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Best Things To Do in Panama City

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Looking for the best things to do in Panama City?


After spending 4 weeks in Panama City, I can clearly tell you that Casco Viejo is definitely not the only area you should be exploring! Get some inspiration from this blog and explore beyond the standard tourist spots! In this blog article, I will offer you all the best things to see and do in Panama City!


  1. Explore other areas of the city

  2. Bicycle Tour

  3. Enjoy some of the best rooftop terraces

  4. Try local delicacies in Panamenien restaurant

  5. Learn Salsa

  6. Casco Viejo

  7. The Panama Canal

  8. Day Trips from Panama City



Explore other areas of the city

I highly encourage you to explore other areas of the city!


Bold claim, BUT... 90% of the blogs and videos I looked at before coming to Panama City said that Casco Viejo is the best place to stay....I DISAGREE. It is a small area and expensive!


I highly recommend staying in the El Cangrejo area or Punta Pacifica. More about the technicalities of this I cover in my Things to Know Before Going to Panama City!


Regarding fun things to do, El Cangrejo is the absolute foodie paradise for affordable prices. You will find several restaurants starting from sushi bars to local Panamanian restaurants. Also some amazing breakfast spots. The main street of the area, Via Argentina, is probably a good indication of where to find all the good places but they are scattered all over the area.


My top food places in the El Cangrejo area are:

  1. El Trapiche - Best local eat

  2. Nacion Sushi - my favorite sushi place

  3. Annie & Motts Eating House - perfect for remote workers wanting a great place to work, eat and have amazing coffee!

  4. Katané Pizza - probably one of the best pizzas I have ever had. In top 3 for sure!

This area is safe and more affordable.


The other area I highly recommend is Punta Pacifica. This area is a bit more expensive but it is full of skyscrapers that have amazing rooftop terraces with incredible views! In this area, you will also find many good food places.


I think one of the best parts of the city is the long promenade that goes from Punta Pacifica to Casco Viejo. Just taking a stroll via it is a great experience. You see the local life as there is always something happening around. You can join the promenade at any point and leave wherever it is more convenient, as it stretches all along the city. There is a police presence on the whole stretch so it's safe for tourists to wander around.

Bicycle Tour

A great way to explore all the above areas is with a bicycle! This will also allow you to take a ride across the 'Cinta Costera 3 Bridge', see here ––––>


Because walking across would be a challenge but it gives a wonderful and different perspective of the city!


Also with a bicycle, you can easily get from Casco Viejo to Punta Pacifica via the promenade. So it's a great way to see most of the city and enjoy the nice parts!


You can either do a tour with a tour guide. I can recommend Daniel and his tour.


Or there are sever bike rentals where you can rent a bike and see the city at your own pace. Here are some I can recommend:

Enjoy some of the best rooftop terraces

rooftops-panama-city

If there is one thing that Panama City is not missing is skyscrapers! Panama City is a very vibrant and modern city with many great rooftop terraces.


If you only have time for one, then it has to be at the top of the highest building in Panama City - the Panaviera which is part of the Marriott Hotel.


Another rooftop bar/restaurant I can highly recommend is LUNA Rooftop Bar located between El Canrejo and Punta Pacifica area. You get amazing 360-degree views from there!

Try local delicacies in a Panamanian restaurant

In general, the food is very similar to anywhere else in South and Central America where a very popular dish is meat or fish with rice, beans, and salad on the side. Also, Ceviche is quite popular.


But there are some Panamanian specials you have to try!


Hojaldra - Fried bread which you can eat plain, savory, sweet, with cheese or with a special sauce - “criolla”. (vegetarian friendly)


Carimañolas - Deep fried yuca roll, filled with meat. Popular to have for breakfast.


Bollo - Corn is ground into a dough, which is wrapped in a corn husk and then boiled until firm. Ideal with cheese! (vegetarian friendly)


Also very popular is to add fried plantains with the food. I love them!



Learn Salsa

Everywhere you go you will hear someone playing Caribbean music or Reggaeton. Dancing and singing are such a big part of the culture.


Although I have been wanting to learn salsa for ages, Panama City is actually a place where I found the best offer - only USD3 per person for a salsa class. You can do it solo or as a couple.


These lessons happen every Tuesday at 6.45 pm in the Majestic Casino in the Punta Pacifica area.

Casco Viejo

panama-city-travel-guide

And alright, you also have to visit Casco Viejo. It is a beautiful area that has maintained that historical Caribbean vibe and beautiful colonial architecture. Also, a great place to learn about Panama's history as there are several important historical sights.


I think Casco Viejo is definitely a must-visit when in Panama City but at the same time all restaurants and cafes are overpriced. So I would highly recommend allocating 2 to 3 hours to walk through the area but eat and relax in other parts of the city.


The top sights you can't miss in Casco Viejo are:

  • Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria the Ancient & Independence Square

  • Church of Saint Joseph

  • Church of the Mercy

  • Plaza Simón Bolívar

  • Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús

Also, you might find the Panama Canal Museum interesting, which is located in the Casco Viejo area. This takes me to my next and final point.

The Panama Canal

I will be honest, once I saw the pictures and videos of the Canal, I thought to myself that is not something I want to spend money and time on. BUT then I had another thought, how can I visit Panama and not the famous Canal? So I thought I had to do it because I will regret not going than going! And to my surprise, in real life, it is a really amazing experience that I highly recommend.


I think there are a couple of things that you can influence to ensure your visit is truly amazing:

  1. First, make sure you check the schedule of the ships passing through. You can monitor that via the Marine Traffic website. You have to be there when the ship passes otherwise I do not really see a point in visiting the Canal.

  2. Don't go with a tour, it is a complete rip-off. You can easily do it yourself, will be cheaper and you can do it all at your own pace. It is easy to get there, Uber costs around $5.00, depending on which part of the city you are coming from. I'd estimate it will be a maximum of $7.00 if you go from the far end of the city, like the San Francisco area.

The Day Trips from Panama City

If you have time and you want to escape the city for a bit I highly recommend San Blas Islands. Incredibly beautiful island archipelago in the Caribbean. It takes roughly 5 hours to get there, so I would recommend going for 2 or 3 days. For more about the islands check out this video:


Other popular day trips that actually are good for only a day are:

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