Often called the Miami of the South, Panama City is the capital of Panama and very much like the US city of Miami. There are high-rise condos located on the waterfront, lots of traffic, Spanish music everywhere, lots of movement, and an electric energy. You will like the sordid feel to the city, the tense energy where anything can happen at any moment, and the feeling that the city is always in motion. There truly is something for everyone in Panama, whether you come for world-famous shopping, the pristine islands of San Blas or for a stroll through the historic Casco Viejo district.
What to do in Panama City for 24h to 48h?
Places of Interest
The canal is the main reason for the city being what it is today, and to see the ships go by in the canal is an impressive sight. You can reach the area by bus or by taxi, and there is also a visitor’s center at the Miraflores Locks with a great viewing platform and a museum showing off the history of the canal too.
The historic area of the city has seen a lot of development over recent years, but you can still see some historic traditional buildings, while there are also plenty of bars and restaurants here. Many of the city’s museums are located in this district, while the theaters here host some of the best operas and musical shows in the region.
Panama City has not always been set in its current location, and back in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the city was a target for pirates, and after the attack of Henry Morgan, the city elders eventually decided to leave behind the old city and move to the more secure site which you can see in Casco Viejo today.
Metropolitan Park is a section of the jungle watershed preserve for the Canal Zone. It’s a giant park located right in the city that houses many rainforest animals, birds, and plants. The park is fairly big, but there are only 8km worth of trails so you can hike the whole thing in a day. From the top of the trail, you’ll get views of the entire city and the Panama Canal Zone. When the craziness of the city gets to you, come here for an afternoon and relax.
Stand Up Paddleboarding On The Chagres River
The Chagres is the largest of the rivers of Panama, and is a broad river that flows relatively slowly, meaning that the sport of stand up paddleboarding is a great way to see the scenery of the banks of the river.
Take A Day Trip To The Gamboa Rainforest
A trip to Gamboa offers some fascinating insights into Panama and its history, as the town of Gamboa is a faded colonial gem that has houses and public buildings in various states of repair, while the rainforest is home to a massive range of birds and wildlife, with some lovely walking trails.
With its spectacular view of Panama City’s skyline and of the Panama Canal, the Amador Causeway is a major attraction. The Causeway connects four small islands made up of rocks excavated from the Panama Canal, which serve as a breakwater for thee Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.
Where to Eat?
Puerta de Tierra
This great steak house is located in the old town area, and while you can sit inside, the lovely patio is a great place to enjoy your food and to see the people of the city go by. You will also regularly find some good live bands performing here too.
So close to the ocean, it is no surprise that seafood is popular in Panama City, and this sushi restaurant is a stylish option in the Costa del Este district, and is nicely decorated while the food is well prepared and offers some tasty vegetarian options as well as the sashimi.
Located on the Avenida Central at the heart of the city, this pizza restaurant prepares their pizzas in the traditional way, with a good selection of toppings and the option to choose your own topping too. The restaurant is lively and displays some bold artwork giving the location a vibrant atmosphere.
One of the few restaurants in the city that has a waiting list, Donde Jose’s cuisine delivers Panamanian classics with a modern culinary twist, and every day a fixed menu of five main items and two desserts are prepared in two sittings, and each dish is lovingly decorated which makes it almost a shame to touch the food with your fork!
Panama’s Rooftop Bars
With a tropical climate and a growing range of tower buildings in the city, Panama has seen a great growth in rooftop bars, and if you are looking to relax and socialize, then an open air bar with a view is definitely a great way to do it.
Tantalo is a nice option in the historic Casco Viejo district, with Latin nights held on Wednesdays and a busy atmosphere on the weekends.
The 1400 bar is a new addition with an urban theme that has become a popular place to party, while the Inedito Rooftop has the business district to one side and the ocean to the other.
Another bar with ocean views is La Jirafa de Maria del Alma, which offers a great range of cocktails, and also has a Mexican restaurant if you have a taste for nachos or something more substantial with your drinks.
Where to Shop?
This is the biggest mall in Panama with over 450 stores, 350 kiosks and around 40 restaurants. Here you can find the international department stores with high end and high street prices as well as low budget stores, souvenir shops and a supermarket.
For shoppers looking for many designer labels and high fashion, Multi Plaza is the place to go. Located in the heart of the city, Multi-Plaza has a lot to offer its patrons.
This mall is located only ten minutes from the airport and has over 300 stores satisfying all tastes and budgets. Owned by the same people as Multi-Plaza they also have a shuttle bus service available from the airport. The bus runs for free from right outside the airport terminal every 30 minutes, 7 days a week, from 10am – 5pm.