The 10 Best Locations to Visit in Panama 2024

Are you prepared to discover the allure and biodiversity of Panama? Every traveler, regardless of preference, will uncover something captivating in this compact Central American country. From the dynamic urban hub of Panama City to lush agricultural regions, Panama presents an array of vacation possibilities. In this article, we present Panama’s top ten tourist destinations, so, get ready to pack your bags and embark on an adventure to explore all that Panama has in store!


Panama City

Panama City, Central America’s chic capital, contrasts modernity and history across three districts, boasting UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Panama City thrives with towering skyscrapers, luxury malls, and fine dining. Discover Panama Viejo, displaying ancient ruins, and Casco Antiguo, emanating colonial charm with vibrant streets and nightlife, in this region. Transportation via digital platforms, buses, and subways simplifies navigation, though cash is preferred. Hotels arrange taxis during rain, and tour operators facilitate trips to Taboga Island or cultural excursions along the Chagres River.



Things to do in Panama City:

  • Rooftop bar-hop around Casco Viejo
  • Visit Panama Canal
  • Taste a new spin on Panamanian food
  • Cycle the Amador Causeway
  • Discover Panama’s Biomuseo
  • Enjoy Guna Yala art at the Museo de la Mola
  • Paddleboarding in Panama Bay
  • Hike the trails of the Parque Natural Metropolitano
  • Stroll the Cinta Costera


Planning Tips: For a break from city life, explore Parque Natural Metropolitano’s trails or cycle the scenic Amador Causeway, home to the Frank Gehry-designed BioMuseo celebrating the isthmus’s natural and cultural history.


Bocas del dToro

This Caribbean archipelago boasts a collection of exquisite islands, each with its unique allure. Embracing a laid-back Caribbean culture and lifestyle, visitors here can revel in the splendor of white-sand beaches, verdant jungles, and pristine waters teeming with life, including playful dolphins and curious monkeys. You can indulge in leisurely days lounging on the sun-kissed shores, exploring diverse neighborhoods, or delving into the mesmerizing coral reefs surrounding Bastimentos Island. Bocas del Toro presents an array of accommodation options ranging from hotels and Airbnb to eco-resorts, catering to every taste and preference.



Things to do in Bocas del Toro:

  • Experience floating bar
  • Yoga in the rainforest
  • Stay in an overwater bungalow
  • Explore Isla Colón by bike
  • Explore the waters of Bocas Del Toro on a Catamaran or Sailboat
  • Explore the jungle and coastline past Bluff Beach by horseback
  • Learn Spanish with Habla Ya Spanish Schools


Planning Tips: To explore jungle-backed shores, coral-ringed islets, and enchanting surf spots like Wizard Beach, venture to Isla Bastimentos. Hosting its marine reserve, this important conservation site is rich in mangroves, monkeys, crocodiles, and caimans, offering excellent snorkeling and scuba diving experiences alongside abundant wildlife encounters.



Boquete is a mountain village, hidden away in the high mountains of the Cordillera de Talamanca in the province of Chiriqui. The town is renowned for its wonderful natural beauty, including several coffee plantations, flowing waterfalls, and hiking trails. Due to Boquete’s mild climate and magnificent landscape, the small town continues to entice expats and retirees from the US and Europe, searching for a peaceful place to live and enjoy the atmosphere of Panama.


Coffee cherries lying to dry on bamboo raised beds in Boquete, Panama 2/3


Things to do in Boquete:

  • Volcan Baru Hike
  • Rock Climbing
  • Take a Coffee Farm Tour
  • White Water Rafting
  • Canopy and Hanging Bridges Tours
  • Cliff Jump and Swim in Gualaca Canyon


Planning Tips: Explore Boquete in the dry season for perfect weather and outdoor fun. Begin your day with a coffee tour, delving into Boquete’s rich coffee culture. Opt for lodging in coffee farms for an authentic stay amidst picturesque surroundings.


Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina is a coastal town on Panama’s Pacific coast, famous for its surf breaks and tranquil atmosphere. The town is a renowned surfing hotspot, but it’s also a place for snorkeling, diving, discovering, and napping on the beach. You may stay at one of the local surfer’s hostels or eco-lodges, or you can see the sights in the nearby Coiba National Park which is home to a varied mix of exotic flora and wildlife!


Beautiful scenery of the waves of the ocean moving towards the shore in Santa Catalina, Panama


Things to do in Santa Catalina:

  • Surf at La Punta
  • Hang Out at Playa Santa Catalina
  • Trek to Punta Roca
  • See the Reflections at La Coquita
  • Explore Punta Brava
  • Kayak to Isla Catalina


Planning Tips: Explore this ex-prison island, known as “Panama’s Galápagos”, where, during the appropriate seasons, you can snorkel alongside majestic sea creatures: whale sharks (December-April), and humpback whales (August-November), along with whitetip reef sharks, rays, hawksbill turtles, and vibrant fish shoals. Secure a tour of town to access the park.


Península de Azuero

Adored as Panama’s cultural epicenter, the Península de Azuero thrives as a hub for farming and ranching. Its rolling hills complement an extensive and beautiful coastline. Over the years, the peninsula has undergone significant changes, transitioning from lush rainforest to cattle territory, from indigenous area to Spanish dominion, and eventually from a tranquil town to a bustling surf destination and a prominent travel attraction in Panama. Farming, folklore, and festivities pulsate through the veins of the Azuero Peninsula.


Things to do in Península de Azuero:

  • Spend a night at Villa Camilla Boutique Hotel
  • Beach hop by the Pacific
  • Explore the natural marvels of Combutal
  • Visit Bucaro Bay


Planning Tips: Visit Península de Azuero during traditional festivals like Carnival in Las Tablas or the Pollera Festival in Guarare to experience the culture and natural beauty of Península de Azuero and don’t miss the chance to wander through historic gems like Parita.


Playa Venao

Playa Venao, a sought-after surfing and vacation spot along Panama’s Pacific coast, boasts an expansive sandy shoreline, scenic vistas, and consistent waves. It attracts expatriates, youth, and tourists for its unmatched beauty. Sunbathing, swimming, and paddleboarding are popular beach activities, complemented by sunset views. You can explore nearby villages like Pedasi and Tonosi for delightful dining and artisanal shops, or opt for accommodation in eco-lodges, Airbnbs, or campsites, where the area’s young crowd enjoys the relaxed ambiance amidst stunning landscapes.


AERIAL: Surfers watch big breaking waves from beach after sunset surf session. Majestic view of orange glowing sandy shore by the Pacific Ocean. Surf buddies on a surf trip at tropical Playa Venao.


Things to do in Playa Venao:

  • Go deep sea fishing
  • Whale Watching
  • Experience zip-lining
  • Visit Isla Iguana
  • Watch turtle’s hatch
  • Go horseback riding


Planning Tips: When planning a journey to Playa Venao, explore travel choices such as driving, shuttle services, or public buses. Opting for weekdays can help dodge crowds; keep an eye out for events like Sonica Venao and Radio Venao. Remember, Playa Venao lacks ATMs, so carry cash or use credit cards sparingly. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen and swimsuits, and consider Selina for lodging convenience.


Isla Colon

Isla Colon, the largest and most developed island in Bocas del Toro, boasts a laid-back Caribbean vibe, pristine nature, and stunning beaches like Playa Bluff and Playa Estrella. Explore Isla Colon by visiting local shops, snorkeling vibrant coral reefs, or lounging on its stunning beaches. Don’t miss the Bocas del Toro Wildlife Refuge, home to diverse avian and marine species. With numerous eco resorts and hotels, relax and embrace the charming vibe of Panama’s Caribbean coast on Isla Colon.


Things to do in Isla Colon:

  • Go to Starfish Beach
  • Experience Bat Caves
  • Rent ATV and explore blue lagoon
  • Surfing
  • Horseback riding
  • Scuba Diving


Planning Tips: Prepare with the appropriate mindset. Embrace the Caribbean pace – things may move slowly, plans might shift, weather could change, and essential services may fluctuate. Embrace these challenges as part of your adventure, turning them into memorable stories to enhance your enjoyment during your stay.



Portobelo, a historically vital port on Panama’s Caribbean coast, features colonial architecture and a vibrant cultural legacy. Key attractions include the 16th-century Fort of San Felipe de Portobelo and the UNESCO-listed Church of San Felipe. Discover local life with island boat tours or explore the lively market for seafood and crafts. Portobelo National Park, home to diverse flora and fauna, encourages visitors to preserve its pristine environment. Embrace the town’s allure and safeguard its natural wonders for generations to come.


Things to do in Portobelo:

  • Visit Historical Sites
  • Diving & Snorkeling
  • Experience Afro-Heritage
  • Beaches


Planning Tips: Make sure to schedule your visit during two lively festivals that honor the vibrant local culture: the biannual Festival de Diablos y Congos, known for its colorful and rhythmic celebrations, and October’s Festival del Cristo Negro. During the latter, the legendary Black Christ statue is taken from Iglesia San Felipe and paraded through town, steeped in myth and legend.


San Blas Island

Discover your own Robinson Crusoe adventure on the tropical islands off Panama’s Caribbean coast, boasting palm-fringed beaches and crystal-clear waters. The San Blas archipelago offers an island for every day of the year, inhabited by the Indigenous Guna people. Experience their rich culture, including the intricately hand-embroidered molas crafted by Guna women. Stay in rustic island lodges owned by families from village islands like Playón Chico.



Things to do in San Blas Island:

  • Swim
  • Snorkeling
  • Eat Seafood
  • Watch Sunset
  • Explore Guna Community


Planning Tips: In the San Blas Islands, prepare to disconnect from modern amenities like internet, TVs, and phones. Embrace the opportunity to unwind without technology. Spend your days sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and marveling at the stars instead.


El Valle de Anton

El Valle de Anton, meaning ‘The Valley’, is more than just a valley—it’s a volcanic crater near Panama City. Known for its hot springs and vibrant weekly market, offering local crafts and fresh produce. You must explore nearby waterfalls or visit El Nispero Zoo to see exotic species. Stay at Los Mandarinos Boutique Hotel for comfort and authenticity. Experience this picturesque mountain retreat, a must-visit for nature lovers.


Things to do in El Valle de Anton:

  • Hike La India Dormida Trail
  • Visit the Pozos Azul or Chorro El Macho Waterfalls
  • Visit the Orchid Gardens or Butterfly House
  • Visit the Nispero Zoo


Planning Tips: When visiting El Valle, it is recommended to withdraw enough cash to reduce bank visits. Although cards are accepted in some places, cash is still widely used, especially for tours and most meals. The town experiences a spring-like microclimate, so pack a light sweater and rain gear for sudden thunderstorms. Local transportation is limited, with few taxis but a walkable layout. Be cautious, especially at night, to prevent petty theft. Always lock rented bikes when not in use.



In conclusion, Panama’s allure extends far beyond its borders, offering travelers a diverse range of experiences. Whether you’re drawn to the cosmopolitan charm of Panama City or the tranquil beauty of its rural landscapes, there’s something for everyone. From breathtaking beaches to cultural landmarks, Panama’s top 10 destinations promise unforgettable adventures. So, pack your bags and immerse yourself in the wonders of this Central American gem. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore Panama’s rich biodiversity and vibrant culture in 2024.

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