ShaNice S, Jan. 2017
Panama City Tour and Visit Miraflores Locks
Unfortunately Viator could not locate or get in touch with the supplier who was supposed to do my scheduled tour, but I eventually did the tour using a different resource and was able to see Panama City, the Canal, Old Town, MultiPlaza Pacifica Mall and Soho Mall, which was AWESOME!
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Gamboa Rainforest Tour Made Our Whole Trip!
Lori_G, Dec. 2020
Gamboa Rainforest Combo Pack From Panama City
The tram ride over the forest was fun and beautiful and getting to see the sloths up close and personal was so cool and so memorable.
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Virgil’s heaven tour
virgilio_r, Jun. 2021
Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
Speaking in English is a big plus for and brought to have lunch at the seafood market.
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Short and fun!
Alitza_T, Mar. 2020
Monkey Island Tour from Panama City
We were also lucky to see 2 crocodiles...
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Half day was perfect amount of time on the canal
Kathryn_T, Mar. 2020
Panama Canal Partial Tour - Southbound Direction
Great to see the huge ships and the people working on the locks (including two guys in a row boat!
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Beautiful El Valle Anton
Jeanne_G, Mar. 2020
Day Trip to El Valle Anton from Panama City
Mario took us hiking, experienced the hot springs, applied mud masks, strolled through the local market and tasted delicious local fruits and had lunch together at a local restaurant.
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Great guide, informative narrative!
Karen_M, Feb. 2020
Panama Canal Full Transit Tour
We are in Panama City for the winter and decided this was a good opportunity.
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Amazing and highly reccomended
helenaugrenovic, Jan. 2020
5-Hours CITY TOUR & THE PANAMA CANAL. Group & Private Option Available!
Luis took us to Miraflores early in the morning at the best time for to see the container ships passing through the canal.
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Amazing
Martin_K, Jan. 2020
Embera village Eco-Cultural Tour, jungle waterfall, and butterfly garden
We took a boat to a waterfall and took a refreshing bath.
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