Panama City Top Reasons to Go

The Panama Canal: Eighty kilometers (50 miles) long, the interoceanic canal is literally Panama's biggest attraction. There are half a dozen spots in or near the capital from which to admire it. The Calzada de Amador, the Balboa Yacht Club, and the visitor center at Miraflores Locks all offer impressive vistas of the "big ditch."

Casco Viejo: The balconies, brick streets, and quiet plazas of the historic Casco Viejo have a European air, and the neighborhood's ancient churches and monasteries stand as testimony to the country's rich colonial history. Though much of it is dilapidated, the neighborhood has some of the city's nicest restaurants and bars.

Calzada de Amador: Stretching 3 km (2 miles) into the Pacific to connect three islands to the mainland, the Amador Causeway has panoramic views of the city's skyline, the canal's Pacific entrance, and the Bay of Panama, as well as a good selection of restaurants and bars—all of them cooled by ocean breezes.

Day Trips: Panama City is close to some of the most accessible rain forests in the world; jungle trails are a short drive from most hotels. In addition to boat trips on the Panama Canal or wildlife-watching on Gatún Lake, you can visit an Emberá Indian village; go white-water rafting, fishing, kayaking, or hiking through the jungle; ferry out to Isla Contadora or Isla Taboga; or visit the Caribbean fortresses of Portobelo, where the history is complemented by beaches and coral reefs.

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