March 2012
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Travel – Panama City, Panama – the capital city

Panama City is the capital of Panama and is famous for being a multicultural place, with people from different parts of the world. It is the largest city of the Republic of Panama. Spanish is the most spoken language with English being the second most spoken language. Around Paitilla there are many shopping malls, Via Espana is the banking district and an outdoor mall at the Los pueblos. The approximate population of the city is 1,206,000. This city is located at the entrance of the Pacific ocean inlet of the Panama Canal (probably the most important part of Panama). This city is known to be the political and administrative center of the country and is a hub for international banking and commerce. Panama’s Tocumen International Airport is the biggest and busiest airport of Central America.

Attractions of Panama City, Panama

• The Old City: This is a World Heritage Site and is nearby Pargue Lefevre. There are churches and building of French and Spanish style along with restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops. Tapas and mojito are restaurants speciality here. Then there is also the Presidential palace, and a Tower that also has a cultural centre.
• Vasco Nunez de Balboa Park: This is a small park situated in la Avenida Balboa and a perfect relaxing place near the sea. Vasco Nunez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, on whose name this park is named. Hence the park has a statue of him with a flag and a sword and, in front a design of sea horse images.
• Pargue Soberania: This is about 15 minutes away from the Panama City and is a hiking place. The hiking trail goes through the rainforests with caves and lakes, and bird watching and fishing too are also part of the overall adventure.
• The Panama Canal: This canal is about 77 km (48 miles). It is a very famous shipping canal and this canal joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean and has been the key for maritime trade, saving a huge longer journey around South America. The traffic was about 1000 ships in the early days and present it is about 14,700 vessels a day. This canal has its own measurement system called Panama Canal/Universal Measurement System (PC/UMS) in tons. It was one of the largest engineering projects of its times, and took a lot of hard work and dedication, and also cost a lot of lives. The alternate much longer route is via the Drake Passage and Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America.

Historical Tours:
• Panama Viejo: This was once the gateway city for the Spanish conquest of Latin America. Presently there are ruins of the battles with the English pirate Henry Morgan in 1671. There is a museum with Spanish exhibits near the site. One needs to know Spanish or take a guide for translation for understanding as the exhibits are mostly in Spanish.
• Casco Viejo: This is an established Spanish colonial city, established in 1671. This city was established after the downfall of Panama Viejo in battles and until 20th century, this city was Panama City. Panama bay and other sites depict its history with Spain, France and United States.
• Other Highlights include the churches of the 17th century that include the Church of the Golden Altar, the ruins of 17th century convents and residences, original dungeons. There is a French monument for the 22,000 people who died building the Panama Canal and the Panama Canal Museum. There is also a restored building which was once the headquarters of the French company which was in charge of building a sea level canal.
• Shopper’s Delight: The popular shopping destinations are Punta Pacifica, Alb rook and El Dorado Malls, the Agenda Central with more local flavor and Latin styles.

Enjoy the Outdoors: The beaches, Trails, national parks, surfing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, relaxing on beach ends and exploring the marine and mammal life is a must scene in Panama city. The crystal clear waters and the winds and the weather are so favorable and good that one can’t miss it.
• Rio Mar: This offers warm waters and is a best surfing spot. One can also enjoy the beach wind and sip a drink enjoying the view and hear the waves splashing and relax.
• Punta Chame: This beach is ideal for wind surfing and this is the best in dry season which is the best time for it. The other activity is kite surfing.
• Buenaventura: This beach offers plenty of water activities like surfing, snorkeling, swimming etc. If one is not going for these, just the peace of the beach is enough to enjoy.
• Gorgona: This beach is one hour away from Panama City. One can enjoy the beach activities here too in its warm waters.
• Playa Blanca: This beach resembles Florida beach, Nikki beach. One can swim in warm waters and other water activities.
• Amador Causeway: This causeway gives the best views of Panama City’s skyline and the Panama Canal. This is about a mile long causeway that connects four small islands with rock excavations. They also serve as breakwaters to the Pacific Coast to the Panama Canal. A Smithsonian Institute of Tropical Research aquarium, souvenir and specialty shops, a cruise port and a yacht marina are some of the causeway attractions. Some of the restaurants have ocean and Canal views.
• Panama Canal Railway Trans-Isthmus Ride: This is a Kansas City railroad which reopened as the historic Panama Canal Railway.
This is a 50 mile railroad ride with scenic ocean view from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. This ride includes the Panama Canal and rainforest scenery.
• Nightlife: There are nightclubs, discos and casinos in the city.
• Ancon Hill and Los Pueblitos: Ancon hill is a prominent hill in Panama City which overlooks the canal and the city. There is a staircase on the bottom of the hill to the top of the road. This is about half an hour walk. The walk is in a rainforest with birds and animals with a double view at summit and a bird’s eye view of the Canal. There are 3 miniature villages at the foot of the hill. These villages represent 3 cultures, the Spanish, the West Indian and the native Indian.
• Panama Canal Rainforest: The Panama Canal rainforests are one of the most pristine rainforests in the world. The Soberania National Park is about 30 minutes away from Panama City and 45 minutes from the international airport. This is a base for ecotourism.
Some other places to see:
• Las Bóvedas, The Vaults is a waterfront promenade jutting out into the Pacific.
• The National Institute of Culture Building and the French Embassy.
• The Cathedral on Plaza de la Catedral
• Teatro Nacional, a performance center, with outstanding natural acoustics.
• Museo del Canal Interoceánico (Interoceanic Canal Museum);
• Palacio de las Garzas (Heron’s Palace), the official name of the presidential palace.

Best time to visit / climate:

Panama City has a tropical wet and dry climate. The dry season is from January to April whereas the wet season is in remaining year. The best time to visit Panama City is in the dry season.

Location on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

How to get there:

By plane: Tocumen International Airport is outside Panama city. This airport offers services for Copa Airline, American Airlines (Dallas/Ft.Worth, Miami), Delta Airlines (Atlanta, Georgia), Continental Airlines (Houston, Newark), Avianca (Bogotá, Colombia) and TACA (San José, Costa Rica and San Salvador, El Salvador) along with major Central American airlines, and several South American airlines and European Airlines. There are direct flights between Tocumen and New York, Newark, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Amsterdam, Madrid, and all major cities in the Caribbean area, Central America and South America, like Santiago de Chile.
Domestic flights leave out of Gelabert/Albrook Airport which was once an airbase. Daily flights serve every major town and city in the country. The major carriers are AirPanama and Aeroperlas.

By train:
Between Panama City and Colon, only one train service operates with a passenger car. This ride is a scenic ride with views of the Panama Canal and the tropical rainforest.
By bus: there is bus terminal which is next to Albrook airport which has regular bus services by Tica Bus.
To get around taxis are the best way.

Learn more about Panama and its capital:

Lonely Planet Panama Panama AdventureMap (National Geographic) Fodor’s Panama, 2nd Edition

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers):
Hotels at tripadvisor
Restaurants at wikitravel
Hotels at wikitravel
Hotels at panamainfo
Restaurants at Panamainfo
Hotels with cheap deals at hotelscombined

Blogs / Sites about Panama city, Panama:

Blogs and reviews at travelpod
Blogs and reviews at expatblog
Blogs and reviews at the panama report
Blogs and reviews at travelblog
Blogs and reviews at blog at panama total

Images and photos of Panama City, Panama:

Images at google search
Images at tripadvisor
Images at skyscraperctiy
Images at galenfrysinger
Images at wikipedia

Videos of Panama City, Panama:

Panama City – Aerial View

Panama City

Panama Travel and Tourism

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