Best places to visit in Panama
If you are wondering what to see in Panama, beyond the Canal, we tell you about the different places we visited on our 17-day trip to Panama.
And we warn you, Panama far exceeded our expectations, I think it is one of the best destinations you can choose.
There are different reasons that make Panama a place you should not miss.
On the one hand, the country maintains an extremely rich and well preserved ecosystem, both the marine and the jungle that occupies the country.
Nature is the protagonist, it is not overcrowded, and it has some of the most spectacular beaches and islands I have ever seen.
Do you think there are few reasons? Well, I’ll give you another one, if you like to eat well, in Panama you’re going to eat very well.
What to see in Panama?
What to see in Panama City
Panama City will probably be your gateway to the country.
It’s not my favorite place in Panama, but it’s a must see.
And after a long flight, it’s not a bad place to rest for a night.
Perhaps the highlight, or the most visible part of the City is its famous skyline.
But what we liked most was the Casco Viejo, a return to the city’s colonial past.
No doubt getting lost in its streets is a good idea.
But be careful not to enter El Chorrillo, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Panama City, but located next to Casco Viejo.
Cinta Costera (Coastal Belt)
This is the walk that links the area of the skyscrapers with the Old Town.
I recommend that you go for a walk and enjoy the atmosphere and tranquility.
It is the typical place where, besides seeing people running, cycling, etc, there are usually concerts and other activities.
If you want to eat a nice ceviche, and on top of that cheap, the Seafood Market is your place.
But be careful, this market is not only about ceviche.
As its name indicates, it sells mainly seafood, but also other rich fish and delicious patacones.
This market has been reconverted into two parts, the internal one, the market as such.
And the outside area, full of small restaurants with tables on the terraces.
A good stop, of course.
Not to be confused with the Old Town.
The Panama Viejo is the archaeological remains of the first settlement, by the Spaniards.
It had up to 15,000 inhabitants, but the English pirate Henry Morgan was in charge of razing and plundering everything.
Once this happened, it was decided to move the city to what is the current Casco Viejo.
From here you can see the best views of the city.
This hill is crowned by a huge Panama flag.
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We didn’t get to go to the Panama Canal.
But it is undoubtedly the most important source of income for the whole country.
It is also the pride of a country, since it has one of the most important civil engineering works in modern history.
If you like everything related to great civil works, this is certainly a place worth seeing in Panama.
From Panama City there are tours that take you there and back in the day, you can take a look at this link if you want to go there, Excursion to the Panama Canal.
This is where the Panamanian adventure begins, or at least it is where our adventure began.
Santa Catalina is a small village that is usually empty, except for the surfers who come there, as this area is home to not only perfect waves, but also the world surfing circuit.
Therefore, you will see many surfers.
Its beaches and atmosphere are well worth it.
Besides, it is to approach that more rural Panama, and something far away from the most touristic circuit.
To reach this small paradise, and third largest marine sanctuary in the world, after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands, do you still think it’s not worth going there? To get there, you have to take a boat from Santa Catalina beach.
The island of Coiba was famous for being a prison from which it was impossible to escape, and it was functioning until 2004.
During the Noriega dictatorship, political prisoners were the ones who inhabited this paradise, but for them it was hell.
Route of the Quetzals
Boquete can be considered as several things.
For us it was a stop in the middle of the road between Santa Catalina and Bocas del Toro, but it was also an encounter with nature on the Quetzal Route.
If you like adventure and are in good shape, you can also climb the Baru volcano.
The ascent starts at night, around 11pm, as the beautiful thing is to arrive at dawn and enjoy a unique view, the Pacific and the Atlantic.
From a few points in the world you can see two oceans, and this is one.
Bocas del Toro
That Bocas del Toro is one of the paradises of Panama is not to be doubted.
Bocas del Toro is a place to see in Panama that is a must, where you must go yes or yes.
It has several islands, a National Park, Bastimentos, and even an island that was the scene of a very popular reality show, Survivors.
We’re talking about Zapatilla Cay.
In Bocas del Toro there are options for everyone.
From those looking for a little more partying in Bocas del Toro Town, Colon Island, to relaxation and adventure in other islands like Bastimentos.
In addition, a community with origins in the Dutch Antilles and Jamaica lives on this archipelago.
Their language is curious, a mixture of English, Spanish and French.
When you listen to them, you will understand many words, but you will be unable to make sense of them.
Be sure to visit Old Bank on the island of Bastimentos, a sample of this community.
You will also come across the most poisonous frog in the world.
A little red frog that has a poison in its skin, which if you touch it, will be bad for you.
With this poison, the natives impregnated the tip of their arrows to kill their enemies.
San Blas, Guna Yala
Paradise exists, and part of it is in Panama.
San Blas is an archipelago consisting of 365 islands, one for each day of the year.
Some are very inhabited, others not so much, and some are empty.
However, all the islands are part of the Guna Yala territory.
How to go to San Blas
These indigenous people are the owners of the territory, of this Panamanian province, and have a degree of independence from the Panamanian state, which allows them to live and maintain their customs.
Something that is becoming more and more complicated in this globalized world.
San Blas Chichime
We enjoy the company of a Guna Yala family on the island of Chichimé.
In this way we were able to get to know a little bit more about their culture, customs and language.
San Blas is another place to see in Panama that you should not miss.
As you have seen, there are many places to see in Panama.
And even though we haven’t told you about it here, because we weren’t there, a thorn in our side was visiting the province of Darien.
An impassable jungle on the border with Colombia