Things to Do in Panama City
Panama is the southernmost country in North America. The famous Panama Canal connects North and South America and is a large part of Panama’s economy, which is the second largest in Central America. Panama is known for its jungles and forests, which are home to many rare and endemic species. The capital of Panama is Panama City. Here are the top 5 things to do in Panama City.
1. Panama Canal: Completed in 1914, this 80 kilometer long link between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans is a feat of construction. Buy a full ticket for $8 to get into the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo, which has four stories of exhibitions, see an informational video about the canal, and get an eye level view of the ships passing through the canal from the observation deck. From the Miraflores Center, you can watch as the locks are opened and closed. Best of all, take a tour of the canal on a boat and pass through this historic construction.
2. Summit Botanical Gardens and Zoo: Within Soberania National park just outside of downtown Panama City, there is a small zoo known best for its Harpy Eagle (Panama’s national bird and the largest bird of prey in the world) habitat as well as a garden filled with a diverse collection of palm trees.
3. Casco Viejo: The old quarter of Panama City was originally established in the 1600s and has been restored to its former glory. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has an interesting mix of old and new.
4. Casco Antiguo: On the edge of downtown Panama city, you will find the ruins of the first permanent settlement on the Pacific Ocean, dating back to 1519. The settlement was destroyed in 1671 by Captain Henry Morgan. You can climb the bell tower of the cathedral at the ruins for a great view of the city.
5. San Jose Cathedral: Legend has it that when Captain henry Morgan attacked the city in 1671, he headed for this church to take the famed Golden Altar. A priest painted the altar black before he arrived and convinced Morgan that it had already been stolen. So, today you can still visit the church to see the Golden Altar.
Image by Scott Ableman on Flickr Creative Commons.