Travel to Panama and Have the Time of Your Life
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Panama is a travel destination growing in popularity. This gorgeous, tropical nation is most famous for its canal—which is, of course, a must-see, unforgettable attraction—but has much, much more to offer to travelers. Panama’s natural beauty is astounding, and there are beaches, rainforests, and mountains for you to enjoy. Additionally, Panama City offers a metropolis rich in both fascinating history and modern diversions.
Panama City Is Full of Exciting Attractions
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Panama? No doubt it is the Panama Canal—the country’s principal tourist attraction, as well as one of the county’s largest sources of income. Seeing the “Eighth Wonder of the World” is an obligatory experience for anyone traveling to Panama, and watching a boat pass through this marvel of engineering is a memory that will last a lifetime.
Another popular attraction is the historic colonial section of Panama City known as Casco Viejo (see this video tour of Casco Viejo). This neighborhood of colonial architecture is being restored and becoming a very hip area. Some buildings remain as crumbling tenements, while others have gained new lives as gorgeous restaurants, art galleries, and more.
Modern Panama City is in itself a great destination. Whether your ideal travel itinerary involves shopping, theater, and jazz clubs or casinos, bars, and night clubs, Panama City has what you are looking for. There are also plenty of hotels to suit all budgets.
Traveling in Panama for Fun in the Sun
One of the biggest draws of traveling to Panama is the country’s lengthy coastline. Panama enjoys a seemingly endless list of picture-postcard beaches on both its Caribbean and Pacific shores. These beaches provide a perfect place to spend lazy days in the sun, where your only concern is keeping your rum punch icy cold. Looking for more activity? Many people travel to Panama to enjoy snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and fishing, all of which are easy to incorporate into any trip.
One of the most popular and well-known beach destinations for Panama travelers is Bocas del Toro, near the Costa Rican border on the Caribbean side. This idyllic archipelago is famous for its beautiful Caribbean islands of stunning white-sand beaches, fringed by lush tropical rainforests. Bocas is very laid back, but also offers lots of daytime water sports activities and an enjoyable nightlife scene.
Other fabulous Panamanian beaches include those of the San Blas Islands. San Blas is an autonomous region of Panama’s Caribbean coast that is home to the Kuna Indians, one of Panama’s many indigenous groups. You can take tourism adventures to these undeveloped, idyllic beaches. The presence of the Kuna also makes for a fascinating visit, and San Blas is an excellent place to buy molas (embroidered textiles), Panama’s most famous handicraft.
Travel Panama’s Majestic Rainforests
Those hoping to visit a rainforest during their travels will be thrilled with Panama’s numerous rainforest reserves. Travelers with little time can visit the Parque Metropolitano, which is a beautiful rainforest reserve located inside of Panama City. It offers incredible vistas of the city. Visitors with more time and a sense of adventure can head off to the Darién National Park, near the Colombian border. Darién National Park is Panama’s most incredible national park, and boasts a massive area of thick, untouched rainforest. It is also one of Panama’s many excellent bird-watching destinations.
How to get to Panama
Most travelers fly into Tocumen International Airport (code: PTY), a major hub connecting all of North and South America. There is also a domestic airport in Panama City, the Marcos A. Gelabert Airport in the Albrook neighborhood, from which you can fly to nearly all of Panama’s beach, country, and mountain destinations. (The two domestic airlines in Panama are Air Panama , and Aeroperlas .
- There are direct flights to Panama from many cities all over the world, including U.S. destinations like Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Orlando, Newark, and New York. Panama is one of the easiest countries in the world to fly to.
- Many major carriers fly here, including Panama’s highly successful Copa airlines, and U.S.-based lines like Continental, American, and Delta, and airlines from other countries, for example Taca, Iberia, Avianca, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which offers non-stop flights between Amsterdam and Panama.
- Approximate times for direct flights from major U.S. cities: Miami, two hours and 50 minutes; Orlando, three hours and 15 minutes; Atlanta, four hours; Houston, four hours; Washington, DC, four hours and 30 minutes; New York, five hours and 10 minutes; Los Angeles, seven hours and 30 minutes.
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