FB pixel

48 hours in Panama

Situated in the heart of the country, Panama City is a popular spot for tourists with its rich history and vibrant culture. For travellers, it’s a mixed affair that will have you spending the morning in the colonial old town, sloth spotting in the afternoon and taking in the view from one of the many skyscrapers at night. While Panama City happens to be the most developed city in all of Central America, there are plenty of activities to do with just 48 hours, here’s what we recommend!

Panama Crossing, Panama

Day 1

The Panama Canal

A must stop for anyone visiting Panama City, the Panama Canal is one of the country’s greatest achievements. Connecting both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean’s this feat of engineering is a fascinating attraction. The best place to see the canal in all its glory is the Miraflores Visitor Centre, just a thirty-minute taxi or uber ride from the CBD.

Once you’ve arrived, take a walk back in time through the canal museum and watch the 3D movie, narrated by Morgan Freeman, detailing the history of the canal. The viewing platform on the top floor is where the canal is played out in real form but be sure to visit during the hours of 9 am - 12 am and 3 pm to 5 pm to see the canal in action.

Amador Causeway

Spend the afternoon walking or cycling the wide and open promenade of the Amador Causeway. This broad strip of land connects Panama City with Amador Island, providing extensive views of the city skyline. You will likely stop at one of the many lookout spots to watch the cargo ships waiting to move through the canal. Once you reach Amador Island, there are plenty of restaurants should you need a cool beverage or late lunch. Don’t forget to try Panama’s famous chicken soup Sancocho at one point during your stay!

On your way, don’t miss the Biodiversity Museum. This colourful building is the work of the famous futuristic architect Frank Gehry. The vibrant angular roof stands out against the calm blue waters of the ocean that surrounds it. Inside, you will find an abundance of exhibitions covering topics like the biodiversity of all living things, the human evolution, and how Panama was created via a “living bridge.”

Casco Viejo

Slowly make your way to the old town, take a stroll around and take in a world that once was. Dating back to the 1600s, the colonial old quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, full of elegant buildings, cobblestone streets, charming churches and colonial homes. Here there is an abundance of bars, cafes and restaurants to suit everyone’s taste.

Something you must try in Panama is the famous Geisha coffee, grown in various places within the country, the Geisha bean is the most expensive coffee in the world.

Enjoy a half-day city tour, including the Casco Viejo area here.

Day 2

Visit the Embera tribe along the River Chagres

Discover the fascinating lifestyle of the indigenous people from the Embera tribe. The Embera Tribe are an ethnic minority who survived the arrival of the conquistadors and still exist today. Visiting the tribe includes a canoe trip down the river Charges (Rio Charges) through the luscious tropical jungle. Here you will learn about their cultural traditions and everyday life from hunting to fishing and harvesting.

The Embera people are famous for their woven baskets, woodwork, plates and masks, you can also experience their traditional dances. This is one of the best experiences you can have while visiting Panama City, you can book your experience with the Embera tribe.

Animal Watching

Just a forty-minute taxi or uber ride from Panama City CBD visit the Gamboa Resort, where you can take one of their many tours in the rainforest. Activities include a visit to the sloth sanctuary and nature labs, bird watching and guided hikes.

Another option is to explore Panama’s natural world on Lake Gatun by boat. This is a great opportunity to see four different species of monkeys, sloths, iguanas, crocodiles and birds. If you’re feeling a little adventurous you can explore by yourself by kayak. Find out more about Eco Tour to Monkey Island.

San Francisco

Top off your last night in Panama City within the chic area of San Francisco. The metropolitan district is complete with a gigantic shopping mall, huge cinema complex and a busting local park Omar Torrijos. What San Francisco is most reputable for these days is the trendy food truck scene, scattered all over the district.

While there are plenty of fine dining restaurants within the area, the food truck scene seems to be taking over. Each food truck offers its own unique taste for foodies to explore, but for the most part, these chefs have certainly perfected the art of a sumptuous hamburger. Not only do food trucks make for an affordable meal out, but they’re also a lot of fun.

Are you staying longer than 48-hours in Panama City?

A family walking along a beach on a San Blas Island, Panama

Why not take a day trip to visit the San Blas Islands? Or perhaps you’d prefer the cooler climate of Valley de Anton, a crater enveloped by sky-high luscious mountains and surrounded by gorgeous waterfalls. This place is a Mecca for nature lovers and hikers alike with plenty of fun activities like visiting the orchid garden, butterfly haven or the hot springs.


by  Lexi Connors

Lexi is your ultimate wanderlust enthusiast with an incurable case of curiosity and a deep passion for action on climate change. You can read more of her work www.avaycay.com. Find her on Facebook or Instagram @avaycay.