10 Best things to do in Panama City

There are a lot of reasons to visit Panama. You have probably already thought of the Panama Canal, which is one of the world’s most famous accomplishments of modern engineering. Maybe you have considered a tropical island or beach, or just the climate, which is warm all year round. But there is a lot more to Panama: read here some of our staff picks to do in Panama City.

1.  Visit Seafood market and walk or bike Cinta Costera towards the Casco Antiguo neighborhood while eating a fresh seafood ceviche.
2.  Take a tour at the Biodiversity Museum and hire of our naturalist guides for an introductory rainforest tour in the Metropolitan Park

3.  Bar hopping in Casco Viejo at night and don´t miss the Jazz Bar in the American Trade Hotel

4.  Historical City Tour– walking Panama la Antigua and learn about the Pirates and Conquistadors and the Canal zone era

5.  Kayaking the Panama Canal in the Gatun Lake and a visit to a local Wounaan community for handcrafts shopping

6.  Visit the Contemporary Art Museum and take a Art Cultural Tour with a local panamanian artist

7.  Hike, bike or wildlife observation at one of the many trails of the Soberania National Park

8.  Go on a historical trekking the old 8-mile Camino de Cruces Trail takes you through primarily tropical forest

9.  Ride the Transcontinental train towards the Atlantic side in one day: The Pirate trail and Panama Canal

10.  Enjoy the local gastronomy (tasajo empanada, carimañola, tortilla, yuca frita, and the seafood of Panama).

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Do you know Casco Antiguo?

Also known as Colonial Panama, Casco Antiguo is the historic center of the capital.  It is a charming district of narrow streets overlooked by flower-bedecked balconies of two or three-story houses.  At its tip lies the French Plaza, a monument to the French builders of the Panama Canal, and the French Embassy.  On the walkway around the monument, visitors have a fine view of the Amador Causeway, the Biodiversity Museum, the Bridge of the Americans and the skyscraper skyline of Panama City to the east.  A plaque on the walkway commemorates the firing of cannon shots to drive away a Colombian warship and consolidate Panama’s independence from Colombia in 1903.  To one side of the monument is an old Spanish structure called Las Bovedas, now home to an art gallery and French restaurant.

Strolling about this 337-year-old neighborhood, enjoy both history and contemporary local culture- every corner has something of historical significance or local color. Another attraction is the sweeping ocean views of Panama Bay’s modern skyscraper skyline by day and night, the Amador Causeway islands and the ship-busy entrance to the Panama Canal.”

“Panamanian sounds and smells that fill the Casco Viejo air are part of that local color. Street peddlers cry out ‘bollo‘ as they sell soft corn wrapped up in corn leaves, a Panamanian favorite. At Panama’s “White House” the presidential honor guard’s cheerful cadence perform early morning calisthenics, local kids play basketball in a community court, Kuna Indians sell colorful molas in the Plazas as lovers stroll hand in hand catching glimpses of the distant Canal, old-timers settle on park benches as their grandchildren play soccer around groups of passing tourists. The best way to experience Casco Viejo is to stay in a hotel in one of the beautifully restored buildings. This is the place to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the ocean free from Panama City’s sprawl and traffic, yet the business district is a short 10 minutes away.”

Some excellent museums, art craft shops, galleries, and boutiques are found in Casco Viejo, including the Canal Museum, which traces Panama’s history as the route connecting Atlantic and Pacific from pre-Hispanic to modern times.  Next door is the old cathedral that is under major renovation, with gleaming spires inlaid with mother-of-pearl.  Neary is a small museum dedicated to religious art found in the old Santo Domingo monastery, where visitors will also see the famous Flat Arch, which reportedly helped convince engineers that Panama was earthquake safe country.  You can also walk towards the San Jose Cathedral or the beautiful Golden Altar, intricately carved of wood and gilded with gold.  Another building that you should not miss is the Presidential Palace, which can be toured on Sundays.

If you visit Casco Antiguo at night is totally a different vibe, full of cafes, bars, and excellent restaurants.  Don´t miss the opportunity to discover more about Panama’s history and book a biking or walking tour to Casco Viejo with one of our history expert guides.

Exploring the City of Panama, Central America

By Marius Leidig

In my first week here in Panama I tried to explore Casco Viejo on my own and I really thought that my guidebook would be enough to get all important information. Today I know that I was mistaking: There is nothing like a sympathetic, well-educated guide to explore a beautiful place.

But first of all I would like to introduce myself. My name is Marius and I am a German tourism student doing an internship in Panama. I am very happy to be part of the Ecocircuitos Team for five months. Right now I am part of the operations department.

Even if I like the work at our office a lot, I was happy to be invited to join a half day city tour with our staff guide Fabio Trujillo.  I was very excited to see the old parts of the city with a guide who knows a lot about the history of Panama. At 9:00am we picked up our client who booked the tour.   From El Cangrejo we headed for the outskirts of the modern city of Panama where we got a vivid description of the historic district.  Fabio explained that Panama Viejo was the first city built on Panamas Pacific coast. Founded in 1519;  Panama Viejo has been for more than 150 years an important base and reloading point for the captured treasures.   A walk between the remaining ruins such as the tower of the old cathedral are perfect to put oneself into the position of Henry Morgan who was a famous pirate that attacked the city in 1671 which lead to a huge fire that destroyed most parts of the city.

After Panama Viejo has been destroyed, it was rebuilt in today’s Casco Viejo. So the old town of Panama became our second attraction. In my eyes, Casco Viejo is the loveliest and most colorful district of Panama City.  It is a vivid place with plenty historical buildings and nice cafes and restaurants. Numerous varicolored modern street arts contrast the ancient buildings which creates a special atmosphere.

One of the attractions that stayed in my mind is the golden altar from Iglesia San Jose. When pirates attacked the city, the altar was painted black to cover its beauty to make it uncomely to the buccaneers. Obviously, the plan worked.

Passing plenty of indigenous street vendors we headed for the French quarter. Plaza de Francia with its monument dedicated to the French workers who died during the attempt to build the canal offers a great view to Amador Causeway and the impressive skyline of Panama City.

A visit at one of the best ice cream parlors I have ever been named Granclement in the Old Quarters was a worthy end of a special day in Panama!

For more information about this tour and others, you can visit our website www.ecocircuitos.com or write an email at info@ecocircuitos.com.

 

IRONMAN 70.3 Panama

Date: Sunday, February 16, 2014

Location: Panama City, Panama

Start Time: 6:50 am (pros) & 7:00 am (amateurs)

Launched in 2012, IRONMAN 70.3 Panama brings you to one of the seven modern wonders of the world; the Panama Canal! Compete amongst the best of the best in this Latin American Pro Championship.

With a fast swim, unique transition, rolling hills and flat run course, this race is the perfect storm. With exceptional organization, volunteer support and the opportunity to stay at the magnificent Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower, this race is a must do!

Athletes will swim 1.2-miles in the Pacific Ocean, off the shores of the Panama Canal, also known as the “Eighth Wonder of the Modern World,” and under the Bridge of the Americas. Athletes and visitors alike will bask in the warm temperatures and enjoy amazing views. Cyclists will take a 56-mile trip across the Bridge of the Americas and onto the Pan American Highway. On the way back, athletes will travel through Panama City’s downtown by the “Cinta Costera” (Coastal Strip). The 13.1-mile run course will take athletes on the “Amador Causeway.” From here, athletes and spectators will enjoy seeing the Panama Canal and view of the city.

There are 40 qualifying slots for the IRONMAN World Championship 70.3 in Henderson, NV

Course

Swim

Participants will swim 1.2 miles (1.9 km) in the Pacific Ocean, specifically within the banks of the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World, “The Panama Canal.” The Bridge of the Americas, which connects Central & South America, opened in the 1960’s and stretches over a mile long over the Panama Canal. Athletes and spectators will enjoy the amazing backgrounds at this stage of the race. Water temperatures are expected to be around 78° Fahrenheit (26° Celsius). The transition area is located next to the Biodiversity Museum, built by renowned architect Frank Gehry, and close to the swim start.

Bike

Athletes will endure a 56-mile (90 km) bike ride. First leaving the area of the Amador Causeway and continuing along the west side of the country. Once again, the Bridge of the Americas will witness the event when participants ride across of it in route to the Pan American Highway. During this part of the bike course, athletes will travel through the forest that protects the biodiversity and Panama Canal watershed. On the way back to the Transition Area, athletes will pass by Panama City’s downtown area along the “Cinta Costera” (Coastal Strip), which is surrounded by state of the art buildings that emerge on the shores of the Bay of Panama. For sure this part of the Bike Course will be an athlete’s favorite and spectator friendly for its beautiful surroundings.

Run

The run course will take athletes on a 13.1 mile (21 km) run through the “Amador Causeway”, a major tourism area surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, where athletes and spectators can watch the ship transit in and out of the Panama Canal while enjoying the beautiful view of the modern and cosmopolitan Panama City. Runners will return to the transition area to start the second and final loop.

Biomuseo celebrates Biodiversity day in Panama

The Biomuseo design by Frank Gehry  is currently under construction on the Amador Causeway, but it is already celebrating international Biodiversity day with an outdoor fair called “El Suelo Está Vivo” (The Soil is Alive) on Sunday, May 22 from 10.00AM to 4.00PM

Location:

Old Officers Club, Amador Causeway, Panama City, Panama.

For children from 2 to 99 years old will have many fun activities with which you will learn how you can support the natural cycles of nutrient recycling:

The secret life of ants
Take advantage of the recent rioting that scientists have discovered the Smithsonian about these extraordinary insects.

The worms that make soil
The Boys in the Chinese-Panamanian School will show us the work they do with composting worms.

Painted with colors of nature
… Literally. We use flowers, leaves and seeds instead of crayons.

Tales of bugs
With the storytellers of the Panamanian Red storytellers in our beloved Corotú.

Organic market
Where you all kinds of organic products: soaps, herbs, ointments, vegetables, ginger candy, chocolate, pastries, eggs and fertilizer from regions as Zapayal (Darien), Cuculo (Los Santos), the waggish (Veraguas). Darien will also have crafts Tuira region and Jaque.

What is all this fuss of organic?
If you do not know what all the fuss with the organic, do not miss our talks about where you explain how it relates to our biodiversity.

Have we broken the cornucopia? What is wrong with the way we produce food. – José Manuel Pérez (UNDP).
Time: 11:00 am and 2:00 pm

Organic, sustainable and local. – Eylon Israel (Coriander Red).
Time: 1:00 pm

The Museum
Finally, take the opportunity to visit Biomuseo construction, a unique opportunity to work in this class, and participate in our presentations to find out what you’ll find inside.  Even Brad Pitt and Al Gore are some personalities that already visited, what you are waiting for?

Biomuseo is the first building design by Frank Gehry in Latin America.

For more information:  http://www.biomuseopanama.org/