Things to Do In and Around Panama City | PTY Travel Guide

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"Things to Do In and Around Panama City | PTY Travel Guide".

Search our blog about all things Panama! From must dos, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, in our blog you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 15 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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🙃 Get up to a 60% DISCOUNT OFF ONLINE PRIVATE LESSONS or up to a 40% OFF ONLINE GROUP LESSONS when you submit your payment by "UNKNOWN DATE, SYSTEM ERROR".

CLAIM HERE!

Or find out more about ONLINE SPANISH LESSONS HERE...

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Things to Do In and Around Panama City | PTY Travel Guide

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I myself never claimed to be a city girl when I first came to Panama almost six years ago. With it’s pristine beaches and jungles filled with howler monkeys and colorful frogs (read Bocas), the Panamanian interior was my Indiana Jones childhood dream come true! I’ll admit, it took me awhile to embrace the ever growing metropolitan hub that is Panama City, only making quick trips in to meet people at the airport, see a movie, or run necessary errands. However, now that I call this bustling capital my home, I have realized that it’s full of activities for whatever the mood may be, even for an adventurer! I made it my mission to find the best spots and experiences that no visitor or local should miss in Panama City, to make the most of your time after (or before) class!

Panama City is not only about its nightlife, restaurants, shopping and culture... there are also other great things that you can add to your daily routine while studying Spanish in Panama City
Panama City is not only about its nightlife, restaurants, shopping and culture... there are also other great things that you can add to your daily routine while studying Spanish in Panama City

Downtown

Just a quick walk from the Habla Ya Panama City in the El Carmen neighborhood, you’ll find the neighboring barrios of El Cangrejo, Bella Vista, Obarrio and Marbella (closer to the waterfront). These neighborhoods are popular spots for visitors and locals alike, with their international restaurants, pubs and shopping options. In your free time after class, be sure to check out some of my favorite downtown activities:

  • A bagel and coffee at New York Bagel in the Cangrejo.
  • People watching and laying out in the shade of Andrés Bello Park on Via Argentina in El Cangrejo
  • Gourmet ice cream at the Riba Smith Supermarket (ask and they’ll make your flavor into a milkshake!).
  • Celebrating the end of a successful day of studying with a cold microbrewed beer at the Rana Dorada Brewery.
  • Getting a group of new friends together to sing Karaoke on Calle 50!

Whether I’m in the mood for socializing, or enjoying a quiet stroll through the park, the downtown neighborhoods always have something to offer! Obviously there are literally hundreds of other restaurants and bars to hang out... I'm just mentioning a couple of my personal favorites.

The Waterfront Hangouts

Panama City has changed tremendously during my time in Panama and the most visual example is the waterfront. In 2014 the city completed its final phase of the Cinta Costera (coastal strip) and it’s now one of the most popular areas to walk, run, cycle, play sports, or simply just enjoy the sunshine and views of the ocean! The other option further down by the entrance to the canal is the Amador Causeway, home to restaurants, the recently opened Frank Gehry's Biomuseo (natural history museum), and the Punta Culebra Smithsonian visitors’ center. Here’s some waterfront spots you can’t miss!

  • Try a fresh Ceviche and enjoy some salsa tunes at the Mercado de Mariscos (fish market)!
  • Cool off with a raspao (snow cone/shaved ice) from any of the local raspaderos selling them from their carts.
  • Rent a bicycle at Urban Bikes and take a ride down the newest section of the Cinta Costera and enjoy the beautiful photo opportunities of Casco Viejo!
  • Check out the recently opened Biomuseo to learn about the natural history of the area (ask us at the reception if we’re planning an outing there with other students!)

Casco Viejo

I admit, that even after wandering the streets of Panama City’s old colonial neighborhood dozens of times, I still manage to find new things to see! The Spanish-style architecture and picturesque brick streets make Casco Viejo a well known spot for Panama City visitors. Apart from dinner or a night out with friends, Casco Viejo is one of my favorite getaways for a Sunday afternoon, to go back in time and see the city for what it was. Here in Casco Viejo, be sure to:

  • Check out the Kuna artisan stands lining the lookout of the waterfront over Las Bovedas.
  • Take a walking tour to learn about the historic churches and squares (ask us to help set one up for you!)
  • Enjoy a real Italian pizza at Cafe Per Due (a personal favorite of mine!).
  • Try a typical Panamanian dish with a traditional music performance at Diablicos Restaurant (we sometimes organize groups to go!)

Don’t forget your camera! Casco Viejo is an excellent spot for any amateur or professional photographer!

The Casco Viejo in Panama City is full of colonial history
The Casco Viejo in Panama City is full of colonial history

Canal & La Zona

You definitely can’t see Panama without seeing the Panama Canal, but there’s a bit more to it that’s worth checking out besides the canal itself! For former US territory that made up La Zona del Canal (the Canal zone), still resembles its historic roots fused with modern day Panamanian cultural symbols. It’s one of the most preserved areas of the urban city and you can still catch a glimpse of ñeques, tropical birds, and maybe even a venao (deer) if you’re lucky! Here you can:

  • Join your fellow students for a hike up Cerro Ancon (Ancon Hill) to see views of the entire city and Canal.
  • Ask us to get you set up with a tour to the Miraflores Locks where you can check out the action of the ships passing from the observation deck or tour the museum. Even as long time resident of the city, this is a MUST for everyone who comes to visit me.
  • If you REALLY want to get to know the Canal, you can even book a partial transit and go through the locks by boat!

You can't miss the Panama Canal!
You can't miss the Panama Canal!

Hiking & Adventure

Think you need to leave the city to find hiking trails? Think again! Just a quick taxi from the Albrook bus terminal you can check out the Parque Natural Metropolitano. Here, you’ll feel like you’re adventuring through the jungle while you’re still in the middle of the city! If you want to venture to the outskirts of the city, then head to Gamboa. By far my best day of hiking near Panama City was a drizzly morning on the Plantation Trail in Gamboa with howler monkeys swinging on both sides of trail for the first couple of kilometers. The best part? It’s only a 25 min drive from downtown! Some other adventures I highly recommend are:

  • Monkey Island in Gamboa! You can also check out the canopy of Gamboa along with Monkey Island in the tour package we offer through the school!
  • Hiking to the top of the lookout in the Parque Metropolitano to get some amazing views of downtown (about an hour hike from the visitors’ center and parking lot).
  • If you want a cultural adventure experience, ask our front desk about the Embera Indigenous Community Tour. You can witness a completely unique way of life in the Panamanian countryside, practice your Spanish with the kids of the village, and maybe even learn a few words of the Embera language!

So maybe I’m more of a city girl than I used to be, but here, it’s hard not to be! So save time in your trip to get to know Panama City and maybe you’ll leave with some favorite spots of your own! Feel free to share in the comments section below some of YOUR favorite Panama City things to do...

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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