Panama City is a cosmopolitan metropolis filled with gleaming skyscrapers, handsome colonial buildings, upscale restaurants, top-tier museums and eclectic shopping. Venture out of the city to discover palm-fringed sandy beaches and lush rainforests alive with toucans, sloths and howler monkeys.
Things to do
Experience Panama City through a local lens in Casco Viejo, a hip neighbourhood laced with cobblestone streets. Today its historic buildings house trendy cafes, boutiques and rooftop bars. The neighbourhood is anchored by Iglesia de San José, a beautiful church built to protect the legendary Golden Altar.
Nature lovers will be in their element at the BioMuseo, a cavernous museum celebrating Panama's rich biodiversity. It was designed by Frank Gehry, the world-renowned architect who dreamt up Bilbao's iconic Guggenheim Museum. Don't miss the botanical garden filled with native Panamanian plants.
Visit the ruins of Panama Viejo, an ancient city founded by the Spanish in the early-1500s. Stroll around the ruins, including what's left of the magnificent Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Casa Alarcón, the city's most luxurious private residence, is another historic highlight.
Panama City offers a tantalising taste of the country's incredible food scene. Enjoy cheap eats at the city's famous "fonda" restaurants or indulge at chef-owned eateries like Lo Que Hay, where you can devour grilled fish, smoked tomato rice and yucca tostadas. Finish with a colourful cup of "raspado" shaved ice or tropical-fruit gelato.
Get around Panama City using local buses and "El Metro" subway lines. Bicycles are also available, while certain neighbourhoods like Casco Viejo are easy to get around on foot. You can also hail a taxi or use rideshare services.
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