When the country of Panama is mentioned the first thing that will pop into your mind will be the Panama Canal. But Panama is much more than just a canal. The country is also developing rapidly in terms of economy, and tourism due to its glorious and exotic beaches. The capital Panama City is a large metropolis with skyscrapers along the coast. This is a large business center of trade and the banking sector, so good communications and high-speed Internet are always available in the city. Panama City has a historic district called Casco Viejo that is worth seeing for its beautiful colonial mansions, cobblestone streets, art galleries, the Panama Canal museum, and is well known for its excellent gastronomic scene.
Panama was once of strategic importance in the struggle for Latin America between Spain and England, therefore it has a rich historical and archaeological past. And it attracts tourists with its unique blend of Spanish, North American, Native American, and even African cultures, landscapes of pure nature, and stunning beaches on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Oceans. And many people don’t realize that Panama is dotted with thousands of stunning islands off its Pacific coast, including the popular San Blas And Bocas del Toro islands, some of these having been recognized as the best beach destinations around the world.
For the bird watching aficionados, just a short 45 minute drive from Panama City is the famous Pipeline Road in Gamboa, considered a “birding paradise,” with easy road hikes to get a glimpse of its extensive bird species, exceeding 400.
And just half an hour away is the Isthmus of Panama that separates the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, also linking North and South America, and where the famous Panama Canal now lies. And when you visit the canal, be sure and tour it via the Panama Canal Railway. In just one hour this passenger train connects Panama City on the Pacific Coast with Colon on the Atlantic, providing a picturesque ride through lush rainforests, a view of the canal’s locks and Gatun Lake, as well as the Gaillard Cut, where the canal crosses the mountain range.
For the more physically active, there are a number of beaches and islands that provide fantastic diving and snorkeling: Coiba Island, the Bocas del Toro archipelago, the Pearl Islands, and Portobello National Park. There are also beautiful beaches for surfing and swimming, and for walking along the rocky beaches.
And in Panama there are about seven native tribes still living and thriving among the population, and tourists have a chance to spend time with them and get a feel for their traditional culture and interesting way of life. You can visit the Embera tribe in Wounaan, in the Chagres National Park, where you can cruise down the river in their dugout canoes, try their homemade fried tilapia, buy handmade crafts and artisan creations, and experience their music and dance cultural performance.
Among the lush rainforests of the Panamanian Highlands you will find a very unique coffee circuit consisting of 15 coffee farms that offer tours and tastings in what has been called the “Napa Valley of Coffee.” And in the Highlands you have the quaint town of Boquete, next to the Caldera River, with beautiful scenery, volcanoes to visit, river rafting, a wildlife refuge, and at 4,000 feet above sea level is much cooler than the rest of the country.