Panama City: Latin America’s Hidden Gem

Frequently forgotten or dismissed as a travel destination Panama which connects North and South America, offers dazzling landscapes, beautiful beaches, idyllic islands, vibrant cities, delicious cuisine, energetic nightlife, and a diverse and friendly population.

Aerial view of the Bridge of the Americas at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal with Panama City in the background.

Aerial view of the Bridge of the Americas at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal with Panama City in the background.
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Panama City is the country’s cosmopolitan capital, home to nearly two million people. Located in the eastern portion of the country, Panama City is an energetic and dynamic city that, due to its location in the tropics, provides the dramatic contrast of modern glass skyscrapers with breathtaking nature. The city has something for everyone, from history buffs to nature lovers to music enthusiasts and beach bums.

Must See’s in Panama City.

The Panama Canal

The most famous attraction in Panama is the Panama Canal, one of the world’s seven modern wonders. The canal, completed in 1914 after many arduous years of construction and stoppages, took a deadly toll on workers, the death toll during the three-plus decades of construction is listed conservatively at 25,000 workers. The canal revolutionized shipping in the western hemisphere, connecting the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean sea, dramatically reducing the travel times for ships making the passage. Today at the Miraflores visitors center, patrons can learn all about the history, engineering feats, and day-to-day details of the canal while watching the ships in transit from just a small distance away. For a different perspective, the Agua Clara visitors center in nearby Colon gives visitors a view of both the ships and the canal on the canal’s Atlantic side.

Taboga Island

Beaches in Taboga island

Taboga, Panama – February 20, 2017: Beaches in Taboga island also known as Island of Flowers, is a volcanic island in the Gulf of Panama. It is a tourist destination, about 20 km from Panama City.
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Isla Taboga, or as it is commonly known, the isle of flowers, is a volcanic island located just a short (approx. 13 miles) distance from Panama city, surrounded by the waters of Panama bay. The picturesque island features the dramatic contrasts of lush-verdant hills covered in tropical plant life and trees with soft, tan-colored beaches before opening up to the tranquil turquoise waters of Panama Bay. The island’s early Spanish settlement town features eye-catching, vivid houses painted in every color imaginable pastel pinks, bright yellows, and soft oranges. While walking through the town’s streets, visitors receive company in the form of lazy clucking chickens who roam freely. The island also features the second oldest church in the Western hemisphere, Iglesia de San Pedro, founded in 1550. For incredible vistas, visitors can hike to the top of either Cerro Vigia or Cerro de la Cruz, which provide fantastic vantage points to take in the island and its surrounding waters. The island also offers traditional water-related activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and private cruises.

Casco Antiguo

Casco Antiguo

Photo via Flickr

Colorful old town of Panama City

Colorful old town of Panama City
Photo by Andrey/Flickr

Casco Antiguo is Panama City’s historic old district which dates back to 1673. The neighborhood features brick-paved streets enveloped by colorful buildings and large sweeping plazas where visitors and locals meet, talk, and enjoy life, brushing up against one another and the venerable old churches accompanying the plazas. The area is a walker’s paradise with many pedestrian-only zones. Casco Antiguo is the hub of the city’s nightlife and culinary scenes. Traditional Panamanian cuisine mixes with different food from all over the world, cooked by top-line chefs. Walking through the historic streets, the smells of grilled seafood comingle with the scent of rich, spice-infused beef known as ropa vieja. Must-eat dishes include- ceviche, raw fish marinated in citrus juices and spiced with chili peppers,sancocho, a traditional Caribbean beef stew, and for those with a sweet tooth, hojaldras which are Panamanian fried bread sprinkled with sugar on top. At nighttime, Casco Antiguo transforms itself into a lively party atmosphere, complete with discos, and bars, including those of the rooftop variety that offer spectacular views of the city and surrounding waters. There are also tapas restaurants that serve delicious snacks late into the night and a bevy of live music options, including jazz clubs, tropical Caribbean music venues, and other venues that play electronic dance music, salsa, merengue, reggaeton, hip-hop, rock, and more.

Metropolitan National Park

Panama City, view from Metropolitan Natural Park

Panama City, view from Metropolitan Natural Park, jungle in the city
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Located in the heart of Panama City, Metropolitan Natural Park is a 573-acre park that is a nature preserve and a tropical forest. The park is the only tropical park to serve as a public recreation park located in a metropolitan area in the world. Despite its proximity to Panama city’s downtown area, the park is home to an abundance of wildlife. The park houses 45 different species of mammals, 36 kinds of snakes, 14 varieties of amphibians, and a whopping 227 species of birds. There are also 284 species of plant life, including towering trees that can reach as high as 115 feet. For those who like to hike, the park offers five different hiking trails, including the Mono Titi Road, which takes hikers to the top of Cerro Cerdo, an excellent spot to take in views of Panama City. Guided tours are also available, providing knowledgeable and in-depth details regarding all of the park’s animal and plant life and other engrossing information.

Sources Used:

The majority of the information in this article including specific information on- The panama canal, Taboga Island, Casco Antigua, and Metropolitan National Park came from Panama’s tourism site-

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Additional Info on Taboga Island-


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