Panama has qualified to play in the World Cup for the first time in history. The skinny isthmus is most famous for the giant Panama Canal linking the Pacific and the Caribbean. However, the country has much more in store: magnificent tropical scenery, a diverse wildlife population and unspoiled beaches. Let’s take a look at the country’s highlights beyond the Panama Canal ahead of its match today against Tunisia.
Casco Viejo, Panama City
Panama’s historic old quarter is in stark contrast with its skyscraper-filled counterpart. While modern Panama City is an energetic quarter boasting shopping malls, sophisticated restaurants and entertainment, Casco Viejo is different. Charming, with grand colonial houses, trendy cafes and narrow brick streets, the historical district of the capital features a fascinating mixture of Spanish colonial, neoclassical and nouveau architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is stylish and full of life.
San Blas Islands
Visitors to the San Blas Islands are hosted by the Kuna Yala, an indigenous group who have enjoyed autonomy since the 1920s. The string of almost 400 islands off the Caribbean coast feature coconut palms, idyllic sandy beaches and turquoise waters. It’s a true paradise that welcomes visitors to explore its trails, see the wildlife and simply relax. As San Blas is protected from wind by coral reef, there’s the possibility to swim in most areas, and to snorkel in some.
Featuring a cool and fresh climate as well as gorgeous natural surroundings, Boquete is rated as one of Panama’s top locations for outdoor adventures. The town is situated on the east side of Volcano Barú (3,475m) and amidst mountainous highlands, flower farms and coffee plantations. The area surrounding Boquete features plenty of hiking trails, hot springs and wildlife. It’s a popular hub for hiking, climbing, white water rafting and canopy touring.
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is only a short distance from the San Blas Islands, and features another archipelago worth visiting. The region’s islands boast exquisite beaches, plenty of wildlife and a lively Afro-Caribbean culture. It’s an amazing place to relax, with an incredibly laid-back vibe and superb snorkelling and diving options. The area is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as Panama’s first National Marine Park. For all of these reasons it’s no surprise that Bocas del Toro’s one of the country’s most visited eco-tourism destinations.
Soberanía National Park
Soberanía National Park is situated a mere 25km from Panama City and is highly popular with birdwatchers and wildlife-enthusiasts alike. Around 525 bird species can be found in this easily accessible part of tropical forest, as well as a large amount of amphibians and mammals, including monkeys, two and three-toed sloths. There are several walking trails in the park, and there’s the option to visit the Panama Canal from the National Park.
Azuero Peninsula is proudly referred to as Panama’s cultural heart and soul by its residents. The region boasts a combination of indigenous heritage, a vibrant Spanish-inspired culture and colonial architecture. It also features some of the finest beaches in the country, and the coastline around Boca Chica promises to be excellent for surfing. About 50km offshore, the Pearl Islands have grown in popularity due to the crystal clear water, stunning beaches, and great diving and sailing possibilities. The peninsula is also famous for its cultural festivals displaying its distinctly Hispanic tradition.
Extend our Signature Panama: Canal, wildlife and beach holiday with San Blas or the Azuero peninsula to see the best of what Panama has on offer.