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The Best Things To Do In Panama City, Panama In Just One Day


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Bamby Cepeda



Welcome to Panama City, the vibrant capital of Panama, situated at the crossroads of the Americas. Known for its modern skyline, rich history, and diverse culture, Panama City offers a plethora of attractions that can be explored even in just one day. Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or food lover, there’s something for everyone in this dynamic city.


Despite being relatively small in size, Panama City packs a punch when it comes to things to see and do. From the iconic Panama Canal to the charming streets of Casco Viejo, there is no shortage of experiences to be had. In this article, we’ll take you on a whirlwind tour of the best things to do in Panama City in just one day.


As you embark on your adventure, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and have your camera ready to capture the memorable moments that await you. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the top attractions and activities that will make your visit to Panama City a truly unforgettable experience!


Visit the Panama Canal

No visit to Panama City is complete without experiencing the wonder of the Panama Canal. Considered one of the greatest engineering achievements in modern history, the Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and serves as a crucial international trade route.


Start your day by heading to the Miraflores Visitor Center, located just a short drive from the city center. Here, you can learn about the history and significance of the canal through interactive exhibits, informative displays, and a short film. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the impressive locks in action, as massive ships navigate through the canal, lifted and lowered to different water levels.


If you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife, such as iguanas and different species of birds, as you explore the surrounding trails. Be sure to check the schedule to catch the best times to observe these captivating engineering marvels.


For a more immersive experience, consider taking a boat tour or even a partial transit of the canal. You’ll get a firsthand perspective of the canal’s operations, passing through the locks and witnessing the incredible feat of human ingenuity up close.


Visiting the Panama Canal is not only an opportunity to learn about its historical significance but also a chance to appreciate the sheer scale and magnitude of this impressive global landmark. It’s an experience that will leave you in awe of the engineering prowess and the importance of the canal for international trade.


Explore Casco Viejo

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the charm of Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old historic quarter. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of colonial architecture, vibrant plazas, and narrow cobblestone streets.


Start your exploration at Plaza de la Independencia, the heart of Casco Viejo, where you can marvel at the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Palacio de las Garzas, the official residence of the President of Panama. Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets and admire the beautifully restored buildings adorned with colorful facades and ornate balconies.


As you wander through Casco Viejo, you’ll come across a variety of boutique shops, art galleries, and quaint cafés. Discover the vibrant local arts scene at the renowned DiabloRosso and Allegro Galería, or indulge in a delicious cup of Panamanian coffee at Café Unido.


Make sure to visit the famous Mercado de Mariscos, the seafood market located along the waterfront. Here, you can savor fresh ceviche and other seafood delicacies while enjoying panoramic views of the Panama City skyline.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the historic landmark, Plaza Bolivar, where you can admire the neoclassical-style National Theater and the Church of San Francisco. The plaza also serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike, offering a vibrant atmosphere and a great spot for people-watching.


As the sun sets, Casco Viejo comes alive with its lively nightlife scene. Experience the buzzing energy by visiting one of the rooftop bars, such as Tantalo or Casa Casco, where you can enjoy a refreshing cocktail while taking in the panoramic views of the city lights.


Exploring Casco Viejo is like stepping into a time capsule, where old-world charm meets modern influences. It’s a must-visit destination in Panama City that offers a blend of history, culture, and an enchanting atmosphere that will transport you to another era.


Wander around the Metropolitan Natural Park

Escape the bustling city and immerse yourself in nature by visiting the Metropolitan Natural Park, a lush oasis located just minutes away from Panama City. Spanning over 650 acres, this protected area is a haven for biodiversity and offers a myriad of outdoor activities.


As you explore the park, you’ll encounter various hiking trails that weave through the dense tropical forest. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on the Sendero El Roble trail, a moderate hike that leads you to the summit of Cerro Cedro, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the surrounding rainforest.


Keep an eye out for the diverse flora and fauna that call the park home. You might spot capuchin monkeys swinging among the trees, colorful butterflies fluttering by, and a wide array of bird species, including toucans and parrots.


If you prefer a more leisurely experience, take a stroll along the Camino del Mono trail, which is wheelchair-accessible and provides a tranquil walk along the park’s natural landscapes. You can also visit the park’s information center to learn about the park’s ecological importance and conservation efforts.


For those seeking a wildlife encounter, stop by the Harpy Eagle Interpretation Center, where you can catch a glimpse of one of the world’s largest and most powerful eagles, the harpy eagle. Through educational displays and interactive exhibits, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the conservation of this majestic bird species.


Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a peaceful retreat from the city, a visit to the Metropolitan Natural Park is a must. It offers a unique opportunity to connect with Panama’s rich biodiversity and experience the beauty of its tropical rainforests, all within close proximity to the city center.


Discover the Biomuseo

Unleash your curiosity and delve into the wonders of Panama’s biodiversity by visiting the Biomuseo. Located in the Amador Causeway, this striking museum designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry showcases the country’s rich natural history and ecological significance.


As you step inside the Biomuseo, you’ll be greeted by vibrant and interactive exhibits that take you on a journey through Panama’s unique ecosystems. From the colorful Biodiversity Gallery to the immersive Oceans Gallery, each section highlights different aspects of Panama’s rich biodiversity and the interconnectedness of its ecosystems.


One of the highlights of the museum is the Panamarama, a panoramic video projection that provides a visual spectacle of the country’s natural landscapes. It’s a captivating experience that gives you a glimpse into the diverse environments, from the lush rainforests to the pristine coral reefs.


The Biomuseo is not only informative but also aesthetically captivating. The bold colors, innovative design, and stunning architecture create an immersive environment that enhances your learning experience. The museum also offers educational programs and workshops, making it an engaging destination for visitors of all ages.


After exploring the exhibits, take a leisurely stroll through the museum’s outdoor gardens, which feature native plant species and offer a tranquil space to relax and reflect on the importance of conservation. The museum’s ocean-facing location also provides breathtaking views of the Panama Bay and the surrounding skyline.


Whether you’re a nature lover, science enthusiast, or art aficionado, the Biomuseo is a must-visit attraction in Panama City. It offers a unique and thought-provoking experience that highlights the country’s extraordinary biodiversity and the importance of preserving our natural world.


Enjoy the Amador Causeway

For a delightful blend of stunning waterfront views, recreational activities, and culinary delights, head to the Amador Causeway. This scenic road connects the mainland of Panama City with three small islands in the Pacific Ocean, offering a perfect escape from the urban hustle and bustle.


Start your visit to the Amador Causeway by renting a bike or taking a leisurely stroll along the promenade. As you traverse the causeway, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the city skyline, the Bridge of the Americas, and the ships passing through the Panama Canal.


Stop by the Flamenco Marina, which serves as a hub for boating and yachting enthusiasts. Admire the luxurious vessels, or even consider taking a boat tour to explore the beautiful islands of Taboga or Contadora.


As you reach the end of the causeway, you’ll discover the Biomuseo, a unique architectural gem we previously mentioned. Take some time to explore this fascinating museum and immerse yourself in Panama’s ecological wonders.


After working up an appetite, indulge in the diverse culinary offerings along the causeway. From waterfront seafood restaurants serving freshly caught fish and ceviche to cozy cafes offering panoramic views, there’s something to satisfy every palate.


In the late afternoon or evening, the Amador Causeway transforms into a vibrant hub of nightlife. Enjoy live music, sip on cocktails at one of the bars, or simply relax and take in the mesmerizing views of the city lights reflected upon the water.


Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities, waterfront dining options, or a romantic stroll along the shoreline, the Amador Causeway is a destination that offers a little bit of everything. It’s the perfect place to unwind, connect with nature, and experience the vibrant energy of Panama City’s waterfront.


Take a stroll along the Cinta Costera

Experience the idyllic beauty of Panama City’s coastline by taking a leisurely stroll along the Cinta Costera. This scenic waterfront promenade stretches along the shores of Panama Bay, offering breathtaking views of the ocean, skyline, and numerous recreational areas.


Start your walk at the beginning of the Cinta Costera near Casco Viejo. As you make your way along the promenade, you’ll pass by picturesque parks, lush green spaces, and vibrant public art installations. Take your time to appreciate the urban beauty and soak in the refreshing ocean breeze.


The Cinta Costera is not just a walkway but also a recreational hub. You’ll find various sports courts, fitness areas, and skate parks dotted along the route. Join locals as they engage in various activities, from jogging and cycling to yoga and outdoor workouts.


Make sure to pause and relax at the numerous lookout points along the Cinta Costera. These elevated platforms offer panoramic views of the city, including the iconic skyscrapers of the financial district and the Bridge of the Americas stretching across the canal entrance.


As you continue your stroll, you’ll encounter the Fish Market, known as the Mercado de Mariscos. Stop by and indulge in some of the freshest seafood Panama has to offer, including ceviche, shrimp cocktail, and fried fish.


At the southern end of the Cinta Costera, you’ll find the beautiful and expansive Urracá Park. Take a break from your walk and relax amidst the greenery, enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and perhaps even catching a live music performance or cultural event.


Whether you’re a nature lover, fitness enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene escape from the city, the Cinta Costera is the place to be. It offers a picturesque setting to unwind, connect with the outdoors, and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds Panama City.


Shop at the Albrook Mall

If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy and want to explore one of the largest shopping centers in Central America, make your way to the Albrook Mall. Located near the Albrook bus terminal, this expansive mall offers a wide range of shopping options, entertainment, and dining experiences.


With over 700 stores, Albrook Mall has something for everyone. From renowned international brands to local boutiques, you’ll find a vast selection of clothing, accessories, electronics, household items, and much more. Whether you’re looking for high-end fashion or budget-friendly deals, you’ll be spoilt for choice.


In addition to shopping, the mall offers a variety of entertainment options. Catch the latest blockbuster film at the modern cinema complex, challenge your friends to a game of bowling, or test your skills at the arcade. There’s no shortage of activities to keep you entertained.


When hunger strikes, head to the mall’s food court, which features a diverse range of cuisines to satisfy any craving. Indulge in local Panamanian dishes, enjoy international flavors, or grab a quick bite from popular fast-food chains. There’s something for every palate.


For a break from shopping, take a leisurely stroll along the mall’s spacious walkways and enjoy the various art installations and fountains. The mall’s design incorporates elements of Panamanian culture and history, creating a visually appealing and engaging environment.


Visiting Albrook Mall not only provides a shopping experience but also allows you to immerse yourself in Panama’s vibrant culture and bustling atmosphere. It’s a perfect place to find souvenirs, indulge in some retail therapy, and enjoy a range of entertainment options all under one roof.


Sample Panamanian cuisine at Mercado de Mariscos

For a true taste of Panama’s culinary delights, make your way to the Mercado de Mariscos, the bustling seafood market located along the Panama City waterfront. With its vibrant atmosphere and array of mouthwatering seafood options, it’s a must-visit destination for food lovers.


Start your gastronomic adventure by exploring the market’s seafood stalls, which offer a wide selection of fresh catch, including fish, shrimp, crab, and lobster. Witness the lively buzz as locals and visitors gather to select their favorite ingredients for a delicious seafood feast.


One of the must-try dishes at the Mercado de Mariscos is the ceviche, a popular Panamanian dish made with fresh seafood marinated in lime juice, onions, cilantro, and other flavorful ingredients. The ceviche here is renowned for its exquisite taste and freshness, making it a definite highlight of the market.


If ceviche isn’t your preference, you can also indulge in delectable fried fish, shrimp cocktails, seafood soups, or grilled seafood dishes. Whatever you choose, you can be sure that the flavors are authentic and the ingredients are of the highest quality.


While enjoying your seafood feast, take in the vibrant atmosphere of the market and soak in the panoramic views of the Panama City skyline and waterfront. The Mercado de Mariscos is not just a place to eat; it’s a cultural experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the local food scene and the lively energy of Panama City.


After savoring your meal, take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade outside the market. Enjoy the refreshing sea breeze, admire the yachts docked at the nearby marina, and take in the picturesque views of the bay. It’s the perfect way to digest your meal and continue exploring the beauty of Panama City.


Sampling Panamanian cuisine at the Mercado de Mariscos is an experience that connects you with the country’s rich maritime traditions and flavors. Indulge in the fresh seafood, immerse yourself in the local culture, and create lasting memories of your culinary adventure in Panama.


Admire the skyline from Ancon Hill

To get a breathtaking panoramic view of Panama City’s iconic skyline and natural beauty, head to Ancon Hill, the highest point in the city. This hilltop viewpoint offers a magnificent vantage point to admire the sprawling metropolis, the glittering skyscrapers, and the surrounding lush greenery.


As you ascend to the top of Ancon Hill, either by hiking or driving, be prepared to be awe-struck by the stunning vistas that unfold before your eyes. From this elevated perch, you can see the impressive skyline of Panama City with its towering buildings standing juxtaposed against the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.


Take the time to soak in the incredible panoramic views and capture some stunning photographs as a memento of your visit. The vista offers a remarkable blend of urban development, natural landscapes, and the famous Bridge of the Americas, which spans the entrance to the Panama Canal.


Aside from the spectacular skyline, Ancon Hill is also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. The hill and the surrounding rainforest are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for sloths, monkeys, and a variety of bird species as you explore the trails and paths around the hill.


While visiting Ancon Hill, take the opportunity to learn about its historical significance. The hill was once a strategic military site and played a crucial role during the construction of the Panama Canal. Today, it stands as a symbol of Panama’s natural beauty and serves as a popular recreational spot.


Remember to bring comfortable footwear, sun protection, and plenty of water as you make your way to the top of Ancon Hill. Whether you choose to visit during the day or at sunset, the view from this vantage point is sure to leave you in awe and provide you with a memorable experience of Panama City’s skyline.


Relax at Isla Taboga

If you’re looking for a peaceful escape from the city and a chance to unwind on pristine beaches, plan a day trip to Isla Taboga. Located just a short boat ride away from Panama City, this charming island is a hidden gem that offers tranquility, natural beauty, and a laid-back atmosphere.


Upon arrival at Isla Taboga, you’ll be greeted by picturesque beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters. Find your spot on the soft sands, bask in the warm sun, and listen to the gentle waves lapping against the shore. It’s the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate.


While on the island, take a leisurely walk through the quaint village and immerse yourself in the local culture. Admire the colorful houses, historic buildings, and the idyllic streets lined with bougainvillea. Chat with friendly locals and learn about the island’s fascinating history and traditions.


For those seeking a bit of adventure, explore the island’s hiking trails that lead to viewpoints offering panoramic vistas of the surrounding islands and the Pacific Ocean. The hike up Cerro de la Cruz rewards you with breathtaking views and a sense of accomplishment.


Indulge in the island’s culinary offerings by dining at one of the waterfront restaurants. Savor fresh seafood dishes, including ceviche and grilled fish, while enjoying the serene ambiance and beautiful ocean views.


If you have more time, consider taking a boat tour around the island, enjoying the opportunity to snorkel and spot colorful marine life in the clear waters. You may even be fortunate enough to encounter dolphins playing in the distance.


As the day comes to a close, find a spot along the beach to witness a magnificent sunset, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink. It’s a truly magical experience that perfectly caps off your day of relaxation and exploration on Isla Taboga.


Whether you’re seeking tranquility, natural beauty, or a glimpse into local island life, Isla Taboga offers it all. It’s a slice of paradise just a short distance from Panama City, making it an ideal getaway for a day of unwinding and enjoying the beauty of nature.



Panama City, Panama, is a destination that offers a diverse range of experiences and attractions, even if you have just one day to spare. From the iconic Panama Canal to the charming streets of Casco Viejo, there is something for everyone to enjoy and explore.


Immerse yourself in the rich history and marvel at the engineering wonder of the Panama Canal. Wander through the cobblestone streets of Casco Viejo, discovering its colonial charm and vibrant culture. Take in the beauty of nature at the Metropolitan Natural Park and admire the captivating exhibits at the Biomuseo.


Enjoy the scenic views and leisurely activities at the Amador Causeway and the Cinta Costera. Indulge in some retail therapy at the Albrook Mall, sampling Panamanian seafood delights at the Mercado de Mariscos. Admire the panoramic skyline from Ancon Hill and relax on the serene beaches of Isla Taboga.


Panama City truly offers a little bit of everything – history, nature, culture, shopping, and relaxation. It’s a melting pot of experiences that will leave you captivated and wanting to return for more.


So, whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, a foodie, or simply seeking a day of adventure and relaxation, Panama City is waiting to welcome you with open arms. Embrace the vibrant energy, immerse yourself in the culture, and create unforgettable memories in this captivating city.