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Things to do in Panama

Things to do in  Panama

Welcome to Panama

From the kaleidoscopic reefs of Bocas del Toro to the dense, steamy jungles of Darien National Park, Panama forms a physical and cultural bridge between Central and South America, lapped by the Caribbean on one shore and the Pacific Ocean on the other. From glossy, sun-drenched Panama City to the tiny fishing villages scattered across the islands, Panama offers a heady mix of nature and culture, modern and traditional. History buffs can take a luxury cruise on the Panama Canal, passing through the Miraflores Locks and stopping in Panama City for a walking tour of UNESCO-listed Casco Viejo, the old colonial district. Many jungle treks and bird-watching trips are also available from the capital. Top draws for nature lovers include Gamboa rainforest, El Valle de Anton, Gatun Lake, and Chagres National Park, home to native Embera people and Monkey Island. Divers and snorkelers flock to Bocas del Toro, not far from the Costa Rican border, for its legendary coral reefs and wrecks. Book a multi-day sailing trip to explore further along the Caribbean coast, and if you dream of deserted tropical isles, charter a private boat to the San Blas archipelago. Only a fraction of its 365 tiny islands are inhabited, despite miles of perfect white-sand beaches. And if time permits, you could sail all the way to Cartagena from here. With easy access to both Colombia and Costa Rica, Panama makes an ideal launch pad for extended trips in either Central or South America.

Top 10 attractions in Panama

#1
Panama Canal

Panama Canal

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The first ships sailed through the Panama Canal in 1914, shaving nearly 9,000 miles off what was otherwise a very long sailing trip around South America. The engineering marvel transformed global trade, and today, 100 years after it was first installed, the canal has once again been expanded with new locks and widened existing ones, modernizing Panama Canal transit by allowing larger ships to pass from Panama City on the Pacific Ocean side to Colon on the Atlantic Ocean side.More
#2
San Blas Islands

San Blas Islands

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A string of 378 tiny islands dotted along Panama’s northwest coast, the San Blas Islands offer a welcome change of pace from the mainland. This region provides everything you’d expect from a Caribbean paradise: coconut palms, white sand beaches, azure waters, and a complete absence of electricity, tourist resorts, and stress.More
#3
Monkey Island

Monkey Island

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Panama’s Monkey Island on Lake Gatun is home to four monkey species—mantled howler, white-faced capuchin, Geoffroy’s tamarin, and lemurine owl monkeys)—as well as crocodiles, toucans, sloths, iguanas, and numerous exotic birds. Riverboat tours to the island offer visitors the chance to observe the monkeys and other wildlife.More
#4
Gatún Lake (Lago Gatún)

Gatún Lake (Lago Gatún)

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The tree-lined shores, tiny islets, and blue-green waters of Gatún Lake (Lago Gatún) cover what was once the fertile Chagres River Valley. When it was created in 1913, Gatún Lake was the largest man-made lake, buttressed by the biggest dam, in the world. Today, it forms an integral part of the famous Panama Canal.More
#5
Miraflores Locks

Miraflores Locks

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The world-famous Panama Canal is a must-see for visitors to Panama City, but to fully appreciate it, head to the Miraflores Locks. The engineering marvel in action is a mesmerizing scene, with some 700 tons (635 tonnes) of machinery, reinforced against the mighty Pacific, and cargo-laden ships squeezing through with just inches to spare.More
#6
Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo

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Panama City's oldest and hippest neighborhood comprises a Tejas-tiled cluster of pastel colonial buildings at the tip of a heavily fortified peninsula. These ramparts successfully protected the first Spanish settlement on the Pacific Coast; today they make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with plazas, churches, and narrow streets.More
#7
Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador)

Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador)

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The palm-lined Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador) follows Panama Bay and then heads onto the Bridge of the Americas, which runs parallel to the entrance to the Panama Canal and leads to three small coastal islands. The 3.7-mile (6-kilometer) road includes popular paths for runners and cyclists and passes a number of sights.More
#8
Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon)

Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon)

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Visible from nearly anywhere in Panama City, Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon) stands proudly above everything else in an otherwise flat region, with its immense flag flying high. At 199 meters above sea level, it’s the highest point within the city, and from the top you can see all the main points of interest. It’s possible to see not only the modern part of Panama City, but also the Panama Canal, the Amador Causeway, the Bridge of the Americas and Old City.In the middle of this bustling city, Ancon Hill serves as a little natural paradise. The forest has plenty of animals—sloths, armadillos, toucan and deer—and a slow walk up the hill provides the chance to see many of them. Once at the top, spend time watching the ships pass through the canal. It’s a pleasant walk from Mi Pueblito, and serious bikers take the challenge of riding up the hill. Go early to beat the heat, and don’t forget your camera!There’s also history wrapped up here. The name Ancon was used for the first boat that officially crossed the Panama Canal in 1914, and although it was under the jurisdiction of the United States during part of the 20th century, Panama took control in 1977.More
#9
Soberanía National Park

Soberanía National Park

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On the east side of the Panama Canal, Soberanía National Park—one of the most accessible of the country’s protected parks—is a paradise for hikers, fishers, and bird-watchers. Some 1,300 plant species, 55 amphibian species, and hundreds of mammals, birds, and reptiles call the park home.More
#10
Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas)

Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas)

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The Bridge of the Americas (Puente de lasAmericas)****spans the Panama Canal, which is perhaps the most important public works project in history. Made of steel and reinforced concrete, the bridge is 5,425 feet long, and at high tide, the clearance is 201 feet, under which ships crossing the canal must pass.Twenty million U.S. dollars went into building the four-lane bridge, which replaced smaller ones and greatly increased road travel and capacity over the canal. It was inaugurated on Oct. 12, 1962, and allows the passage of cars, bikes and pedestrians.The Bridge of the Americas was originally called the Thatcher Ferry Bridge, named after the ferry that used to operate on the canal before the span was built. Panama aptly renamed the bridge, since it not only connects the capital with the rest of Panama, but also unites Central and South America.The bridge is not just useful, it’s beautiful. Seen from different angles, whether on a sunny or cloudy day, at sunset or when it is brightly lit at night, the Bridge of the Americas is a piece of world history worth the effort to see.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 3 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 2 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 2 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 1 Day in Panama City

How to Spend 1 Day in Panama City

Top activities in Panama

Day Tour in San Blas Islands All Included Visiting 4 Islands
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Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
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5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
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Tour at the Chagres Rainforest and Embera Indigenous Village
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Panama Canal Full Transit Tour

Panama Canal Full Transit Tour

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San Blas Adventure - 4 Days Island Hopping in San Blas Islands - All included
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Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
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Monkey Island and Embera Village Tour
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Recent reviews from experiences in Panama

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Good Exercise to See the City
Alan_B, Jan 2022
Panama City Bike Tour
This was an excellent bike ride to see the various highlights of Panama City.
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Do this or you will regret it.
Ryan_P, Jan 2022
Tour at the Chagres Rainforest and Embera Indigenous Village
You go into the rainforest and swim under a waterfall it cannot be described in words.
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Nice trip
SauRen_T, Jan 2022
Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
Tony ensure you get to see a vessel passing by the canal lock
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Worthwhile tour of Panama City's Treasures
Michael_S, Dec 2021
Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
I really enjoyed my tour of some of the main attractions of Pamana City.
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Full Day Tour of Panama
MAri_G, Dec 2021
Private Panama City and Canal Tour Like No Other
We were able to see the highlights of panama in one full day.
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One of the best...
Peter_P, Dec 2021
Tour at the Chagres Rainforest and Embera Indigenous Village
Cesar is a great guide with information about everything in the country and with proper English.
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Just great
henry_g, Nov 2021
Panama Canal Full Transit Tour
Lots of good information in english.
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Wonderful Tour!
Carolyn_O, Nov 2021
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
He made us fall in love with Panama as well.
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Amazing time!
PaulaK_B, Sep 2021
5-Hours CITY TOUR & THE PANAMA CANAL. Group & Private Option Available!
Funny amd a great driving DJ (you'll have to take the tour to see what I mean).
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Best tour and tour guide
Jeffrey_P, Aug 2021
5-Hours CITY TOUR & THE PANAMA CANAL. Group & Private Option Available!
Our tour guide, Roberto was very knowledgeable about the history and geology of Panama City and made sure we got to see ships going through the canal.
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You would be silly not to book this tour.
Ryan_P, Jan 2022
Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
You get to see beautiful scenery and are pretty much guaranteed to see some wildlife.
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Best Adventure Ever
Barbara_Q, Jan 2022
Day Trip to El Valle Anton from Panama City
First we did a hike in a natural forest with a swimming spring, lunch at a beautiful restaurant, butterfly sanctuary, then botanical garden and zoo.
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Feed the monkeys!
Adam_S, Jan 2022
Day Trip to El Valle Anton from Panama City
Instead I went ziplining, and swam in a beautiful natural pool by a waterfall.
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Authentic Rugged Panamanian Experience
Karen_R, Jan 2022
Private Full-Day Horseback and Waterfall Ride in Chepo
5 hours horseback riding to a waterfall, a nice snack, and then 1.
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A fun way to see the Panama Canal!
Erin_W, Jan 2022
Monkey Island Tour from Panama City
We were excited to see the canal from INSIDE the canal and for our parents to learn more about it.
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Worth it!
Rashawn_P, Jan 2022
Monkey Island Tour from Panama City
The host spoke English and was entertaining.
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Panama Canal is a must see
Gigi_D, Jan 2022
Cruiseline Excursion Colon: Panama City tour and Miraflores Locks
We were fortunate enough to see two ships going through the locks.
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Unbelievably great service
Steven_R, Dec 2021
Looking for Monkeys Adventure...
On our way to her boat she noted that there were 2 ships passing through the canal and asked if we wanted to stop at the Panama Canal observation and museum to see it.
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Fantastic tour
Nataliya_D, Dec 2021
Embera Village and Jungle Tour
It took us upriver to begin with and 1st stop was a beautiful waterfall when we arrived there was just us and one other canoe but being a waterfall the canoes kept coming.
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An Experience Like No Other!
Crystal_G, Dec 2021
The Chagres Challenge - a full day jungle expedition from sunrise to sunset
We were able to see lots of animals and learned about the many kinds of trees and plants that exist there.
Frequently Asked Questions
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