The Central American Gypsy
ADVENTURE TIME! 2023 Panama City Adventure Guide: Helicopters, Airboats, and Island Hopping--Oh My!
Updated: Apr 29
Panama City is a destination that should be on every traveler's bucket list. This cosmopolitan city has so much to offer, from the beautiful islands and beaches to the man-made wonder of the Panama Canal. If you're planning a trip to Central America, make sure you include Panama City in your itinerary.
To help you make the most of your trip, we've put together a list of the 18 best things to do in Panama City. But before we dive into the list, we want to introduce you to David and Charla from PanamaPacificaRealty.com. They have lived and played in the Coronado area for over 15 years and have helped countless expats realize their real estate gains through sales, rentals, and property management. Their expertise in the realty business is unmatched, and they can help you find your dream home in Panama.
Now, let's get started with our list of the best things to do in Panama City.
Marvel at the Panama Canal
No trip to Panama City would be complete without visiting the Panama Canal. This engineering marvel is a 77km artificial waterway that connects the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean across the Isthmus of Panama. You will be left in awe by this man-made wonder of the modern world.
Explore Casco Viejo
Step away from the tall skyscrapers and immerse yourself in the old culture and heritage architecture of Casco Viejo. With quaint colonial buildings and time-worn churches, this is the perfect place for sightseeing, museums, or taking a guided tour.
Visit Plaza Bolivar
Plaza Bolivar is another architectural masterpiece in Panama. The Plaza has a giant statue of Simon Bolivar, one of the most famous South American historical figures. In front of the Bolivar Plaza, you will find Panama’s National Theater, where you can enjoy live Spanish music performances and plays.
Discover Panama La Vieja
To get deeper into Panama's history, head to Panama La Vieja, one of the oldest ruins of the early Spanish settlements. Built-in 1519, the old citadel sustained countless attacks from bands of marauding pirates over the years, wearing it down bit by bit. You can see old traditional houses and cathedrals and learn about its colorful history, which makes it what it is today.
Experience the Biomuseo
Biomuseo is a fantastic family-friendly experience, explaining how the connection between South and North America impacted the biodiversity of our whole world forever. The museum has information on the diversity and formation of Panama, an aquarium, and much more.
Hike at the Metropolitan National Park
The Metropolitan National Park is the only protected national park located at Panama City's border. The wildlife in this park is not easy to spot, but more than 227 species of birds, monkeys, and sloths are said to roam this state park.
Take in the View at Ancon Hill
Take in the panoramic views of Panama City from the top of Ancon Hill. From sunrise to sunset, this lookout boasts some of the best views of Panama City and has wildlife on offer too. You can also see some sloths, armadillos, and anteaters if you visit in the early morning. Don't forget to bring your camera to take some snaps for the folks back home!
Shop at Albrook Mall
With over 700 stores, Albrook mall is one of Central America's largest shopping malls. You can find the most popular brands, such as Armani, Nike, and Tommy Hilfiger, and more than 100 food stalls for you to relax and dine in.
Take a Helicopter Ride
Experience Panama City from above with a thrilling helicopter ride. You'll see the pearly white sandy beaches, connecting islands, and tall skyscrapers along the way. Although it can be expensive, it is worth every penny if you travel with family or friends.
Go on an Airboat Ride
If you want to feel the thrill of an airboat ride, head to the beach on the West Bay side. The fast, bumpy water ride shows you beautiful Tupelo Gum and cypress trees.
Cycle at Amador Causeway
Cycling is a great way to keep yourself active, and there's no better place to do it than the 6 km long Amador Causeway. Explore many city attractions such as the Biomuseo and Panama Canal, discover great restaurants and bars, and even cycle late at night.
Islands to Explore Around Panama City
San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands are a must-visit for tourists. With turquoise waters, pearly white beaches, and coconut trees, the place seems like heaven on earth. The archipelago features 378 uninhabited islands, so there is much more to explore than just a piece of sand with blue water. You can even cross over from Panama to Colombia by taking the San Blas Island route and landing in the fun city named Cartagena.
Monkey Island is a small island filled with non-human primates. Take a tour guide who can help you feed the monkeys without disturbing them. It’s the perfect day trip from Panama City.
Taboga Island is the closest island to Panama City, only 30 minutes away via ferry. It has hotels and restaurants where you can easily spend 2 to 3 days. The island has some breathtaking beaches comparable to the famous Rosario island beaches. Take your time exploring the island, taking pictures, and enjoying the stunning views.
Saboga Island is 35 miles away from Panama City and has very few hotels and resorts, making it a bit more expensive than Taboga. Like Taboga Island, you can use the Ferry Las Perlas service to get there.
Best Nightlife Spots in Panama City
Tantalo Rooftop Bar
Tantalo is one of the best rooftop bars in Panama City, with views over the city that are well worth the price.
Expect world-class customer service at Alejandro’s. This bar has the most professional staff in Panama City. Although the drinks can be expensive, the live music and cigars make up for it.
El Green Room
If you are a karaoke lover, spend a night in the El Green Room. It is a must-visit if you are with your partner because of the romantic atmosphere.
How to Enjoy Your Panama City Visit
Panama City is a slice of heaven on earth, but it is better to take precautionary measures to ensure that you get the best out of your trip. Here are some tips for you to enjoy your Panama City visit:
Learn some Spanish phrases
Use Uber as licensed taxis here are often not metered
If you travel in November or October, don’t go hiking without a guide. The chances of land sliding are quite high in these months.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Things to Do in Panama City
Is Traveling to Panama City Safe? Yes, Panama City is safe for tourists. However, you can run into some pickpockets if you don’t keep your valuable items secure in crowded areas.
What Is Panama City Most Known For? Panama City is most known for the Panama Canal. It is a 77 km long man-made waterway that connects the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean.
Is Panama City Worth Visiting? Panama City is definitely worth visiting if you want to enjoy trendy restaurants, amazing views, and electric nightlife.
If you're planning a trip to Panama City, don't miss out on exploring this vibrant city for a memorable travel experience. And if you're thinking of making Panama your permanent home, you might want to consider the real estate opportunities in the Coronado area. David and Charla, who have lived and played in the Coronado area for over 15 years, have helped countless ex-pats realize their real estate gains through sales, rentals, and property management. Check out PanamaPacificaRealty.com for more information.
Panama City is a city that truly has it all, from the wonders of the Panama Canal to the stunning San Blas Islands and everything in between. Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, this city is sure to please. So pack your bags and prepare for an unforgettable Panama City trip!