10 Amazingly Free (and Nearly Free) Things to do in Panama City, Panama

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Panama City, which is Central America’s most popular city, has amazing places to explore! You can find plenty of interesting museums, cool rooftop bars and it’s full of history. Plus, you even have the opportunity to see nature-filled forests and beautiful beaches that are just nearby.

Although visiting Panama City might cost more than other places in the region, there are still wonderful things that you can do without needing to spend too much money.

Casco Viejo was a place people didn’t visit much, but it has become the coolest neighborhood in the city! © E_Rojas / Getty Images

Experience Panama City’s Most Colorful Place

Casco Viejo is a beautiful place located in Panama City. It was once dangerous, but now it has transformed into one of the coolest spots! The area contains many squared off parks and plenty of brightly colored houses with fun places to explore like museums, restaurants and bars. Best of all? It’s free to explore and you don’t need a guide or even a map!

A great tip for your trip: spend some time going to churches in the area and enjoy the beautiful sights. The Iglesia de San José is known for its shiny golden altar, while the Metropolitan Cathedral at Plaza de la Independencia catches visitors’ eyes with its amazing stained-glass windows. Don’t forget to finish off your day with a stunning view from Tántalo’s rooftop bar!

Climb to the Top of Cerro Ancon

Climb to the top of Cerro Ancon and you will see a massive flag waving in the wind. As you make your way up, you can spot some views of the city. While hiking through the rainforest, you could catch a glimpse of sloths sleeping in their trees and toucans making noise from the branches. When you reach the summit, there are clear views of tall buildings and terracotta rooftops of Casco Viejo.

If you want to catch a glimpse of some wild animals, it’s best to visit earlier in the day. The road leading there is properly paved, and the slope is not too steep – it should only take about thirty to forty minutes by car. You can also find great food with prices as low as $5 at Mercado de Mariscos!

Enjoy an Exciting Walk Along the Cinta Costera and Consume Delicious Foods at Mercado de Mariscos!

Put on your sunscreen and hat, and head to the Cinta Costera for a walk. This path is right next to Avenida Balboa, where they have fun bike activities every Sunday morning. The route takes you past tall buildings in Punta Paitilla, all the way to the old brick roads at Casco Viejo.

There’s lots of parks and open areas, so pick a picnic spot to look around. You’ll see all sorts of people like skaters, beach volleyball players and ice cream sellers. The best part is the big colorful Panama sign – everyone takes pictures here!

Planning tip: The Mercado de Mariscos is a great place to see amazing bird activity! Even better, you can buy tasty food like ceviche and a cold beer for only 5 dollars.

Take a Trip to the Island of Flowers

If you’re near Panama City, then you’re close to some awesome beaches! Just bring a picnic and if you get a ferry or bus ticket, you can quickly enjoy the sand under a palm tree.

Taboga Island is only half an hour away with a ferry (which costs around 24 US dollars) and it’s called the “Island of Flowers”. One of the most popular beaches near here is Playa Restinga since it’s connected to another small island called Isla El Morro. Make sure to visit during weekdays so that it won’t be too crowded with other tourists who came for vacation in this area.

Playa Gorgona might not be the most beautiful beach on the Pacific Coast, but you can get there by bus in just two hours! All you have to do is go to Albrook Bus Terminal and take a bus (which costs about $4) to San Carlos. Then, once you reach the Gorgona stop, you can walk up to the beach.

“A Colorful Adventure Awaits at Panama Canal’s Causeway!”

The causeway that you can see on the oceanfront was made with rocks from when they were building the Panama Canal. They made it to be like a barrier in the Pacific and a connection between 3 tiny islands – Naos, Perico and Flamenco. Recently, they changed it so it has cycle paths, you can go paddleboarding there and lots of places where you can get wood-oven pizza.

At 6km (3.7 miles), it’s close enough to walk, but the best way to check out all the amazing sites is to rent a bike from Bicicletas Moses for just $2.80 an hour. The built structure designed by Frank Gehry and its colourful angles called BioMuseo is super hard to miss and make sure you take some time for breathtaking views!

Get an Amazing View of the Panama Canal from the Bridge of The Americas

If you don’t want to spend too much money on a boat ride in the canal or going to Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre, there are other places where you can still get a view of this famous waterway – known as one of the “seven wonders of the modern world” – but for cheaper.

If you want to get an amazing view of the Panama Canal, head over to Amador Causeway and you’ll be able to watch boats entering the canal right beneath the Bridge of The Americas. To get a unique perspective and a better look at all the freighters, supertankers, or cruise ships sailing through the canal, ask someone to take you in an Uber perfectly to the western end of that bridge so you can appreciate its size from up high! There’s also lots of cool textile art around Panama City for you to check out along your journey!

Get Your Art Fix for Free at the Museo de La Mola and Museo Afro-Antilleano!

The Museo de la Mola (MUMO) in Casco Viejo is the perfect spot to get your art fix – for free! This five-room museum celebrates the traditional art crafted by indigenous Guna women from San Blas Archipelago: the mola. With almost 200 colorful molas on display, you can witness their evolution, learn how they’re created and understand the meanings behind these beautiful geometric designs.

The Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (also called MAC Panama) in Ancón is a great place to check out Panamanian and Latin American art. Admission is free, but you can donate if you want to! Plus, they also have evening events that won’t cost you much money.

Also nearby is the tiny Museo Afro-Antilleano which remembers the thousands of West Indians who helped build the canal – entry only costs $1!

Discover Tranquility Right in the Middle of the City!

You don’t need to go far to find some tranquility. Right in the middle of a busy city, there’s Parque Recreativo Omar – it’s full of fun things like jogging trails, outdoor gyms, playgrounds and a vegetable-and-fruit market! And during summertime, you can even enjoy free concerts and art shows!

The amazing Parque Natural Metropolitano only costs $5 to enter! There are five trails you can explore and there are all kinds of wildlife, like monkeys and sloths in the wild jungle. Plus, from the mirador (lookout spot) you can see stunning views of the city.

“Experience the World of Jazz in Panama!”

The Panama Jazz Festival is probably one of the most popular musical events in all of Panama, and even people who aren’t usually interested in jazz can have fun. It has a variety of musicians from different parts of the world, as well as some local stars like Rubén Blades!

For one week in the middle of January, lots of events will happen inside theaters and can be enjoyed by purchasing tickets. On the other hand, special outdoor concerts are free for everyone. The grand finale takes place at Plaza de la Independencia located in Casco Viejo – an area that you definitely don’t want to miss!

“Explore the Fun at Both Multiplaza Mall and Albrook Mall!”

If it’s too hot outside or if it’s raining really hard, you should visit one of the many giant shopping malls in our city.

The Multiplaza Mall has lots of different shops and around 50 restaurants and cafes perfect for all budgets. On the other hand, the Albrook Mall is brilliant if you’re bringing children along. It has a carousel, fun activities, and workshops to keep them entertained!

Don’t forget: every Wednesday movie tickets are super cheap at these two malls!

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