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What to do in Panama City + Exploring the Casco Viejo in a Layover

We arrived in the Panama airport early in the morning and had a layover lasting until evening. We took advantage and left to Panama City to do some tourism. The airport is approximately 30 minutes from the city by taxi.

Since we did not have much time, we opted to take a taxi to the Panama Canal and then to the city, we took a taxi that was recommend to us by a local.

The best things to do in Panama City Travel Map:

6 Things to do in Panama City in a Layover:

6. Miraflores Visitor Center

Miraflores Visitor Center

Our first stop was the Miraflores Visitor Center along the Panama Canal, one of the main attractions in Panama city. We went through the museum they have there, and watched a few boats slowly move through the famous canal locks.

The entire canal visit took about two hours. Make sure to take your student ID if you have one, for a reduced price ticket.

5. Walk around the Casco Viejo District

Walk around the Casco Viejo District

The taxi driver took us to is El Casco Viejo, the historic neighborhood of downtown Panama City. The neighborhood has a lot of great places to enjoy glass of wine or something to eat. If you are looking for souvenirs, there are a lot of craft vendors with reasonable prices along the streets.

4. Plaza de la Independencia

Plaza de la Independencia is the main plaza in historic Panama City. It is named in celebration of the historic independence from both Spain and Columbia. It is the center of the tourist area as well, always bustling with people. The plaza often has arts market, perfect for a local souvenir.

3. La Catedral Metropolitana

At the edge of the Plaza de la Independencia is the the Metropolitan Cathedral of Panama City. This 400 year old cathedral has undergone many transformations and restorations throughout its long history. The church has two massive white bell towers on both sides, the top inlaid with mother of pearl.

2. El Palacio de las Garzas

Only two blocks away, along the water, is El Palacio de las Garzas. The palace, originally built in 1673, is the current governmental office and residence of the President of Panama.

1. Causeway Islands

The last stop was the four small Causeway Islands jutting out into the Pacific Ocean were originally built as breakwater for the entrance to the Panama Canal. They now serve as a popular place for tourist shopping and restaurants. There is also several marinas where you can see some nice yachts.

The four islands are Naos Island, Culebra Island, Perico Island and Flamenco Island.

Taxi Contact Info

If you have a trip or layover planned for Panama City we highly suggest our taxi driver Santiago. He has great prices, a great personality, and a great knowledge of the city.

He charges $17 an hour, including picking us up at the airport and drop us off in the same place. This is a great price as a taxi ride from the airport to the city alone can cost $25-30!

Santiago (via Whatsapp): +507 65394019

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From seafood markets to looking at historical buildings, here's what to do in Panama's charming Casco Viejo neighborhood! 6 things to do in Panama City during a long layover The best things to do in Panama in one day

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Wednesday 27th of April 2016

Panama is high on my list. I really want to go through the canal. I think that one day might not be enough...

Travel To Blank

Thursday 28th of April 2016

One day is not enough! But, if you have a layover, it is best to make good use of the time.


Wednesday 27th of April 2016

My dad is about to travel to Panama so I will send him the link to this post :)

Travel To Blank

Wednesday 27th of April 2016

Awesome, we hope he enjoys his trip!

Vedante | The Lavish Nomad

Wednesday 20th of April 2016

I was just checking out the Panama City tour featured story on Snapchat. Its such an amazing city!


Tuesday 19th of April 2016

a college roommate of mine spent some time in panama and really enjoyed it a lot. It's a much bigger city than i initially thought it was!

Katie Karambelas

Monday 18th of April 2016

I never thought about going to Panama but this post makes me really want to! Thanks for sharing!