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The 10 Best Places & Things to Do in Panama

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A beautiful Central American Country, and home to the famous Panama Canal, this country is definitely a place to add to your bucket list. Check out all the things to do in Panama, and everything to know when booking a trip there.

Getting to Panama

Panama is the southernmost country in Central America (and North America) sitting south of Costa Rica, and north of Colombia.

There are quite a few ways to visit Panama, which we'll further explain below.

Visiting Panama by Air

The main airport of Panama is located in Panama City, the capital of the country. Panama City is actually a huge hub for the Americas, making it surprisingly cheap to fly to. This is also a very popular spot for layovers, making it a place you can also visit if you want to break up your travels between North and South America.

There are daily flights from several US cities including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Washington DC. There are also flights to Panama City Tocumen from cities in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Venezuela.

Panama is a small country, but another small airport you can consider is Bocas del Toro (although it can be rather expensive).

Fun Fact: Panama has over 100 domestic airports, making it the country with the most private airstrips per square mile in the world!

Visiting Panama by Land

We actually did a road trip through Central America, and it is rather easy to move between Panama and its neighbor Costa Rica

There are a few borders you can cross. However, we personally recommend traveling between the beautiful city of Puerto Viejo, and the stunning archipelago of Bocas del Toro. There are frequent buses to and from Almirante, Panama and Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, making it an easy way to travel to the north of the country.

Welcome to Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, or fully known as Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. This is a small beach town in the South West corner of the country. This backpackers paradise is full of Pura Vida and happy vibes.Just a few hours from San Jose, and lying right near the

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Visiting Panama by Sea

Another popular way to visit Panama is by sailing through the famous Panama Canal.

Cruising the Panama Canal

There are a couple of hundred cruise ships that cross through the canal each year, and it is a truly special experience. You can check for Panama Canal cruises from any type of company from luxury lines to Big family cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean.

Most cruise lines don't just pass through the Panama Canal, but they also stop in Panama City so that passengers can experience the capital and experience the best things to do in Panama City.

Sailing to Panama from Colombia

Another really unique experience that you can do is to visit Panama coming from Colombia.

Although it appears on the map that the two countries are connected by land, the only way to get to Panama from Colombia is to take a boat ride over. There are special Amazon river cruises that do this. We haven't done this yet, but heard it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing to check off the bucket list.

There are also a lot of tour companies in the north of Colombia that will do 4 and 5 day trips through the San Blas islands, if you want to just visit for a short trip.

Local Adjustments

When traveling through different areas of the world, there are some things we tend to overlook. Here are a few things to know before visiting Panama:


The official language in Panama is Spanish. It is highly recommended to learn a bit of the basics to make your travels smoother. However, there are also plenty of people that do speak English in case you need help.

Want to visit some of the remote islands of Panama? There are actually villages that still use local dialect! So that means some people won't speak Spanish nor English. However, if you are planning on visiting these, chances are you'll have a guide or someone with you to be able to communicate.


The official currency of Panama used to be the Panamanian Balboa. However, now the official currency of the country is the USD. You can still find some Panamanian Balboas in circulation, and can be accepted in exchange one for one.

We also suggest having some cash on you in case you venture outside the city or to some of the islands, as credit cards are used far and few between.


Panama operates using the same plug types as the US, which are types A and Be. Type A is the one which has two flat parallel pins, and type B is the one which has two flat parallel pins and a grounding pin. The country operates on a 120V supply voltage and 60Hz.

Water Potability

Generally speaking, the water in Panama is safe to drink. However, the islands and remote areas like Bocas del Toro aren't of high quality, so it is better to have botted water there. Panama City and bigger cities the water is perfectly fine to consume.

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Things to Do in Panama: Places to Visit

The country of Panama is Stunning! There are plenty of great places to check out. Here are some of the best places in Panama to visit.

1. Panama City

As the capital and center of the country, Panama City is an absolute must see when you are visiting Panama. With a combination of old town and new city, there are so many great things to do in Panama City. Stroll through Casco Viejo, take in the views from  Metropolitan Nature Park, or check out the Causeway Islands.

Panama City, things to do in Panama
Park in Panama City, things to do in Panama
Panama City, things to do in Panama

There are so many great things to do in Panama! Start in Panama City and explore the nature around it.

2. Panama Canal

This Canal is the country of Panama's claim to fame, and definitely one of the top things to do in Panama.

The Panama Canal is an 82 km lock-type canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the narrow Isthmus of Panama. It is located right outside the center of Panama City, and can be reached in 20 minutes by metro, or with just a $5 Uber ride to the Miraflores Visitor Center.

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3. San Blas Islands

The San Blas Islands are a true slice of paradise. There are actually 365 of them, leaving one to visit each day of the year! Just 49 are inhabited, and you can only access them by boat. In order to get here, we rented a car to drive through the jungle for 2 1/2 hours to Puerto de Carti.

Upon arrival, there plenty of boats that can take you to the different islands. Our personal favorite was Isla Perrito (Dog Island).

best things to do in Panama: San Blas Islands

There are 365 San Bias islands, with the most beautiful beaches.

4. Taboga Island

Taboga island is just a half hour by boat from Panama City. Known as the 'island of flowers', this place has beautiful scenery, colorful buildings, and great seafood, making it the perfect place for a day trip from Panama City. Just hop on the bus to the end of Amador Causeway, and there are regularly running ferries to this island.

things to do in Panama City: Taboga Island

Visiting Taboga Island as a day trip is one of the best things to do in Panama City.

Bocas del Toro is one of the best places to visit in Panama. This is a province in the north east of the country comprising of an island chain off the Caribbean coast. This backpacker paradise has diverse rainforest, beautiful beaches, and some incredible eco-friendly places.

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Take the local bus to Almirante, where you can get the ferry to Bocas Town, which is the main island of Bocas del Toro. The whole region is comprised of 9 main islands, as well as the mainland.

Beach 2 Bocas del Toro, things to do in Panama
Plastic Bottle Village Bocas del Toro, things to do in Panama
Beach Scooter Bocas del Toro, things to do in Panama

Bocas del Toro is a backpackers' paradise, and one of the best places to visit in Panama.

Take a swim at Starfish beach, stay at an eco-friendly paradise hostel, or check out this castle made of over 1 million plastic bottles! Want to know more about these great islands? Just check our full guide below.

Bocas del Toro, Panama is a group of islands in the Caribbean Sea, located in the north western region of the country. What we love about this archipelago is that there's a lot to see, do, and discover through the many different islets.The whole area of Bocas del Toro is

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6. Boquete

Boquete is a small town on the Caldera River, in western Panama. The surrounding Chiriquí Highlands are home to coffee plantations and the Barú Volcano National Park, to the west. Highlights of this place include hiking Barú Volcano and taking the 'Los Quetzales' Trail.

This place makes the perfect place to go before or after Bocas del Toro, or on the way to Costa Rica, as it is just a few hours away from both.

Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

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things to do in Panama Pin
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7. Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina is a surfers paradise, and sits on the Pacific coast of Panama. With long sandy beaches, tall palm trees, and stunning sunsets, it makes the perfect place for a relaxing beach getaway.

You can reach here by grabbing the bus from Santiago, which is a good connecting city for other areas of Panama as well.

Santa Catalina, best places to visit in Panama

Santa Catalina has some pretty epic sunsets, and is where you can visit Coiba.

8. Coiba

If you're visiting Santa Catalina, Coiba is the perfect place to check out for the day. This island is known for its diverse marine life and jungle animals including white-faced monkeys. There are also great dive sites on Bahia Damas Reef, which are home to manta rays, whales and hammerhead sharks. 

If you'd like to visit here you can take an excursion from Santa Catalina, or if you have a group, you can charter a boat for a day trip over.

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9. El Valle de Anton

El Valle de Anton is a town in central Panama, that is located in the crater of an extinct volcano. This picturesque small town is surrounded by mountains and a cloud forest, and is just two hours from the capital, making it the perfect day trip from the city, or place to stop while heading North.

Head to la India Dormida for a great hike, stunning views, and to hike up to this beautiful waterfall.

Valle del Anton, things to do in Panama, Central America
Anton de Valle, things to do in Panama
Anton de Valle, Panama

Anton de Valle is full of greenery and waterfalls.

This place is a true hidden gem, and was one of our favorite things to do in Panama, In the middle of nowhere lie these turquoise pools and series of waterfalls, tucked in a canyon, and surrounded by lush jungle.

Pozo Azul, best things to do in Panama
Pozo Azul, best things to do in Panama
Pozo Azul, best things to do in Panama

Pozo Azul is a true hidden gem in Panama.

This place is so remote that it's not even found on Google Maps! To get here you will need to take the bus to Penonome, and then a small van for 45 minutes to Pozo Azul. At the corner of the school, there is an intense 45 minute minute hike up hill, where you will need to climb through a gate to arrive to this paradise.

Want to know more about what to expect at Pozo Azul? Simple click the link below.

Ever head of Pozo Azul Panama? Chances are you haven't but should definitely visit! There are certain things and places in this world that are worth adding to your bucket list. Many of them (actually, 7 to be precise) were voted a few years ago as 7 natural wonders. But there

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Getting Around Panama

Getting around Panama isn't took difficult, as there is pretty good and cheap public transportation. Here are the best ways to get around the country.

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The cheapest and easiest way to get around the country is by bus. Not only are they a budget friendly option, but they have a lot of flare!

Buses in Central America are actually old US school buses that get repainted bright colors, and have lights and decorations added to them. With funky designs and loud music, this makes it a truly unique ride. 

buses in Central America

The "chicken buses" in Central America are old US school buses colorfully painted with lights and decorations.


The metro system is only actually offered in the capital of Panama itself, but is very efficient inside the city, Rides are cheap, and the system is well connected with all different areas of the city.

Rental Car

There are some places that are not easily connected with public transportation, which is when renting a car makes for the best option. We suggest getting a car if you plan on making multiple trips outside of Panama City, and they are also a good option if you are lower on time, as they make traveling much easier and faster.


Scooter is one of our favorite ways to travel! We don't suggest it for traveling through the country, but we definitely suggest it for checking out smaller beach town areas like Santa Catalina or Bocas del Toro. Scooters are cheap, and they give you the freedom to move around quickly and easily.

Scooter in Panama

Renting a scooter is a great way to explore within the islands and small towns of Panama.


Taxis are obviously the easiest and quickest way to get around, but are the most expensive. Uber is a cheaper alternative, but is only available in very few areas of Panama, such as the capital.

Things to Do in Panama: Local Food

We can't promise that you will have the most healthy options in Panama, but we can definitely guarantee that they have some convenient and tasty local specialties. Here are just a few of them.


A carimañola is a South American meat-pie in a torpedo-shaped yuca fritter. It is stuffed with cheese, seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken, and then fried to perfection.


This fried bread is sprinkled with sugar and served for breakfast. Pair it with a cup of coffee and you can start your day like a Panamanian.

Corn Tortilla

Also known as corn cakes, these golden tortillas are the perfect fried snack to add to any meal.

Platanos Maduros

Plantains that are softened and caramelized- our favorite way to eat them! They make a great side dish or snack. 


Another plantain dish- these ones are smashed and fried. These greasy salty plantains also make the perfect side dish or snack.

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Panama isn't usually one of the first destinations people think of visiting in the Americas, but we can promise you that is extremely underrated. Take a look for yourself and enjoy all of these amazing things to do in Panama!

Plan on visiting other places in Central America? Check out some more great places to check out here!

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