Mention Panama City and the Panama Canal invariably comes to mind. It has been touted as the eighth wonder of the world, such is the level of its engineering achievement. The canal celebrated its 100th birthday in 2014 and it is undoubtedly a major tourist attraction. Visit the Miraflores Lock visitors' centre to get a close up view of the huge ships and wander the museum to learn about the canal's construction. Cruises are also available to experience the canal on the water. Panama City has 500 years of history to share with you and the historic Casco Viejo quarter is an atmospheric area of brick buildings, balconies and beautiful old churches. Panama Viejo is the site of the original city and has been left as a national park, with the buildings unrestored in their original state. The Amador Causeway links the city to the country's three main islands and provides an excellent view of the city's skyline. Here, the locals jog, cycle and roller-blade and spend some time relaxing in the restaurants and bars on the islands. The Causeway is also home to the stunning Frank Gehry designed Biodiversity Museum. For nature lovers, the city is close to some of the most easily accessible rain forests anywhere. Recent years have seen an economic boom in the city and the towering skyline of glittering skyscrapers is testament to that. With the canal bringing a constant influx of visitors, Panama City is a vibrant and cosmopolitan destination.
When to fly to Panama City
Panama has a tropical climate with a dry season from the middle of December through to April. This is the high season for tourism. Don't be too concerned about visiting at other times, however. Rain in the wet season tends to be heavy but brief, with showers refreshing the air. For party animals, Panama City Carnival is one of the biggest and most lively in the world and takes place every year for the four days before Ash Wednesday.
The wet season, from May through to November, is the low season for visitors to Panama City and flights and accommodation are undoubtedly cheaper at these times. Fewer visitors means more competition for custom and visitors will find that all manner of activities, from eating and drinking to shopping in the markets, are cheaper at this time. Conversely, budget conscious visitors should avoid visiting during Carnival, in the lead up to Ash Wednesday.