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Panama Travel Guide - Home

Panama City – place of contrast and capital of Panama

Panama City, Panama from Ancón Hill
Photo: Panama City panorama by Brian Bradwicke / CC BY 2.0
Well known for the Panama Canal, the country of Panama is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination and its capital, Panama City, is no exception. The city, located at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, was founded almost five centuries ago. Its historic old town, or Casco Viejo, with the baroque façades of the past, is a fascinating visit.

In perfect contrast, the newer area around Punta Paitilla is all about the 21st century, with its waterfront lined with modern skyscrapers and world-class hotels, perfect for a holiday stay in Panama.

Panama City
Photo: Panama City by Stephen Downes / CC BY-NC 2.0

A multi-cultural destination, Panama City is a melting pot of different cultures, races and religions from all over the world, and evidence of this can be seen in all areas of the city, whether exploring the modern streets of Punta Paitilla, or the quaint, balconied streets of Casco Viejo. 

In contrast, the boulevards of Balboa are lined with lush, tropical vegetation, invoking a spirit similar to early 20th century American architecture. Heading down the Calzada de Amador, or causeway, the islands offer an area full of bustling restaurants and bars, surrounding a modern marina. In all areas of Panama City, the range of restaurants, shops and markets offer retail therapy, endless fascination and a lively nightlife scene to suit all tastes.

Panama City - Casco Viejo
Photo: Panama City - Casco Viejo by jasperdo / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Green areas of Panama City

When in Panama City, you are never far from nature with the city’s various green zones, along with the protected forests on Ancón Hill and the Metropolitan Park (Parque Nacional Metropolitano). The park could take up a morning all on its own, enjoying a stroll in the rain forest and visiting the local toucans and parrots, or watching the pelicans diving into the ocean at the water’s edge. Visitors can enjoy fascinating views of the modern area of the city from the heart of nature.
Metropolitan park, Panama City, Panama
Photo: Parque Nacional Metropolitano, Panama City by Nyall and Maryanne / CC BY-NC 2.0 

To the northwest of the city, the national parks of Soberanía and Camino de Cruces offer nature in all its tropical best, ideal for a hiking adventure.

While Panama City is fascinating in itself, it is also the ideal base for various day trips to the surrounding areas, including the beaches and coral reefs of Portobelo, with its colonial fortresses on view. Enjoy boat tours on the Panama Canal or a ride on the Panama Canal Railway. Heading out to Isla Contadora or Isla Taboga on a boat is the perfect way to enjoy the fresh sea air, or alternatively a hike in the rain-forest reserves close to town takes you right back into nature, with colourful wildlife and birds on view.

Portobelo - Panama City
Photo: Portobelo, Panama City by Marc Cappelletti / CC BY-ND 2.0 

Panama as a nation is still developing, and as a visitor to Panama City, you will find the town itself to be reasonably safe, especially when downtown, around the busy bars and restaurants. However, it is recommended that care be taken when walking around the city alone, especially at night, as, like many big cities, there is the risk of crime.


Panama Travel Guide - Home