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Travel Guide to Panama City & Region, Panama

Map of the Area

Panama City & Region Panama - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery
  • 2,560.8 km2 (988.7 sq mi)
  • Average high: 33.8°C (92.8°F) low: 20.0°C (68°F)
  • Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5) -5 hrs
  • The Panamanian Balboa (PAB) B/1.00 = $1.00 USD.
  • Spanish
  • 880,691 (2010)
  • 8°59′N 79°31′W

Panama City

A fascinating combination of old and new

Modern Panama City is a metropolis in which its tall and modern buildings, its wonderful department stores, its incredible mansions, hotels and casinos will take your breath away.

This multicultural city full of contrasts consists of almost 1.3 million inhabitants. Panama City offers much more than the necessary visit to the canal. An ample offering of hotels and restaurants, cultural attractions, and the best malls in the region make Panama City a modern, international place, ready to offer an unforgettable stay to all visitors.

By night-time Panama City is full of energy and excitement, with unlimited options to having a good time. Whether it's a cultural night at the Theater or a night visiting restaurants, bars and clubs, you're going to have a great time.

Panama City & Region Panama - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Panama's World Heritage

Traces of a country's history

The National Theater regularly schedules concerts, symphonies and operas. Folklore Dances including those by local ethnic groups. Other attractions include the Metropolitan Cathedral, The Canal Museum, Bolívar Plaza, the Presidential Palace, the Panama Canal, Summit Biological Garden, Soberanía National Park and the Metropolitan National Park

The Amador Causeway, a set of islands linked together near the Bridge of the Americas and the blue ocean is an excellent place for jogging, riding your bike or just walking.

The Metropolitan National Park is a tropical rainforest in which we can find over 200 species of wildlife.

Mi Pueblito is a living museum constructed near the Amador Causeway where country side traditions are re-enacted. Visitors can enjoy national dishes in the Restaurant, served in the traditional national plates. Panama City's History District as well as the original site where the old Panama City was founded in 1519 has been declared a World Heritage Site. To learn more about this part of Panama's history, please click here. To learn more about Panama's World Heritage, please click below.

 

Panama City & Region Panama - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Panama City, Panama

HISTORY

The city was founded on August 15, 1519, by Pedro Arias de Ávila, also known as Pedrarias Dávila. Within a few years of its founding, the city became a launching point for the exploration and conquest of Peru and a transit point for gold and silver headed back to Spain through the Isthmus. In 1671 Henry Morgan with a band of 1400 men attacked and looted the city, which was subsequently destroyed by fire. The ruins of the old city still remain and are a popular tourist attraction known as Panamá la Vieja (Old Panama). It was rebuilt in 1673 in a new location approximately 5 miles (8 km) southwest of the original city. This location is now known as the Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) of the city.

One year before the start of the California Gold Rush, the Panama Railroad Company was formed, but the railroad did not begin operation until 1855. Between 1848 and 1869, the year the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United States, about 375,000 persons crossed the isthmus from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and 225,000 in the opposite direction. That traffic greatly increased the prosperity of the city during that period.

The construction of the Panama Canal was of great benefit to the infrastructure and economy. Of particular note are the improvements in health and sanitation brought about by the American presence in the Canal Zone. Dr. William Gorgas, the chief sanitary officer for the canal construction, had a particularly large impact. He hypothesized that diseases were spread by the abundance of mosquitos native to the area, and ordered the fumigation of homes and the cleansing of water. This led to yellow fever being eradicated by November 1905, as well malaria rates falling dramatically.[7] However, most of the laborers for the construction of the canal were brought in from the Caribbean, which created unprecedented racial and social tensions in the city.

The Panama Canal is one of the main attractions to the Panama City area. The Centennial Bridge spans the area near Gold Hill on the left and Contractor Hill on the right. This is the site of the highest elevation of the Panama Canal construction.

The city of Panama remains a banking center, although with very visible controls in the flow of cash. Shipping is handled through port facilities in the area of Balboa operated by the Hutchison Whampoa Company of Hong Kong and through several ports on the Caribbean side of the isthmus. Balboa, which is located within the greater Panama metropolitan area, was formerly part of the Panama Canal Zone, and in fact the administration of the former Panama Canal Zone was headquartered there.

Panama City & Region Panama - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Day Tours in the Panama City Region

Culture - Nature - Canal

The historical part of Panama City represents a mixture of style, in which French and American architecture paired with Spanish colonial architecture prevail. This makes for the city’s special charm which cannot be found anywhere else in Latin America. However, apart from the city’s attractions, Panama City is also not far away from many other regional sights. Tropical Discovery offers you a variety of tours for all interests to discover the entire splendor of Panama City and its surrounding areas:

  • On this tour you will get to know this fascinating city which was built in 1519. The gorgeous view on the skyscrapers, the noble mansions and the green hills will inspire you for more. First you will start with a bus ride to 5 de Mayo Square, where you will start your walking tour on Central Avenue, towards a local market. You will get then to Casco Antiguo. By foot you will then see the palace of the president, built in the 17th and 18th Century, the remarkable cathedral and the San José church with its splendorous altar. You will enjoy then of a nice lunch (not included) before continuing by bus to Old Panama, or Panama Viejo, which was destroyed by buccaneers in 1671 and then abandoned. Duration: approx. 6 hours
  • Please inquire for details and pricing

    * Includes: Transportation in public buses, English speaking guide, entrance fees, & typical refreshments

  • On this tour, get to know the designated 8th miracle of the world on a cruise from Panama City to Colón. Our driver will pick you up at 6:30 a.m. and drive you to the Pier. From here you will start your trip over the 60 mile long water route, seven to ten hours on board of a large pleasure boat on the legendary Panama Canal. You will float through the Miraflores Locks, the lake of Miraflores, the Pedro Miguel Locks, the Gaillard Cut (the narrowest part of the Canal), the lake of Gatún and the Gatún Locks. This journey will certainly make a long lasting impression on you. You will then drive back from the port of Colón on the Atlantic coast, back to Panama City on the Pacific coast (approx. 2 hr drive).
  • Please inquire for details and pricing

    * Includes: Private transportation to and from Panama City hotel, breakfast and lunch, soft drinks, & water (Partial crossing: lunch only), & English speaking travel guide

    * Duration: partial crossing approx. 6 hours, complete crossing approx. 9 hours

    * Please note: Complete crossing can be done on the 3rd Saturday of the month; eventually on the 2nd Saturday. / Partial crossing: every Thursday, Friday, & Saturday.

  • On this tour you will go on a train ride on the historical and unique railway, from Panama City to Colón. The 1 hour trip takes you through the jungle and along the Panama Canal, a course that was finished in 1855. The French Panama Canal company had acquired the railway line in 1880, as assistance to build the Canal. In 1904 the Americans bought the Canal and the railway line and were operating it until 1979. In 1998, Panama privatized the railway line and renewed it completely. Since 2001, the course is again passable and has become a unique attraction. After the beautiful train ride, we will take you from Colón to the port of Portobelo. This port was the gathering point of the Peruvian treasures in the 15th century, in addition to being the center of control and inspection of the goods, which arrived from Spain. The ruin complex is built and set up in the middle of the tropical jungle and covers a set of fortresses, castles and military bases. After the historical tour, you will continue to an Embera Village on Rio Gatun, through a dense jungle on a short boat trip. The Embera Indians are one of the seven indigenous tribes in Panama. After a warm welcome, and a brief explanation fo the history of the tribe, you will have lunch prepared by the Embera women. Enjoy a traditional dance after lunch. Return to the hotel after the tour.
  • Please inquire for details and pricing

    * Includes: Private transportation, Train trip from Panama City to Colón, Sightseeing Portobelo, English speaking travel guide and driver

    * Duration: approx. 10 hours

    * Please note: Only Monday - Friday!

  • On this tour we will first drive you up north towards Lake Alajuela. There you will step into small boats, which will take you up the Rio Chagrés. A fascinating jungle will surround you on your boat trip. While visiting the Emberá Indians, you will experience an authentic view into thousands of years of culture and human tradition, that already existed long before the Europeans. You will inevitably feel as if you had stepped back hundreds of years in time.
  • Please inquire for details and pricing

    * Includes: Private transportation, Boat trip to the Indian village, English speaking travel guide and driver, Dancing show & Lunch

    * Duration: approx. 6 hours

  • Visit each Sunday the famous market El Valle. The 80-mile-travel will take you from the capital Panama City to El Valle along the Pacific coast before getting to San Carlos and driving up the mountain in direction to El Valle. El Valle is a small mountain village with a very pleasant climate. At the El Valle market you can admire all regional products such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, stone soaps, ceramic articles, hand-made wooden baskets, wooden furniture, etc.
  • Please inquire for details and pricing

    * Includes: Transportation to El Valle and back, English speaking guide

    * Duration: approx. 8 hours

    * Please note: the market is open everyday, but Sundays is much bigger!

  • This tour will take you in the morning to the Soberanía National Park. There you will walk for about an hour along the famous "Camino de Cruces" trail, which connects the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts. This historical trail was used once my merchants, slaves, European explorers and gold seekers. The Soberania National Park is part of a biological corridor, so you will be able to admire a variety of birds, mammals and reptiles, as well as abundant fauna.Afterwards we drive back to Panama City.
  • Please inquire for details and pricing

    * Includes: Private transportation, Entrance fee to the National Park, English speaking travel guide and driver

    * Duration: approx. 4 hours

  • In the morning you depart to the Metropolitan National Park, which is the only tropical rainforest natural park inside a major urban center in Central America. There you can walk along the park trails and will see a lot of the local flora and fauna of a tropical rainforest.
  • Please inquire for details and pricing

    * Includes: Private transportation, Entrance fee to the National Park & English speaking travel guide and driver

    * Duration: approx. 4 hours

 

* Please note: Information on this page is believed to be correct but not guaranteed

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Hotel El Panama

Hotel El Panama Panama City Panama

The luxury hotel El Panama is located on the principal avenue of Panama City in the heart of the financial, shopping and dining districts.

avg/night$132.00 SELECT
Bristol

Bristol Panama City Panama

A serene and luxurious enclave where discriminating travelers escape the pressures of the world and immerse themselves in an exceptional atmosphere of elegance and hospitality that expresses the signature style of Bristol.

avg/night$150.00 SELECT

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