Top Things To Do In Panama City, Panama

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Updated July 2022

Top 5 Things to do in Panama City, Panama

Panama City is home to one of the most remarkable engineering wonders in the world: the Panama Canal and the Miraflores Locks! However, it is certainly not the only attraction the city and its surrounding area have to offer. Not far from the heart of the city, you will discover an amazing variety of things to see and do, from lush tropical rainforests to breathtaking islands where wildlife encounters abound! There truly is something for everyone in Panama City, no matter your age, interests or activity level. While there are countless one-day excursions you can experience while in Panama City, the Activities Specialists at The Real Deal Tours have hand-picked their favorites. Here is our picks for the top 5 things to do in Panama City.

Panama City & Panama Canal Tour – Must Do For First Timers in Panama City

The Panama City & Panama Canal Tour is a fantastic way to spend your first day in town.  If this is your first time visiting Panama, you can get to know the highlights of the city and familiarize yourself with the lay of the land.

Discover why Panama City is such a unique destination filled with intriguing history and a melting pot of cultures.  You will travel around the city among stunning skyscrapers to visit all of the most popular attractions around including the Miraflores Locks, Punta Culebra and the Amador Causeway.  Situated above the US military zone, Ancon Hill offers superb views of the city, while the historical Casco Viejo is home to an eclectic mix of museums and charming architectural styles that span centuries!

The Panama City & Panama Canal tour is also a great choice if you will be visiting Panama City on a cruse ship and you only have one day to see all the sights.  This tour operator focuses on small groups, not the big bus tours that most cruise ships offer.  Just a small group with local guides offer a more personalized experience you will definitely appreciate.

Just like any major tourist destination, we always recommend you start with the City Tour, then decide where you would like to spend more time exploring later during your Panama vacation.  That’s right, check off the Panama Canal and Miraflores Locks on your first day of vacation! This is why the Panama Canal & Panama City tour is one of our top picks for things to do in Panama!

Panama Whale Watching the Pearl Islands & Sonny Island Resort Day Pass

Ok, so this one is a bit limited to the season and certain operating days, but without a doubt this is the very best whale watching experience in Panama!! Unlike most of the other Pearl Island whale watching tours from Panama City, this one includes all access to the beach resort at Sonny Island. Kind of a VIP whale watching experience.

The peak whale watching season in Panama is between July and October each year. The annual migration of Humpback whales brings these captivating creatures here to mate, give birth and get their offspring ready for the arduous trip back to cooler waters. Witnessing these gigantic animals up close and personal in the beautiful Pearl Islands is something you will never forget! Our incredible whale watching guides will ensure you have the time of your life watching Humpbacks as they put on a display that may include aerial jumps, tail slaps and breaching; if you are lucky, you may even see the magical moment when a mother surfaces with her calf.

One of the best parts is that the boat takes you Sonny Island, one of Panama’s infamous Pearl Islands of the “Survivor” fame. You will have time to relax, take a swim in crystal clear water that could easily be thought of as the Caribbean, explore the island, join a volleyball match, sip cocktails while lounging in the shade and top it of with a delicious lunch before heading back. Make sure you take your camera along on this tour!

There is one other whale watching experience we recommend above all others and that is a private whale watching charter with a marine biologist and hydrophone on board. The main reason we recommend this tour however is operated by a responsible whale watching company committed to adhering to worldwide accepted whale watching regulations. Panama Whale Watching tours are a relatively new and a growing activity in Panama. Unfortunately, the Panamanian government regulations have not been able to adapt as quickly in enforcing these worldwide standards. There is no reason to run a whale over with a small boat to get a great photo shot. Our marine biologists use sonic equipment to seek out the whales and also listen to their song from a distance. The whales seem to thank them for them by putting on their own show in appreciation.

So if you are planning your Panama vacation between the months of July and October, don’t miss out on this amazing whale watching opportunity in Panama!

Monkey Island & Indian Village Combo Tour – Nature Meets Native Culture

So when you think of Panama City, I bet the first thing that comes to mind is skyscrapers and the Panama Canal, right? Well just on the outskirts of the city, you will find Lake Gatun and the Panama Canal watershed, home to both Panama’s indigenous Embera Wounaan tribe, as well as some native banana loving monkeys! Combine both in one day and you will see why our Monkey Island & Indian Village Combo tour is one of our top selling tours in Panama!

First you will visit hidden gems along Lake Gatun and the Panama Canal during a guided boat tour where you will surely run into some of the resident creatures in the region, especially monkeys.  With such a variety of wildlife to see (from exotic birds to reptiles), you will definitely want a camera along with you so you can capture these incredible memories! Want some close up photos? These monkeys are not shy, just share some bananas and they will share a one of a kind selfie! Beware, some monkeys on Monkey Island are nicer than others and they will take whatever food is around, whether you offered it or not.

Afterward, you will head to an authentic Indian village where you will interact with an indigenous tribe of people who have retained their ancient traditions and culture rather than adapting to the modern way of life. This captivating interaction will expose you to the tribal lifestyle that remains true to the pre-Columbian era in Panama, including native dancing rituals and a chance to buy gorgeous handicrafts made on-site by the tribe’s families.

From thrilling wildlife sightings to an authentic cultural encounter with the native Embera Wounaan tribes of Panama, the Monkey Island & Indian Village Combo is an experience you will never forget!

Amador Causeway Bike Tour – Explore the Heart of Panama on Your Own Bike

With the addition of the Cinta Costera Boardwalk, it is no wonder Panama bike tours are all the rage these days!  There are several biking options, but our family favorite is the Amador Causeway Bike Tour! Hop on you bike and get ready to take in breathtaking views of the city. You’ll discover plenty of intriguing history and fun for the entire family as you peddle your way from the skyscrapers of Panama City to the rocky breakwater of the Amador Causeway.

Explore the 4 small islands (Culebra, Flamenco, Naos and Perico Islands) that are joined together by a 6 km causeway that was built using rocks which were excavated during the construction of the Panama Canal.  If you happen to be a history buff, you will find the Amador Causeway particularly fascinating because even though it was built as a breakwater for the entrance to the Panama Canal, it also became a military post during World War II for the USA which was guarding the site from Japan.

Along the way, you will discover why the Cinta Costera and the Amador Causeway has become such a tourist hotspot now filled with duty-free shopping, restaurants, yacht clubs….and most importantly shaved ice!  Other highlights include passing by ships that are readying themselves to enter the canal, and seeing what the local fisherman have caught that day at Panama’s famous fish market.

They have bikes customized for all ages and even motorized ones so you can cruise the pristine coastline in comfort and style! This smooth 15 mile (24 km) round-trip bike ride is the perfect eco-tour for the whole family and tops our list of fun things to do in Panama City, Panama!

Taboga Island One Day Tour – Best Beach Hopping In Panama City

Topping out our list of things to do in Panama is a day at the beach.  This may sound simple enough, but actually there are no really swimmable beaches within walking reach of the city. So, when you are ready for a break from the hustle and bustle of Panama City, enjoy a nearby beach getaway with our all-inclusive Taboga Island One Day Tour!

Hop aboard the Taboga Island Express Fast Ferry and head to this magical escape which boasts plenty of culture, history and stunning scenery.  The half hour journey by ferry offers the perfect opportunity for photos with incredible views of the Bridge of the Americas and the best vistas of the skyline in Panama City. 

Once you arrive to Taboga Island, lounge around in the relaxing shaded beach chairs we provide or jump into the inviting water for a snorkeling adventure.  During low tide, you can walk across a sand bar (or swim over anytime!) to “Moro Island”, where you will discover the graves of many swashbuckling pirates.  In fact, Captain Henry Morgan was a regular on the tiny island!  A guided walking tour through the charming town of Taboga will give you a taste of the rich local culture, and you can even opt to hike to the summit of the island for spectacular views. Before you leave, they fill you up with a tasty lunch at a yummy local restaurant next to the pier.

With flexible arrival and departure times, you can customize your day at the beach to stay as little or as long as you like making the Taboga Island Beach Break accessible for even cruise ship passengers.  Don’t just take my word on it, one of my teammates liked it so much she wrote a blog so long we split it into two parts.  You can read more here

San Blas One Day Tour – Going Off the Grid into the Guna Yala Water World

OK, I know we said top 5 things to do in Panama City, Panama, but we had to throw this in too. For those a bit more daring, a visit to this remote archipelago in the Guna Yala reserve is a must. This day trip to the San Blas Islands is a truly unique adventure you will only find in Panama. So if you do not mind the rustic, off the beaten path type of travel experiences, the San Blas Islands are for you!

As you can see, Panama City definitely has more to offer than simply taking a look at the Panama Canal. This is only a few of our favorite things to do in Panama. There are a ton of other tours to explore around the rest of the country. Use this list of activities available from The Real Deal Tours to narrow down your vacation must-dos, or go wild and try them all!

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