Panama City's Must-See Landmarks for First Timers

Panama City at night
Panama City at night | © SaavedraVS / WikiCommons
Brittney Schering

From the world-famous Panama Canal and the ruins of the old town to stunning natural parks teeming with fauna and flora and a massive, sculpted Einstein head, make sure you check out these unmissable sights and landmarks in Panama City.

Canal at Miraflores Locks

A visit to Panama City is not complete without a visit to the famous Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal. Luckily, this is located very close to Clayton. Watch as the Panama Canal feeds into the Pacific Ocean, with the opening directly in front of the Miraflores Locks for viewers to watch in awe as the canal works its wonders.

Amador Islands at the entrance of the Panama Canal

Panamá Viejo

Captain Henry Morgan destroyed Panama in 1671. Until then, it was the most important Spanish trading town on the entire Pacific coast. Left behind are the ruins that remain and still cover much ground. From streets to the cathedral, churches to convents, a hospital, bridges, and walls made of stone, your trip is not complete without paying your respects to the Panamá Viejo ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ruins of the Catedral Panamá Viejo

Biomuseo

An incredible, interactive museum dedicated to the evolution of biodiversity as we know it, this Frank Gehry-designed museum is a spectacle not to be missed. Dedicate an afternoon to exploring its many, wonder-filled exhibits and learn a thing or two about how the world came to be what it is today—it’s fascinating.

La India Dormida

Located in El Valle de Anton is a grand mountain called La India Dormida, “the sleeping Indian girl.” With several trails ranging from easy to extreme, have your pick of various sights full of gorgeous waterfalls. From the short and easy trail called Chorro de las Mozas to another breezy option called Chorro el Macho, other trails on offer, like La Piedra Pintada, grow in difficulty as you venture further up the mountain to the top, which rewards hikers with an astounding view.

El Valle de Antón, Panamá

City of Knowledge campus

Approximately 300 acres (121 hectares) belong to the main campus of the City of Knowledge, an international complex for education, research, and innovation. The City of Knowledge promotes and facilitates synergy between universities, scientific research centers, businesses, and international organizations. The City of Knowledge Foundation is a private, non-profit organization established in 1995 that governs the campus of academia.

Metropolitan Natural Park

Panama City is the only metropolis to have a jungle within its city center. Hike through the many trails on offer in the Metropolitan Natural Park. Explore the gorgeous scenery and catch a glimpse of the exotic wildlife that calls Panama home. With trail names like Motmots, Mahoganies, Oak, Titi Monkey, and Small Swamp, the guides can help with which path is best based on your preference of difficulty.

Go wild in Panama

Soberanía National Park

This national park in Panama offers marked paths, such as Pipeline Road, which is a bird lover’s paradise. Pipeline Road provides the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of Panama’s wildlife as you walk through the plush greenery of the jungle. The further you hike, the better your chance of seeing monkeys, sloths, coatimundi, and more of Panama’s furry regulars. Animals are most active in the morning, so hikers are encouraged to set out before 9am for the best experience. Other trails within this park include Plantation Path, the Pond Natural Trail, Trail of the Crosses, and Spirit of the Forest.

Say hello to Albert Einstein

Pose for a picture next to Albert Einstein’s enormous, sculpted head, which stands in front of the entrance to New York Bagel Café, just across the street. Be sure to wait until traffic clears to make your way across. Pedestrians don’t exactly have the right of way in Panama, so it’s best that you proceed with caution.

Statue of Einstein’s head

The Big Screw

The building formally titled the F&F Building looks like a giant screw. You will know it when you see it, and you won’t be able to un-see it once you do. It’s an architectural marvel.

Tántalo

At the top of an artsy boutique hotel and popular restaurant is a favorite rooftop lounge that draws crowds of locals and travelers. Tántalo was the first rooftop bar in Casco Viejo, and is known for playing great music and offering up delicious cocktails, featuring a generous happy hour. Grab a bite to eat in the hotel restaurant and have a look at the rotating art installations.

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