What to see and do in Panama
Sightseeing in Panama
Panama is a varied and incredible country that has a lot to offer, from its stunning Caribbean and Pacific coastlines to thriving cities and, arguably, one of the most impressive man-made structures in the world. We are, of course, talking about the Panama Canal. Seeing this shipping channel is awe-inspiring, with the vast container ships that glide along it being a real sight to behold.
However, Panama is home to much more than its famous canal, as you'll soon discover if you spend a few days in Panama City. This vibrant metropolis offers a wonderful contrast between old and new - wander the streets of the Old Town and you'll be greeted by stunning colonial architecture at every turn. Step into the modern part of Panama City, meanwhile, and you'll be surrounded by glistening skyscrapers.
There are also several fascinating museums in Panama City, including the Canal Museum, the Panama Viejo Visitor Center (which is dedicated to the old district of the city), and the Museum of Biodiversity - the perfect place to visit before you head off to explore some of the country's national parks.
Like many Central American nations, Panama is a hub of biodiversity, with its thriving rainforests teeming with wildlife. No holiday to Panama would be complete without experiencing its incredible ecosystem and there are several places you can go to do just that. The Gamboa Rainforest Reserve is a wonderful choice if you want to stay in the heart of the jungle but still be in luxurious accommodation.
One of the highlights here is going on a ride on the cable car, which takes you on a gentle journey through the tree canopy, allowing you to spot all manner of birds as you go along. Keep a particularly close eye out for the resplendent quetzal, one of the most spectacular birds in the rainforest.
You can also go on guided hikes through Panama's rainforests, giving you the chance to see a bit more of the area's wildlife. Capybaras, sloths, coatimundis, toucans and howler monkeys are just a few of the creatures you may be lucky enough to spot.
In addition to the rainforests, Panama also boasts stunning beaches on both its coastlines, so if you want to relax in the sun on a pristine stretch of sand, there are ample opportunities to do so.
Top activities to try in Panama
There are also plenty of activities for adventurous travellers to try during a trip to Panama, both in the sea and on dry land. On the Pacific coast, surfing is a favourite pastime among visitors and locals alike, while other water-based pursuits include kayaking, scuba diving and snorkelling.
Panama's rivers are also hotspots for white water rafting, with several sets of rapids dotted across the country where you can enjoy the thrills and spills of racing down a river running through the heart of the jungle.
On dry land, hiking is a wonderful way to get out and about and appreciate some of the local wildlife, although another option if you'd like to cover a bit more ground is horseback riding. Golf is also popular in Panama, with the country home to several excellent courses, including the Buenaventura Golf Course, which is considered to be the best in the whole of Latin America.
If you're keen to learn more about Panama's heritage, don't miss the opportunity to visit the Kuna tribe, an indigenous group who still lead a very traditional way of life in the country's untouched wilderness areas.
Relax and unwind
Of course, there are plenty of places you can visit for rest and relaxation during your holiday in Panama as well. The islands of the Las Perlas Archipelago are a classic example, with these isles home to picture-perfect white sand beaches where you can sit back and forget all about the stresses and strains of daily life.
If you're planning to stay in a luxury hotel in Panama, chances are that there will be an onsite spa where you can indulge in all manner of massages and beauty treatments - the perfect way to help you unwind and ensure you are relaxed for the duration of your getaway.
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Conservationist and philanthropist Louis Bacon are currently at work developing an exclusive resort on Panama's Pacific Coast. The resort, which will open in 2019, will rely entirely on solar energy and be composting to meet energy needs and reduce waste. The luxury resort will be located on 14 islands off of Panama's coast.
Panama has recently been granted the honour of becoming the location for the first ever W Hotels property in Central America. Run by prestigious hospitality company Marriott International S.A., the new hotel is expected to open its doors to the public in 2018. In addition to boosting lodgings for local tourism industry, the property has provided jobs for over 200 people.