Panama City, Panama


Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Amy

We found ourselves in Panama City, the capital of Panama, after sailing through the Panama Canal. Being on the small isthmus between the two oceans – Atlantic and Pacific – Panama City was a huge hub for trade, piracy, and Spanish conquistadors.

The original city, now referred to as Panama Viejo, was set on fire by privateer Henry Morgan in 1671 (yes, that Captain Morgan). The city was built on a highly defensible peninsula and became Casco Viejo. Now, the modern Panama City sits between the two.

Explore Casco Viejo

This quirky district of Panama City is full of historic architecture and history. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and filled with historic buildings housing modern businesses.

Enjoying a rooftop bar in Casco Viejo.
History in Casco Viejo.

Walk the Cinta Costera

Cinta Costera means Coastal Beltway, and the 2.5-kilometer path runs along the waterfront and around Casco Viejo. On it, you get a great view of the modern Panama City and the Pacific Ocean!

Enjoying the view of modern Panama City.

Hike the Reserva Cerro Ancon

A short hike takes you to the top of Ancon Hill, where you can look down on all of Panama City, including the canal.

The view looking towards the canal.
The view over Casco Viejo.
Casco Viejo on the right, Panama City on the left.

Take the Train to Colon

The Panama Canal Railway runs between Panama City and Colon Monday through Friday. The train departs Panama City at 7:15 am and then departs Colon at 5:15 pm – perfect for a day trip to Colon. Tickets are $25 per person.

The train runs along the canal, giving views of the locks and the traffic going through. The ceiling of the train is glass, giving views into the jungle.

On the train between Colon and Panama City.

Visit the Mira Flores Visitor’s Center and the Canal

The Mira Flores lock is one of the locks of the Panama Canal. The visitor’s center has an observation deck where you can watch the ship traffic coming and going. There is also a small museum and a restaurant.

At the observation deck at Mira Flores.
Watching the ship traffic in the Panama Canal.

Dine on Fantastic Seafood

We had some fantastic seafood in Panama City. After our completion of the canal, we celebrated at the fish market, a food truck in Casco Viejo.

Ceviche de pulpo.

Hitchhike the Panama Canal

Did you know that you can hitchhike the Panama Canal? Sailboats transiting need volunteer crewmembers to handle lines when they sail the Panama Canal. Read our post on sailing the Panama Canal for more information.

Getting Around Panama City

It’s very easy to get around Panama City. Public transportation is very cheap.

When we were there the Metro line was pretty new and clean. Tickets are 35 cents each, although the line is limited.

We did take the bus from Panama City to Colon once, which was very cheap but less comfortable than the train.

Finally, Uber is available in Panama City and is much cheaper than a hired taxi.

Where to Stay in Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo is where I would stay in Panama City. I love the vibe the neighborhood has, and there are plenty of interesting places to eat.

Books to Read Before Visiting Panama City


  1. Nice to here from you guys again, all the best with the Galapagos, I didn’t realise it would be such a pain. We will be crossing this year from Turkey.
    Look forward to new post.
    Jeff & Sandra
    SV. Nawii

  2. I was getting a little worried by the silence. If nothing else, you’ll be able to say you’ve been to the Galapagos!

  3. Good winds and happy sailing! We hope you are on the awesome side of the divide about the Galapagos – but mostly we are counting down the days until June! Love and hugs – Jan

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