Panama, located between North and South America, is a country that blends history, culture, and natural beauty. If you’re thinking about visiting this Central American treasure, you’re in for a treat. Let’s take a look at the 15 best things to do in Panama, a country where adventure and relaxation coexist.
Explore the Panama Canal
A feat of human ingenuity, the Panama Canal is more than just a waterway; it is a voyage through time. The massive effort that went into building the canal to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans influenced the direction of world trade. Today, interactive canal excursions allow tourists to delve into the area’s rich history. Visit the many visitor centres strategically positioned along the canal and explore the complex lock systems that allow large ships to pass. For a better appreciation of this engineering marvel, each centre offers a different perspective on the importance of the canal.
Canal Tour: $30 – $100 (Prices vary based on the type of tour and duration)
Discover Panama City’s Skyline
Panama City, the vibrant capital of Panama, boasts a skyline that mirrors the country’s progress and modernity. Skyscrapers pierce the sky, creating a captivating blend of tradition and innovation. To fully appreciate the city’s majesty, seek out the best viewpoints. From these vantage points, you’ll witness the breathtaking panorama of a city that has seamlessly embraced contemporary architecture while preserving its cultural heritage.
Viewpoint Entrance Fee: $5 – $15 and Optional guided tour: $20 – $50 (approx)
Relax on Bocas del Toro’s Beaches
Escape to the Caribbean allure of Bocas del Toro, an archipelago where time seems to slow down. The beaches here are more than picturesque—they’re a haven for those seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle. Engage in water activities like snorkeling or simply unwind on the pristine shores, where the rhythmic lull of the waves becomes your soundtrack. Bocas del Toro promises a serene escape for beach enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Water activities: $20 – $50
Hike in the Soberanía National Park
For nature enthusiasts, Soberanía National Park is a treasure trove of biodiversity. Trails wind through lush rainforests, offering glimpses of exotic flora and fauna. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a casual nature walker, the park caters to all levels of adventure. Immerse yourself in the symphony of bird calls, the rustle of leaves, and the vibrant colors of Panama’s diverse wildlife.
Park Entrance Fee: $10 – $20, and Guided Hike (optional): $30 – $50
Visit the San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands, an archipelago off Panama’s Caribbean coast, are a testament to nature’s beauty and the rich culture of the Guna people. Crystal-clear waters lap against white sandy beaches, creating a paradise that feels untouched by time. Immerse yourself in the vibrant traditions of the indigenous Guna community, known for their intricate molas and welcoming spirit. The San Blas Islands offer not just a visual feast but also a cultural immersion.
Indulge in Panama’s Culinary Delights
Panama’s culinary scene is a fusion of influences, reflecting the country’s diverse cultural heritage. Dive into traditional dishes like sancocho, a hearty soup, or savor the freshness of ceviche made from the catch of the day. Panama City, in particular, is a gastronomic delight with charming restaurants offering a taste of local flavors. Culinary enthusiasts will find themselves on a delectable journey through Panama’s unique palate.
Average Restaurant Meal: $10 – $30, and Fine Dining Experience: $50 and above
Experience Casco Viejo’s Charm
Casco Viejo, Panama City’s historic district, is a living testament to the country’s colonial past. Cobblestone streets wind through a maze of beautifully preserved buildings, each telling a story of times gone by. Visit historic churches, browse through quaint shops, and immerse yourself in the lively cultural scene. The charm of Casco Viejo lies not just in its architecture but in the vibrant atmosphere that permeates every corner.
Marvel at El Valle de Anton’s Volcanic Landscape
Nature takes center stage in El Valle de Anton, a town nestled within the crater of an extinct volcano. The landscape is a tapestry of unique geological formations, from petrified waterfalls to mysterious square trees. Take a dip in hot springs surrounded by lush greenery or embark on nature walks that reveal the diverse flora and fauna of Panama. El Valle de Anton is a haven for those seeking a close encounter with the natural wonders of the country.
Hot Springs Entry: $10 – $20, and Nature Walks: Free or guided tours for $20 – $40
Visit Wildlife at Punta Culebra Nature Centre
The Punta Culebra Nature Centre, which is situated on the Amador Causeway, offers wildlife aficionados an educational and enjoyable experience. A supervised and courteous atmosphere is provided for visitors to interact with native animals at the centre, which focuses on conservation activities. The centre offers a singular opportunity to learn about Panama’s different ecosystems and the value of protecting its wildlife, including sloths and turtles.
Nature Center Admission: $10 – $15
Shop at the Mercado de Mariscos
Visit the Mercado de Mariscos for a sensory encounter that highlights Panama’s seafood culture. This thriving seafood market, which offers a colourful selection of recent catches, is a nirvana for seafood lovers. Take in the vibrant atmosphere as both residents and visitors browse the stalls and choose the freshest seafood for a delectable dining experience. The Mercado de Mariscos is a celebration of Panama’s abundant maritime riches rather than merely a market.
Attend a Carnival Celebration
Panama’s Carnival is a vibrant celebration that captures the essence of the country’s lively culture. Held annually before Lent, Carnival is a spectacle of color, music, and dance. Traditional costumes, infectious rhythms, and the joyful spirit of the participants create an atmosphere of pure festivity. Whether you’re a spectator or an active participant, Panama’s Carnival promises an unforgettable experience that transcends cultural boundaries.
Emberá Indigenous Village
Enter the Emberá Indigenous Village for a wholly immersive cultural experience. This town, which is hidden deep within the jungle, provides a window into the traditional way of life of the Emberá people. Get to know the locals, see how traditional crafts are manufactured, and learn about their spiritual practises. With the help of the Emberá Indigenous Village, tourists can connect with Panama’s indigenous heritage by building a bridge between the past and present.
Village Tour Fee: $20 – $40
Visit the Biomuseo to explore history
For history and biodiversity enthusiasts, the Biomuseo is a must-visit. Explore exhibitions that showcase Panama’s unique flora and fauna, and appreciate the architectural brilliance of renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Museum Admission: $20 – $25, and Guided Tours: Additional $10 – $20
Take a Coffee Plantation Tour
Delve into the heart of Panama’s coffee culture with a tour of a coffee plantation. Panama is renowned for its high-quality coffee, and a plantation tour provides insights into the meticulous process of cultivating and harvesting coffee beans. From the lush plantations to the roasting facilities, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of the journey from bean to cup. And, of course, you’ll have the opportunity to savor the rich and aromatic flavors of Panama’s exceptional coffee.
Tour and Tasting: $20 – $40, and Specialty Coffee Purchase: $10 – $30
What we get from panama?
In conclusion, Panama unfolds as a tapestry of experiences, each thread contributing to a vibrant and diverse destination. Whether you’re traversing the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, immersing yourself in the cultural tapestry of Casco Viejo, or simply basking on the sun-drenched beaches of Bocas del Toro, Panama offers a journey that transcends the ordinary. This Central American gem beckons adventurers, nature lovers, and cultural enthusiasts alike to explore its wonders and create lasting memories.