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10 Best Places to Visit in Panama

January 5th 2020

From the clearest waters to coffee farms and misty forests, Panama has everything you could possibly want from a South American adventure. In Panama, it’s endless beach days with laid back Caribbean vibes on one side and surfers’ paradise on the other.

If you’re looking for something a little more cosmopolitan than beach vibe, then Panama city will be right up your alley. This eclectic melting pot of new world innovation and old-world charm is culturally diverse, funky, yet sophisticated. With world-class restaurants, bustling nightlife and great shopping, this is a city you’ll never get bored of.

Then there’s the great outdoors! Take a break from the city and explore the ruins of times gone by in a boat or canoe, hike a trail in the highlands, zipline through cloud forests, or swim alongside great ocean creatures.

Panama is every traveller’s dream and a country in Central America that’s so diverse.

Here’s our list of the best places to go in Panama

panama canal with Inspirit Travel

Visiting the Panama Canal – Miraflores Docks

  1. Panama City and Canal Miraflores Lock

As mentioned above, Panama City is a bustling cosmopolitan hub that is a joy to explore. Spend days walking the streets, taking in the variety of sites and attractions, and make sure to stop a couple of times to sample some of the amazing dining options available in the city.

Once you’ve got your metropolitan fix, it’s time to check out the completed citywide canal system. The world-famous Miraflores lock is located at the Panama Canal, which is very close to Clayton.

Spend the day alone, with friends, or with family watching the Panama Canal feeding the Pacific Ocean. It’s amazing to watch the ships pass through the complicated locks as the water levels rise and fall. If you have just one day in Panama, make sure you make time to visit the Panama canal!

Red Frog Beach Bocas del Toro Panama

Red Frog Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama

  1. Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is so laid back that it’s actually difficult to force yourself to get up off the beach and explore. It is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Panama for backpackers and young travellers.

The sleepy seaside town is incredibly relaxed but also has a thriving beach party scene, meaning that you can get the best of both worlds. Jungle, rainforests and epic surf surrounds the town, which makes it a huge drawcard for nature enthusiasts and surfers.

Catch a water taxi out to a pristine, quiet cove and do some snorkelling in some of the world’s most wonderful underwater environments.

If you are interested in Panama why not check out our 9 Day “Dos Costas” Trip?

Boquete Area in Panama

Boquete Area in Panama

  1. Boquete

You don’t get much more quaint than the sleeping mountain village of Boquete. Located in the Chiriquí Highlands, this mountainside spot is the epitome of peace and quiet.

Steeping in mist and surrounded by coffee plantations, this unique spot is simply breathtaking. You can be as active or inactive as you would like, with stunning hikes into the surrounding highlands offering plenty of exercise and adventure, or snuggling up with some delicious Panamanian coffee and a book offering some much-needed downtime.

Boquete is also home to “Mi Jardin es Su Jardin”, which is one of the top three private gardens in the world and an absolute must-see. Another unexpected cherry on top is the delightful, world-renowned cuisine that is found in the village.

Santa Catalina Beach & Village in Panama

Santa Catalina Beach & Village in Panama

  1. Santa Catalina

A small town located along the Pacific Ocean in the Veraguas province in Panama is getting a reputation for its incredible surf and stunning marine life. The town is relatively difficult to get to and still only has two paved roads.

This is a beautiful part of Panama that is still largely devoid of tourists and hasn’t fallen foul to big resorts as of yet. The incredible surf, unbelievable marine life in the Parque Nacional Coiba, and a host of forest hiking trails makes this one of our best places to go in Panama to get away from the crowds.

If you are interested in Panama why not check out our 16 Day “Tico Panameno” Trip?

Panama City Old Town

Panama City Old Town

  1. Panama City Old Town

Casco Viejo is absolutely astounding and well worth a visit to see the old colonial infrastructure, live music, and atmosphere. However, it’s also a good idea to head to the quieter area of Panama Viejo too.

There’s much to see, do, and learn about Panamanian history. Panama was the most important Spanish trading town on the Pacific coast until Captain Henry Morgan destroyed it in 1671. You can still see the ruins from these days and check out what’s left of ancient cathedrals, churches, hospitals, bridges, streets, and amazing stone walls.

A day trip here is a must if you want to rub shoulders with local Panamanians.

Los Destiladeros Beach, Pedasi, Panama

Los Destiladeros Beach, Pedasi, Panama

  1. Pedasi

You won’t believe that Pedasi is just 5 hours outside of Panama City. The beach is so quiet that it can often feel like it’s a private one and although it’s one of the best places to surf in Panama, it seems to fall short of the to-do lists for many people visiting the country.

If you are interested in Panama why not check out our 58 Day “Centroamerica Total” Trip?

Portobelo Port Town, Panama

Portobelo Port Town, Panama

  1. Portobelo

Originally called Puerto Bello, which means “Beautiful Port”, this picturesque seaside town on the Caribbean side has become Portobelo as we know it today. The small town was built in the 18th century by the Spanish to fend off pirates that plagued the seas.

It has a massive history and, as such, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but unlike bigger towns like Colon, it is still relatively quiet and quaint.

Kuna Indian Lady & Child, San Blas Islands

Kuna Indian Lady & Child, San Blas Islands

  1. San Blas Islands

If sailing, diving, and snorkelling are your vibe, then you’ve undoubtedly got to head off to the island chain of the San Blas Islands. The islands have a wonderful rustic vibe that attracts backpackers and young travellers, but don’t let that fool you, as there are also a number of well-known high-end resorts for those looking for a little more comfort out of the island experience.

The majority of the 378 islands within the archipelago are uninhabited, but on the bigger ones, you’ll find the local community of the Kuna’s. The islands are completely run by the local Kuna’s and most accommodation is eco-friendly from natural materials found on the islands.

The Kuna’s are passionate about protecting their islands from the mass tourism market and the damage it can do so this is one of the places where you can really find untouched nature and a deep, untainted local culture in Panama.

If you are interested in Panama why not check out our 9 Day “Dos Costas” Trip?

San Blas Islands Ariel View

Some of the San Blas Islands – Ariel View

  1. La India Dormida

La India Dormida or “the Sleeping Indian Girl” is a monolith of a mountain located in the El Valle de Anton. This mountain offers a variety of beautiful hiking trails for all levels of fitness.

The easiest walk to take is the Chorro de Las Mozas and there’s another easy hike called Chorro el Macho – both are considered a walk in the park so to speak. If you’re looking for something a little more challenging try trails such as the La Piedra Pintada, which increase in difficulty as you get further up the mountain.

It will take you to the peak of the mountain and the view makes the challenge seem worthwhile.

Soberania National Park, Panama

Soberania National Park, Panama

  1. Soberania National Park

Panama has a whole host of wonderful wildlife and the Soberania National Park is the perfect place to spot some of them. The Pipeline Road is a trail that should be taken by keen birders and nature enthusiasts and gives walkers the opportunity to see some of the country’s wonderful fauna and flora in a lush jungle setting.

The further you head into the national park, the more likely you are to encounter animals such as sloths, coatimundis, monkeys, and hundreds of species of birds. Try and set out in the morning to get into the jungle during the time when the animals are at their most active.

If you’re looking for other trails like the Pipeline, then try out the Pond Natural Trail, Plantation Path, and the Spirit of the Forest.

If you are interested in Panama why not check out our 16 Day “Tico Panameno” Trip?

Is Panama on your bucket list?

As you can see, Panama is a country that is incredibly diverse and just waiting to be explored.

From the world-renowned tourist attractions of Panama City, Bocas del Toro, Boquete, and the San Blas Islands, to the off the beaten path destinations of the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasi, Portobelo and Santa Catalina, there’s a little something for everyone.

Whether it’s a laid-back beach town, a cloudy forested mountain, sick swell and surf, scuba diving, coffee drinking, or sampling amazing cuisine, you’re never going to run out of things to do on a trip to Panama.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of top things to see in Panama. If you are interested in a Panama Vacation why not check out our Trips to Panama and come and see for yourself what an amazing country it is!

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