Panama City is such a popular destination to visit in Central America. It's wedged right between Colombia and Costa Rica. Whether you have more than enough time to getaway or just a little wiggle room for an extended weekend, there's plenty to see in Panama.
#1 Explore the Colonial Old Town of Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo is an area in Panama City that is popular among the many tourists that visit Panama City. It's filled with beautiful architecture, although it is very apparent that it's going through phases of gentrification. You'll find plenty of hotels, Airbnb's, restaurants, and bars in the area. It's always bustling with locals and tourists alike in Casco Viejo.
#2 Take a Day Trip to Contadora Islands
If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Panama City and enjoy a beach day, take off to The Pearl Islands. Isla Contadora is perfect for some much-needed relaxation and sand between your toes. Getting to the island takes only 25 minutes by plane or 1 hour and 30 minutes by ferry. Isla Contadora is surrounded by nothing but beautiful hues of blue and turquoise water. With over seven different beaches to explore (read more about it here).
#3 Rum Tasting at Pedro Mandinga
Pedro Mandinga is such a gem in the area of Casco Viejo in Panama City. It's one of Panama's first artisanal rum distillery, and it was my favorite place to visit while in Panama City. It's open daily, and they always have happy hour drink specials running until 7 p.m. With selected drink offerings that will only cost you $5. It can get pretty busy in there, and the space is very intimate. I had a good time visiting on a Sunday afternoon when there was a live band, and everyone was dancing and singing along.
#4 Visit Panama's Biomuseo
I think visiting places like the Biomuseo is pretty cool, plus the building itself is eye-catching. The museum's structure is unique, and its bold colors make it compelling. The point of the museum is to bring attention and awareness to Panama's biodiversity. It focuses on the many aspects of the natural and cultural history of Panama. You'll find exhibits that are interactive and designed to capture you. The Biomuseo is open every day except on Mondays. You can visit their website for more information here.
#5 Visit the Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is one of the main tourist attractions of Panama, and it is just a 20-minute ride from Panama City. At Miraflores Visitor Center, you can participate in the interactive museum and short film about the Panama Canal. To make the most out of your trip, try to visit during a time where you'll get to see ships passing through the locks. There's plenty of tours to choose from that can help you to visit the Panama Canal. Or you can do what I would do and make the journey on my own. Get more information from the website here.
#6 Indulge in a Dining Experience at Donde Jose
If you're looking for an upscale but local dining experience, Donde Jose is a one-of-a-kind experience in Panama City. Their focus is to introduce cuisine inspired by Panama. You'll emerge into an experience that involves food and stories about the local culture. The food portions are more of a tasting style menu, as they have you indulge in several courses from appetizers to desserts. There is a catch. You will not know what you're being served until you arrive. Reservations are required, and there is limited seating, with only 16 people being able to dine at a time. They are opened from Tuesday to Saturday, twice a day, at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. You can visit their website to submit a reservation request here. They do require a $20 deposit per person to make a reservation.