Known for its famous canal, Panama has much to offer tourists, including untouched wilderness, magnificent islands, charming towns and villages, vibrant cities and a friendly, easy-going atmosphere, making it a unique and rewarding holiday destination.
Panama City is the capital and is an intriguing cultural mix of Spanish, African, West Indian, Chinese, Indian, and European influences. The old district of San Felipe includes attractions such as the 17th-century Metropolitan Church, the Interoceanic Canal Museum of Panama, the Plaza de Bolívar, the presidential palace, the History Museum of Panama and the 16th-century sea wall. Nearby are the 16th-century ruins of Panamá Viejo, the Summit Botanical Gardens and Zoo, the Parque Nacional Sobreranía and the Parque Nacional Metropolitana.
The Panama Canal is one of the most significant waterways on earth, stretching 80 kilometers from Panama City on the Pacific coast to Colón on the Atlantic side. You can get excellent views of the Canal from the Miraflores Locks to the northeast of Panama City, where there is also a museum. Alternatively, take a boat from Balboa, a western suburb of Panama City, for a five-hour tour through the locks to Miraflores Lake.
Sample the delights of the numerous islands around the country, including Isla Taboga, with its attractive beaches and varied fauna, and Isla Grande, regarded as one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. More remote are the archipelagos of San Blas and Bocas del Toro; the former famed for its wonderful Kuna Indian culture, the latter for its sea turtles and Parque Nacional Bastimentos marine preserve. All the islands offer travelers great diving, snorkeling, and swimming.
For a refreshing change from the hot, humid coast and islands, head inland to the small mountain town of Boquete, where you can enjoy activities such as hiking, bird watching, and horse riding. The more adventurous can attempt some of the challenging mountains in the area, including the volcanic peak of Volcán Barú.