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Top 7 Things to Do in Panama

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Tropical reef in Bocas del Toro, Panana

Tropical reef in Bocas del Toro, Panana

The top seven things to do in Panama reveal natural wonder and colorful heritage, from the coastline to the mountains, the rainforest to the cities.

From secluded islands with white sands to museums capturing colonial history, the grandeur of engineering to the wildlife viewed from hanging bridges, Panama’s diversity is enchanting.

The following information offers ideas on the best things to do during your Panama vacation as you discover, explore, and experience the splendors across the country according to your interests and travel style.

Overview
  1. 1. Visit the Panama Canal
  2. 2. Explore Colonial and Indigenous Histories
  3. 3. Enjoy the Waters with Different Activities
  4. 4. Witness the Wildlife of Panama
  5. 5. Learn about Mixological Diversity with Rum, Tea & Coffee
  6. 6. Delight in Active Adventure
  7. 7. Discover Impressive Hiking Trails
  8. Experience the Top Things to Do in Panama

1. Visit the Panama Canal

Cruise ship passing through the Panama Canal locks

Cruise ship passing through the Panama Canal locks

The Panama Canal is famous as a feat of modern engineering, built to decrease the time it takes ships to travel between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

With approximately 40 vessels passing through the canal each day, you can witness the methods for transferring boats of all sizes through the historic passage using a system of dams and locks.

No matter how you choose to visit the top places in Panama, viewing the canal is more than witnessing the way boats move between seas. It offers you front-row seats to a system that changed the world’s trade patterns, created new opportunities, and remains a marvel of engineering.

Best Places to Visit the Panama Canal: Panama City • Miraflores Locks

2. Explore Colonial and Indigenous Histories

Colonial architecture in n casco viejo (old town) of Panama City

Colonial architecture in n casco viejo (old town) of Panama City

From the colorful architecture in Casco Antiguo, Panama’s Old Quarter, to the authentic festivals in Veraguas, the indigenous peoples of the San Blas Islands to the rituals of the Ngabe community, the country is rich with colonial and indigenous histories, offering a rich experience during your Panama vacation.

Visit a sacred waterfall while learning about local rituals passed down for generations. Witness centuries-old customs performed inside ornately decorated churches. Whether visiting a local community or traveling to the past in a preserved neighborhood, history, tradition, and culture become the main focus of your experience in Panama.

Best Places for Cultural Heritage: Panama City • Veraguas • Boquete • San Blas Archipelago

3. Enjoy the Waters with Different Activities

Starfish beach in Colon Island, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Starfish beach in Colon Island, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Panama is celebrated for its coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, offering warm temperatures and countless excursions.

Find tropical coral and marine life when scuba diving or snorkeling, uncovering whale sharks in season or sea turtles searching for a snack. Kayak alongside the picturesque shores where tropical trees meet glowing beaches.

Relax on pristine sands, indulge in the golden sunlight, or find the perfect surf as you embrace the charms of Panama’s enticing waters.

Best Places for Water Activities: Bocas del Toro • San Blas Archipelago • Pearl Islands • Coiba

4. Witness the Wildlife of Panama

The wildlife in Panama is a celebration of color, uniqueness, and variety. The wilderness can take you into mountains blanketed with cloud forests, lowlands tangled with lush jungles, or waters where larger-than-life marine animals, among them orcas, hammerhead sharks, and humpback whales, thrive.

When searching for wildlife in Panama, you can trek the trails to find camouflaged sloths, vibrant tree frogs, or shimmering quetzal, each demonstrating a different perspective of the ecosystem and local community’s connection to the surrounding nature.

Best Places for Wildlife Spotting: Monkey Island • Parque Nacional Soberania •  Barro Colorado • Isla de Cañas • Boquete Cloud Forest

5. Learn about Mixological Diversity with Rum, Tea & Coffee

Rum tasting in Boquete, Panama

Rum tasting in Boquete, Panama

Panama is known for a number of culinary specialties, but at the top of any tasting menu in the country are coffee, tea, and rum.

The history of commercial cultivation in Panama dates back centuries and has resulted in the incredible flavors of local products shaped by the climate, ecosystem, and minerals in the soil.

The different locations supporting each ingredient offer a unique flavor specific to that region, giving the coffee, tea, and rum hints of hyper-locality that’s celebrated by enthusiasts and enjoyed, even if the specific details go unnoticed, by the public.

Best Places for Plantation Visits: Boquete • Tekel

6. Delight in Active Adventure

Man Walking On A Path In Tropical Jungle Forest in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Man Walking On A Path In Tropical Jungle Forest in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Panama is a thrilling ride when discovering opportunities for active adventures across the country. Soar through the air on a zipline, zooming past trees and wildlife. Walk through the clouds on hanging bridges offering a clear sightline to the canopy.

Explore caves, sail over crystal-clear waters, or abseil unique rock formations. No matter how you choose to experience Panama, you can discover endless adventures spreading from the cities to the shoreline, riverbanks to mountaintops.

Best Places for Active Adventures: Volcan • Boquete • Bocas del Toro

7. Discover Impressive Hiking Trails

View from the top of Barú volcano in Volcan, Panama

View from the top of Barú volcano in Volcan, Panama

Hiking in Panama can take you on a multi-day trek through the wilderness or a tranquil trail focused on enjoying a few hours in nature.

By immersing you in the scenery, a hike offers a more intimate experience in tropical forests or while wandering through low-lying cloud cover that supports an array of flora and fauna.

Uncover lost waterfalls, embrace surprising visits from quetzals, or enjoy the burst of colors from blooming wildflowers. Find clear waters, wander through bamboo gardens, or stumble upon sensational coastal views, with each trail providing a new perspective of Panama’s remarkable beauty.

Best Places for Hiking: Boquete • Anton Valley • Volcan • Panama City • Tres Brazos Valley

Experience the Top Things to Do in Panama

Tropical beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Tropical beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Whether interested in the beauty of the wilderness or the romance of a remote beach, the many things to do in Panama are made even better when working with a local travel specialist who understands your interests.

Find more details about the best time to visit, where to go, and more by visiting our Panama travel guide. You can also take inspiration for your trip with our Panama vacations.

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