Panama City, founded in 1519, grew and prospered until pirate Henry Morgan ransacked and burned it to the ground in 1671. A new city, built nearby in Spanish colonial style, served as the city center for centuries until the Panama Canal was opened in 1914, and Panama City started to develop into one of Latin America’s most modern cities and an important banking center. Today one may visit the three cities: Vestiges of the original settlement can still be seen in Panama Vieja. The colonial district, known as Casco Viejo, has retained its charming colonial flavor and architecture, and modern Panama is composed of sleek skyscrapers, wide avenues, and modern hotels. For visitors, however, Panama City remains best known for the famous canal, and is the gateway for canal visits and day boat excursions, as well as eco-related activities in many parks and reserves bordering the canal. Panama City offers all visitor facilities, and its intense nightlife includes casinos.
Three to five nights
Best time to go:
Best time to visit is during dry season (December-April) when days are sunny and rain is almost nonexistent. Rainy season (May-November) is characterized by hot, humid weather with sunny mornings and afternoon showers and thunderstorms. Temperatures average 86F with little seasonal variations.
• Canal Tours: Choose between day visits to the locks, half-day canal transits on Saturdays, or full transits operated once a month.
• Colonial Architecture: Ruins of Panama Vieja and colonial architecture in Casco Viejo.
• Bird Watching: Soberania National Park holds the world’s record for most bird species sighted in a single day.
• Trekking: Las Cruces Trail is a most popular and demanding trek.
• Canopy Tours: Available in nearby Gamboa rainforest or Anton Valley.