11 Top Rated Attractions & Things To Do In Panama

Panama travel ultimate guide 2020

Although Panama is a small geographically, it contains a variety of landscapes, interesting towns and cities, and a myriad of vacation possibilities. Beautiful beaches and islands can be found along the coasts of the Pacific and the Caribbean, and the mountainous interior is home to coffee plantations, small towns, waterfalls, wildlife, and some wonderful hiking trails.

In Panama City, you'll find a modern capital with shopping and dining places and a variety of attractions and things to do, including the country's most famous location, the Panama Canal. Most visitors head for the first time to Casco Viejo, the old town, to enjoy the atmosphere and witness a little bit of the city's history. But for most visitors, Panama City is just a starting point before they head on adventures to other parts of the country.

For ideas to help plan your trip, see a list of things to do in Panama.

Panama Canal

See Ships Transiting Through the Panama Canal
The most famous attraction in Panama is the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Watching a huge ship, stacked with colored containers, and sliding quietly in the locks reveals the magnitude of this remarkable engineering achievement. Taking a boat tour through the canal gives you more visibility.

If you simply want to see the Panama Canal, the best place to do this is at Miraflores Locks, about 25 minutes from downtown Panama. You can see the canal from the five-story visitor center, with a small museum, restaurant and IMAX theater in a separate building

Bocas del toro panama

Surf, Dive & Soak up the Beaches of Bocas Del Toro
Bocas del Toro is the main destination for Panama Beach in the Caribbean. This group of low-lying tropical islands, not far from the border with Costa Rica, is known for its fine sandy beaches filled with crystal clear waters.

The atmosphere here is uncomfortable, as many young travelers come to the area, and in some cases stay for months or years. Things to do at Bocas del Toro include surfing, swimming, diving or relaxing on the beach. Activities are generally cheap.

Although you can find luxury resorts with infinity pools, it is a budget-friendly destination, mainly frequented by singles or couples. The main city also called Bocas del Toro or simply Bocas Town is located on Colon Island. The city itself is not known by the beaches, but you can find beautiful sandy areas in other parts of the island or by taking a boat to the nearby islands. Among the most famous are Bluff Beach, Starfish Beach and Red Frog Beach.

Bocas del Toro has an airport in Isla Colon, which is the number of travelers that arrive at the islands. If you are exploring Panama by car or public transport, most people come here after a stop in Boquete. From Boquete, you can drive about 3.5 hours over the mountains to Almirante, and from here, you can take a 25-minute boat ride to Bocas del Toro.

The boat trip prices are set by the government, and all boats charge the same amount. Parking in Almirante is safe and inexpensive. Don't worry about finding parking spots, the teachers guide you and direct you to their favorite place, so they earn a small commission. This is a good investment if you are not used to the city.

Panama Sunset

Watch the Sun Go Down on the Sunset Coast
Sunset Coast is one of the very few places in Panama where you can see the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, an undiscovered area that includes small towns, wide-open beaches and a small number of lodges where you can get away from the tourist scene.

This is the countryside of Panama, home to hills, small villages, family farms and huge beaches lined with palm trees and forests. Foreign tourists are not as abundant as they are in other regions of the country, and many visitors from Panama. The road to the sunset coast of the Pan-American Highway is quirky and has a few holes to avoid, but every mile takes you off the beaten track.

This region is also popular with surfers. The wide beaches bear the brunt of the Pacific ocean, and it is rare that you need to share a wave. If you want to get a beach for yourself then this is the place to come.

Hiking & Nature in Boquete Panama

Hiking & Nature in Boquete
The mountain town of Boquete has a great climate, where you can sometimes escape the coercive heat from the coast and lower regions. The city is comfortable and safe, serving expats and people fleeing the winter in the northern climates, and local Lebanese looking for the weekend.

Some of the attractions here are a variety of good restaurants, as well as a mixture of high-quality hotels and small hotels. It is also one of the most important coffee-growing regions in Panama, known as a hotspot for nature and wildlife, especially hiking and bird watching.

Owning a car here is completely useful for wandering the surrounding mountains and reaching the nearby lanes and sites, but you can also arrange tours with transportation to the coffee plantations. One of the best short drives in Panama leaves from the suburbs of Boquete. This scenic 15-mile loop passes through major hiking trails, a beautiful river, an abandoned castle, and waterfalls. The road also provides great views down the valley and on the slopes of Volcan Baru.

Along the ring, there is Finca Lerida Lodge, with its signature restaurant. It is also one of the best places to see birds in the area. This makes the lunch break nice, as you can watch the buzzing bird move nonstop.

Serious hikers can arrange for Baru volcano rides, leaving in the early hours of the morning with a guide to be at the top at sunrise. You can also go hiking like the famous Quetzal Trail (Sendero Los Quetzales), depart from the nearby Volcan Baru National Park, or one of the many waterfall hiking trails off the Ring Road.

Cusco Vigo in Panama City

Walk the narrow streets of Cusco Vigo in Panama City
History surrounds you as you roam the narrow streets of Cusco Vigo, also known as the Old Town. You can see colorful buildings, historical ruins, and impressive views of the bay towards the bright towers of modern Panama City. This region is compact, and all sights are within easy walking distance of each other.

In the evening, buildings and monuments are creatively lit, and restaurants put tables and chairs on the sidewalks. This area is ideal for a romantic vacation, as boutique hotels are housed in renovated buildings dating back to the 18th or 19th centuries.

San Blas Island Panama

Escape to the San Blas Islands
If you really want to get off the track and savor adventure, a trip to San Blas Islands might be what you're looking for. What distinguishes this region is the idyllic islands that feature perfect postcards with palm trees and clean water that gently lend the white sand beaches.

However, you should be prepared to bring out your inner Robinson Crusoe, as accommodations are generally in the country side. The only way to visit these idyllic islands is to book a package with the native Jonah residents, which includes transportation to and from and around, accommodation, and three basic meals per day. This is a kind of excursion completely off the grid, so it's counted accordingly.

Santa Catalina Panama

Browse on Santa Catalina & Day Trip to Parque Nacional Coiba
Parque Nacional Coiba is One of the best destinations in Panama is Santa Catalina, on the Pacific coast. This small but growing town has a comfortable surfer feeling about it. Small guest houses and unconventional hotels and restaurants force you to slow down and relax. If you're not here to browse, the great diving and snorkeling places around, and horse riding tours through the surrounding countryside are good options for those not interested in getting wet.

One of the major Santa Catalina clouds is Kiba Island. This lush island, now known as Coiba National Park, is almost untouched and is a hotspot for biodiversity, as it has nearly 200 species of birds, crocodiles, turtles, and snakes. Snorkeling here is very popular because of the massive whale sharks that repeat in the area. These cute giants are strange creatures and enjoy interacting with divers. Trips to Isla Coiba Island in Santa Catalina can be arranged.

Los Cangelones Panama

Swimming in the river in Los Cangelones
One of the most enjoyable things to do near Boquete is to visit the local swimming pit of Los Cangilones. Located at a lower elevation than Boquete, the climate here is warmer, and on hot days you'll find an enjoyable sight, complete with music, barbecues, food sellers, and Panamanians from wide elegance and jumping from the tips of the gorge to the crystal clear waters, below.

In this unique geological location, the river narrows in a narrow path before it opens again in a shallow pond at the bottom. Bold and older adults jump from ledges to slow-moving waters, then float down, go up and do it all over again. Young ones and visitors looking for something milder can get into the shallow waters where the gorge opens. The walls vary in height, so it depends on how brave you are and how willing you are to go. This is a family destination.

There is a small fee to enter the park, and it is a short distance from the parking areas to the river.

Punta Chame Panama

Kitzorf in Punta Chame
Although it is not on most passenger trails, Punta Chame is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in Panama, and it is also the best windsurfing place in the country. Located on a peninsula heading to the Pacific Ocean, this area is all about the beach.

The infinite stretch of beach here is vast, and the water is warm and shallow, giving children who learn the distinct advantage of being able to stand in the water to collect themselves while working on the kite. The winds are on the beach side and quite consistent from December to April, which is the dry season of Panama. Several kite schools offer lessons, including Machete Kite and Kitesurf Panama, located on the opposite ends of the beach.

Punta Chame Hotel is about an hour and a half from Panama City and about 20 minutes from Chame along the Pan-American Highway. You can find good accommodation in luxury small hotels facing the beach, or if you are looking for cheap accommodation, there are many lodges available in the city.

Punta Chame has the finest elegance, and this is not the place for nightlife. All activity focuses on the beach and windsurfing with sailing wings, which is the perfect reason for visiting for most people.

Playa Coronado Panama Beach

Enjoy a beach vacation at Playa Coronado
If all you want to do in Panama is hit the beach and relax in comfort, Playa Coronado is the perfect place. The beaches stretch here for miles and miles and are an interesting mixture of bright golden and golden sands. American Chain Restaurants and a large mall provide the home touch that many retirees fleeing the cold northern winter appreciate. Playa Coronado also has some good beachfront hotels and some romantic bed and breakfasts, although most of the accommodations are private homes or condos.

Santa Fe and San Francisco East Panama

Get off by hitting in Santa Fe and San Francisco
Two hours east of Panama City, you'll find a springboard for Santa Fe and San Francisco. This juncture takes you off the coast and into the mountains and ultimately ends in Santa Fe National Park. It is a relatively undiscovered area of ​​Panama and is ideal for people who want to get off the beaten path.

On the road to Santa Fe, you will come across San Francisco, a humble city with a pleasant main square and one of the oldest churches in the country, the San Francisco de la Montana Church, dating back to 1727. This light church is open every day until 4 pm But is closed during lunch hour. Just one mile away, there is a secret swimming area, in El Nario, El Salto. Here, water over the rocks creeps into a shallow natural pond, and swimmers come with inflatable cakes and other toys to escape from the heat on hot days.

Beyond that on the road, Santa Fe is a friendly little city in the mountains with some of the same features as Boquete, except for a much smaller and less sophisticated way. Hiking activities, birds, coffee plantation tours, river tubes and SUV driving in the National Park are popular activities, which can be easily arranged. You will not find a large group of restaurants like you in Boquete, but you will likely have personal experiences with local employers as you dine in their small establishments. Speaking Spanish is a real advantage here, as English is not widely spoken.

Santa Fe is 1,500 feet high, so it has a cooler climate than lower areas and can feel refreshing if you come from the coast. Be aware that on almost Tuesday, almost all restaurants are closed, and from 3-6 pm every day, a small insect of the kind that cannot be seen appears and feeds on exposed skin. Bites do not hurt but produce abundant red spots that fade in the morning.

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