Though this country is often overlooked as a destination spot in Central America, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to see and explore Panama City (Panama’s capital) for all its worth and beauty! The great thing about this beautiful country is that there is a corner for everyone – starting with Panama City. From its history and city life to its beautiful beaches, it is impossible to not have an amazing time while you are there! If you are planning a trip and curious what to do in Panama City (or more importantly where to stay and eat!) you’re in luck! Even though I’ve only scratched the surface of what Panama has to offer, I’ve sifted through my long itinerary and photo albums to gather the best of the best things to do in Panama City!
First stop: Casco Viejo
One of Panama City’s oldest districts is considered today’s hippest area! Walking through the streets, there is no doubt the sun shines extra bright in Casco Viejo. If you’re looking for Instagram-worthy pics, this town’s colorful colonial buildings turned cafes, restaurants, and rooftop bars will not leave you disappointed!
Where to stay: American Trade Hotel
Located in the center of Casco Viejo, this chic hotel is the full package! From its luxurious rooms to the infamous Jazz Club, you truly feel Panama’s lively & vibrant energy! This 1917 restored building is the perfect spot. Plus, it’s in reach to entertaining nightlife, fine dining, & shopping! What more could you want?
What to do in Panama City:
Rooftop bars – If you love to people watch, going to one of Casco Viejo’s rooftop bars is the best place to see Panama come to life! As the sun comes down, this is the prime time to see the avenues light up with live music and open-air restaurants. Not to mention, it’s no secret that the best ceviche can be found at any rooftop bar during happy hour!
Shop for Molas
Along the seafront in Casco Viejo is the pristine place to see Panama City’s unique city skyline as well as see the ships pass through the canal! This is also the corner where you can find Kuna women selling molas– intricate hand-made textiles that are part of their traditional wear. These beautiful pieces are sold in the form of clothing, decor, pillowcases, etc. and perfect for taking a piece of Panama home with you!
Where to eat: Mahalo Panama
For all you foodies looking for freshly picked fruit juices & colorful meals, this is your place! This eatery is a fun spot to sip on some delicious mimosas (you haven’t lived until you’ve tried their passionfruit mimosa!) and play entertaining board games while you wait for your food in the tiki-garden inspired seating area.
Second stop: The Panama Canal
This is undoubtedly the most visited place in the city, as it is where the Atlantic & Pacific Ocean connect, allowing thousands of ships from all over the world to pass through each year. For all of you who love to incorporate an educational aspect to your trip, there couldn’t be a better place to see and learn about Panama City and its heavy impact on world travel and trade!
San Blas Islands
What’s a trip to Central America without a tropical excursion? The journey to San Blas Islands is a trek and a half, but the views and tranquility you experience once you arrive can’t be beat! With over 350 islands in the Caribbean Sea, San Blas is the ideal spot to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the natural beauty of Panama in all its glory. It will of course be nearly impossible to visit every single island in one trip, but each one is surrounded by crystal clear waters, warm sandy beaches, and the best views that – we guarantee – will make you appreciate our exquisite planet just a little bit more.
What countries have you visited in Central America? What’s next on your bucket list?