Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean at one end, and a tropical rainforest at the other, lies the breathtakingly beautiful city of Panama. This major international destination offers the best of two unique worlds: majestic skyscrapers enclosed within a lush belt of flora and fauna. With plenty to see and even more to do, you will fall in love with this thriving metropolis.
Site seeing on your work travels is a definite must, but we understand that you might be pressed for time. Here’s an itinerary to help you discover the true essence of the Central American hub that is Panama City.
Start your day bright and early, for the early riser gets the catch of the day! Mercado de Mariscos is Panama City’s open air fish market, known for its seafood sales. Located by the bay, this locale is bustling with restaurateurs, locals and tourists, all wanting to buy their share of the freshest fare available. Try the mouthwatering ceviche, or the famous ‘Get Up Lazarus Soup’ (a known hangover cure!) at the stands on the docks while taking in the great coastal views, or take your find upstairs to the Restaurante de Mariscos where chefs will actually prepare the fish for you however you want!
Panama borders a tropical rainforest home to more than two hundred species of wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, iguanas, agoutis and rare birds. And nearly all of them are found in Panama City’s Parque Natural Metropolitano, located within city limits! The trails in the park lead to a mirador that offers a great view of the Panama Canal and the city, while giving you the chance to explore the ecosystem. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a crane that lifts tourists up to the tree-tops, leaving you with a magical experience of the rainforest.
Catch a performance at the renowned Teatro Nacional in old town Panama City. This ornate theatre is housed in Casco Viejo, which transports you back to the Spanish colonial era, with its dilapidated charm, cobblestone walkways and ancient architecture. Decked in gold and burgundy, and brought to life by a spectacular chandelier, the Teatro Nacional oozes luxe and grandeur in every corner. Don’t forget to look up at the ceiling, which is painted by Robert Lewis!
The canary yellow façade of the René Café is nestled underneath the looming shadows of the Iglesia Catedral in Casco Viejo, and is the perfect place to catch a bite in old quarter. Lined with red umbrellas for outdoor seating, the eatery sets a picturesque scene, and offers very economical prix fixe Panamanian fusion meals. Try the fried plantains or the mango wontons and immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine of Panama. Enjoy the wide ranging menu and bask in the rustic atmosphere at René Café.
For a spectacular end to the day, take a stroll along the gated Zona Viva and take your pick of bar, restaurant, club, beer garden or lounge, and indulge in your pick of poison. Zona Viva is a host to the widest variety of people including locals and foreigners, and some great music. Whether you’re looking for an upscale bar and bistro, or some pura racataca watering hole, Zona Viva has something for everyone. The place is absolutely packed from midnight onwards at weekends, and is a fantastic place to let loose and party.
You’ll notice that Panama Canal is nowhere on this list, but that is only because I’m assuming you have already been to visit it! There are also plenty of one-day and two-day tours that you can explore, but make sure to hit these major attractions too!