Baby Got Balance

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Central America, Panama, Travel

Two Days in Panama City, Panama

Short on time in Panama City? Don’t despair! Here’s the ultimate guide to maximizing your time.

Whether you’re coming/going from another part of the country or just doing a quick stopover (read more about stopovers here) you can still squeeze quite a bit out of Panama City in a couple days. I recently spent three nights there and was able to have a blast in just two full days. Here are my tips:


Stay in Casco Viejo! The historic district of Panama City is charming, full of character (and characters), and is a must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll get the most out of your experience by booking a stay here, be it an apartment-style hotel like Las Clementinas (review coming soon!) or somewhere a bit swankier, like the American Trade Hotel. You’ll be perfectly located for walking tours (self or guided) and surrounded by excellent dining and fun.

Day 1

Grab breakfast at Mahalo Cocina y Jardin (I’d recommend the avocado toast, and my boyfriend said the bacon was the best he’d ever had) to prepare yourself for the day. What will you do? Walk Casco Viejo!

You can book a guided historic tour of the city or just wander, which is my personal favorite. Here’s the top five spots to stop:

For lunch, we stopped at Café Coca Cola, the oldest diner in the country. Full disclosure:  it’s diner food. Simple, quick, and cheap. But it definitely hit the spot and the cold juices were a nice reprieve from the midday heat.

When you’ve had your fill of sightseeing for the day, enjoy one of the local rooftop bars for bites and drinks or back to Mahalo Cocina y Jardin for a romatic garden cocktail. Staying at Las Clementinas? Grab some beers and snacks from the store and head all the way up to your very own rooftop.

Day 2

Time to leave Casco Viejo for a bit! Head to Gamboa and board a boat for a ride on the Panama Canal. You’ll speed past giant container ships on your way to islands that are inhabited by three different types of monkeys. You’ll also get lots of information on the history and workings of the Canal. On the way back make a stop at the Gamboa Sloth Sanctuary to learn about these sleepy creatures and the important conservation work the sanctuary does. You’ll be back to Casco Viejo mid-afternoon – we opted to walk on our own some more, however you can head to Amador Causeway (a man-made peninsula on that is a popular recreation area with city skyline views), or just grab a nap.

For dinner, head over to La Bárbara. Look for the hair salon you have to walk through in order to get to this Japanese fusion speakeasy (no joke!) and inside you’ll find a literal hidden gem. The food and drinks are incredible, from service and presentation to flavor, and the prices are incredibly reasonable!

It might seem like a whirlwind but you’ll get to experience some of the highlights and beauty that Panama City has to offer. I can confirm that I barely scratched the surface, however it’s an excellent reason to return!

Interested in booking a trip to Panama City? I can help! Read more about my travel advising services here.

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