The Best Weekend Getaways From Panama City

| © Milada Vigerova / Unsplash
| © Milada Vigerova / Unsplash
Photo of Martina Gili
18 September 2017

Panama City is one of few capitals in the world to have such diverse and stunning natural surroundings. Whether you are looking for a beach break on a Caribbean island or to hike and spot wildlife in the rainforest, Panama has it all. Here are the best weekend getaways from Panama City brought to you by Culture Trip.

El Valle de Antón

El Valle de Antón is the best mountain getaway from Panama City. With its own micro-climate, El Valle offers optimal fresh weather for enjoying beautiful hikes, visits to butterfly farms and waterfalls, and for admiring the iconic sight of the India Dormida (the Sleeping Indian), a mountain chain that looks like a sleeping woman.

El Valle de Antón, Panamá | © Lee Siebert / WikiCommons

Contadora Island

Explore the wildlife and lose yourself amidst the wild vegetation of Contadora Island. Just a 90-minute ferry ride from Panama City, Contadora Island is the most popular island of the Pearl Archipelago, out in the Pacific Ocean. Contadora will give you the ultimate holiday feeling, with white beaches and turquoise water, boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants, whilst remaining highly exclusive.

© Martina Gili

Gamboa Rainforest Resort

A mere 30 minutes away from Panama City, the Gamboa Rainforest Resort is a great base for exploring the jungle, spotting wildlife and meeting indigenous people, whilst staying at a charming and ultra-comfortable resort. The hotel offers a series of tours, including a night safari, an aerial tram, a visit to a butterfly farm, a tour to the indigenous villages of the Emberá, and boat trips to the stunning Gatún lake.

Visitors at Gamboa Rainforest Resort | © Courtesy of Gamboa Rainforest Resort


Surrounded by beautiful beaches, historical landmarks and UNESCO World heritage sites, the port city of Portobelo is located on the Atlantic Coast, in the Province of Colon. Once the most important harbours of Latin America, it is now home to lots of scuba-diving schools and charming hotels. It is also nearby the spectacular beaches of Isla Grande, Isla Mamey and Playa Blanca.

Portobelo, Panama | © tedder / WikiCommons

Cerro Azul

Cerro Azul is a mountain area on the outskirts of Panama City. With lower temperatures and cooler breezes, it offers a peaceful and accessible natural escape from the city. With cozy hotels and lots of hiking trails, lakes and waterfalls, Cerro Azul is a popular and relaxing weekend destination.

© Milada Vigerova / Unsplash

Isla Grande

Not far from Portobelo is a small coastal town called La Guaira. Little wooden motorboats are waiting at the harbour, ready to transport visitors across the bay, all the way to the stunning Isla Grande. This little gem of the Caribbean has a unique chilled-out vibe with a colourful village and bungalows on the beach where adventurous travellers can rest away from the chaos of the capital.

© Martina Gili

San Carlos

San Carlos is a small beach town on the Pacific Coast, less than two hours away from Panama City. Located at the foot of the mountain, it is a great base if you are planning to visit El Valle de Antón. Besides the beach, it’s also home to a lagoon where people go camping, fishing and spot wildlife.

Playa Rio Mar, San Carlos, Panama | © Ayaita / WikiCommons