Panama City is the capital of Panama state and is in the middle of the country, its city center is modern with skyscrapers but it also has a very beautiful colonial district. The old town is the by the sea and from Cerro Ancon hill you can see how it's divided - with well organized blocks that are easy to navigate and with the sea as a good reference point. The Malecon is the street that follows the sea for most of what the colonial neighborhood calls los bóvedas (vaults). You can appreciate the beautifully colored buildings that have two or three floors - somewhat higher than other colonial cities. The President lives in the Palace of the Herons (Palacio de las Garzas) which is in the old town. Some other buildings of note are: the national cultural center, the French Embassy, the cathedral (of course) and the National Theatre. The neighborhood is San Felipe. It's very nice by day, but for a night out there are better places. From early on Panama was an important city, with all commercial traffic coming in and out of the channel thus making trips around the world to deliver goods shorter.
It is a must see in Panama, you should go in the morning to see the passage of freighters, and because it is also very hot in the afternoon. You can see the history of the building, and it has a museum that is quite varied and interesting and you can buy souvenirs in the shop.
The Panama Canal is an inter-oceanic waterway between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean crossing the Isthmus of Panama at its narrowest point. Since it was inaugurated on August 15, 1914, it has played a hugely vital role in shipping, boosting trade and economic exchange between the two oceans and decisively influencing world trade patterns. The United States and China are the main users of the Canal.
The colonial district of Panama City is extreme. On one side there are houses that are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, painted to perfection, safe and guarded, and on the other hand, there are people still living in ruins. The city was founded in the year 1519 by Pedro de Avila, and was the starting point of expeditions that conquered Peru and Inca empires. It was also a very important trade route as it opened the channel to pass from the Pacific to Atlantic and vice versa. The ruins are of the time degradation homes that are oceanfront, which comes saltpeter, salt laden air, but also from an attack by the Americans in the year 1989. The American president at the time, George Bush Sr., tried to invade Panama after a year of tension accusing the country of being a center for money laundering, when the city became an important financial hub. Much of the Chorrillo neighborhood, one of the oldest quarters of the city, was destroyed by fire. Old Town houses still have the marks of the bullets.
The Amador Causeway is a must if you're visiting Panama. Beautiful sunsets, plenty of restaurants to choose from, and bike rentals (including tandem bikes). You'll have an incredible view of the city and the Bridge of the Americas. Go for lunch, take a bike ride once the heat of the day dies down, and then watch the sunset.
If you want to see the whole city, the vest view is from Cerro Ancon. You can go by car to the highest point, which is open from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. If you go later than that you'll have to walk for about 30 minutes to get to the top. This mountain is very symbolic for Panamanians. Until the year 2000 they flew the American flag there and when the Panama Canal award was given to the people, they flew their own flag there instead.
It was worth the wait. The Biomuseo of Panama took 10 years to build. Today five of the eight galleries can be visited, as it is in a "pre-opening" phase; it is expected to open officially in October this year. Here you can learn about the rich biodiversity of Panama, which was formed millions of years ago and became a natural bridge connecting North and South America. Different species of animals have been found over the centuries. If you are just passing through Panama, go to the Biomuseo Friday, Saturday on Sunday. Once opened, the visitation schedule will be Monday through Sunday. Bring your camera to capture images of the imposing building built by Canadian architect Frank Gehry. A true work of art.
Recently I took a University tour of CRUC, which is a peer group that I had the great pleasure of meeting and getting to know through three locks of the channel starting from the Atlantic coast and ending in the vast Pacific Ocean. This was an unforgettable experience for all those who had the pleasure of seeing one of the man-made wonders that's in the middle of sea that links these to one of the major shipping routes in the world. I am proud to belong to a country as privileged as Panama. I hope to repeat this experience again when given the new set of locks.
One of the big attractions in Panama is the shopping it has to offer. In the Panama City there are 4 huge malls like Pacific Mall MultiPlaza which is widely considered to be the most luxurious shopping centre in all of Central America. It is so huge that you can spend the whole day in it. It is in Punta Pacifica, in the heart of the city, and has 3 floors. You can find everything here: the latest fashion in clothing, shoes and accessories, telephones, jewellery, perfume etc. Its 260 stores include the most famous international brands from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Zara, Mac Store, Hermes, Adolfo Dominguez, Nike, Movistar, Geox, Bvlgari, Ermenegildo Zegna, Tommy Hilfiger and many more. It also has 30 restaurants of varied cuisine: pizza, burgers, Japanese cuisine, grilled meat along with cafes, ice cream parlours and cinemas. If you have a tourist visa, you can apply for the "Panama Shopping Card" at the reception, which offers discounts at more than 100 stores. Another huge mall, the MetroMall Grupo Roble, is located on the way to Tocumen Airport.
The main airport is in Tocumen, about 24 km from Panama City, and its code is PTY. Known as the "hub of the Americas", it operates international flights to over 65 destinations in 30 countries. There are some 15 passenger airlines, the main ones being Copa Airlines and TACA. The journey to & from Spain (Madrid) is operated by Iberia, sometimes with a direct flight, and others with stopovers in San Jose, Costa Rica or Miami. Upon landing, entering the country is very slow (I pent about 2 hours between immigration queues and baggage scanning). Once in the street you have public buses and taxis (25USD) to get to downtown. You can also rent a car. The departure terminal is much more modern and there are plenty of duty-free shops where you can buy perfumes, alcohol, tobacco, clothes ... If you are in transit, you can take the free shuttle that will take you in 10 minutes to the Metromall, a giant mall with brand name shops. It leaves every 45 minutes.
This is perhaps my favorite place in [poi = 61258] the old part of Panama [/ poi]. This small square is one of the best preserved areas that has some great bars and restaurants. It really gives you an idea of how the city must have looked decades ago. While you eat on the terrace during the day, or have a drink at night. In the center of the square there's a statue dedicated to Simon Bolivar (hence the name), and in the south corner you can see the beautiful Church of St. Francis of Assisi with its beautiful tower and bell tower that's one of the most interesting sights in the city.
In the Fish Market you will find the best fish and seafood in the whole town, and always at the best prices. It is a typical Panamanian place frequented mainly by locals. The 70 stalls offer all kinds of fish (sea bass, snapper, tuna and others I had never seen before) and seafood (octopus, clams, crabs, shrimp, squid, lobsters, etc.). There are also stalls selling different types of prepared ceviche (raw fish marinated in lemon, vinegar and spices, ready to eat). On the upper floor there is a restaurant where you can eat Creole cuisine, and they will also prepare what you just bought the fish market. This food market, situated at the entrance of the colonial district of San Felipe, was created by the Mayor of Panama in 1995 to keep all the fish vendors in one place and thus meet international hygiene standards. It is open from 6am to 5pm. It is closed on the third Monday of each month for routine deep cleaning and disinfection procedures.
The Bridge of the Americas is another of the landmarks of Panama City. This steel monster weighs almost 17,000 tons and stretches 1654 metres long. It was built in 1962 at the entrance of the Panama Canal. It owes its construction to the United States, and was initially called Thatcher Ferry Bridge, in honour of Maurice H Thatcher, the member of the canal commission who proposed its creation. At 118 metres above the Pacific Ocean, the Bridge of the Americas was, until the opening of the Centennial Bridge in 2004, the only road link between North America and South America. It is part of the Pan American Highway, and carries thousands of vehicles daily, so traffic jams are common. Just past the bridge, in the district of Arraijan, you can see the Mirador de las Americas and the Monument to the Chinese.
If you're thinking about spending your vacations in Panama, rest assured that there is no shortage of amazing places to visit in Panama City. Considered the eighth wonder of the world, the historic Panama Canal has linked the Atlantic and Pacific oceans since 1914 and remains on of the defining attractions in Panama City to this day
When planning what to do in Panama city, the best place to begin is the Miraflores Locks, the best place to watch the endless sea traffic passing along the canal. The octagonal Old Town (also known as the San Felipe or Catedral district) is another of the most incredible things to see in Panama City. Panama City is a historically diverse city and the Caribbean and colonial influences can be seen in many of the top attractions in Pama City like the Palacio Municipal, the Metropolitan Cathedral, or Las Bóvedas.
One of the top Panama City attractions for history lovers will undoubtedly be Panamá Viejo, the ruins of the first Spanish city discovered by the English pirate Henry Morgan. It's an amazing place to learn more about the origins of the city.
Exploring Panama's lush tropical forests is another of the best things to do in Panama City. You can explore the Parque Recreativo Omar Torrijos, Soberania National Park or the Camino de Cruces National Park. Finally, no list of stuff to do in Panama City is complete without some quality beach time. Panama's coast is full of lovely beaches and the nearby islands of Taboga and Contadora are havens for beach-goers. To find more information, look at the trips and recommendations from the minube community and discover the best Panama City activities and attractions.