1. The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, is amongst the greatest civil engineering achievements of the 20th century. For the last 100 years the Panama Canal has been connecting the world and is the preferred waterway for vessels to navigate from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean (and viceversa). You'll be able to witness how the Canal's system of locks raise and lower humongous ships and you'll learn how the expansion of the Canal will double its capacity and allow even larger vessels to go through. The Panama Canal has an enormous geopolitical, strategic and financial role in the worldwide economy.
2. Casco Viejo
Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1997, Casco Viejo is Panama City's historic neighborhood, consisting of charming buildings mainly of 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial architecture, in different stages of renovation, and is encompassed by a massive sea wall built in 1670 to the defend the city from attacking pirates. The Old City Quarters is the perfect place to wander around and discover its many churches, plazas, museums and theatres. After dark in Casco you'll also encounter some of the City's finest restaurants and trendiest nightlife venues. The area also hosts a large number of cultural events such as concerts, operas, musicals, fashion catwalks, etc. Also worth checking out is the "Mercado del Marisco".
3. Amador Causeway
The Amador Causeway, linking four small islands (Naos, Culebra, Perico, Flamenco) in the city's bay, offers breathtaking views to the most spectacular skyline in Central America, a yacht covered panorama with the Bridge of the Americas as its backdrop (entrance of the Panama Canal), and is a favorite among locals to cycle, run or just hang out at night in one of its pleasant ocean-side restaurants or bars.
4. Biodiversity Museum
The Museum of Biodiversity, by renowned architecture Frank Gehry, will help you understand and appreciate Panama's natural beauty as it tells the story of how the isthmus rose from the sea, uniting two continents, separating a vast ocean in two, and changing life on Earth forever. Its 8 main exhibitions celebrate Panama's biodiversity, which make it one of the world's richest ecosystems with more bird, mammal and reptile species than the United States and Canada put together.
5. Panama La Vieja
Here you'll find the ruins of the first Spanish city founded on the Pacific Ocean. It was burned down in 1671 by Welsh pirate Henry Morgan. Most of the city was lost since most of Panama Viejo was made of wood, so what remains are the the ruins of the few stone buildings that were left standing. The best preserved structures are the cathedral tower, which has come to be one of Panama's national symbols, the plaza next to it, and the bishop's house. Also worth visiting is the site's museum and the artisan market located next to it.
Being Panama City the melting pot it is, you'll be able to experience fine cuisine from all over the world. Panama City's restaurants are among the best thing the city has to offer. There are plenty of great options in every price range, from cheap Panamanian food, and midrange seafood venues and steak houses, to upscale Italian, Peruvian, Indian, Asian or French. Many of the fancier restaurants are located in the Calle Uruguay or Cangrejo area.
Arguably Central America's most sophisticated nightlife scene, the most popular areas for a good party in Panama City are Casco Viejo, Calle Uruguay, El Cangrejo, Amador Causeway and the Business District. Partying is one of the very few things Panamanians take seriously and in Panama City you'll find something for everybody's taste. From let your hair loose anything goes backpacker joints in Casco Viejo, salsa clubs and euro style pubs in El Cangrejo, to classier night clubs with enforced dress codes in Marbella. For a truly out of this world party experience, don't miss one of Panama City's rooftop bars. Gambling is legal in Panama, so there is no shortage of casinos in Panama City as well.
8. Metropolitan Natural Park & Soberania National Park
You don't even have to leave the city to experience a tropical rainforest. The Metropolitan Natural Park is just a 15 minute drive from downtown and has about 4 kms of hiking trails spread among three main loops. As a highway cuts right through the park, wildlife observation is a bit limited. Luckily enough Soberania National Park and the famous Camino de Cruces and Pipeline Trails are easily accessible, where some of the world's best birding takes place and you can encounter sloths, iguanas, howler monkeys, white-faced capuchins and many other species if you head out early enough.
9. Cinta Costera
Panama City's grandest avenue was recently upgraded to include a pedestrian friendly area built on landfill over the ocean. The Cinta Costera goes from Casco Viejo all the way to Punta Pacífico and offers great views of the skyline. Parks, sports fields, a skate park, and parking areas are all part of the upgrade.
In Panama City you'll be able to find clothes, electronics and goods from all over the world at really good prices. For big shopping trips, many citizens from our neighboring countries come to Panama City thanks to its immense variety of stores and fabulous prices. Possibly the most popular mall in Panama City is Albrook Mall (it's said to be the largest in Latin America), with nearly 1000 shops. Albrook Mall has several department stores for shoppers on a budget as well as more exclusive brands. SOHO Panama and Multiplaza Mall are certainly classier and designer brands from the most famous fashion capitals of the world have presence at both. Other malls include Multicentro, El Dorado, Los Pueblos and Metro Mall.
11. Train to Colon & Day Trip to Portobelo
This is your opportunity to experience the oldest transcontinental railroad in the world. Operated by the Panama Canal Railway Company, it provides passenger and freight service between Panama City and Colon, the northern terminal of the Panama Canal. Along with its colorful history, the railroad follows a picturesque path across the Isthmus of Panama. The line flanks the Panama Canal passing through lush rainforests, cruising alongside the Canal's locks, through the historic Gaillard Cut and gliding over slender causeways in Gatun Lake. From Colon you can go to Portobelo. Portobelo is a sleepy port city with a deep natural harbor. The ruins of the Spanish colonial fortifications, along with nearby Fort San Lorenzo, were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Portobelo you'll find Panama's first customs building, a small but interesting local museum, the church of the famous Black Christ of Colon and the local beach.
12. Embera Indigenous Community Tour
Here you'll have the opportunity to learn more about the Embera's history, culture, dances and traditions, and you'll also be able to buy traditional Embera craftwork. The Embera–Wounaan are a semi-nomadic indigenous people in Panama. They live in small villages of 5 to 20 houses along the banks of the rivers throughout the Chucunaque/Tuira/Balsas River watersheds in the Darien Province of Panama. There are generally three villages on each tributary that branches off from the main river system. Each village is about a half day's walk apart. The villages are built on a small rise, set approximately 100 feet in from the river. The houses of the village are set about 20–50 feet apart atop the rise on posts, with no walls, but tall thatched roofs. Around each village, the jungle is partly cleared and replaced by banana and plantain plantations, a commercial crop for the Embera, who sell them to get cash for their outboard motors, mosquito nets, and the like.
13. Monkey Island & Gamboa Cableway Tour
Gamboa is one of those special places close to Panama City where you can discover Panama's wildlife. Your first trip will be by boat to Monkey Island. Here you'll always be able to see troops of capuchines and learn all sorts of interesting facts about the Panama Canal and its history. Once you're back on land, you'll be able to explore the canopy of the rainforest via the longest Cableway that exists in Panama.
14. Gyms, Martial Arts, Yoga, Crossfit and More...
Just as with most international cities you'll be able to find all different sorts of options to stay fit and work out. In Panama City there is no shortage of gyms, yoga studios and martial art groups that don't require membership and have affordable drop in rates.
15. Weekend Escapes
If you need to escape the city during the weekend, you can easily do so and venture out to breathtaking islands in Panama's Pacific Bay such as Taboga or Las Perlas Archipelago, famous for their white sand beaches and whale watching, or head towards the Caribbean islands of San Blas where you'll encounter the land of the Kunas, the most fascinating indigenous culture of the Americas.