Things to do in Panama City

Thanks to its ideal location, this Central American city boasts both tropical escapes and cultural highlights.

Our most recommended things to do in Panama City

Panama City: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus

1. Panama City: Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus

See Panama City from the top deck of an open top tour bus. New to the city, the tour takes you to all the major attractions of the Panama capital. Set amidst the Pacific Ocean, the rainforest and Panama Canal, Panama City is a striking modern city, not least because of its unique attractions. The tour is designed to ensure that you see all main attractions beginning with the World famous Panama Canal. Learn about the construction of this 8th wonder of the world with a live guide. The bus also travels to the colonial city of Casco Antiguo, as it is known in Spanish. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it boasts wonderful colonial Spanish and Italian architecture. Panama also has splendid examples of French architecture, due to the French presence during the last decade of the 19th century when the French attempted to build the canal. Visit the islands that are connected by a Causeway. From here you will experience great views of the Panama Canal entrance and the Bridge of the Americas, as well as stunning views of the Panama City skyline and skyscrapers. On the way to the islands, and at the entrance of the Causeway, is the amazing Frank Gehry-designed Bio-Museum. Also known as the "Bridge of Life," it explains how Panama rises from the seas and links North with South America. As well as taking in Panama´s key places of historical interest, the city has a vibrant outdoor scene with several cafés, which are a delight to hop-off and linger at. You can visit areas where you will find restaurants and bars that cater for all palates, as well as shopping areas like the Albrook Mall, which boasts brands from around the world, sometimes sold at bargain prices. Tour stops: 1. Balboa Boutiques Plaza 2. Parque Urraca 3. Mi Pueblito 4. Albrook Mall 5. Miraflores Locks - Canal 6. Entrada de Amador 7. Biomuseum 8. Punta Culebra 9. Isla Flamenco 10. Isla Perico 11. Sabores Del Chorrillo 12. Casco Antiguo 13. Multicentro

Panama City: Half Day City and Panama Canal Tour

2. Panama City: Half Day City and Panama Canal Tour

Enjoy 2 hours at the fascinating Panama Canal before exploring Panama City's history and sights. Discover 4 levels of exhibitions about the Canal at the Miraflores Visitor Center.  Take a panoramic drive along the Ancon foothills where you can take in the lush greenery and learn about the area's importance during the world wars. Stop at the Amador Causeway for a chance to get some incredible photos of the city, try one of its best ceviche places, have some amazing homemade ice cream, or do some shopping. Walk through the streets of the Old Town and visit the Cathedral Basilica Santa Maria la Antigua. Take a guided walk, ending in the Plaza de Francia on the old walls that protected the city from invasion over the years.

Panama: All-Inclusive Taboga Island Catamaran Cruise

3. Panama: All-Inclusive Taboga Island Catamaran Cruise

Meet at Fuerte Amador to begin your all-inclusive day tour on a catamaran. Take a 45-minute cruise to the Island of Taboga and enjoy breathtaking views of the Panama City skyline, Cinta Costera, and ships waiting to cross the Panama Canal while having light snacks. After reaching Taboga, sail to the backside of the island to a secret spot where an amazing bay with beautiful natural views is waiting for you. Have the opportunity to jump off the boat and have your first swim. There is also stair access from the boat to the water in case you don't feel like diving right in. After some water fun, climb back into the boat to enjoy a cold beer and lie in the boat's nets or dance with the crew while you sail towards the town side of the island. Dock so you can head to the beach and visit the small village of Taboga. Spend time on the beach relaxing or getting a game of volleyball in. After your beach and town visit, hop back aboard for a delicious lunch that includes chicken with veggies, parsley rice, vegetable salad, potato salad, and oleo pasta. If the wind conditions are right, open the sails and continue the party as you cruise along the open water.

From Panama City: Panama Canal and Monkey Island Tour

4. From Panama City: Panama Canal and Monkey Island Tour

Spend the day exploring the Panama Canal, learning about its history and creation. Visit the museum and make your way to the Chagres River to embark on a boat ride across Gatun Lake. Get picked up at your hotel or other location in Panama City, and journey to the Panama Canal Visitors Center for a detailed explanation about how the canal and famous Miraflores Locks work. Visit the museum to learn more about this important water passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Return to the vehicle and pass Miraflores Lake and the Pedro Miguel Locks as you make your way to the town of Gamboa. Upon arrival at the Chagres River, climb aboard for a scenic boat trip across artificial Gatun Lake. Marvel at the surrounding landscape of the biggest and most important lake in the Panama Canal. Watch the large ships passing through the canal to get a sense of the magnitude of this masterpiece of engineering. Arrive at a group of islands to see different species of animals and monkeys. Return to Panama City and get dropped off at your hotel.

From Panama City: Monkey Island and Sloth Sanctuary Tour

5. From Panama City: Monkey Island and Sloth Sanctuary Tour

After a pickup from your hotel, head to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort in the Soberania National Park. From here board a boat and sail on Gatun Lake next to the huge ships that cross the Panama Canal. Admire the fauna and vegetation of the tropical forest, as well as Monkey Island where you have the chance to see white-faced capuchin monkeys and howler monkeys in their natural habitat. Continue on to the Sloth Sanctuary to observe three-toed and two-toed sloths that have been rescued. Learn about the life and habits of the sloths, as well as the efforts for the conservation of the species through the volunteers and specialized guides. From the Sloth Sanctuary, move on to the Butterfly House where you can see the butterflies that live in the rainforest such as the colorful Blue Morpho Butterfly. You will also visit the orchid and frog exhibitions to discover more about the species that live in the rainforest.

From Panama: 3-Day San Blas Islands Tour

6. From Panama: 3-Day San Blas Islands Tour

Enjoy a unique adventure in the San Blas Islands. Swim in crystal-clear natural pools, admire the blue ocean, and visit islands including Ucusidup, Pelican, Aguja, Perro grande, and Perro Chico on this multi-day trip. After getting picked up from your hotel in Panama, begin your adventure with a boat ride to the islands. Stay in a private cabin on Pelican Island (where scenes from the 3rd series of the Netflix series Money Heist were filmed). Paddle boards are available for your use. Take a paddle board and head out to a tiny island called Ucusubi which has one of the best spots for snorkeling in San Blas. On the 2nd day after breakfast, visit a Guna Community, and experience daily life at a school and health center. Afterward, continue to the Guna jungle, crossing the Sidra or Masargandi River. Make a stop along the way at the Rio Sidra Community Cemetery and learn more about its history from your guide. Along the way, admire colorful butterflies, various bird species, and with a bit of luck, maybe even some toucans. After a 40-minute hike, reach the beautiful Saiba Waterfall where you can dive and soak in the waters of this crystal-clear natural wonder. Then take your boat to the 2nd Island, Aguja. Explore the scenic sandy beaches and sleep in a private 2-person hut. On your final day, after breakfast, your guide Naidi will pick you up early in the morning. Take a tour to snorkel in the sunken boat at Perro Chico island, and explore Perro grande island with kayaks and paddle boards. After lunch, say goodbye to the islands and arrive at your hotel around 6 PM.

From Panama City: Gamboa Rainforest Guided Tour with Lunch

7. From Panama City: Gamboa Rainforest Guided Tour with Lunch

Explore the Panamanian rain forest while gliding smoothly through treetops on an aerial tram. Learn the jungle's most interesting facts from a naturalist guide. Watch colorful birds flying around you.  Take a boat ride through the Panama Canal, observing marine life. End your tour with a delicious lunch. Board a tram bound for a 280-feet peak surrounded by leafy jungle. While going up to the observation tower, enjoy fabulous views of the Chagres River, the Embera indigenous community, and much of the Soberania National Park. Gamboa is home to many natural labs including a butterfly farm, an orchids center, and a frog pond. See around 20 species of butterflies native to Panama at the Butterfly House. Get up close to the sloths at the Sloth Sanctuary. This sanctuary hosts a rehabilitation and training program for injured, sick, and orphaned sloths. Enjoy a scenic boat tour along the Panama Canal's waterways. Observe the fascinating tropical wildlife of Gatun Lake and the surrounding forest. Get a chance to spot crocodiles, caimans, sloths, monkeys, and a host of birds with the help of your guide.

Panama City: 4-Day Island Hopping San Blas Adventure

8. Panama City: 4-Day Island Hopping San Blas Adventure

Discover what local life is like in San Blas on this 4-days island hopping tour. Get to know the beautiful islands of this Central American paradise, and enjoy the white sand beaches and turquoise ocean. You may choose the standard transportation option which allows for a maximum of 6 passengers per vehicle, or choose the upgraded transport option to travel in a little more comfort with a maximum of 4 passengers per vehicle. Day 1 Pickup from selected hotels in Panama City begins at 5:20 AM. After pickup, you will stop by a supermarket in case you want to buy snacks or drinks. Then, head to the San Blas hills. The journey takes about 2.5 hours and is followed by a 30-minute boat ride to Ina island where you will sleep and have lunch and dinner. Pay a visit to a natural swimming pool and explore the pool on a paddle board. Visit the island in front of Ucusubi to go snorkeling and sample some fresh local lobster for dinner during lobster season. Day 2 After breakfast, visit a local Guna community and learn about this tribe's culture and rich history. Next, take a hiking tour in the San Blas jungle up to a waterfall. As you hike, pass a local cemetery, and spot monkeys, sloths, many birds, and iguanas. Come back to Ina Island for lunch and then take your boat to the 2nD Island Aguja. Relax and discover this island at your own pace. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included. Day 3 After breakfast, take a boat to Perro Chico island where you will sleep. You will first visit Perro Grande Island where you can kayak all around and visit another natural swimming pool. Once in Perro Chico, take your snorkel gear and visit the sunken boat which is just in front of the island and full of tiny colored fishes. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included. Day 4 After breakfast, take a boat back to Panama City. Breakfast is included.

Panama: 6-Hour Northbound Panama Canal Cruise & Lunch

9. Panama: 6-Hour Northbound Panama Canal Cruise & Lunch

Experience a relaxing northbound cruise on the Panama Canal aboard the glorious Pacific Queen. Enjoy a complimentary lunch while admiring the breathtaking landscape passing slowly by you.  Pass through the Culebra Cut, the Pedro Miguel Locks, and the engineering marvel of the Miraflores Locks. Learn how the locks are controlled to allow ships to pass through, while tucking into your lunch. Feel the waves beneath your feet as you admire scenic views of the Puente Centenario, the Chagres River, and the brilliant Bridge of the Americas, connecting North and South America. Wave goodbye to the Pacific Queen but hold onto the memories, as you disembark at Gamboa before returning to Panama City.

Panama City: Money Heist and San Blas Islands Day Trip

10. Panama City: Money Heist and San Blas Islands Day Trip

Be collected from your accommodation in Panama City to start the day trip. Drive 2.5 hours to San Blas Port, Carti, and then take a local Panga boat to the first of the San Blas islands. First arrive at Pelicano Island, made famous by the Netflix series Money Heist. Enjoy a light breakfast of fresh fruit and coffee and take some time to sunbathe with hammocks. Towels will be provided. Then take the paddleboards and your snorkel gear and go paddle to Ucubusi Island where you will find one of the best reefs to snorkel in San Blas. Discover a variety of colorful fish species. Afterward, enjoy a lunch of fresh fish, rice, and salad. After lunch, head to the natural swimming pool. Chill out on a bank of sand in the middle of the ocean where you can walk or swim around to find your starfish. Finally, visit a local community where you will see how the locals live. You can try the coconut bread made on the island, and see how molas are made by the grandmas on the island. Sail back towards the port and return to Panama City in the evening. 

Top sights in Panama City

Frequently asked questions about Panama City

Other Sightseeing Options in Panama City

Want to discover all there is to do in Panama City? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Panama City

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,336 reviews

A boat going thru at least part of the Panamá Canal is a must do in the city. It is facinating to experience first hand. We did it the day after spending 3 hours learning about the locks in the museum and watching and listening to the bilingual narrator the day before. The combined experience was un beatable. We actually went back to the viewing a 3rd day for about an hour. A true marvel of engineering and perserverence.

Our guide Fernando was excellent. Without his knowledge and keen eyes we would not have seen much of the wildlife we did! He even brought the monkeys favourite snacks so that we could feed them from the boat. Exceeded all of our expectations

Gonzo was a great guide, his knowledge of plants on our nature walk was very valuable. We got to see 3 types of monkeys up close. It was wonderful!

Gustavo was very informative about Panama's history and about how the canal worked. He also gave us enough time to enjoy each attraction.

We enjoyed the tour and would highly recommend to anyone wanting to see the Canal and Panama City.