Panama City Layover Guide – Things to do for a few hours

Layovers sucks, right? Well, not in Panama City, where you will find great attractions to visit while wait for your next flight.

So, to help you make the most of your layover in Panama, we planned this 6-8 hours itinerary at the Panamanian capital. However, our suggestion is that you try to stay longer to explore this amazing city in 2 or 3 days.

Layovers in Panama are very common because Tocumen Airport is the busiest in Central America as well as the hub of Copa AirlinesSome, so almost every airlines operating flights to Central America and the Caribbean will possibly schedule a connection in Panama.

The good news is that the airport was renovated in 2006 and is located just 28km away from Panama City, a place that surprises visitors for its modernity and by the it manages to keep the cultural traditions in a urban athmosphere.

You can do this itinerary on your own by walking and taking taxis or buying a Hop on Hop Sightseeing tour that will take you to the places of interest – to buy the tour in advance click here.

 

WHEN IS IT WORTH LEAVING THE AIRPORT?

 

Many layovers in Panama City are just to short  to worth leaving the airport and if have less than 3 hours between our flights, just forget at all the idea of exploring around.

So if you have only a quick layover, prioritize the shopping options in the Tocumen International Airport, which has many free shops that sell various products, from perfumes, to drinks and electronics.

On the other hand, if you have a up to 6 hours layover, you should -actually you must – consider making a tour on the beautiful Panama City 🙂

A good option for these tour is to hire a taxi driver to make a private tour. You can contact Euclides, a taxi driver we met there, via Whatsapp on the number +57 62051772

If you want to make the itinerary on your own, you can take an official taxi to the first attraction or if you prefer a private transfer – book it clicking here!

 

WHAT TO DO IN PANAMA CITY IN A FEW HOURS

 

This is a very small script, but it can be done in 6 to 8 hours in Panama City.

 

Panama Viejo Ruins

This is an amazing tour for those who value historical knowledge of the places visited, because in Panama Viejo ruins you will get to know the country’s history and also the a lot of information about Panama City development.

The Panama Viejo represents the remains of the old Panama City, the former Panamanian capital. It is located on the outskirts of Panama City and along with Panama’s Historic District, represents a UNESCO World Heritage since 1997 and its covered area was increased in 2003.

Panama City was founded back in 1519 and in 1671 was attacked by pirates and for security reasons the evacuation of the city and the explosion of gunpowder deposits was ordered, which caused a huge fire, leaving the place in ruins, which currently can be visited.

The highlight of the ruins is the Cathedral with its imposing tower, which offers a beautiful view of the green area of the region. The attraction open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 16:30 and the best way to get there is by taxi and reference points are: Via Cincuentenario – Visitor Center, at side of her Estatua Morelos.

# If you do not care so much about the historical aspect of the city, skip this attraction and go straight to the Panama Canal!

Then go to another must-see program, the Panama Canal.

 

Panama Canal

The iconic Panama Canal is ranked among the greateste works of humanity and indeed is a marvel of modern engineering.

Despite being an attraction somewhat different from most of the tourist attractions that you are used to see in your travels, it is worth visiting the canal and be surprised with the complex that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The Canal was built to allow ships to do the crossing between two oceans without having to make the long and expensive journey to the southern corner of the American continent.

Given this information, you can measure the importance of this channel for the world trade industry. The economy of fuel and travel time provided by the complex services are extremely attractive and for this reason the movement of ships there is very intense.

There are three different sets of locks in the comples, the Miraflores Lake Gatun and Pedro Miguel, but the most visited by tourists is the Miraflores, which is located in Panama City. On site, you can walk around the gazebo with privileged view to the crossing area and visit the museum.

In addition to the points for observation of vessels, there is also a restaurant where you can have snacks, a proper meal or even drinks while you admire the ships crossing.

The best way to get there is by taxi because the Miraflores Locks is a little out of the downtown area and the entrance costs $ 10 entitled to enter the museum, explanatory film and observation. Alternatively, you can hire a specialized tour to take you there by clicking here.

After visiting Panamal Canal, go to Causeway Amador, one of the most charming areas of the city.

 

Causeway Amador

 

The Causeway Amador is such an incredible pace and one of the areas we like the most in Panama City, as it invites for a nice walk and outdoor activities.

Causeway is actually an avenue built with the remaining stones of the construction of the Panama Canal, which connects the central part of the city to the 3 small islands with some great restaurants, a few shops and a marina.

The best idea is to take a taxi to the point of bike rentals, which is right next to the Bio Museum and pick up your bike to take a wonderful tour down the avenue.

 

Bio Museum

While cycling around Causeway Amador, be sure to visit the Bio Museum, which has a beautiful metal structure and is a must do in Panama City,.

A multicolored metallic structure impressively stands on a former American military area in the entrance of Panama Canal was designed by the Canadian architect Frank Gehry.

The museum aims to draw attention to the biodiversity conservation and its interior surprises for the architecture and the exhibitions.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to visit the museum in this ocasion, so follow to the next attraction.

 

Casco Viejo – Old Town

The Casco Viejo or Casco Antiguo is considered the “second city”, which was built after the first village was completely looted and destroyed by pirates in 1671 in Panama Viejo region and whose ruins can be visited by tourists.

The Casco Viejo is strategically located in an overlooking the sea area and with specific geography that allowed the construction of walls to protect against the invasions of pirates throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.

Over decades, the city expanded to other areas because the attacks cessed. Thus, the Casco Viejo has become a big slum in 97, when the site was declared World Heritage by UNESCO, the process of revitalization and began.

On Casco Viejo, you will find nice restaurants, shops, museums and many tourist attractions such as churches, squares and museums, so reserve at least a few hours to explore the region calmly and enjoy the natural beauty of stoned streets and historic houses.

You can not miss to visit the Old Convent of Santo Domingo, the church of San José, the Cathedral which is closed for renovation, El Arco Chato and the Interoceanic Canal Museum, which shows the history of the Panama Canal. Alternatively, you can hire a full guided tour in Casco Viejo.

Find a nice restaurant and have lunch unhurriedly, letting the intense heat of midday pass and then to continue the script.

Then, go explore the Cinta Costera, a beautiful city park.

 

Cinta Costera

The Cinta Costera is actually a complex park that encompasses a promenade, parks and an extensive boardwalk, perfect for outdoor activities.

This is a recent city revitalization project and renewed the outskirts of Balboa Avenue, providing new features and attractions to this area of ​​maritime waterfront in the capital.

Our suggestion is to rent a bike or even skates to enjoy the place and admire the amazing skyline of Panama City, which is considered the “Dubai of the Americas” due to the incredible buildings.

Ah, between Casco Viejo and the Cinta Costera, you will pass by the Seafood Market , one of the traditional and popular markets in the city, which is worth a visit!

After enjoying Cinta Costera, take a taxi or walk to Via Spaña an interesting area of ​​the city. If you prefer, you can go to the mall for some shopping!

 

Via Spaña or Shopping

Via España is a very traditional commercial area of ​​the city and has many amazing stores.

However, you can find the same stores in several malls in the city, so you can consider whether it’s worth exploring the region on the heat or go for the convenience of a mall.

If you go to Via Spaña, it is worth visiting on Calle Uruguay for good shopping, because there will find products at attractive prices. There, you will find outlet of Nike , the sportswear outlet situated in the square of the store Collins, opposite the supermarket Rey, Outlet RebajaModas with multi options, Plaza Concordia, with several mobile and electronics accessories and the store E- vision situated on the opposite side of Plaza Concordia, offering electronics and photography at a good price.

If you prefer shopping, you can head to Albrook Mall, Multicentro or the sophisticated SOHO and Multiplaza.

 

2nd ITINERARY OPTION FOR YOUR LAYOVER IN PANAMA CITY: SHOPPING!

 

If you are more interested in shopping, we suggest a different itinerary.

 

Via Spaña or Shopping

Via España is a very traditional commercial area of ​​the city and has many amazing stores.

However, you can find the same stores in several malls in the city, so you can consider whether it’s worth exploring the region on the heat or go for the convenience of a mall.

If you go to Via Spaña, it is worth visiting on Calle Uruguay for good shopping, because there will find products at attractive prices. There, you will find outlet of Nike , the sportswear outlet situated in the square of the store Collins, opposite the supermarket Rey, Outlet RebajaModas with multi options, Plaza Concordia, with several mobile and electronics accessories and the store E- vision situated on the opposite side of Plaza Concordia, offering electronics and photography at a good price.

If you prefer shopping, you can head to Albrook Mall, Multicentro or the sophisticated SOHO and Multiplaza.

 

 

Multiplaza Pacific Mall

In Multiplaza Pacific Mall , you will find many famous international brand shops such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Guess, Ferragamo, Cartier, Bulgari, Fendi, Emporio Armani, Armani Exchange, Hugo Boss, Diesel, Ralph Lauren, and stores as Zara and Mango. MAC Store and Sony Style are also present there. See the full list of shops here .

However, if you are looking for a shopping closer to the airport, choose the Metromall.

 

MetroMall

The mall is only 10 minutes away from the airport and some good shops of international brands can be found there such as as Adidas, Calvin Klein, Nike, Oscar de la Renta, Columbia, Payless Shoes, Puma, Tommy Hilfiger and Hilfiger Kids, US Polo etc. You can alsowatch a movie at the cinema and grab a meal at the local restaurants.

The great advantage of this mall is its location and for being close to the airport, there is a van available that makes the trip at no cost and which runs every 30 minutes.

 

SHOP OUR FAVORITE PANAMA INSPIRED LOOKS!

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Lara Nogueira

More about Lara Nogueira

Lara founded "Finding New Paths" as a platform to share inspiration from her travels and to inspire others to experience our world in an unique way. She now divides her time between studying a Masters ( International Tax Law ) in Sweden and her adventures abroad!

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