Located in the middle of the Americas and surrounded by the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Panama has become a mandatory visit for many backpackers traveling through the entire continent. A lot of foreigners (especially from the United States) get lost between the tropical heat of the beaches, the cosmopolitan Panama City and the diversity of cultures that compose the population.
There are over a thousand reasons to visit this country and list each one of them would take a lifetime, but I hope the following 10 reasons will convince anybody to have a good time within Panama.
10 places to visit in Panama:
1. Volcán Barú: this volcano, located in the province of Chiriquí, is the highest point in the entire nation with an altitude of 3.473 meters. It is believed that the last eruption was in the year 500 AD. From the peak and on a clear day it’s possible to see both oceans. On the slopes of the volcano you can appreciate the agricultural activity of the zone, based on coffee and onion plantation.
2. Casco Viejo: one of the main important tourist sites of the country. As the historic district of Panama City, it was built in 1671 after the looting and burning of Panama Viejo by the pirate Henry Morgan. Points of interest in this historic area are the Catedral Metropolitana, Las Bóvedas or the Presidency of the Republic.
3. Panamá Viejo: Despite its fateful historical ending, this place is a must. About 8 kilometers from the modern city, these remains formed the first settlement of the region founded by Pedrarias Dávila in 1519. In 2003 the entire Panama Viejo site was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
4. The Panama Canal: This engineering marvel of the 20th century is regarded by many as the eighth wonder of the world. Currently under expansion, this canal was opened in 1914 by the United States, after the French administration failure. Don’t miss the transit of vessels through the Miraflores Locks at the visitor center.
5. Portobelo: This port town is about 50 km from the city of Colón, and was the center of world trade between the 16th and 18th century. A visit to the old military fortifications of Portobelo and San Lorenzo tells you how citizens defend from pirates back then. Both forts were declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
6. Guna Yala: It’s an indigenous territory in the northeast of the Panamanian geography. Formerly known as San Blas, this autonomous region is characterized by an archipelago surrounded by 365 islands, of which 65 are inhabited. Even when reaching to Guna Yala can be something expensive, it is worth to enjoy the exuberance of its pristine beaches and kindness of the locals.
San Blas Guna Yala
7. Bocas del Toro: Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502, this destination is well known among backpackers for the unique beauty of its beaches and surroundings. It offers an amazing diversity of aquatic life around its islands great for Bocas sailing and snorkeling. Bocas del Toro is also famous for the party scene, so if you are up for a good time you will probably enjoy your time. For yoga fanatics, check out Bocas Yoga place run by my friend Laura Kay.
Bocas del Toro
8. El Valle de Antón: Just two hours distance from Panama City you can find this small and picturesque town El Valle de Anton, located inside the crater of an extinct volcano. Most tourists take advantage of the weekends to relax in the hot springs. Be sure to climb “La India Dormida“, the most famous mountain in the region.
Valle de Anton
9. Santa Catalina: Without doubt, this is one of the best spots in Central America to practice surf. Santa Catalina is a small beach-side town well-known for the idyllic Estero beach, where everybody comes to surf, and its closeness to Coiba Island, where most people visit mainly to dive in the beautiful waters surrounding the island.
10. Boquete: A village located near the Barú volcano, Boquete famous for being a cozy village encircled by beautiful mountains with a chill weather. If you like to do some horseback riding, hiking, tour inside a coffee plantation, bird watching or any type of outdoor activities, Boquete is the place for you!
10 places to visit in Panama was written by my friend Osvaldo from travel blogs Viajes y cosas asi and Como Viajar por el Mundo, both in Spanish. He lives in Panama City. Feel free to check out his blogs if you speak Spanish!
Alex is a crazy Slovak girl who made traveling the reason of her life. In March 2011 she quit her stewardess job and hasn't stopped ever since. Her motto is ''I live to travel, I travel to live.'' She writes about crazy travel, fun adventures and sexy photos.
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Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler
Thanks Osvaldo for your recommendations 🙂
Comment@ Traveling Ted: If you’re serious about hiking and seeing loca wildlife, I recommend you to visit Boquete, the Metropolitan Natural Park in Panama City, El Valle de Antón and the region of Darién. In the case of Darién, it’s wise to go with a guide.
Crazy sexy fun traveler
Comment@ Traveling Ted:
Ted, I hope Osvaldo can answer your question 🙂
These are some great tips. I did not see any rainforest or national parks in the list. Where is the best place for hiking and seeing wildlife?
Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler
It so does look beautiful!
Comment@ TammyOnTheMove: It’s a nice volcano Tammy, even it kicked my butt when I hicked it last year 😀
Panama looks wonderful and so diverse! I had no idea thera was a volcano there. Thanks for sharing!