Panama City Sights and Attractions
The Panama Canal And Miraflores Locks
The Panama Canal is one of the most fascinating places in the world, has a length of approximately 80 kilometers. Between 13,000 and 14,000 ships use the Canal yearly, approximately 9,000 workers, working 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, offering transit service to ships of all nations. The Canal uses a locks system that act as water elevators raising the ships from sea-level (Atlantic or Pacific) to 26 meters above sea-level. Each set of locks carries the name of the town where it was built: Gatún (on the Atlantic side), Pedro Miguel and Miraflores (on the Pacific). Miraflores locks, the ideal place to see the Canal operating, have large balconies from which visitors can see the locks open and close as the ships begin or end their transit. How to get there – A taxi will cost $5-6. Or take a bus along Via Espania to the Albrook bus terminal. From there take a bus to Gamboa that will drop you at “Las Esclusas”. Total bus cost – 75 cents. Also ask about our shuttle service.
In Panama, your ecotour can actually begin right on the outskirts of the city, where there is a large tropical forest reserve called Parque Metropolitano. Along the five trails of this convenient park can be seen a diversity of tropical wildlife, including toucans, parakeets, orioles, trogons, sloths, agoutis and Titi monkeys There is also a collection of native orchids, some of which will be blooming at any time of the year. Plant species are identified by plaques along the self-guided trails. Visitors can also arrange a guided tour with a ranger at the visitor’s center. Great views of the city skyline and the canal. It’s also much cooler here than in the city, get under those trees and out of the sun. A short taxi ride from the city. Also check out Cerro Ancon, I’ve seen deer, monkeys, tucans and rodenty things there. How to get there – Take a taxi. It’s not far and not expensive.
Casco Viejo is an area of decaying colonial grandeur, striking architecture, peeling paint and decrepit balconies. Through the stretched streets, plazas and public parks you’ll see France Plaza, Las Bovedas and San Jose Church with its wonderful altar (all made of gold), the Flat Arc Cathedral Church and more. You can also visit the excellent Panama Canal museum where you can learn all about one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels, the Panama Canal. A great place to spend a few hours walking the streets and exploring. Some great views to the city and the Causeway. You might be surprised at how little streetlife there actually is here. Not a real hive of activity, which can be good. Not very active at night time, and be careful which areas you walk in. The surrounding areas of Casco Viejo ca be unsafe. It’s very well patrolled by the police in the main parts though. There are some bars and restaurants but the good ones tend to be expensive. How to get there – Take a taxi. Or take a bus to calle 12. Get out when you see the park on the leftside. On the right is Coca Cola Cafe. Take the street to the left of the cafe. DO NOT go to the right. Also take a bus to Plaza 5 de Mayo and walk down Avenida Central. Total cost – 25 cents. Also walk along Ave Central until you get to the Coca Cola cafe, it’ll take around 45 minutes from the hostel.
Cerro Ancon & Mi Pueblito
From the top Cerro Ancon (Ancon Hill) you can enjoy a impressive view of Casco Viejo, Panama Bay, the modern city skyline, the pacific ocena, the entrance to Panama Canal, the bridge of Americas, Miraflores Locks, and the townsite of Balboa. This spot has the best view of the Panama City. Mi Pueblito (My little town) is a charming re-creation of a typical Panamanian town. Mi Pueblito is near the base of Cerro Ancon. For Cerro Ancon take a taxi to Mi Pueblito and walk to the top.
Panama Viejo is the remaining part of the old Panama City and former capital of the country. It is located in the suburbs of the modern city. Together with the historical district of Panama, it forms a World Heritage Site. The city was founded 15 August 1519 by Peter Arias and other 100 inhabitants; at the time, it was the first permanent settlement in the Pacific Ocean, substituting the two cities of Santa María la Antiga del Darién and Acla. Two years later, in 1521, the city was promoted to the status of “city” by a royal decree and was given a coat of arms by Charles V of Spain. Shortly after its creation the city became a starting point for various expeditions in Peru and an important base where gold and silver was sent to Spain. In 1670, the city counted 10,000 inhabitants. On 28 January 1671, The English pirate Henry Morgan attacked the city with 1400 men marching from the Caribbean coast across the jungle. Morgan’s force defeated the city’s militia then procceed to sack Panama. A fire was started that destroyed the city. Morgan’s attack caused the loss of thousands of lives and Panama had to be rebuilt a few kilometres to the west on a new site (the current one). Instead of being punished for the atrocity, Morgan was knighted in 1674 by King Charles II of England.
The Amador Causeway
The Amador Causeway itself connects three small islands, Noas, Perico and Flamenco, with the mainland. Visited by both foreigners and locals alike, the Causeway has enormous tourist potential. The Causeway is located at the southeastern most tip of the Panama canal, with spectacular views of Panama City and the Bridge of the Americas. While there, visitors can observe the numerous vessels that enter or depart the Panama Canal throughout the day, passing directly beneath the Bridge of the Americas. Take your time here to wander, walk the Causeway or hire a bike. Some great views and a great way to spend a sunny afternoon. We’ve also seen Sloths on one of the islands. The Causeway is also one of the main nightlife districts of Panama City. Come here at night to enjoy the large number of bars, clubs and restaurants. The locals love to drive up and down here on the weekends. How to get here – Take a taxi for $5-6. Or take a bus to Plaza 5 de Mayo. Just past the Plaza take the right street(where the Dynasty sign is). Mini vans go to the Causeway from the next corner up. Total cost – 50 cents. Our shuttle bus can also take you here.
Taboga Island, Panama, also known as the “Island of Flowers,” is a volcanic island in the Gulf of Panama. It is a tourist destination, about 20 kilometers from Panama City, and is about 4 km long. The island is famous for its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, soft sands and a wildlife refuge. The already inhabited island was “discovered” by Europeans in 1515 and was originally named Isla San Pedro by the Spanish explorer, Vasco Núñez de Balboa. Its current name derives from an Indian word, aboga (“many fish”). The small town of Taboga was founded in 1524 by Padre Hernando de Luque, dean of the Panama cathedral. In 1998, a hoard was found on the island, containing more than 1000 silver coins dating to the 1600s, possibly treasure buried by one of the pirates who frequented the area at that time. For Taboga Island, take a taxi to the Causeway and then a 1 hour ferry to the island, the ferry is part of the fun. Cost is $11 return
Parque Nacional Soberania
Soberanía National Park is a national park in Panama near the banks of the Panama Canal in the provinces of Panamá and Colón, some 25 km from Panama City. The Chagres River runs through the park. Established as a national park in 1980, the park covers 55,000 acres. The park is popular with birdwatchers due to the abundance of bird species in the park, including motmots, toucans, trogons, flycatchers, antbirds, woodpeckers, tanagers and hawks. Among the rarer bird species in the park are yellow-eared toucanets, crimson-bellied woodpeckers, sirystes and rarely seen harpy eagles. Mammals in the park include wihite-faced capuchin monkeys, mantled howler monkeys, Geoffroy’s tamarins, two-toed sloths, three-toed sloths, anteaters, coatis and agoutis. Green iguanas are also found in the park. This is one of the most accesible tropical fores in the world. The Camino de Cruzes (Trail), runs through the park, it’s possible to hike this trail for about 6 hours to the Changres River. There are many trails on the park, one major goes to a Canopy Tour and the one for best viewing birdlife is Pipeline Road.
Panama has some of the most easily accessed forests anywhere in the tropics. The Canopy Tower is located on top of Semaphore Hill, in a well preserved semi-deciduous tall forest in the heart of Soberanía National Park. It is at an altitude of 900 feet above sea level, and from its roof you can see the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal and the skyline of Panama City, just 30 minutes away. Its privileged position makes ideal as a base from which to start exploring the forests of central Panama, as well as the Canal and other historical attractions. At the base of the road up Semaphore Hill is Plantation Road, a good, easy graded dirt road where you can walk through more than three miles of mature forest. A ten minute drive takes you to the gate of the famous Pipeline Road which runs for 11 miles through wetter forests in the heart of Soberanía National Park. www.canopytower.com
Fishmarket on Ave Balboa
The seafood market is located at the entrance to Casco Viejo, just off of Balboa Avenue. The hovering vultures will help lead the way if your nose doesn’t. Though you can really smell the fish from outside of the building, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that inside the market, it doesn’t smell bad at all. There’s a hint of bleach in the air, but no fishy smell.
Inside the market there are dozens of vendors each selling their catch. Corvina (sea bass),pargo (red snapper), and tuna seemed to be the most popular. If you are a fan of ceviche(a delicious pickled fish medley), then the market is the place to get your fill. You can buy it by the cup for about $1, or buy a larger quantity to take home with you. A neat feature of the market is that you can buy seafood from one of the vendors and then take it to the restaurant upstairs and have them cook it for you. Even if you are not a big fan of seafood, the market is a great place to go to get an idea of the variety of seafood that can be found off Panama’s two coasts.
Mercado de Artesanias (Handcraft Market)
The Artisan Market in Panama City is a warren of wonderful little stalls and stores where it is possible to find , under one roof, all of the local arts and crafts. Panama has a wide variety of handcrafts and they can all be found here. Molas are intricately stitched and overlaid pieces of fabric that can be used for many purposes. This is one of the principal industries of the Kunas of the San Blas islands. Several stiched together could be made into throw pillows but be creative! The tagua nut is a collectible item that is delicately carved and painted to resemble many of the local wildlife of Panama. The quality varies and so do the prices so shop around! Beadwork and baskets abound! Also a great place for machetes………
Head along Via Espana/Ave Central until you get to Plaza 5 de Mayo. Continuing along the same road past 5 de Mayo you’ll get to the Ave Central pedestrian mall. Turn left at the entrance and go down one block. You’ll see the entrance to the market on the left handside.
Shopping in Panama City
Albrook Mall is a large indoor mall with air conditioning and has a movie theater, food court and arcade. This is THE budget shopping mall. Albrook mall is located in Panama City near Albrook Airport and the Grand Terminal (the central bus terminal).
Central Avenue (Avenida Central) is a pedestrian mall in Panama City that is six blocks long and is lined with shops and restaurants. If you’re after bargins and Panamanian street life then this is the place.
The Los Pueblos shopping complex is a strip mall, so you walk outside between the stores. It is located in Panama City near the Tocumen International Airport. It’s cheap out here but most shops are represented in Albrook as well.
Multicentro Mall is a large indoor air-conditioned mall located in the Punta Paitilla district, which is one of the wealthiest areas of Panama City. It is the largest shopping mall in Central America and has a movie theater, casino, arcade, internet cafe, library and many shops. The mall is connected to the Radisson Decapolis Hotel.
Multiplaza Pacific Mall
Multiplaza Pacific Mall is a large indoor air-conditioned mall located in the Punta Pacífica district in Panama City. This is the “upmarket” mall of Panama and is huge as well. You’ll find everything here including cinemas and food courts. Expect prices a little more like home.
Hipodromo Presidente Remon
Panama has a reputation for outstanding jockeys and thoroughbred horses. Therefore it is not surprising that the President Remon Racetrack should be a popular sporting venue for Panamanians and visitors. The viewing stands are comfortable and good restaurants and bars make it a pleasant experience. A visit to the parade ring before each race to choose the horse you fancy will generate even more excitement in the race. Next to the grandstand is a seperate enclosure full of bars and restaurants where the locals gather with their cars. You won’t be able to view the race as well but there’s plenty of other things to see. The racetrack has been called the “The Cradle of the Best Jockeys of the World”, due to the many world-famous jockeys produced here, the most famous being Lafitt Pincay Jr. who at the time of his retirement, on April, 29, 2003,totaled 9,530 wins. Horse races at the Remon Race Track take place on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. On Thursdays they start at 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays they begin at 2:00 p.m. Closing time depends on the number of scheduled races. www.hipodromo.com
Museums Museo Antropoloico Reina Torres de Arauz
Anthropology museum. Housed in a building built in 1912. Part of the museum is dedicated to the Barriles culture, belived to be Panamas earliest civilization. Stone figueres and statues a gold room with gold figures of animals, gold-armor plates, ceramics, jewelry, beast plates, a crown and other items. Huacas, ceremonial treasures buried with important people. And a arge spider made of gold and copper.
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo
The Contemporary Art museum, consisting of Panama’s best-known and emerging modern artists, and some from other parts of Latin America. Museo de Arte Religioso This tiny museum contains reigious relics dating from the earliest days of the Spanish-colonial era.
Museo del Cana Interoceanico
This museum is dedicated to the history of the Panama Canal. (Note: all the information here is in Spanish)
Museo de la Historia de Panama
This small museum is dedicated to the history of Panama. It contains mementos from various periods in Panama’s history.
Is a small museum dedicated to the congress Simon Bolivar called to try to create a union of Latin American republics. It has a replica of Bolivar’s jewel-encrusted sword.
This stone house is the oldest in Casco Viejo and one of the oldest in Panama. It was originally the home of a Spanish pearl merchant, and then became a church. It contains rare maps, photos, ilustrations and house and neighborhoos history. It hosts jazz andfolkloric concerts and other cultural events.
Museo de Ciencias Naturales
Natural Sciences Museum, consists of four rooms, containing some stuffed and mounted animals and geological specimens. Also have in display some fossilized bones of a 50,000 year old sloth (estimated to have been four meters long). It have a geology and paleontology room and a snake exhibit.
The Afroantillean museum preserves the memory of the thousands of West Indian workers, who supplied most of the work force for the Panama Canal.
(Warning: this musuem is in a slightly dangerous area, if you go there use a taxi)
Casa Museo Banco Nacional
This museum has a rotating exhibits of arts and crafts for sale. It also have an interesting collection of Panamanian commemorative coins, including a fist size coin and a small gold one, some of them dating from 1904. It’s in a lovely house with marble staircases, ornate wrought-iron fixtures and several types of tile floors.
Museo de Sitio de Panama la Vieja
This museum has relics form the ruins of Panama la Vieja. It’s located one kilometer before the ruins. It includes indegeous artifacts from a hundred years before the Spanish conquest. It also includes a skeleton of a woman whose grave include the skulls of nine males. Also items forom Spanish colonial days and a model of the city before the Morgan the pirate set the city on fire. (Note: start from the top floor and work your way down)
Panama City Tours
Book your Panama City tours today and discover everything this great city has to offer. The most popular Panama City tours of course feature the famous Panama Canal, however the city has an abundance of offerings for visitors. Day or night there is always something to see and do in Panama City.
Panama City is arguably the most developed and safest capital in all of Central America. The ever growing skyline features amazing modern architecture while historical colonial neighborhoods such as Casco Viejo have been sensitively restored to their previous elegance.
Contact us now for more information about Panama City tours and all the latest news and best prices.
Panama City Restaurants
El Cangrejo (Via Argentina)
- The Green House (Varied)
- Monolos (Varied)
- El Trapiche (Traditional Panamanian)
- New York Bagel Cafe (Breaksfat and Lunch)
- Beruit (Middle Eastern)
Calle Uruguay (Calle 80 Area)
- Athens (Greek/Pizza)
- Habibi’s (Lebanese)
- Hooters (Varied)
- Cayukos (Varied)
Mi Ranchito (Traditional Panamanian)
- Leños y Carbon (Steak House/Parrillada/BBQ)
- Alberto’s (Italian)
Panama City Nightlife
Calle Uruguay as some of the best options of clubs and bars. This is where you go to see and be seen. And you’ll pay for it. Most clubs have an entrance fee of $10-15 and beers cost $2-3. It can be cheaper if you go before 11pm, especially for the girls.
Low key, a place to drink your Chivas or hops in the atmosphere of an Englishman’s den. In addition it offers deep fried foods and a pool table. One of the only places you’ll find happening on a Monday or Tuesday. Located in the middle of Calle Uruguay.
Cielo, Manrey Rooftop Pool Bar and Lounge
An upscale and unique venue, they frequently feature DJs and events—check it out for yourself. Calle 48 Este
This is stylish retro themed bar with mostly chilled out electronic and ambient music. Calle 48, above the Palms restaurant
The full package a nightclub, disco, pool hall, outdoor patio and restaurant. Located on Calle 48, across from Gauchos Steakhouse.
A pretty popular club with a dark setting, small dance floor and couches to lounge on. Located on Calle 47 east of Calle Uruguay, Bella Vista.
Popular nightclub recently renovated. Mostly reggae and Latin music with the occasional cover band. Located on Calle 48, Bella Vista.
Pronounced “seis.” Upstairs from Prive, this local plays mostly electronic music. Mostly standing room making it intimate and easy to meet people
Prive: Chic, classy and quiet place for a more select 25-35 crowd
A salsa dance club with live music that brings Cuba from the 1950’s to Panama. This is where The Bachelor and his date got a salsa lesson. Enjoy watching fantastic salsa dancers or join in on the fun. Located on Calle Eloy Alfaro and Calle 12 Este
Tantalo Rooftop Bar
Great views of Panama City’s skyline and bay and delicious snacks from the rooftop of Tantalo Boutique Hotel. Have dinner at their first floor tapas restaurant- super yummy and lots of ambience.
Barlovento Rooftop Bar
A very popular rooftop bar with Casco views. A hip local crowd plus visitors.
Take a trip back in time at this cozy, 1920’s decorated, charming entertainment joint. Live jazz shows Thursdays and a very popular salsa night with a live salsa band on Fridays.
One of the most interesting bars in Panama City because of it’s location- inside a stone cellar attached with historic city walls that date back hundreds of years. They have indoor and outdoor seating and cater to a wide variety of musical tastes
La Rana Dorada
Micro brewing is fairly new to Panama. Nobody has carried out the craft better than Rana Dorada, named after the endangered Panama frog. So far it offers 5 brews: a Pale Ale, Pilsner, Belgian Ale and an India Pale Ale. Ask for a courtesy sampling of courtesy sampling to help you decide. It will go well with their delicious pizza and ceviche
Di Vino Enoteca
A trendy new Italian bar and restaurant that features a wide selection of wines. It’s open late and is described as a “place to share culture, philosophy, tastes and passions.” Located on Ave. A and 4th St. in Casco Viejo
Authentic Cuban Bar with Cuban food and drinks, including the largest selection of rum in Panama. Located on Ave. B and 5th St.
Mojitos Sin Mojitos
This restaurant-bar specializes in the three B’s: Beer, BBQ and Burgers. Eat on the patio surrounded by stone walls hundreds of years old. On the Corner of Plaza Herrera