All the Best: Top Ten Things to Do Nearby Panama City

Monkey Island Tour Panama Canal

1. Monkey Island Boat Tour

The best day tour near Panama City, this is thrilling, fun and up-close encounter with rainforest nature. Tour by boat the islands of the Panama Canal waterway through pristine rainforest where you'll see monkeys cavorting in the jungle—they often jump onto your boat—as well as crocodiles and exotic birds We recommend Jungleland Explorer for this trip- this is the best day tour from Panama City,. A delicious typical Panamanian lunch is included on a floating jungle lodge. Ancon Expeditions, the top nature tour operator is a another great choice. For a tour visit the Jungle Land Explorer or Ancon Expeditions.

2. Embera Indian Village Tour

Embera Natives Dance

Right out of the pages of National Geographic, you'll have an unforgettable encounter with a living Indian culture at their village in the rainforest. You'll take a (motorized) canoe, the only means of transport in the jungle, up a scenic rainforest river to an authentic Embera Indian village on a river bank. The village consists of rough wood and palm homes on stilts. typical indigenous homes.The Emberas will perform a tribal dance, offer body paintings with rainforest dyes and their exquisite handicrafts. You'll share a typical meal and learn about their way of life, traditions and beliefs.
For more info contact a Tour Operator.

3. Gamboa Rainforest Resort at the Panama Canal

Gamboa Rainforest Resort Panama

Gamboa Rainforest Resort, 45 minutes from Panama City offers day tour ecotourism experiences which include a pick up from your Panama City hotel. Your tour starts with a scenic 45 minute ride to the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. The first activity is to take an aerial tram through the rainforest canopy. Then see some nature exhibits and have a memorable dining at Los Lagartos with views of the Chagres River and the rainforest. Call 314.5000 or visit the Gamboa Rainforest Resort website for more info.

Los Lagartos Restaurant at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort: Dining at Los Lagartos Restaurant at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort is an eco-event. On the Chagres River at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort the fare is with tropical and international dishes with international buffet on Sundays. As you dine view huge ships floating silently by in the Panama Canal. And big attraction - a "show" of tropical wildlife from the deck:. Just ask a waiter to give you some bread to throw to the river below. Alligators, colorful tropical birds, dozens of large turtles and fish will all flock to gobble up the bread pieces. Great fun. Guess which animal wins this tropical animal food fight.?

Hours: 11am to 6pm. Tel: 314-5000

4. Beach Day on Panama's Riviera

Royalton Resort Beach Panama's Riviera

Just 1 hour from Panama City begins Panama's Rivera, a string of lovely, uncrowded beaches. One of the best things about Panama's Pacific is that the water is warm! You can drive or go with a tour guide. The all-inclusive Decameron Resort also offers day passes.
If you don't want to pay to enjoy a beach, Santa Clara and El Palmar beaches are the best for day trippers. They have beach-side restaurants where you can also use the facilities for 25 cents. For a personal beach excursion go with Easy Travel. For more information about this area visit our Panama's Riviera destination page.

El Valle Day Trip

El Valle is a quaint mountain town just 2 hours from Panama City. It's nestled inside a massive extinct volcano crater. The main attractions are a variety of hotel options, a artisans market, mountain views, a world class restaurant a thrilling Canopy Zipline tour through rainforest canopy, thermal springs and a small tropical zoo . The famous gourmet restaurant Casa de Lourdes. Don't miss it. For a budget meal, have the delicious Panamanian chicken soup "Sancocho" at local cafe. For more information visit our El Valle de Anton destination page.

6. Golf at Tucan Country Club and Summit Golf Club

Just thirty minutes from downtown Panama City, both Tucan Resort Community and Summit Golf Club are perfect for a gold day trip in lush tropical scenery. Recommendation: From April thru December it's best to go in the morning because it often rains in the afternoon. Ask your hotel to arrange a taxi to take you back and forth.Golfing in Panama.

Island Taboga Panama

7. Beach Day Trip to Taboga Island

Taboga is a very nice day trip from Panama City, especially during the week when it's more quiet. To get there, you take a ferry which is an excursion by itself -enjoy ocean breezes, views of Panama City's skyline and ship activity at the entrance to the Panama. Upon arrival, ask someone where the main beach is. Enjoy sunbathing on this white sand beach and swimming in the warm waters. For lunch dine at Calaloo Beach, FishBar & Grill-delicious American style cafe. Or if you're on a budget have a chicken soup called "sancocho" at one of the local cafes. Taboga is steeped in history- it has the second oldest church in the Western hemisphere founded in 1550 and was a haven for pirates in Spanish colonial times.
How to get there: From the Balboa Yacht Club on Amador Causeway (Tel:228-5196) take the fast boat to Taboga Island. The 30-minute, 12-mile trip is @ $10.

8. Whale Watching in the Pearl Islands

Whale Watching Panama

An amazing two-fer: enjoy magnificent whales plus the tropical beauty of the Pearl Islands. This trip is only July-October. Anne Gordon of Whale Watching Panama, an American and wife of an Embera indian, is one of Panama's best guides. From Panama City, she offers both day tours and 2-5 night stay overs in the islands.

9. Portobello Bay Day Trip on Panama's Caribbean

Portobello Ruins Panama Colón

This picturesque bay side town has the ruins of four Spanish forts and a restored customs house. About a two hour trip from Panama City on the Atlantic Coast, Portobello is set on a scenic Caribbean bay. During the Spanish Colonial era it was the trans-shipment point for all the treasure Spain looted from Inca Empire. Treasure was stored, displayed in fairs and then shipped to Spain. The fabulous treasures in it"s customs house made Portobello a target of English pirates like Sir Francis Drake who attacked the forts repeatedly. Sir Francis met his demise in waters nearby buried in an iron casket that has still not been found. You can drive yourself or go with a tour operator. For more information visit our Colon Province on the Caribbean destination page.

10 Panama Canal Mini-cruise

Another way to experience the Panama Canal is to take a "mini-cruise" day trip. You can take a partial transit for a half day or a full transit for a full day. We recommend the partial transit. Go with Panama Marine Adventures. Their Pacific Queen does partial transits every Saturday. Full Canal transits are once a month. For more Panama Canal info visit our Panama Canal destination page.


The Discovery Center in the Panama Canal Rainforest is a birding must do. It's open every day from 6AM to 4PM. The centerpiece is a 40m Observation Tower with views of the forest canopy and hiking trails on Pipeline Road, world famous for birding. Check out our listed Tour Operators.

10. The Discovery Center in Soberania National Park

Discovery Center Tower Panama

Historic Ocean to Ocean Train Ride

 Historic Ocean to Ocean Train Ride

Ride the historic Panama Canal Railway, the original and world's first trans-continental railway. Inaugurated in 1855, it was built for the California 49ers coming from the East coast on their quest for fortune during the Gold Rush. You'll coast in luxury observation cars across the Isthmus from Panama City on the Pacific, to Colon on the Atlantic Ocean in about 90 minutes. Along the way, enjoy views of the Panama Canal and lush rainforest surroundings. The train departs in the morning and returns in the late afternoon, so you will need a tour operator to take you on activities during the day. Shopping in the Free Zone is the most popular tour.

Barro Colorado Island

Barro Colorado Island is a living tropical laboratory run by the Smithsonian Institute of Tropical Research unique in its class. Located in a man-made lake forming part of the Panama Canal, it hosts an amazing 381 bird species, 102 mammal species and 1316 plant species. Previously only research scientists were allowed on the island, but now tour operators can take tourists on day trips along its nature trails. Check out our listed Tour Operators.

Summit Gardens and Tropical Zoo in the Former Canal Zone

This tropical zoo has exotic animals and birds unique to Panama's jungles, is quite run-down by US standards but worth a trip especially if you have kids. Set set in a lush 80 year old botanical garden with over 15,000 tropical plants , you get a close look at lots of tropical critters. A main attraction is the Harpy Eagle compound and the tropical Jaguar compound. The Harpy Eagle is the world's largest predator bird. A magnificent bird, it lives only in Panama and is close to extinction/ It stands three feet tall and has a wingspan of up to 7 feet. Admission is just $2.


Canopy Tower- One of the Top Ecolodges in the World

Canopy Tower Eco-Lodge Panama

Panama City is an hour away from one of the top ecolodges in the world, according to y Travel and Leisure Lauded by more travel publications than any other Panama destination, Canopy Tower offers a close-to-nature experience, world class birding, nature observation and gourmet food. If you're a birder, this experience will be one of your best. This tower in the tree tops is something like a giant tree house with comfy accommodations. The tower provides 360 panoramic views of the jungle. Trained guides will help you spot numerous tropical birds and mammals. You' ll also hear howler monkeys roar.
Located just 30 minutes from Panama City in Soberania National Park, it is part of the Panama Canal rainforest. Three night minimum stay. Check out Canopy Tower.