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Panama City is by far the most developed city in Central America. It has a very different atmosphere to other parts of the region. I recommend 2 -3 days in Panama City as I personally prefer being out of the city and in the surrounding tropical islands and rainforests. If you plan on backpacking Panama, you might like to read my article on the top 5 destinations for backpackers in Panama. These are the 5 best things for backpackers to do in Panama City.
A MUST DO in Panama City. Ancon Hill is a nature hike with a bird-eyes view of Casco Viejo, modern Panama City and the Panama Canal. The path is lined by thriving rainforest taking about 2 hours return. You can take a taxi there and ask the driver to come back for you in a couple of hours.
Casco Viejo is the historic district and cultural gem of Panama City, built by Spanish colonialists around 1673. The vibrant and colourful neighbourhood is filled with homes, churches, cathedrals, museums, restaurants and shops. Spend a day exploring the streets and admiring the architecture built through many different historical phases. Come back at night to enjoy a great selection of restaurants and nightlife spots.
Isla Taboga is located about 20 kilometres from Panama City and is a popular place to escape to from the city. On Isla Taboga you can relax on the sandy beaches, ride jet skis or take a fishing charter. First settled by the Spanish in 1515, Isla Taboga has a charming village with the second-oldest church in the western hemisphere, a few narrow streets with a few restaurants and great views to Panama City from the top of the Island.
Panama Canal – Miraflores Locks
The Panama Canal is one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering. Many visitors choose to explore the canal by visiting the Miraflores Locks Museum. The museum has a wealth of information on the construction of the canal and has a video explaining how it was developed and its plans for future growth. From the restaurant located on the top floor of the museum, visitors can watch transiting vessels in the canal below. It is possible to take a full canal crossing, but this takes 4 – 8 hours so most visitors choose to watch from Miraflores locks.
The Amador Causeway connects the three islands by the entrance to the Panama Canal to the mainland. From the causeway, there is a terrific view of Panama City. Hire a bike or take a long walk down the Amador Causeway, stop in at a restaurant for lunch and enjoy the view of Panama City.
There you have it, the top 5 things for backpackers to do in Panama City. You might also enjoy shopping at one of the malls in Panama City and visiting museums and churches.
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