20 Must-Visit Attractions in Panama City

View over Ave Balboa, Panama City | © Tvshoppingpty/Pixabay
View over Ave Balboa, Panama City | © Tvshoppingpty/Pixabay
Panama’s capital has plenty of attractions and outdoor experiences to offer to both visitors and locals. With so much to choose from, Culture Trip has created a list of the 20 must-visit attractions in Panama City to help you navigate the Central American megalopolis, whether you are planning a short stopover or a longer stay.

The Canal

Undoubtedly the most visited place in Panama City, the Canal is a 48-mile (77km) long artificial waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Following its recent expansion, the Canal has doubled its capacity, and 14,000 ships are transiting every year. Observe the ships passing through at the Miraflores Locks and Visitors Center.

Boat transiting the Panama Canal © Chalkcroft/ Pixabay

Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo is the second most-visited neighborhood of Panama City. Once a dangerous area patrolled by gangs, it is now a UNESCO protected district, made up of renovated colonial houses, boutique hotels, fine-dining restaurants and some of the best coffeehouses in town.

The Cathedral in Casco Viejo, Panama © Lapping/ Pixabay

The Biomuseo

The Biomuseo is Panama City’s most famous museum. Located in Amador, it was designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry. Its eight galleries trace the origins of the Panamanian isthmus and its impact on the planet’s biodiversity.

Biomuseo © Editorpana/WikiCommons

Panama Viejo

Panama Viejo is all that remains from the old city of Panama, founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias de Ávila. The ruins, today a UNESCO heritage site, are the oldest monument you will find in Panama City.

Panama Viejo, Panama © Lapping/ Pixabay

El Tornillo

The F&F Tower, also known as El Tornillo (“the screw”) is the most remarkable skyscraper of Panama City, located in the financial district of Calle 50. The shape of the building, which is 774 feet (236m) tall, is an innovation in Latin American architecture and was one of the winners of the Emporis Skyscraper Award in 2011.

View over Panama City’s financial district © Courtesy of Woondu

Soberania National Park

The Soberania National Park is a national park located 15.5 miles (25km) outside Panama City, right by the border with the Colón Province and close to Gamboa Rainforest Resort. A quick drive away from the city center, it offers a spectacular jungle experience, as well as the opportunity to see monkeys, parrots, jaguars and eagles.

Ara ararauna © Lacie Slezak/Unsplash

The Cathedral

An absolute must-see when visiting Panama City is the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Antigua of Panama. More simply known as “the Cathedral,” this catholic building is located in the colonial area of Casco Viejo.

The Cathedral, Panama City © Octavio Cogley/WikiCommons

Iglesia del Carmen

A Gothic icon right at the center of Panama City, the Iglesia del Carmen(Church of our Lady of Mount Carmen) stands out as one of the most beautiful buildings in Panama. Though it was built in the 20th century, the architectural style is reminiscent of the Middle Ages. The Church is the most visited in the entire country.

Iglesia del Carmen, Panama City © jesus villamonte/WikiCommons

Einstein’s head

Located on Via Argentina, in the vibrant and central neighborhood of El Cangrejo, you will find the statue of Einstein’s head, an icon in Panama City. The monument was created by sculptor Carlos Arboleda.

Statue of Einstein’s head, Via Argentina © Courtesy of oneweirdglobe.com

The Miraflores Locks

Ship transiting the Panama Canal at Miraflores Locks, Panama City
Ship transiting the Panama Canal at Miraflores Locks, Panama City | © LisaBMarshall/Pixabay
The Visitor Center at the Miraflores Locks is a unique location to observe the transiting of ships as they cross the Canal and move from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. The exhibition hall and 3D movie explain the story of the Panama canal to complement your experience.
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Panama Viejo

Panama Viejo, another UNESCO heritage site, is all that remains of the original city of Panama, founded in 1519. Located on the outskirts of the city, these remains tell the story of the ancient town that now lies buried in the ground.

Panama Viejo, Panama City © Wiki Commons

Gamboa Rainforest Resort

The Gamboa Rainforest Resort is a 340-acre resort located 30 minutes away from Panama City’s center. Right at the crossing between the Chagres River and the Panama Canal, the resort offers panoramic views over the Soberania National Forest, as well as providing a wide selection of activities to both guests and visitors. Choose from the Night Safari, an Aerial Tram, the butterfly farm, a tour to the indigenous villages of the Emberá, or boat tours to spot wildlife.

Punta Culebra

The Punta Culebra Nature Center is a non-profit visitor center located on one of the Amador Islands in Panama City. Run by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, it aims at increasing awareness of Panama’s biodiversity and of the different environments and ecosystems present in Panama and in the nearby regions in Central and South America.

Sloth on a branch © Kleber Varejao Filho / Unsplash

Ciudad del Saber

Panama’s Ciudad del Saber—in English, City of Knowledge—is a government-sponsored neighborhood located across the Miraflores Locks, where tech companies, N.G.O.s, and academic organizations have their bases. With a huge park and sports amenities, it is also a residential area, converted from what used to be a U.S. military headquarters.

City of Knowledge, Panama City © Wiki Commons

The Bridge of the Americas

The Puente de las Americas—in English Bridge of the Americas—is a road bridge that stretches over the entrance of the Panama Canal, connecting Panama City to inland areas on the Pacific Coast. At one end you will find the Mirador, with an unusual Chinese Memorial monument, built in memory of the Chinese community that moved to Panama at the end of the 1800s to build Panama’s railroad.

Puente de las Americas en el ocaso © Maria Maarbes/WikiCommons

Metropolitan Natural Park

The Parque Natural Metropolitano—in English, Metropolitan Natural Park—is the lungs of Panama City. As the only wildlife reserve of the city, it includes numerous bird species, sloths, toucans, a mirador (lookout), and numerous trails for visitors to explore the jungle.

View from the lookout at Parque Natural Metropolitano © kalium/WikiCommons

Fish Market

Panama City’s fish market is open every day from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Whether you are looking for a place to have a cheap and delicious ceviche, or if you want to buy fresh seafood directly from the fishermen, the Mercado de Mariscos is a place full of character that brings together people from all walks of life.

A fish market © Unsplash / Chuttersnap

Museum of Contemporary Art

Panama City’s Museum of Contemporary Art (M.A.C.) is a compact showcase of Panama’s modern artists. Located in a converted building on a leafy hill, it gathers paintings as well as a huge movie poster collection.

Museum of Contemporary Arts of Panama Courtesy of MAC

Cerro Ancón

The Cerro Ancón (or Ancon Hill) is a lush green mountain visible from almost every area of Panama City. With the Panamanian flag right at the top, it is set aside from the thick urbanization as one of the best natural retreats in town. With no cars allowed on its roads, it offers the opportunity of urban hiking and enjoying panoramic views of the city as well as spotting wildlife along the way.

Panama City seen from Cerro Ancón © DirkvdM / WikiCommons

Amador Causeway

The Amador Causeway is a thin strip of land that connects Panama City to the Amador Islands. It was created with the rocks that came from the excavations of the Panama Canal. Recently renovated, the area is a favorite leisure destination for both tourists and locals who rent cycles, have lunch, or go for a run along the causeway and enjoy great views over the canal and the city skyline.

Amador Islands © Wikipedia