Panama packs a powerful punch in terms of diverse ranges of landscapes and loads of vacation possibilities. From beautiful islands and beaches to the mountainous interior, wonderful hiking trails and good coffee, Panama is an exciting place to visit. With so many options, it can be hard to narrow down what to see on your trip, so read our visitor guide to discover a few highlights and things to do in Panama.
Undoubtedly, the most famous attraction in Panama is by far the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Here you can watch massive ships that are piled high with containers glide quietly through the locks. Watching this great engineering feat will give you new perspective!
You can also just see the Canal if you aren’t interested in the ship side of it. The best place to do so is at the Miraflores Locks, which is about 25 minutes from downtown Panama City. Check out the five-story visitor center that includes a restaurant and museum as well as an IMAX theater in another building.
Boca del Toro is the main beach attraction of Panama on the Caribbean. You can surf, dive and snorkel – or just laze around on the beach - on this collection of tropical islands filled with crystal clear, blue waters.
This is a budget-friendly destination, although luxury resorts are also available. Many singles and couples come here for this reason.
The main town in this area, which is called Bocas del Toro or simply Bocas town, is on Isla Colon. Many travelers get to the islands from here by airplane. If you are visiting by public transport or car, you will likely end up here after stopping first in Boquete. From Boquete you can drive over the mountains to Almirante, then hop on a 25-minute boat ride to Bocas del Toro.
Boat trips are fun and pricing is set by the government so all boats charge the same amount. This makes finding the best boat a little easier.
While in Boquete, you can enjoy the wonderful climate and escape the heat of the lower areas and coast. This relaxed town is safe and friendly and is often a weekend destination for Panamanians.
Here you will find great restaurants and quality hotels and luxury inns. This area is rich in coffee-growing and is also a hot spot for wildlife and nature – especially birdwatching and hiking.
Serious hikers can head up Baru volcano. Plan to leave in the wee hours of the morning to catch the sunrise at the summit. Other hikes can be tackled at Quetzal Trail (Sendero Los Quetzales), which can be accessed from Volcan Baru National Park or take on a scenic waterfall hike.
It is a good idea to have a vehicle here to tour the surrounding mountains, as well as reaching nearby sites and trailheads. However, tours can also be arranged to avoid driving.
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