Day 1 in Panama City
Welcome to Panama City. Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There are many exciting things to explore in Panama City. Enjoy an afternoon Hop-on and hop-off tour of Panama City. The tour highlights 12 fabulous destinations around the city including Casco Antiguo, Iglesia Nuestra Senora de La Merced, Museo del Canal Interoceanico, Biomuseo Frank Gehry, Albrook Mall and Amphora Duty-Free shop. The tour takes 2 hours and gives you a great overview of what Panama City has to offer.
Day 2 in Panama City
Travel 30 minutes outside of the city and saturate yourself in various jungle adventures or merely disconnect yourself from the city. Gamboa is the starting point amid the rainforest and the Chagres River, which feeds Gatun Lake. Located on the Pacific side near to the Panama Canal, this small town originally served as housing for the Canal employees and their families. Today, it's home to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Next, make your way to the Panama Canal one of the greatest feats of modern engineering and is an icon of Panama, and a must-see spot. Built in the early 20th-century to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Canal developed an important shortcut for ships and has played a sizeable role in world trade and the global economy. The most visited place is the Miraflores Locks where you will find the Canal Museum, videos that explain its operation, and a viewpoint for watching ships of all sizes make their way through the canal.
Stroll through Casco Viejo ('Casco Antiguo'), Panama's historical and cultural district that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. This is one of the favorite places in the city; there is something about the sea breeze mixed with the rich history and culture that provides a truly special feeling when walking through these narrow alleyways. You will find beautiful buildings - some undergoing restoration, and others completely restored - and there are many charming restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, and craft shops. Casco Viejo has a colonial architecture, neoclassical and Art Deco buildings, which makes it different from old towns such as Cartagena or Quito. Enjoy lunch at La Casa del Marisco ('House of Seafood') in which delicacies of the sea are the featured at this refined, classic place. This is an exclusive spot, but it is well worth the splurge. It is recommended because it provides a good sample of the real atmosphere of Panama City's historic district. Visit the nearby San Jose Church which is one of the most important and ancient places in both Casco Viejo and all of Panama. An exact replica of the church of the same name that once stood in Panama Viejo (Old Panama) protects the golden altar, the only relic that was salvaged when pirate Henry Morgan ransacked the old city.
Before the U.S. constructed the Panama Canal, the French made an attempt to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Located on the south end of Casco Viejo, Plaza de Francia (also known as 'Las Bovedas) praises that attempt and to the thousands who died in the process. In addition to the square's historic importance, there is a beautiful path above the panels, known as Paseo de Las Bovedas, which makes a wonderful place to sit and look out over the big Puente de last Americas and the boats waiting to pass through the canal. For dinner, Tantalo Kitchen is a festive restaurant a bar that is popular with locals and tourists alike. Take a seat in the dining room to enjoy local art and delicious tapas, and then head up to the roof-top bar for drinks against a magnificent view of the city skyline.
Day 3 in Panama City
San Blas Islands are a highlight of Panama, a paradise with truly stunning beaches. Located in the Caribbean Sea, the San Blas archipelago encompasses more than 300 islands — all part of the indigenous Kuna-Yala territory. Although you could easily spend a few days enjoying the tranquility here, you're sure to have a memorable visit, even if you can only stay a day. Go early in the morning to enjoy the entire day at San Blas. There are many tour options, so look for one that includes three islands and lunch in any of these. Visit Isla Perro Grande, where you can explore the Ruins of a sunken ship, Isla Perro Chico, the Natural Pool, and Isla Chichime.
Situated next to the public pier, Mercado de Mariscos is the city's principal fish market, where you can enjoy fresh ceviche and seafood. You can step outside of the market and find a lot of booths where you can pick up tasty fish and maybe a refreshing beer. Even if you don't want seafood, this is a really important place to visit because it's the best place for Panamanian fishermen to sell their catch. The most common fish eaten by Panamanians is corvina, or you can also ask for Pargo Rojo - both are really delicious.
Additional Days in Panama City
Explore Panama La Vieja (Old Panama) which was founded in 1519, the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was destroyed in 1617 by the infamous pirate Henry Morgan, and in 2003 the ruins were declared World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2003. Close to the ruins is the museum that displays archaeological artifacts and tells about the city's history. Enjoy the busy waterfront boulevard and one of Panama's main streets, Cinta Costera, one of the city's most recognized public spaces because of its length and location. There is a lovely park with a footpath and cycle path bordering the sea, where many people go to exercise or enjoy the view.
Sitting at the foot of Cerro Ancon (Ancon Hill,) Mi Pueblito ($2) is a picturesque place that offers a glimpse into the cultures that initially inhabited Panama. Here, you can explore the Caribbean-style homes of the afroantillana (Afro-Caribbean people,) and the thatched-roof huts of Kuna and Emberá Indians. There are also small exhibitions featuring typical costumes, craft vendors, and some restaurants. This is definitely a spot to visit if you're interested in the culture and history of Panama. Pay a visit to the Biodiversity Museum, one of the newest attractions. The museum provides a fascinating look into one of the most biodiverse places in the world.
Make your way to Amador Causeway, which connects the city with four little islands (Naos, Culebra, Perico, and Flamenco) in the Pacific area, was build with rocks that were excavated during the Canal construction. Panamanians come here to get a bit of exercise, walking, cycling, jogging, or skating. Whatever you choose to do, the sea breeze will keep you company, as will amazing views of the Canal and the Panama Bay.
Your last day in Panama City
Depart from your hotel to the airport for your return flight home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer to the airport, if so the representative will meet you at your hotel with plenty of time to get you to the airport for your flight out.
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