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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
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
#3
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
#4
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
#5
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
#6
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
#7
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
#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
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

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 3 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 1 Day in Panama City

How to Spend 1 Day in Panama City

How to Spend 2 Days in Panama City

How to Spend 2 Days in Panama City

Top activities in Panama

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

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Tour at the Chagres Rainforest and Embera Indigenous Village
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Private Tour Layover in Panama
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Private Tour Layover in Panama

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Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
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Recent reviews from experiences in Panama

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Great Ride from Tocumen Airport to our hotel in downtown Panama City.
David_L, Jun 2021
Tocumen Airport Pick Up to Panama City
On the ride to our hotel, Daniel talked about Panama and things to see and do.
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Virgil’s heaven tour
virgilio_r, Jun 2021
Panama Canal Miraflores Locks and City Tour
Speaking in English is a big plus for and brought to have lunch at the seafood market.
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Nice trip out of city
Krystal_C, May 2021
5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
Our group enjoyed getting out of the city to see what more Panama had to offer.
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Fun morning hike!
Gabriela_S, May 2021
Walking Tour on the ANCON HILL. Sunrise & Panamannian Breakfast!
I also appreciated all the extra tips he gave me about restaurants, activities & Panama in general!
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I liked that it was a small group
Angela_N, Apr 2021
5-Hours CITY TOUR & THE PANAMA CANAL. Group & Private Option Available!
Our tour guide took us to the Panama Canal to see the ships going through; we have been through the canal on a cruise and it was interesting to see it in a different way.
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Great way to spend the day!
Lauren_L, Apr 2021
5-Hours CITY TOUR & THE PANAMA CANAL. Group & Private Option Available!
Also, English was perfect!
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Amazing the best tour of our Panama trip!
fortunato_s, Mar 2021
Monkey Island and Panama Canal Eco Tour with transfers
We wanted to see the Panama canal up close and we got the experience.
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Must do
Yael_L, Jul 2021
Tour at the Chagres Rainforest and Embera Indigenous Village
It was raining so we did not get to do all of the activities, but even so, the tour did not disappoint.
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Great tour, great guide
Regina_C, Jun 2021
Full-Day Monkey Island and Indian Village Tour from Panama City, Panama
Gonzo expressed such a deep love and respect for Panama that it is easy to see why so many people call this country home.
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Amazing tour guide and company!
Carlos, Jun 2021
Full-Day Monkey Island and Indian Village Tour from Panama City, Panama
He even gave us a bunch of recommendations for things to do while we were in the city which we checked out and were very impressed.
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One of a kind monkey encounter
Charmei_S, May 2021
5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
I wanted to see a sloth so I saw a sloth.
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The Best Layover of My life.
Juliana_X, Feb 2021
Private Tour Layover in Panama
He speaks English, Spanish and Portuguese and was extremely kind.
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Great tour
Amy_T, Mar 2020
Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
The monkeys were the stars and it was a great way to see the canal and also the rainforest/history of Panama.
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Ocean 2 Ocean
Michelle_S, Mar 2020
Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
We enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to see more of Panama, the locks, the National Park, monkeys, sloths, birds, etc.
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More Than Just Transportation
Pete_S, Mar 2020
Transfer from Tocumen Airport to Playa Bonita or Gamboa
While I thought we were just getting transportation, instead we had a wonderful conversation about Panama and everything there is to see around here.
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Great layover tour
Lily_S, Feb 2020
Private Tour Layover in Panama
Great way to see the highlights of Panama City on layover.
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Airport Transfers
Jean, Feb 2020
Transfer from Tocumen Airport to Playa Bonita or Gamboa
The driver on the way back to the airport also talked about areas of Panama that we hadn't been able to see with the hopes that we will come back!
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Panama canal tour
Randell_N, Feb 2020
City Tours & Canal
The Driver / guide spoke good English.
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Gatun Lake
gilliangd, Jan 2020
Lake Gatun Boat Tour Including Kayaking and Lunch
We then went for lunch on a houseboat followed by kayaking to a waterfall and swim.
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A fun day
Cecilia_F, Dec 2019
Day Trip to Anton Valley
The activities were fun and our guide was wonderful.
Frequently Asked Questions
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