Panama City things to do

The 12 Essential Panama City Things To Do

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(Last updated on: 06/08/2022)

Are you looking for Panama City things to do? Then you have come to the right place! Panama City is the perfect destination for almost every type of tourist to visit as there are so many things to do and see for every budget! Keep on reading to find out why Panama City should be your next choice of destination and what are the very best Panama City things to do…

Tourism in Panama City

Panama City things to do

Panama City is the capital of Panama, located in Central America, bordering Costa Rica and Colombia. The city’s population in its metropolitan area is around 1.5 million in total. In the past, Panama City was the best know for being an important part of the gold and silver trade route, which is when these metals were extracted from South American countries and exported to Spain from Panama City. Today, Panama City is best known for its diverse culture and impressive skyline, as well as its flora and fauna.

Every year, it welcomes lots of tourists who are interested in learning about the culture and history of the city. In 2017, an estimated whopping 1.8 million people visited for tourism-related purposes! In fact, its tourism industry is mainly driven by inbound tourists as Panama City has lots to offer and its airport, Tocumen International Airport, is a hub for many layover flights which also attracts tourists.

There are many Panama City things to do, but some major tourist attractions in Panama City are:

  • Las Bóvedas
  • The National Institute of Culture.
  • Plaza de la Catedral
  • Teatro Nacional 

Is Panama City worth visiting?

Is Panama City worth visiting? Yes, it’s the perfect destination for all types of tourists, either on a budget or not. Panama City is a great location for tourists who are interested in sustainable tourism as many tourism organisations in Panama work with international conservation programmes in order to help make Panama City and the rest of Panama as sustainable as possible.

Panama City is also a great place to visit if tourists are interested in nature tourism as there are plenty of species living in the city, parks and it’s a great location to stay if you’d like to visit the jungle or other islands as there is very easy access via boats and tour companies to arrange these tours.

Panama City things to do

The weather in Panama City is often very tolerable year round, making it a great destination if you want reliable weather. For instance, the dry season is from January till April, when the weather is around 28°C. The wet season is from May till December, and the weather is an average of 27 °C during those months. The month with the most rainfall is usually October, so if you’re looking to visit Panama City, then it’s recommended to visit during January, February or March as this is when there will be the least rain.

Many tourists who visit Panama City choose to do so as part of a tour of the surrounding areas. There are some fantastic tours available, so if your planned stop in Panama City is part of a bigger tour you may want to consider some of these-

What’s more is that there are plenty of Panama City things to do for everyone to enjoy, whether you are a solo traveller, a couple or travelling as a family. I’ve written about some of the best Panama City things to do below, so read on for tips on the best Panama City things to do!

Top tips for visiting Panama City

Panama City things to do

If you’re thinking of visiting Panama City – then that’s an amazing idea that you won’t regret! Here are my top tips for visiting Panama City in order to make your stay the best it could possibly be:

  1. Make use of Panama City’s metro! It is relatively new and a great way to get around and see the major highlights Panama City has to offer. Tickets cost $0.35 per ride, which is a bargain. Remember to buy a reloadable card beforehand.
  2. Ignore random people offering tours. Sometimes in the major touristic areas, random people will come up to tourists offering tours around the area, these are often scammers wanting to charge extortionate amounts for a tour, and it’s a better idea to book through a verified tour guide.
  3. Choose UBER over normal taxis. Lots of the taxis in Panama City are very overpriced, so it’s always better to get a set rate via UBER to avoid being ripped off.
  4. Panama has two currencies. They use both Panamanian Balboa and the United States Dollar in Panama, so you don’t need to worry about exchanging money if you have either of these already.
  5. Don’t pay to see a view of Panama City. There are plenty of free locations that allow you to see a fantastic view of Panama City such as the Multicentro Mall.

The best places to stay in Panama City

When considering the best Panama City things to do, you will, of course, need a great place to stay. But don’t fret, I have done the research so you don’t have to. Below are my recommendations for the very best places to stay in Panama City.

Booking.com

Budget

  • Hotel Montreal – This is a simple but comfortable place to stay in Panama City. Each room has a TV with cable channels and a private bathroom. There is also free onsite parking, a 24-hour reception, and room service to make your stay pleasant and to make sure you have everything you need during it. Additionally, there are lots of shops nearby, so you will be able to get anything you may need with ease.
  • Hostal Gemar – Offering a safe and simple stay in Panama City, this is the place to stay if you want great value for your money. Every room has air conditioning, an HD TV and free toiletries. A 24-hour reception and laundry service is also available for guests. It is only a 20 minutes drive from the centre and 15 minutes on the bus, so it’s a great location at a great price.
  • Hotel Republica Panama – Located only 2.5 miles from Ancon Hill, this hotel is a great choice to stay at if you’re on a budget. Each room is air-conditioned and has a private bathroom and free WiFi. It is great for families as there are lots of family rooms also available, and lots of restaurants nearby.

Mid-range

  • Hotel & Casino Central Park – If you love casinos and other nightlife, then this hotel is the perfect place to stay! There are large, modern family rooms on offer, as well as room service and an outdoor pool for guests to use. Every morning, guests are served a filling continental breakfast to help start the day right.
  • Plaza Paitilla Inn – Offering beautiful panoramic views of Panama City, this Inn is the perfect place to stay during your time in Panama. Every room comes with a minibar, HD TV, and plenty of high-quality toiletries for you to use. Furthermore, there is an on-site restaurant which serves exceptional international dishes as well as the best dishes from Panama. There are also business facilities and leisure facilities such as an outdoor pool and sun terrace.
  • Tryp by Wyndham Panama Centro – Located only 0.6 miles away from the centre of Panama City, it is great value for money. All rooms come with free WiFi, a desk, ironing facilities, a coffee maker, and free toiletries. If that’s not enough, then every room also has spectacular city views to be enjoyed and an on-site Gastro Bar serving delicious Medditerainan food.

High-end

  • Bristol Panama – This gorgeous modern hotel is located in the financial district of Panama. There are lots of facilities for guests to enjoy, such as the spa and sauna on offer to allow guests to unwind and feel calm. There is also a fitness centre if guests would like to exercise in a well-equipped, air-conditioned facility. Each room is soundproofed and has free WiFi, a flat-screen TV and free amenities to use. Furthermore, there is also an on-site restaurant serving the best cuisine and tapas from Panama.
  • Central Hotel Panama Casco Viejo – Located in the historic centre of Panama City, this hotel is the perfect place to stay if you want to be in the heart of everything. There is an outdoor pool and a spa to relax in as well as a sauna, gym and on-site restaurant to enjoy. Additionally, there is a 24-hour check-in, meaning that’s one less thing for you to have to worry about.
  • Riu Plaza Panama – Offering stylish rooms with free Wi-Fi, this hotel is one of the nicest places to stay in Panama City. It is located next to all the major sights of Panama and has an outdoor pool and hot tub for guests to use as they please. In each room, there is a flat-screen HD TV, a drinks-making facility, a seating area and colourful decorations to help you feel at home. There is also a conference room, making it a great choice for business travellers.

Panama City- essential packing list

When researching the best Panama City things to do you will also want to consider what to pack for your trip to make it run as smoothly as possible. Here are my recommendations on what you should definitely not forget to pack-

  • Lonely Planet Panama Travel Guide – This Lonely Planet Panama Travel Guide is an essential thing to pack for your visit to Panama City. It has all the best-hidden gems and insider tips to help make your stay in Panama City the best it can possibly be.
  • Mountop Portable Waterbottle – Not all of the water in Panama is purified – that’s why it’s better to be safe than sorry with this helpful Mountop Portable Waterbottle. It has an activated carbon capsule that reduces odour, taste, chlorine, and straw to remove 99.99% of bacteria and parasites.
  • Smidge That Midge Insect Repellent -Although Panama City is a city, insects are still around. Luckily, this insect repellent is a powerful way to protect yourself for up to 8 hours. It is also water and sweat resistant and safe for use on pregnant women and children over 30 months old – it’s definitely worth it!
  • Anti-Humidity Spray – Panama City can get very humid, so this Anti-Humidity Spray is sure to keep your hair in check all day long. It’s lightweight and suitable for all hair types to use, meaning it’s a great choice for all. It’s even environmentally responsible as it’s vegan, paraben and sulphate-free, too – what’s not to love?
  • Solar Power Bank – When you’re out exploring, you might not have access to any charging ports – that’s where this handy Solar Power Bank comes in, as it allows you to charge your phone via only solar power! It’s a must-have if you rely on your phone for multiple things.

The best Panama City things to do

OK, so lets get to the crux of it! bWhat are the very best Panama City things to do? I have broken this down into categories for you below.

Panama City things to do that are cheap

Panama City things to do

Panama City is a great place to visit if you’re travelling on a budget and want a lot of great cheap things to do – here are the top 3 cheap Panama City things to do:

  • Iglesia de San José – One of the most famous churches in Panama City, Iglesia de San José is a must-see for plenty of good reasons. It is best known for its golden altar and attracts visitors from all over the world to view it. Visits to the church are free, but donations are highly recommended in order to help fund the costs of keeping it open.
  • Museo de la Mola – This fascinating museum is dedicated to celebrating the marvellous art created by indigenous Guna women called Mola, which is a type of textile art. It is free to visit for everyone, and there are five rooms in total with over 200 pieces – meaning you will be able to spend a lot of time appreciating and learning all about the art.
  • Parque Natural Metropolitano – This park only costs $5 to enter, and the entry costs go towards preserving the park, making it worth the price. Here, you will be able to spot lots of different wildlife, such as sloths and monkeys, as well as lots of different types of plants. There are also many incredible viewpoints of the city at different points in the park, so it’s a great way to spend a few hours unwinding in nature.

Panama City things to do for couples

Panama City things to do

What is there to do in Panama City for couples? Panama City is perfect for couples as there are so many things to do with your significant other; here are some of the best Panama City things to do:

  • Panama City to Taboga Island All-Inclusive Catamaran Day Trip – Take a relaxing ride on the marina’s largest catamaran as you prepare for a fun-filled day full of swimming, sunbathing, dancing and exploring. You will also enjoy an open bar and food on board the catamaran when you’re not exploring Taboga island – it’s perfect for couples who want to enjoy a romantic activity to remember for a lifetime.
  • Five-Hour Group Tour of Panama City’s Highlights – This tour is ideal for couples who want something more private and personal. It’s a 5-hour tour with hotel pickups and a comfortable vehicle with air-conditioning. It allows you to fully relax as you travel around Panama City exploring all of Panama’s major highlights!
  • Panama Canal Tours – The True Panama Canal Tour – Cruise down the scenic Panama City canal as it allows you to see and learn about Panama from a different angle. There are lots of different tours to choose from that will take you off the beaten track, such as Gatun Lake to see one of the largest man-made freshwater lakes in the world.

Panama City things to do for kids

Panama City things to do

Is Panama City good for kids? Yes! There are so many fun, and unique things to do in Panama City with kids that they are guaranteed to love; here are just a few of the best Panama City things to do with kids:

  • Monkey Island Tour from Panama City – Kids and grown-ups alike will love this tour to Monkey Island from Panama City! Hotel pick-ups are included, which helps minimise a lot of the stress of planning, and you will get to enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Chagres River and spot all the wildlife living there. The main event is Monkey Island where you will all get to spot the cheeky monkeys living on the island!
  • Biomuseo – Biomuseo is an entertaining and educational museum all about the flora and fauna that Panama is home to. There are lots of exhibitions to explore, which cover things such as ocean life, Panama’s ecosystems and creatures of the past. It’s a great way to learn about what Panama has to offer whilst being educational at the same time.
  • Miraflores Visitor Centre – The Miraflores Visitor Centre is a great place to visit to learn all about the Panama Canal. There are exhibition halls which cover the Canal’s history, importance and biodiversity, as well as terraces and observation decks to view the Canal in use. It’s a great place to visit with kids who like to get hands-on!

Panama City things to do at night

Panama City things to do

Does Panama City have good nightlife? Panama City has some of the best nightlife! There are so many things in Panama City to do at night – here at the most unmissable Panama City things to do at night:

  • Panama City Casco Viejo Bar Crawl With Drinks – Explore Panama City in one of the best ways on this amazing bar crawl in the historic Casco Viejo neighbourhood in a safe and fun way. It’s great if you’re a solo traveller or travelling with others as you’ll get to meet and party with others on the tour as well as locals! You even get a free drink in each bar and free entry into the club – you’ll have the time of your life.
  • Panama City Night Tour – See the city at night as you tour around all the major highlights of Panama City, and the best part is that the locations are quieter than during the day, meaning you will feel like you have the attractions to yourself. You will be transported to each location in an air-conditioned vehicle, meaning you don’t have to do any work at all – just enjoy the sights!
  • Panamanian Dinner with Folklore Show and Transfers – This is one of the best ways to enjoy Panama City at night as you will be able to dine on a full three-course dinner serving amazing food from Panama whilst enjoying a cultural show of folklore dancing and music. There are also free hotel transfers available, meaning you’re free to enjoy your evening carefree.

Panama City things to do – further reading

I hope you’ve learnt about all the brilliant things that Panama City has to offer and enjoyed this post on the best Panama City things to do! Have you ever been to Panama City? What would you like to do the most? If you’d like to read more, here’s what I recommend:

By the way, do you have any Panama City things to do recommendations? Any Panama City things to do experiences that you would like to share? Any Panama City things to do advice? Let me know in the comments below!

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