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This small S-shaped sliver of land connecting the American continents is a paradoxical place. It has long been a commercial hub, the center of global trade routes, but it’s also home to a vast tropical wilderness of rainforests with rich biodiversity.
Columbus explored Panama in the early sixteenth century. It was in Spanish hands for nearly 300 years until gaining independence in 1821.The country was a magnet for migrant workers during the construction of the canal, some of whom stayed. Panama has a diverse society with indigenous groups and heritages that include Spanish, African, Chinese and North American.
Many visitors make Panama City their base, a busy, modern metropolis where glass and steel skyscrapers dominate the skyline. Old Panama can still be found in some of its neighborhoods. Go to Casco Antiguo, also known as Casco Viejo, the city’s historic district. Here Spanish colonial mansions, palaces and leafy plazas meet bohemian bars, boutique hotels and upscale restaurants. Fill your bags at the shopping districts of Central Avenue and Via España and relax on one of the Pacific beaches less than an hour’s drive from the city.
Running across the center of Panama and linking the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans is the Panama Canal. This engineering marvel has been a shipping shortcut since 1914. Watch canal operations from the Miraflores Locks. See how ships are raised and lowered through a series of locks to start or complete the journey through the 50-mile (80-kilometer) waterway.
Panama has a varied landscape including cloud-forested highlands, untamed swamplands and huge tracts of rainforest. Go on a guided tour of the dense, humid Darien jungle on the east side of Panama. It’s one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet with swamps, mountains, rivers, more than 800 species of birds and more than 1500 species of trees. You may even come across some of the indigenous tribes living in remote jungle villages.
Hike or drive to the top of Baru Volcano in the Province of Chiriqui. At 11,398 feet (3,474 meters), it’s the tallest mountain in Panama. On clear days you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea from the summit.
Panama has a good transportation infrastructure. The most common ways to travel between cities are by car, plane or bus. Panama City has many bus and minibus services as well as taxis.
For more details on interesting local attractions and activities, check out our things to do in Panama page.
Located in the heart of Panama City, this spa hotel is 0.9 mi (1.5 km) from Avenida Central, and within 3 mi (5 km) of Museum of Natural Science and Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama. Museum of History Panama and National Theater are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Situated in Panama City, this hotel is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Avenida Balboa and 1.5 mi (2.5 km) from Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama. National Bank House Museum and Museum of Natural Science are also within 10 minutes.
Located near the airport, this family-friendly resort is within 9 mi (15 km) of Metromall Panama, Los Pueblos Commercial Center and Monte Oscuro. National Craft Market and El Dorado Mall are also within 12 miles (20 km).
This family-friendly Rio Hato resort is located on the waterfront, 5.7 mi (9.1 km) from Santa Clara Beach, and within 12 mi (20 km) of Farallon Beach and Farallon Island. Parroquia Santiago Apóstol de Río Hato and Playa Blanca are also within 12 mi (20 km).
This family-friendly Panama City hotel is located by the ocean, within 3 mi (5 km) of Multiplaza Pacific Mall and Cinta Costera. Interoceanic Canal Museum and Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama are also within 6 mi (10 km).
This family-friendly Panama City hotel is located near the airport, within 1 mi (2 km) of Marine Exhibition Center Smithsonian Institute Panama, Frank Gehry Biodiversity Museum and Amador Causeway. Avenida Central and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Punta Culebra are also within 3 miles (5 km).
Located in El Cangrejo, this hotel is 0.2 mi (0.3 km) from Via Espana and 3 mi (4.8 km) from Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama. Iglesia del Carmen and National Shrine of the Heart of Mary are also within 15 minutes.
This family-friendly Panama City hotel is located by the ocean, just steps away from Avenida Balboa and Multicentro Panama. Via Espana and Multiplaza Pacific Mall are also within 2 mi (3 km).