Panama City

Latin America's answer to Hong Kong or Singapore, Panama is heady combination skyscrapers soaring into the sky and ransackled colonial buildings.

Panama City is a sleek metropolis that curls impressively around a wide bay facing the Pacific ocean, thriving on its role as one of the world's great trading gateways: Latin America's Hong Kong or Singapore, with sprawling poorer areas to match. One in every three Panamanians lives in Panama City.

Panama Canal and the Bridge of the Americas

The west of Panama City presses against the Panama Canal itself, where the spectacular Bridge of the Americas brings the Panamerican Highway from the rest of Central and North America to docks that busily load and unload freight for the Canal.

Panama la Vieja - the earliest Panama

Towards the eastern outskirts of Panama City lie the ruins of the original city, Panama la Vieja, where the riches of the Incan empire first arrived by ship from Peru and were carried by the 'royal road' to the Caribbean for onward shipment to the Spanish court-until, that is, the city was comprehensively sacked in 1671 by the Welsh pirate Sir Henry Morgan. After this onslaught Panama City was rebuilt at Casco Viejo, quite near the mouth of today's Canal, this time surrounded by a high stone wall and moat.

Casco Viejo - colonial Panama City

Thus protected, Casco Viejo flourished unscathed for centuries, with wonderful colonial buildings in Spanish, French, and Italian styles crowding narrow streets and small plazas that echo its contemporary, old Havana. Like Havana, the ravages of time have taken their toll since Casco Vieja's heyday, but major restorations are under way and the area has received UNESCO World Heritage status.

Panama City's Metropolitan Natural Park

All great cities must have a great park, and Panama City's outshines all-comers. Its Metropolitan Natural Park brings the tropical forest to within 10 min of the heart of downtown, with well-maintained trails, 250 species of bird, and wildlife such as iguanas, tortoises, sloth and anteater, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, from whose canopy crane you can survey life in the tree-tops.

Start planning your trip to Panama

Let us know what kind of trip to Panama you are most interested in, and when you are thinking of travelling. Our travel experts know Panama extremely well, and will be delighted to offer some initial ideas and advice, and to develop a more detailed design for your holiday as your ideas evolve. You can order our special brochure for Costa Rica, Panama & Nicaragua here.

Call us on 020 7281 7788 ( Mon-Fri 9:15-5:45). Or we'd be happy to call you back.


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Holiday designs that visit Panama City

'Panama Odyssey'

Panama - Touring and wildlife

This private tour is ideal for active people who would like to discover something of the real Panama and its wildlife as well as seeing the main sights.

13 nights from £3690

'Along the Caribbean'

Costa Rica - Touring and wildlife

A wonderful tour visiting the highlights of the Caribbean coast- the flooded forest of Tortuguero, Cahuita National Park, jungle backed beaches and the Bocas del Toro archipelago in Panama.

17 nights from £3395

'Just a Week in Panama'

Panama - Touring and wildlife

A week of touring in Panama that combines well with time at a beach, or with a visit to Costa Rica.

7 nights from £1955

'And Panama Too'

Panama - Touring and wildlife

A short stopover in Panama to see the Panama Canal, following on from a trip in Costa Rica. Call us for other options.

4 nights from £1275

'Selfdrive Panama'

Panama - Selfdrive touring

With reasonable roads and much to see along the way, a self-drive holiday in western and central Panama makes good sense for the independent-minded traveller.

14 nights from £2475

'Panama Adventures'

Panama - Walking and active

Step beyond the ordinary with up-for-it experiences face-to-face with nature in jungles, mountains and coral islands.

12 nights from £3495

'The Camino Real Trek'

Panama - Walking and active

A satisfying, fairly rugged short jungle trek to follow the gold of the Incas from the mountains to the Caribbean.

7 nights

'Panama Chill-out'

Panama - Beach and relaxation

Beautiful locations make this a memorable getaway, an unusual honeymoon, or a chilled-out break from busy lives.

11 nights from £3140

'The Birds of Panama'

Panama - Birdwatching

This is probably the very best two-week birdwatching itinerary for Panama in terms of covering key birdwatching sites, building a long list including spectaculars and endemics.

14 nights from £4985

'Easy Birding in Panama'

Panama - Birdwatching

275-300 species in a week of relatively easy bird watching in two complementary locations

11 nights from £3175

Other parts of Panama