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One Day in Panama City

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It's early morning in Panama City and I am so overwhelmed by the multifarious possibilities that this city has to offer that I honestly do not know where to start: The imposing skyline is categorically demanding that I verge upon its greatness, but from a distance, down below, the Casco Viejo (old city) is whispering jolly songs in my ear, inviting me to tap along to the rhythm of a Bachata tune. I can sense the smell of fresh seafood and my stomach insists that I follow the road to the fish market, although the majesty of the Panama Canal is even more inviting for my visual senses. Albrook, the biggest shopping mall in Central America, is ironically waving from a distance, knowing that I cannot leave without paying it a visit. At the end of the day, happily tired and with a cerveza in my hand, I realize that I was able to satisfy all of my senses; it's all possible with one day in Panama! Now, let me tell you how you can follow in my footsteps...

Good for
  • Solo
  • Friends
  • Couples
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Trendsetter

10 Places

5 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

Casco Viejo

Neighbourhoods, Historic Walking Areas

Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitan)

Architectural Buildings, Sacred & Religious Sites

Tantalo Kitchen

Restaurants

Ancon Hill

Other Outdoor Activities

Cinta Costera

Neighbourhoods

Mercado de Mariscos

Flea & Street Markets

Panama Metro

Mass Transportation Systems

Albrook Mall

Shopping Malls

Panama Canal

Points of Interest & Landmarks

Maito

Restaurants

Dana B's City Tips

  • In order to be able to experience Panama City - in all its splendor - in just one day, the best way to get around is by metro; it's time-efficient, safe, clean, and nonetheless really cheap.
  • Locals tend to greet you by using the word "Buenas," instead of the classic "Buenos Dias."
  • Humidity is usually very high in Panama City; faster-drying synthetic layers will help a lot during the day.
  • Taxis do not have a meter. You will need to agree on the fare before getting into the car.
  • There are some sites, like the Panama Canal for instance, that cannot be reached via the metro. In this case, the bus terminal at Albrook Mall is your best, low-cost solution.
  • Casco Viejo
    Neighbourhoods, Historic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    The old town neighborhood of Panama City is colorful, well-maintained, and offers excellent view points of its rivals — the imposing skyscrapers that form the modern city's skyline. A World Heritage Site since 1997, the area invites you to walk its vibrant streets, admire its renovated antique homes, and search for indigenous handicrafts. The sharp contrast of old and new is slowly becoming more evident, especially as large parts of the Casco Viejo are being turned into luxury resorts. See it while you can!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • During the daytime, venture out of the touristy part of the old city and you will hear loud music coming out of people's houses. The old quarter is greatly alive!
    • Do not miss Plaza Herrera, such a beautiful little bohemian spot!
    • This is the perfect site to start your day. Go early in the morning and you will enjoy a somewhat cooler temperature.
    • You will notice shaved ice vendors quite frequently. What they are selling is called "raspao" and I can tell you that my watermelon version was an absolute delight.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 129 things to do in Panama City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • must see 23/06/2019
    • Day meandering..night time...count down to Action and fun. Sultry 23/06/2019
    • Casco Viejo
    Address:
    Avenida Central
    Panama City
    Panama
    Phone:
    +507 228-9828
    Other:
  • Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitan)
    Architectural Buildings, Sacred & Religious Sites
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    While in the Casco Viejo, regardless of your chosen route, the one thing you cannot miss is the Metropolitan Cathedral. It stands over Plaza de la Independencia, where Panama declared its independence in 1903, and any one of the eloquent paths you trek in the old quarter is likely to lead you there. Even though the cathedral originally took more than 100 years to build, it had been totally abandoned until 2003 when it was restored to the pristine state that you can find it in today. The inside is far from being amply decorated, but it is still worth a visit for the marble altar.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The two white towers are encrusted with mother of pearl. Catch the sun on them and see how they sparkle!
    • Plaza de la Independencia is also known as Plaza de la Catedral. Just like the Casco Viejo is also known as Casco Antiguo and San Felipe.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #40 of 129 things to do in Panama City
    • Awesome Restoration 13/04/2019
    • Panama's main Cathedral 11/04/2019
    • Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitan)
    Address:
    Av Central 7-30 E
    Panama City
    Panama
  • Tantalo Kitchen
    Restaurants (Latin, Bar, Seafood, South American, Central American)
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    Whether you still need to eat breakfast or you're simply looking for an extra shot of caffeine to boost your energy levels, spoil yourself with one more stop in the heart of the old city before moving on to pastures new. This tapas place has a friendly atmosphere, and while it celebrates Panamanian cuisine, there are some international flavors intentionally thrown in for fun. Only a two-minute walk from the Cathedral Square, Tantalo Kitchen should definitely be next on your list!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • The city view from the rooftop deck is cosmic! Go up, you must.
    • This place is said to serve the best mojitos in town... one very good reason to come back here in the evening.
    • Should you decide to come back for the incredible sunset, keep in mind that in order to find a spot you need to come early as the location is highly popular.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #29 of 1,100 restaurants in Panama City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good for drinks 18/06/2019
    • Delicious food 10/06/2019
    • Tantalo Kitchen
    Address:
    Calle 8 y Avenida B
    Casco Viejo
    Panama City 123456
    Panama
    Phone:
    +507 262-4030
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    07:00 - 22:30
    Other:
  • Ancon Hill
    Other Outdoor Activities
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    No need to go to local zoos, no need to get tangled in jungle creepers, Panama City has been endowed with wilderness right in the middle of its urban center: A 30-minute hike up Ancon Hill will reward you with an unbeatable change of scenery from the rush and tumult of the metropolis. Watch closely as you trek, and you may notice several species of birds, butterflies, beautiful orchids, playful monkeys, and if you're lucky, maybe even a sloth. And then, once you're all the way up, you can admire the oceanfront highway, the financial district and the Panama Canal, all from the quietness of the top of this natural gem.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • I highly recommend walking to the top instead of going by taxi/rental car. It is a pleasant hike during which you can hear and see the native wildlife.
    • Take some water with you. The drinks they sell at the view point are highly overpriced.
    • From the top of the hill you can also see the Bridge of the Americas perfectly. This structure connects North and South America.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #14 of 155 Outdoor Activities in Panama City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Excellent view of the city and decent hike, but don't go for the wildlife 20/06/2019
    • Go early! 11/05/2019
    • Ancon Hill
    Address:
    Quarry Heights
    Panama City
    Panama
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    09:00 - 16:30
  • Cinta Costera
    Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    Having already had several opportunities to admire the modern CBD from above, now it's time to follow the coastal belt, known as the Cinta Costera, and get up close to it in person. Locals follow the same path (that runs the length of this belt) when they go out to exercise, stroll hand in hand, or take their kids out to the playgrounds. Lining the gentle ocean, by following the avant-garde boardwalk, you'll see exactly how two crucial parts of the city, Casco Viejo and Punta Paitilla, are now elegantly connected.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • If you have a car, just drive along the waterline and you can admire the beautiful route from one end to the other. Otherwise rent a bike and start pedaling!
    • This is a great place to meet the locals, especially in the evening or late afternoon.
    • Along the way, stop and admire the colossal statue of Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the first European to see the Pacific after crossing Panama on foot.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 129 things to do in Panama City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Max running 24/06/2019
    • Beautiful views and safe 16/06/2019
    • Cinta Costera
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
  • Mercado de Mariscos
    Flea & Street Markets
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    Local flavors have always been a priority on my to-do list whenever I visit a new city, and Panama's fish market is no exception. This seafood paradise is located on the Cinta Costera, just before the entrance to Panama's old city, and boasts the freshest fish in town at very reasonable prices. A highly spirited atmosphere, with vendors shouting in an attempt to be the first to sell their catch, this true open air market will make you feel the authentic heartbeat of Central America!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    Tips
    • Freshly caught fish makes the best ceviche, a very popular dish here. This is the perfect place to order it!
    • This place closes for a serious clean-up session every 3rd Monday of the month, so check the calendar before heading here.
    • Upstairs is the Mercado de Mariscos restaurant, open every day until 5pm.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #42 of 129 things to do in Panama City
    • Best lobster ceviche anywhere!! 16/06/2019
    • Clean, fresh and good prices 29/05/2019
    • Mercado de Mariscos
    Address:
    Avenida Balboa & Calle Eloy alfaro
    Cinta Costanera
    Panama City
    Panama
    Phone:
    +507 212-3898
  • Panama Metro
    Mass Transportation Systems
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    If you are trying to see the most iconic sites in Panama City in a limited amount of time, the metro will soon become your best friend: It's time-efficient, safe, clean, and really cheap. I always prefer to mingle with the locals and use the public transport - while the leather cushioning in your rental car will spoil you, the cold door handle of the subway will make your blood tremble with excitement for the world it is about to reveal at its next station.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • You must buy the Panama Metro Card before you board, which you need to load with money to use. You can refill this card as often as you like.
    • The metro has a station at the bus terminal, so you can easily connect to any other part of the city that is not serviced by train.
    • The underground stations have air conditioning, such a precious commodity in this hot city!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 129 things to do in Panama City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Cheap and efficient transportation in the city 23/06/2019
    • Fast moving 19/06/2019
    • Panama Metro
    Phone:
    +507 504-7200
    Other:
  • Albrook Mall
    Shopping Malls
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    The day is almost coming to an end, and we all know that when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! Albrook Mall is not just a showcase of international brand stores, but a true experience in itself. With over 700 shops, 100-plus restaurants, a casino, cinema, supermarket, banks and beauty salons; plus an entertainment area with bowling lanes, pool tables, and slot machines, it rightly deserves its excellent ratings. A genuine 'one-stop-shop,' this place has something for everyone.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    Tips
    • The Albrook bus terminal is opposite the mall. This is the most important public transport hub in Panama City.
    • The mall is so big that you may lose your way: use the huge animal figures at every entrance to remember where you came in. In any case, the maps they give out for free really do come in handy!
    • This mall is really crowded on weekends. If possible, try to go during the week.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #30 of 129 things to do in Panama City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Resembles a flea market (a terrible one) 19/06/2019
    • Nice 19/06/2019
    • Albrook Mall
    Address:
    Avenida Marginal
    Corregimiento de Ancón
    Panama City
    Panama
    Phone:
    +507 305-6333
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:30 - 20:00
    Mon - Fri
    10:00 - 20:00
    Sat
    10:00 - 21:00
    Other:
  • Panama Canal
    Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    Congratulations! You have made it to one of the world's most important civil engineering wonders, a 77 kilometer (48 mile) long waterway connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The most visited canal viewpoint is Miraflores Locks, being the easiest to reach from Panama City, and also boasting a modern visitor center with simulator, museum, and explanatory films. All ships crossing the Miraflores Locks are lifted in two phases, and they all pass under the Bridge of the Americas, which connects North and South America.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Trendsetter
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The main attraction here is to watch the vessels passing through the locks. You can also take a tour and transit the canal — this will actually take you through the famous locks.
    • Ships usually cross before 10am or after 2pm, although there is no fixed schedule. In order to be sure, call the info center before your arrival.
    • A train runs from Panama City to the city of Colon, which travels parallel to the canal and grants you an unparalleled perspective.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 129 things to do in Panama City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • So you went all the way to Panama and WEREN'T going to see the canal? 23/06/2019
    • Must visit 23/06/2019
    • Panama Canal
    Address:
    Gatun Lakee
    Panama City
    Panama
    Phone:
    +507 272-3165
    Other:
  • Maito
    Restaurants (Latin, Seafood, Central American, International)
    See more photos
    Dana B Says:

    The concept behind Maito restaurant mirrors the history of the Panama Canal, as it incorporates all the various ethnicities involved in its construction. As the young gourmet chef likes to say, all of the people that passed through left behind a bit of their culture. Here, the result is a distinctive Panamanian fusion cuisine, where local herbs and vegetables grown in the restaurant's onsite organic garden are mixed with refreshing world wide flavors.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Trendsetter
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    Tips
    • You must try the spicy tuna tartar. And be sure to save space for dessert, it is edible artistry!
    • It is important that you book in advance. The restaurant is always packed.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #42 of 1,100 restaurants in Panama City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good experience, not excepcional ! 04/05/2019
    • Solo Diners Beware 23/03/2019
    • Maito
    Address:
    Final de la Calle 50
    4to Local a Mano Izquierda
    Panama City 0816
    Panama
    Phone:
    +507 391-4657
    Price range:
    US$25 - US$55
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    12:00 - 22:30
    Other:
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