Things to do
Panama Viejo, an archaeological site on the outskirts of Panama City, tells the story of its early days. This 16th century port transported South American gold and silver to Spain before it was destroyed by British pirate, Henry Morgan. The modern city sprang up afterwards, with Casco Viejo still standing today as its historic heart. Stroll along colonial streets to discover stately churches and sleek art deco buildings – some housing boutique hotels.
Festivals – usually tied to religious celebrations – are a must-experience part of life in Panama City. Los Carnavales spans the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday. During the celebrations, parades and lavishly dressed floats, music and traditional dancing, food stalls and frequent water fights fill the streets. Another hotly anticipated event on the city’s calendar is January’s Jazz Festival. Catch local talent and international stars, whether you take a seat in a concert hall or fill the dance floor in a Casco Viejo jazz club.
It’s easy to escape the city for a day. Hop on a boat from Amado Causeway over to Toboga Island – also known as the Island of Flowers. Hike up to the summit through green forest for panoramic views of the Pacific coast. Or, for a day at the beach, head to Nueva Gorgona. Just an hour outside Panama City, it’s a magnet for surfers and sun seekers.