Panama City is the lively modern capital of the forward-thinking country of Panama. It’s a financial hotspot, the new Switzerland, and it’s helping the country lead the pack in Central America. After traveling around the region I was shocked and surprised to find such a contemporary feel in this city, where the skyline is filled with almost as many skyscrapers as NYC and the consumer is king. When you come to visit this concrete jungle in the depths of the Central American jungle, be sure to see this 12 awesome spots in Panama City:
- Panama Canal
The Canal is the main feature of the city and is the reason for its great wealth and development. There are several mirador lookout points where you can see the canal and watch the ships passing through, and you can also take a ride through the canal and locks systems. The canal spans 50 miles from ocean to ocean and looks most impressive from above, though the opportunity to see it up close is also special. You can’t go to Panama City without seeing the Panama Canal!
- Casco Viejo
The old historic part of town is filled with vibrant colors and architecture that’s a blend of French, Spanish, and US styles from their respective periods of influence during Panama’s history.
- Panama Viejo
This is the old old town in Panama City, and a World Heritage Site. These ruins sit on the outskirts of town and are worth a visit to see the original capital and very first European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the Americas.
- Iglesia San Felipe Neri
The church has a stunning white ceiling but the secret gem here is actually the intricate nativity scene that’s on display in a side room all year round. It also doesn’t hurt that this church is air conditioned, and a visit here will provide you with some much needed relief from the sweltering Panama heat!
- The Amador Causeway
Originally a defense post, this is now a walkway and bikeway popular for pedestrians. The islands at the end of the causeway have marinas and restaurants with a beautiful view across the water of the city skyline.
A biodiversity museum, this features exhibits on the origin of the Panamanian isthmus and the diversity of plant and animal life both here and around the world. The museum is housed in a unique Frank Gehry building, the renowned architect who also designed the famous Guggenheim Museums.
- Tantalo Hotel
The rooftop bar at this hotel in Casco Viejo offers a great sunset view in the most beautiful part of town!
- Cerro Ancon
Drive up this hill to find the best viewing point over the city and canal. The hill is historically significant too, since it has been used as a military lookout, communication tower, and pirate lookout post when the gold trail passed through during the Spanish era!
- Convento de Santo Domingo
The ruins of this church stand in the Casco Viejo, and it features a flat arch that remained perfectly intact while the structure of the building crumbled around it.
- Plaza Bolivar
At the center of the plaza is a statue of Simon Bolivar leading the independence march. Visit the plaza for outdoor dining paired with a view of the beautiful Iglesia San Francisco.
- Trump Tower
Panama City is unique in Central America for being modern, wealthy, and developed. In fact, it has the 3rd most skyscrapers in all the Americas, after NYC and Chicago! On the 66th floor of the Trump Tower is a rooftop bar with infinity pool where you can see some stunning views over the city. It’s a great place to watch the sunset!
- Iglesia de San Jose
This old church has an imposing gold altar as its main feature. The altar was painted black to disguise it during a pirate raid on the city, and it was saved! Now the golden altar is a popular attraction in Casco Viejo.
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