In need of a quick getaway and have already been to the surrounding Costa Rica spots like Arenal and Monte Verde? Tired of your 90-day border run to Nicaragua?
Why not try Panama!
Recently I hopped on a plane with a girl friend of mine from the grassy Tamarindo Airport and flew to Bocas del Toro to start our Panamanian adventure and have been converted into a true Panama lover.
Here are the top seven reasons you should visit Panama now!
1. Panama Canal.
Duh! While Panama is a relatively small country it houses one of the most world-famous attractions. The Panama Canal is a marvel of maritime engineering that everyone should witness at some point in their life. Book a tour or just hop in a cab to the Miraflores Visitors Center.
2. Casco Viejo.
The architecture of old town Panama is swoon worthy. Casco Viejo was by far my favorite place in all of Panama. The colorful Spanish colonial buildings, graffiti art and roof top bars are where the real action is at. By day roam the streets taking in the beauty and looking across the water at the gorgeous Panama skyline. By night, get dressed up for a night on the town with some of the best bars and restaurants Panama has to offer. Read about my favorite roofbar here.
3. Bocas del Toro.
The water is gorgeous, the islands all have something different to offer, and the underwater life is unreal. In my opinion, Bocas is very Tamarindo-esque except instead of getting ripped off by taxi drivers, be prepared to negotiate with the water taxis. With islands all around Bocas, there really is something for everyone. Do yourself a favor and head across the water to Carenero Island and eat at Bibi’s on the beach. YUM!!
4. Fish Market.
Situated just outside of Casco Viejo and Cinco de Mayo Shopping Plaza, the Fish Market in Panama is still one of the best places to visit, especially for delectable seafood. Don’t be lured in by the upstairs restaurant…take a risk and eat at one of the many crowded stalls for a cup of ceviche that will blow your mind.
5. Easy on the Wallet.
For all my U.S. expats, Panama is great in that it follows the U.S. dollar. No pesky conversions needy. Comparably speaking Panama prices are similar to if you were in the Midwest, so if you live in an expensive part of the states or another country, Panama will be very inexpensive for you. I marveled at the amazing restaurants we ate at for approximately the same price as eating at the food court in Tamarindo. Obviously the shopping was much more affordable as well, my dollar was able to stretch a lot further than it does in Costa Rica which my bank account much appreciated.
6. City Life/Transportation.
Uber is alive and thriving in Panama. The traffic is insane in the city, but the public transportation is fantastic! Navigating the metro is a breeze and can take you all over the city. While I love Tamarindo, I do miss my city life. Panama City was a great break from the sand and sunscreen that is my life in Tamarindo.
7. Palett America.
Last but not least, I cheated on my Tamarindo mango gelato and tried the gourmet gelato pops served at Palett America. All I can say is that I would fly to Panama right now, this minute, just to have another taste of Palett America. Every gelato pop I tried was perfection…when they offered to dip it in chocolate and roll it in coconut shavings I thought I maybe was in heaven. My favorite flavor was the Panamanian, a banana gelato with Nutella inside…that I then opted to also have dipped in dark chocolate. Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard!
Overall Panama is a good time. The people are friendly and welcoming, there is a rich history and sights for the both the nature lover and city slicker!
Have you been to Panama? What was your experience? What would you recommend to people who haven’t been before? Share your thoughts below in the comments!
Read more about my travel adventures at my blog: The Wanderlust Diaries.