From clear turquoise seas to the coffee farms and cloud forests of Chiriquí, Panama can be as chilled out or as thrilling as you wish. Boasting some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world and rich and fascinating culture, it’s easy to see why Panama is so popular with tourists. The country’s allure as a tourist destination grows more powerful every year, and tourism plays a vital role in the nation’s economy.
Culture & History
The culture of Panama is a mixture of cultures from many parts of the planet, this country also shares and hosts an exchange of languages, ethnic, commercial, tourist, gastronomic, literary, musical, religious, and more. Panama is the bridge of union of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as a product of the creation of man and his culture. Its strategic geographical position has contributed to the culture to be a point of commercial attraction and therefore all the individual interests of the different international cultures.
Panama preserves numerous colonial buildings, such as the cathedral and the church of Santo Domingo, in the capital. In the old part of some cities, houses are preserved with the characteristic Andalusian-style interior courtyards.
There are seven indigenous cultures in the country that practice ancestral customs. You’ll also find museums, archaeological sites, and three historic colonial cities with fortresses, churches, and convents dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Panama is very rich in culture and tradition since the Central American coast is the geographical union of all America. Influenced by Indian and Arab customs, this nation reinvents itself to create stunning dishes. This land offers a culinary mix that is worth knowing, as they have spicy flavors that combine with any food.
Many international foods in Panama are recognized for their quality and variety of ingredients, one of them is the famous Panamanian tripe. Soups like this and sancocho are among the most popular, they have protein and a very rich salty broth.
Typical Panamanian foods are mildly flavored, without the pungency of some of Panama's Latin American and Caribbean neighbors. Common ingredients are maize, rice, wheat flour, plantains, yuca (cassava), beef, chicken, pork, and seafood.
Corn-based dishes come from the kernel, cooked in water, and then ground to obtain a dough (as opposed to using corn flour to obtain the dough). Fresh corn is also used in some dishes. Due to the multicultural background of the Panamanians, many of its dishes are heavily influenced by the cuisine of other Latin American countries and also the Caribbean as well as European.
Panama City is culturally diverse and driven, rough-edged yet sophisticated. And there's much that's new or improved. Central America's first subway is operating, the historic Casco district has been beautifully restored, and a massive canal expansion is completed. Pedal the coastal green space, explore the Casco, or attend an avant-garde performance and you will realize this tropical capital isn't only about salsa: that's just the backbeat.
Casco Viejo, its cobblestoned historic center, is famed for colonial-era landmarks like the neoclassical Palacio Presidencial and bougainvillea-filled plazas lined with cafes and bars. The Miraflores Locks offers views of ships traversing the canal, an essential shipping route linking the Atlantic and Pacific.
If anyone in the family envies the pirate way of life, don't miss a Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise. A two-hour exploration of St. Andrew Bay set to music, this swashbuckling adventure gives kids the chance to sword fight, read a treasure map, and find hidden booty. For a more educational experience, your family is sure to love Seacrest Wolf Preserve, a rare opportunity to interact with real wolves.
Outdoors & Adventure
Explore the ruins of Spanish forts on the Caribbean coast or boat deep into indigenous territories in a dugout canoe. Wildlife is incidental: a resplendent quetzal on the highland trail, an unruly troupe of screeching howler monkeys outside your cabin, or a breaching whale that turns your ferry ride into an adrenaline-filled event. Adventure tourism means zipping through rainforest canopies, swimming alongside sea turtles or trekking to sublime cloud-forest vistas.
With a plethora of deserted islands, chilled Caribbean vibes on one side and monster Pacific swells on the other, Panama sits poised to deliver the best of beach life. And a whole other world begins at the water's edge. Seize it by scuba diving with whale sharks in the Pacific, snorkeling the rainbow reefs of Bocas del Toro, or setting sail in the indigenous territory of Guna Yala, where virgin isles sport nary a footprint. Meanwhile, surfers will be psyched to have world-class breaks all to themselves.
You don't have to make it to the Darién to get off the beaten path – though if you do, you've hit one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet. Go where the wild things are. Soak in the spray of towering waterfalls near highland Santa Fé. Visit one of Panama's seven indigenous groups through community tourism. Live out your castaway fantasies in the Guna Yala or idle on a wilderness beach in Península de Azuero. Panama could be as wild as you want it to be.
Take a look at all the amazing destinations we have selected for you and your group, read our experiences and advice in our blog, and check what’s people saying about us too!