Q&A: A week in Panama City By RUSHA HALJUCI

From the New York times
A friend and I (two female college students) would like to go on a weeklong trip to Panama City the last week of May. I’d like to know if you have any suggestions of things to do or see there. We aren’t on a strict budget, but we would like to stick to wallet-friendly touristy things.

Mai L. Fuller,
New York

Panama City, once a dusty gem, has become a genuine tourist destination that combines attractions both old and new. The cosmopolitan city has plenty to offer: charming old neighborhoods and easy access to natural beauty. Start your visit at Panama Viejo, a Unesco World Heritage site, to see the ruins of the original 1519 Spanish settlement. After the capital was destroyed by disease and pirate attacks, it moved west of the city, to what is known as Casco Viejo, the Old Quarter (also a Unesco site), above. Take a stroll on the cobblestone streets of this colonial-era neighborhood, with its mix of several architectural styles; visit the presidential palace, where herons make their home, and the San José Church with its distinctive Golden Altar. Then go to the encyclopedic Interoceanic Canal Museum (museodelcanal.com), which provides a history of the Panama isthmus.

Finally, visit the Panama Canal itself. The Miraflores Visitor Center (507-276-8427) has a multilevel exhibition, a restaurant, and scheduled crossings of ships between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. In the evening, enjoy a dazzling sunset view of the city’s skyline at the Amador Causeway, between the canal and Panama Bay. The three connecting islands are home to esplanades and parks, where bicycle riders, runners and strollers converge. It is also where the Bridge of Life Museum of Biodiversity, designed by Frank Gehry, is under construction — one of a number of ambitious development plans still under way around the city.



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