Panama City serves as a gateway to a tropical paradise, and with three days to spend in the city, you’ll have time to walk the historic streets, float the famous canal, and spend some time exploring the beaches, rain forests, or indigenous villages of the surrounding countryside. Here are some ideas on how to spend the ultimate three days in Panama City.
Day 1: City Highlights
Get your bearings in the Panamanian capital with a sightseeing tour of the city’s highlights. Stretch your legs on a walking tour of Casco Viejo (Old Town), or zip around the city on an electric bike or by car to cover even more ground in a short amount of time. Alternately, climb aboard the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus to tour the city’s star landmarks at your own pace. After lunch, dive deeper into your interests with a museum tour, food tour, or a visit to a local chocolate factory. Once the sun sets, grab a seat at a folkloric show for an evening of live music and dancing drawing on Panama’s rich cultural influences. Many of these shows include a buffet dinner of traditional Panamanian favorites.
Day 2: Canal Cruise
The Panama Canal ranks as one of the world’s top modern marvels of engineering and one of Panama’s top attractions. With a full day, you can sail from the Atlantic to the Pacific through the three sets of double locks and Gatún Lake in the middle. Stop at the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center along the way to learn more about the history and mechanics of this engineering feat before crossing. Depending on the tour, you may visit Monkey Island, enjoy a picnic lunch near Gatún Dam, or explore San Lorenzo National Park with its fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To polish off your day at the canal, sit down for dinner at the International Miraflores Restaurant overlooking the canal. Book a balcony table so you can watch as boats pass through the locks while you dine.
Day 3: Islands and Rain Forests
While Panama City offers plenty to do, it would be a shame not to explore the natural beauty of the country on a day trip from Panama City. Beach lovers can spend the day island hopping among the sun-kissed San Blas Islands on Panama’s Caribbean coast. A typical tour might include the chance to snorkel, kayak, swim, or simply relax on the white-sand beaches. Alternatively, head inland to explore the rain forest for the chance to spot sloths, monkeys, and anteaters amid the thick foliage, or take a tour to the indigenous village of Emberá to learn more about the day-to-day lives of the country’s original inhabitants. Once back in the city, celebrate your final night with a bar-hopping tour through the Casco Viejo historic district to get a feel for the local nightlife. Visit some of the neighborhood’s best bars and clubs with a local guide who knows all the hot spots.