Urban cosmopolitanism meets pristine beaches: welcome to Panama.
With its potent cocktail of stunning skyline and colonial charm, Panama City is far and away Central America’s most sophisticated capital. Venture outside it, however, and a whole tropical paradise opens itself to you.
That paradise goes far beyond the glittering metropolis and world-famous canal. Visitors who explore Panama’s interior and coastline will discover unspoiled beaches, indigenous archipelagos, coffee plantations, and quaint towns built in the caldera of a 500,000-year-old volcano. A whole universe of experiences—all tucked into Central America’s slender waist.
Here are some of the hotspots awaiting you in this vibrant crossroads of East and West:
- Needing to disconnect? The Bocas del Toro island chain is laid-backness incarnate. Scuba diving, deep boarding, and sizzling nightlife have the cure for what ails just about anyone.
- Panama’s Canal needs no introduction. But how best to see it? You decide, with options that include day trips from the capital as well as extended jaunts that encompass Atlantic and Pacific in a single day.
- Panama’s chic modern districts are like Miami Reloaded. But its Casco Viejo is right out of the 16th century: colonial convents and ruined houses evoke the glory days of imperial Spain.
- Boquete, in Barú Volcano National Park, is a hub for outdoorsy types, offering climbing, river rafting, and canopy touring. Plus, you can sample one of the world’s most expensive coffees.
- Fantasies about being Robinson Crusoe? Head to the San Blas Islands in the Caribbean, where the warm waves and coral reefs are tended by the native Kuna people. A tropical hideout that’s the antithesis of a tourist trap.