10 Must See Things in Panama City

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Panama City, whose full name is Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Panamá, is located on the side of the Panama Canal overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Capital of the homonymous country, this city is the economic and cultural hub of the nation and it is constantly expanding.

Today it has almost 900.000 inhabitants and is shown to visitors in a double role: his colonial side, souvenirs from past eras, and the modern side.

Its unmistakable urban landscape is one of the most characteristic in all of Central America. Here 10 must-see attractions in Panama City, in this city that much to offer and is not easily forgotten!


  1. Locks of Miraflores
  2. Panama La Vieja
  3. Casco Viejo, colonial Panama
  4. Amador Causeway
  5. Biomuseum
  6. Puente de las Americas
  7. Cerro Ancon hill
  8. Local markets
  9. Museum of Contemporary Art
  10. Metropolitan National Park
  11. Plan your stay in Panama City:
  12. User questions and comments

1 - Locks of Miraflores

The Panama Canal is a mammoth hydraulic work which crosses the isthmus and connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. 81 km long it was a revolution, which allowed ships transiting the two oceans to avoid circumnavigation of South America.

The locks of Miraflores they are one of the two plants that regulate the water levels in the canal allow ships to transit between the two sides of the isthmus. Go to the Visitor Center of Miraflores, just outside of Panama to enjoy its large interactive museum on four floors, its panoramic platforms, the 3D cinema and the restaurant with a view. Make sure you see at least one large boat passing through the locks: you will be fascinated. The best time to admire the great merchant ships is from 9:00 to 11:00 and from 15:00 to 17:00, times when crossings are more frequent.

  • by metro L1-V2 to Albrook (€ 0,32), then bus C970 or F030 towards Paraíso or Gamboa (€ 0,23) stopping at "Miraflores Locks", then about 10 minutes to reach the center; alternatively car / taxi (about € 7,00) in 30 minutes - Get directions
  • 9:00AM - 17:00PM
  • $ 8, about € 7,20
  • Panama City: Miraflores Locks for Small Group and City Tour

2 - Panama La Vieja

Panama does not have a single bewitching soul, it has three: colonial Panama, modern Panama and Panama la Vieja. The latter it is the oldest site in Panama City.

I am still the ruins of the first European settlement are visible and can be visited on the Pacific coast dating back to 1519, founded by the Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias de Ávila.

For 150 years the city flourished thanks to the exports of gold and silver to Europe, but in the 1671th century its fate changed. The attempted looting perpetrated by Captain Henry Morgan in was averted with a tragic move: the explosion of local gunpowder deposits, which caused a huge fire and totally destroyed the city. An inexorable decline that makes remains of the ancient glory all that today remains of the first Panama. An attraction not to be missed.

  • by car or taxi (€ 4,50) from the center of Panama in about 15 minutes, or by bus in 45 minutes, with lines C641 / C642 / C640 to the Ave 7 1/2 Sur-R stop (€ 0,23, 10). Then about minutes walk - Get directions
  • 08:30 - 16:30, from Tuesday to Sunday
  • $ 15, approximately € 14,00
  • Panama City: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

3 - Casco Viejo, colonial Panama

The historic center of Casco Viejo was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. For years it has been used as the base of the Spanish petty bourgeoisie, this little gem is today a masterpiece in the open air of the colonial era.

The center unites in itself very different aspects, proposing itself as an eclectic mix with a lively and relaxing atmosphere at the same time. It has a personality of its own, and within its streets time seems to have stopped. Bars and restaurants where you can dine outdoors tasting the typical Panamanian flavors are combined here with shows by street artists and green spaces that line the ocean.

Between its points of interest: the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco de Asis (free), the Plaza de la Catedral with the cathedral of Santa Maria la Antigua of Panama (free), the Plaza de Francia, the paseo de Las Bovedas.

  • by car or taxi (about € 3,60) in about 10 minutes. The S510 / S520 / S480 / S420 buses take you from the center to Casco Viejo in about 40 minutes (€ 0,23), by metro the L1-V2 (€ 0,32). Then allow about 15 minutes on foot - Get directions
  • always accessible. Convent opening hours 09: 00-17: 00 from Tuesday to Sunday. Hours 08: 30-15: 30 from Monday to Sunday
  • free
  • 1 day tour to Panama City

4 - Calzada de Amador

Also called Amador Causeway it is the road that connects the mainland to the Amador Islands: the Island of Naos, the Island of Perico and the Island of Flamenco.

From being a simple connecting strip of land, the panoramic road has become famous both among Panamanians and tourists, who like to travel it on foot, by bicycle or running, to enjoy a wonderful view of the Panama Canal and the city skyline.

On the islands there are numerous shops selling local products and restaurants where you can taste local or international dishes.

Its name derives from Manuel Amador Guerrero, first president of Panama and the recent renovations have made it an unmissable stop on a visit to Panama City.

  • take the V440 / V500 / V560 / V480 lines (€ 0,23), change at Policia Nacional and continue with the C850 (€ 0,23) to the Biomuseo or Isla Perico stop. By car / taxi (approx € 7,50) it takes 30 minutes from the center - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free
  • Panama City: Private Tour of the Most Beautiful Places

5 - Biomuseum

Doubtless one of the most beautiful museums in the city, that celebrates extraordinary biodiversity of the Panama area.

Located in Amador, not far from the Calzada de Amador, it was designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry and is housed in a curious building with unusual architecture that resembles a paper origami.

Her eight galleries explore the origins of the Panamanian Isthmus and the evolution of the Atlantic and Pacific and delve into the impact of human presence and the importance of the Panamanian area for the biodiversity of the planet, with a view to interconnection of all species.

  • about 15 minutes from the center by taxi (about € 5,50) or by car. By bus: lines V440 / V500 / V560 / V480 (€ 0,23), changing at Policia Nacional and continuing with the C850 (€ 0,23) to the Biomuseo stop - Get directions
  • 10: 00-16: 00 from Tuesday to Friday / 10: 00-17: 00 on Saturday and Sunday
  • $ 18, approximately € 16,20
  • 6-hour ship cruise on the Panama Canal

6 - Puente de las Americas

It's a road bridge extending over the entrance to the Panama Canal e connects Panama City to the Mirador area, where there is a Chinese memorial, installed in memory of the Chinese community that moved to Panama in the late 1800s to help build the railway.

The bridge was opened in 1962 under the name of Thatcher Ferry Bridge, and has been there for 42 years since the only permanent bridge that united the two Americas until 2004, when Centennial Bridge was inaugurated.

An impressive engineering feat which deserves to be added to the list of things to see in Panama City.

  • With the V440 / V500 / V560 / V480 or S480 lines (€ 0,23), to Policia Nacional, then the C850 (€ 0,23) to the Entrada Amador stop. Then calculate about 1,5 km to cover on foot. Alternatively by car / taxi (€ 7,26) from the center in 20 minutes - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free
  • Panama City: Gatun Locks and Canal Railroad Half Day Tour

7 - Hill of Cerro Ancon

This hill allows you to admire the city of Panama from a decidedly privileged point of view. Also called Ancon Hill, it is a lush mountain visible from almost anywhere in Panama City it is considered one of the most precious natural refuges in the area.

Far from the phenomenon of urbanization, the paths of the hill give the opportunity to naturalistic excursions and thrilling wildlife sightings. Also, from the top of Cerro Ancón you can enjoy the most beautiful view of all of Panama City.

At the foot of the hill it is possible to relive the settings and atmosphere of Panamanian life of the past in the small village of Mi Pueblito. Inside the center there are reconstructions of schools, churches, houses and shops dating back to the era of the conquistadors. Mi Pueblito is also an artisan market where you can buy replicas of typical Panamanian and Caribbean products, and take a dip in local crafts.

  • by car or taxi (about € 4,50) in 15 minutes from the center. By bus with lines V500 / V440 / V480 / V180 / V560 to the El Limite Calidonia stop, or the S420 to Maranon (€ 0,23). From there you can walk for about 1,3km - Get directions
  • Cerro Ancon always open, Mi Pueblito: 08: 00-16: 00 every day
  • Cerro Ancon hill for free, Mi Pueblito for free
  • Panama Canal and City Walking Tour with a Local

8 - Local markets

Markets are always a great way to get in touch with a country's culture.

Il fish market for example it is a picturesque insight into the life of local fishermen: fresh fish, restaurants serving excellent, cheap seafood and boats that reach the port to unload the catch of the day.

Il mercado de abastos it is the fruit and vegetable market of the city, where farmers and customers bargain in a characteristic chaos. Throwing yourself among its stalls will make you feel an integral part of the place.

The national handicraft market, Mercado Nacional de Artesanías, in Panama Viejo, is ideal for buying traditional souvenirs: Panama hats or Panamanian handicrafts of pre-Columbian and pre-Hispanic origin.

ll market on Avenida 5 de Mayo it is the best place to buy molas, the traditional hand-made fabrics created by the Gunas, the natives of San Blas. Colorful and eye-catching, their textile artifacts will be the perfect reminder of your sparkling Panamanian adventure.

  • Fish market, Mercado de abastos and Avenida 5 de Mayo can be reached by metro L1-V2 (€ 0,32), Estacion 5 de Mayo, or by car / taxi (€ 3,60 approximately). For the handicraft market: C641 / C641 / C642 (€ 0,23) to Ave 7 1/2 Sur-R, or car / taxi (€ 4,50 approximately)
  • always accessible
  • free
  • Isla Monos: tour of the island and an Indian village

9 - Museum of Contemporary Art

Also known as MAC, this contemporary art museum is a showcase that shows the most modern artists of Panama.

It is located in an old converted building on a green hill and houses several paintings and works of art of various genres, the result of local creativity. It also houses a collection of movie posters, pieces for a true collector among which it is very interesting to browse.

  • take the L1-V2 to Estaciòn 5 de Mayo (€ 0,32), or the V440 / V180 / V480 / V500 (€ 0,23) to El Limite Calidonia, or the S480 / S420 / C640 / S500 (€ 0,23 , 3,60) to Maranon. By car / taxi (approx € 10), minutes west of downtown - Get directions
  • 10:00 - 17:00, closed on Mondays
  • free donation
  • Panama City Jungle Experience Full Day Tour

10 - Metropolitan National Park

Every self-respecting metropolis has its green lung. Here the Metropolitan Natural Park it is an oasis of oxygen and nature in the heart of the City.

A refuge for wild animals where it is possible to take long walks on paths surrounded by greenery, very well maintained, and discover more about Panamanian flora and fauna.

In its 232 hectares of land, the park is home to about 280 types of trees, 250 species of birds, reptiles and amphibians and 45 species of mammals: a true paradise for lovers of wild life and nature photography.
It is thus possible even in the heart of Panama City to take a dip in the forest and breathe deeply the variety of the ecosystem of these splendid areas of the planet.

  • by car / taxi (approximately € 3,60): 15 minutes to the north of the city. By public transport: V531, V201 / C64 / V541 (€ 0,23) with Domo stop - Get directions
  • 07: 00-17: 30 from Monday to Friday / 08: 00-13: 00 on Saturday
  • $ 2, approximately € 1,80
  • Panama Canal, Colón Forest and Fort San Lorenzo

Plan your stay in Panama City:

Panama is a generally safe country. The health situation is quite satisfactory and preventive vaccinations are not recommended.

L'Tocumen International Airport it is about 20 km from Panama City and can be reached in about 45 minutes by taxi for around $ 30 / € 27,00; the metrobus which costs $ 1,25 / € 1,13, alternatively the bus to "Corredor Sur" takes about half an hour, $ 2 / € 1,81.

for choice of accommodation focus on characteristic and central areas such as Casco Viejo to breathe all its charm. Areas such as Downtown, enclosed between the districts of El Cangrejo and Punta Paitilla offer modernity, shopping centers but also green areas and waterfront promenades. While for romantics on the go, the Amador Causeway district is highly recommended, with its breathtaking views.

In the city the most comfortable way to get around is by taxi: they do not have a meter and their fare starts at $ 1,25 for a short trip and $ 5-10 for a longer trip within the city. Alternatively there are buses or a subway. The fare is $ 0,25 / € 0,23 for the bus and $ 0,35 / € 0,34 for the subway.

  • starting from € 450,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 25,00 per room -
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour Panama City: Small Group Miraflores Locks & Colon City Tour: Panama Canal, Railway & Monkey Island Tour

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