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Best things to do and see in Panama City

At the crossroads between the American continents, Panama City is representative of an interesting blend of cultures and architectural styles. Founded by a Spanish conquistador in 1519, only to be burnt to the ground in 1671 by the infamous Captain Henry Morgan, this city is full of rich stories about its past for you to discover on your guided free walking tour. Since then Panama City has grown to become the largest city and also the capital of Panama and was a strategic location for the iconic construction of the Panama Canal, which continues to attract both vessels and tourists from all over the world. 

With over 1.5 million people living in the metropolitan area, Panama City is full of charming cultures that span across its many neighborhoods and it is a great idea to try a free walking tour with a local guide here . Get to see all the iconic landmarks in the city like the Panama Canal from the Miraflores Visitor’s Center, Panama Viejo which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the Biomuseo designed by Frank Gehry. Get a photo in front of the Panama sign, stroll to Panama’s Old Town-Casco Antiguo, check out a play at the National Theater, visit the Cathedral, find out about the canal construction at the Interoceanic Canal Museum. You will also get to discover many hidden gems that most tourists never get the chance like when you take a hike up Ancon Hill for the amazing views. 

All the free tours available i n Panama City have been reviewed and rated by other walkers like you. If you’d like to know more about the route or the tour guide, just read up on the webpage about the evaluations people have left. There are tours available in different languages and also at different parts of the day, like the morning, afternoon, and evening so you can fit your walking tour into your schedule with ease. Other cities with a local guide who can take you on a free walking tour that may be of interest to you include Managua or Tunja. 

Free walking tour near Panama City

Others cities to visit after panama city, find other guruwalks in panama city, where are you traveling to.

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Historic St. Andrews Walking Tour

Historic St. Andrews Walking Tour

Historic St. Andrews Walking Tour

Address: 1134 Beck Ave Panama City, FL 32401

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Website: Website


Category: Historic St. Andrews Walking Tour

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3 Best Casco Viejo Walking Tours + Self-Guided

If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Panama City, a Casco Viejo walking tour is a perfect choice.

I’ve been to Panama multiple times and every time I walk through this historic neighbourhood, filled with an abundance of culture, history, and architecture.

From hidden alleyways and cobblestone streets to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and colourful markets, a walking tour of Casco Viejo will take you on a journey through Panama City’s past. So grab your walking shoes and get ready.

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Table of Contents

1. Half Day City and Panama Canal Tour

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 (746+ reviews) | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 5 hours | BOOK NOW

See the best of Panama City on the Half Day City and Panama Canal Tour .

This 5-hour tour takes visitors through some of the most iconic sites in Panama City, such as a walking tour of Casco Viejo, and Amador Causeway, while providing an opportunity to experience one of the world’s greatest engineering feats: the Panama Canal .

No Panama itinerary is complete without visiting Casco Viejo and the Panama Canal.

With hotel pick-ups included, snacks and drinks provided on board, and comfortable air-conditioned vehicles to travel in, this is one of the best Panama City tours. Perfect for first-time visitors to Panama or those with only one day in Panama City.

“I truly enjoyed this experience. It was my very first time to beautiful Panamá and I’m already looking forward to visiting again. It was extremely informative, and I HIGHLY recommend taking this tour to learn about the deep history of Panamá City. Our day was well spent even though it rained toward the end of the tour, we didn’t mind at all, we had a really good time. I really enjoyed visiting the churches and hearing about the Panamanian gold. Two thumbs up‼️” – Simone B ( see more reviews )

➜ BOOK Half Day City and Panama Canal Tour

the beauty of this historic area is best appreciated on a casco viejo walking tour

2. Sightseeing: Legends of Casco Viejo

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 (295+ reviews) | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2-3 hours | BOOK NOW

Take a trip back in time with a Sightseeing: Legends of Casco Viejo tour .

While there are many ways to get around in Panama , the best way to explore Casco Viejo is on foot.

Walk past some of the most beautiful churches, townhouses, and government buildings on this fast-paced Casco Viejo walking tour. Your tour guide will provide you with insider recommendations for trendy restaurants and places to visit after your tour.

And if it rains, they’ve got you covered and provide an umbrella. So put on your comfy shoes and get ready to explore the history and culture of Panama City’s old town.

“We have been to Casco Viejo many times and so glad we took the tour with Alex because he showed us so many things we have never seen and he knows so much history about his city. Would definitely recommend Alex as a tour guide of this beautiful area of Panama!!” – Cristin R ( see more reviews )

➜ BOOK Sightseeing: Legends of Casco Viejo

iglesia de la compania de jesus casco viejo

3. Guided Colonian Heritage Walking Tour in Panama

⭐️ RATING: 5/5 (14+ reviews) | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2.5 hours | BOOK NOW

The Guided Colonian Heritage Walking Tour in Panama is one of the best Panama walking tours.

This 2.5-hour tour is a great way to learn about the history, culture and everyday life of this vibrant country while walking through a UNESCO World Heritage neighbourhood .

Your certified tour guide will show you some of the hidden gems that are often missed by tourists. From churches and squares to narrow streets, this walking tour of Casco Viejo offers a unique insight into Panamanian life.

“Our guide met us on time at the correct meeting location. He explained to us that our tour would not be the usual ‘tourist highlights’ but, rather a good historical account of how Panama was founded, moved and founded again. We would see all the important places in the story of Panama. It was a great experience! We learned a lot of new information about the history of the country and gained a better understanding of how it has developed until today. The story is fascinating and we are now eager to see other sights, such a Panama Viejo, that will complete the story.” – Tad ( see more reviews )

➜ BOOK Guided Colonian Heritage Walking Tour in Panama

casco viejo in panama

What Can I See on a Walking Tour of Casco Viejo, Panama?

If you prefer to walk through the city on your own, I’ve got you covered. Here are the best Casco Viejo sights to see on your self-guided walking tour: 

plaza bolivar casco viejo panama

Plaza Bolivar

Plaza Bolivar was originally the site of several homes which burnt down in the late 1800s. In 1883, the plaza was named after Venezuelan general Simon Bolivar thanks to his role in leading the countries of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Bolivia to independence. 

In 1926, a monument was erected in honour of Simon Bolivar which still stands to this day. Plaza Bolivar is surrounded by a number of churches, hotels, and cafes where locals gather to eat, drink, and listen to live street music. 

national theatre casco viejo

National Theatre

Just steps away from Plaza Bolivar is the next location on this Panama City walking tour: the National Theatre . 

The theatre was designed by an Italian architect who mimicked the style of classic Italian opera theatres. It opened in 1908 and still hosts live music, dance, and theatrical performances to this day. 

It has undergone a number of renovations but preserved its original style and charm. National Theatre is known for its elegant architecture which makes it a must-visit spot, even if you aren’t able to catch a performance. 

arco chato on a casco viejo walking tour

One of the top Casco Viejo sights is Arco Chato , the ancient remains of a 17th-century church. 

Though the original church burnt down in 1781, some of the stone foundations, including a well-known stone archway, survived. 

Sadly, the archway collapsed in 2003 but was quickly rebuilt to its original design so visitors can still admire the architectural remains. The ruins are impressive and an excellent piece of Panama City’s rich history.

panama canal museum

Panama Canal Museum

Make sure to visit the Panama Canal Museum on your self-guided walking tour of Panama City.

 The museum first opened in 1997 and is dedicated to the history of how the Panama Canal was constructed. It’s informative and interesting, and a great way to learn more about one of the most significant landmarks in Panama. 

The Panama Canal Museum is located in a historical building from 1874 which was once the headquarters of the French and U.S. companies tasked with constructing the canal.

Independence Square

After touring the Panama Canal Museum, continue your walking tour of Casco Viejo by making your way to Independence Square . 

Independence Square holds a significant place in the country’s local history because it serves as the location where Panama declared independence from Colombia in 1903. 

Walking through the square will transport you back in time as you take in the historic architecture, such as La Cathedral Metropolitana – which happens to be our next destination.

Metropolitan cathedral basilica of santa maria the ancient panama

La Cathedral Metropolitana

La Cathedral Metropolitana is one of the most beautiful sights you will see as you walk through Panama City’s old town. 

This towering church took over 100 years to complete, beginning in 1688 and ending in 1796. 

An example of traditional colonial architecture, it features a pair of bell towers and intricate stained glass windows. 

casco viejo panama attraction as seen on a self guided walking tour

Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus

Another site holding great cultural significance that you can visit on your Casco Viejo walking tour is Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus . 

This landmark consists of the ruins of a monastery first built in 1641. The site would later go on to become a university before the complex was abandoned and then damaged by a fire and an earthquake. 

While not much remains of the original monastery, the stone walls that are still standing are quite impressive to experience in person.

Iglesia de San Jose

The last church featured on this self-guided walking tour of Panama City is Iglesia de San Jose . 

First built in 1673, Iglesia de San Jose is a piece of Panama’s history that has survived many significant changes and historical events throughout the centuries. 

Iglesia de San Jose, which translates to Church of San Joseph, is best known for its stunning gold altar located inside the building. 

Though the altar isn’t solid gold, but rather mahogany wood covered in gold leaf, it is still an amazing sight that I recommend taking the time to visit. 

Plaza Herrera

Last, but certainly not least, on this walking tour of Casco Viejo is Plaza Herrera , a lively city square. 

Plaza Herrera is largely dominated by the American Trade Hotel which features some beautiful architecture and is known for serving delicious food and hosting local jazz musicians. 

A number of other historic buildings line the square making it the perfect place to wander for an evening and take in the sights. 

The focal point of Plaza Herrera is a statue of General Tomas Herrera, who was instrumental in Panama gaining independence as a country in 1840.  

casco viejo panama pretty balconies

About Casco Viejo, Panama

What is casco viejo known for.

Casco Viejo is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and a plethora of museums, restaurants, and bars that are especially appealing to tourists.

Is Casco Viejo Worth Visiting?

To put it simply, yes! Casco Viejo is a beautiful part of Panama City that is perfect for tourists wanting to learn more about the city’s history.

From cultural landmarks to historical buildings and countless bars, restaurants, and live music venues, Casco Viejo is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Panama.

casco viejo panama colourful streets

FAQs about Walking in Panama City Old Town

Is it safe to walk in casco viejo.

Generally, Casco Viejo is considered a safe area to walk around in Panama City. As in other cities, remain aware of your surroundings and stick to exploring the main tourist areas.

During my multiple trips to the area, I never felt unsafe walking in Panama’s Old Town.

Where Can I Walk Around in Casco Viejo?

The entire area of Casco Viejo is very pedestrian-friendly, and the district is in fact best explored on foot.

Walking through Casco Viejo will transport you back in time and allow you to experience some of the city’s vibrant local culture on a more personal level. 

How Long Does a Panama City Walking Tour Last?

Guided Panama City walking tours last from 2-3 hours, and up to a full day if including other areas of the city. 

If you want to do a self-guided walking tour of Panama City, allot 2-4 hours to have plenty of time to explore each destination – perfect for a morning or afternoon.

Final Thoughts: Best Casco Viejo Walking Tours

Visiting Casco Viejo is a must-do when exploring Panama City. A walking tour of this historic neighbourhood will give you an insight into its culture, history and architecture like no other.

The Half Day City and Panama Canal Tour is the best Casco Viejo walking tour for first-timers in Panama or those with only a day in Panama City.

Make sure to add one of these tours to your Panama itinerary as well as try one of the other fun activities in Panama City .

Travelling to Panama? Read more:

  • 7 Day Panama Itinerary
  • Adventurous Things to Do in Panama
  • Fun Things to Do in Panama City Panama
  • Best Panama Canal Day Tours from Panama City
  • Getting Around Panama
  • Best Places to Visit in Panama
  • Best Casco Viejo Walking Tours
  • Hiking Ancon Hill in Panama City
  • Hiking Cerro Cara Iguana
  • Volcan Baru Jeep Tour
  • Boquete Coffee Tour Review
  • Scuba Diving in Bocas del Toro
  • Casa Acuario Hotel Review
  • La Selva Nomad Treehouse Review
  • Best Bocas del Toro Hotels Over Water
  • Fun Things to Do in Bocas del Toro
  • How to Get to Bocas Del Toro
  • How to Visit Nivida Bat Cave, Bocas del Toro
  • Costa Rica vs Panama

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Melissa is the founder of My Beautiful Passport. A Canadian who has explored 15+ countries on 4 continents, she enjoys combining adventure and affordable luxury. Through sharing her own experiences, travel tips, and destination itineraries, she helps others plan their unique adventures whether it be at the beach, in the city, or in the mountains.

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Browse Walks in Panama City, Florida, US

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Exploring the Historic Sites of Panama City: A Two-Hour Walking Tour

This two-hour walking tour of Panama City, Florida, United States, will take you through the city's vibrant downtown area, giving you a chance to explore the city's unique culture and history. The tour will begin at the Panama City Marina, located at 600 W Beach Dr, Panama City, FL 32401 (30.1609° N, 85.6607° W). Here, you can take in the stunning views of the St. Andrew Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Next, you'll head to the Panama City Mall, located at 2150 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Panama City, FL 32405 (30.1745° N, 85.6607° W). This mall is home to a variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a great place to shop and grab a bite to eat. From there, you'll make your way to the Panama City Center for the Arts, located at 19 E 4th St, Panama City, FL 32401 (30.1609° N, 85.6607° W). This center is home to a variety of art galleries, theaters, and performance spaces, making it a great place to explore the city's vibrant art scene. Next, you'll head to the Panama City Beach Boardwalk, located at 600 S Pier Park Dr, Panama City Beach, FL 32413 (30.1745° N, 85.6607° W). This boardwalk is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a great place to explore the city's vibrant nightlife. From there, you'll make your way to the St. Andrews State Park, located at 4607 State Park Ln, Panama City, FL 32408 (30.1745° N, 85.6607° W). This park is home to a variety of outdoor activities, such as swimming, fishing, and hiking, making it a great place to explore the city's natural beauty. Finally, you'll end your tour at the Panama City Beach Pier, located at 16001 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32413 (30.1745° N, 85.6607° W). This pier is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a great place to explore the city's vibrant beach culture. Along the way, you'll have the chance to explore the city's unique culture and history, as well as shop and eat at some of the city's most interesting locations.

Panama City Florida United States Tour Companies

panama city florida walking tour

Red October Tours

Red October USA will provide the same Tour Programs as the Red October - St. Petersburg office. Red October USA is the independent US-based Travel Management Company in Upstate New York. Our primary goal is to help you to book Red October Company tour programs that will make your stay at St. Petersburg memorable and rewarding. We are making many US & Canada bookings for La ... More nd and Cruise passengers who want to take Red October Tours and Shore Excursions. This improves response time and makes the whole booking process much easier. We will quote you the same Tour Programs as if you book the same tour directly from Red October Company in St. Petersburg.

Saint-Petersburg Feel Free Tour

As a small company, we provide the best prices, personalized attitude to the client’s needs and guides with perfect English. We plan your tour together and help you get the best out of your visit to St. Petersburg, avoiding the rush and crowds.

Dragonfly Expeditions

Dragonfly Expeditions, the oldest and most prestigious tour company in South Florida, hosts distinctive tours and excursions for corporate groups, individuals and small parties. For 26 years, we have been uncovering and sharing the hidden, mysterious and magical beauty, culture, history and ecology of South Florida. Moreover, now for the first time, Dragonfly Expeditions o ... More ffers access to its tours to Florida locals and snowbirds through one-of-a-kind memberships to our new Dragonfly Expeditionary Club. For more information on specific tours and offerings, please call us at 305-774-9019, or click the button just below to visit our Dragonfly Expeditionary Club site and then scroll down.

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Walking Tours in Panama City

Historic Casco Viejo

Start: At Plaza Independencia.

Finish: At Iglesia de San José (a 2-block walk from Plaza Independencia).

Time: Approximately 1 to 2 hours.

Best Times: The streets are quieter on Sundays, and churches are most active. Some restaurants and museums are closed either Sunday or Monday.

1. Plaza de la Independencia

Take a taxi to Plaza de la Independencia and begin your tour. This plaza is where Panama declared its independence from Colombia on November 3, 1903. There are several important landmarks here, notably the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral), easily recognizable by its contrasting gray, ashlar-stone facade flanked by two white neoclassical bell towers inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The cathedral took more than 100 years to build, and is one of the largest in Central America. On the south side of the plaza is the must-see Museo del Canal Interoceánico . The neoclassical building was built in 1875 as the Gran Hotel, and converted into Canal Headquarters by the French in 1881; later it was used as offices for the U.S. canal commission. It is considered to be the finest example of French architecture in Casco Viejo. Next door, on the second floor of the Palacio Municipal, is the Museo de la Historia de Panamá, a ho-hum display of exhibits charting the history of the Panamanian republic. The Hotel Central, on the east side of the plaza, was once among the most luxurious hotels in the Americas, built in 1880. Today it sits abandoned while its two owners bicker about its fate.

Walk north on Calle 6a Este (from the middle of the plaza, toward the city skyline of Panama City) to Av. Alfaro, and turn right.

2. Palacio Presidencial (Presidential Palace)

Calle 6a Este leads to the Presidential Palace, but you'll have to show your passport (or a copy) to the security guards on the street before they'll let you pass. This is the White House of Panama, the offices of Panama's President Torrijos, and it is a gorgeous Spanish mansion with a Moorish interior patio and fountain (you can't enter, but you can take a peek from the outside). Two African herons -- whose Spanish name, garza, is the reason the palace is also called the Palacio de las Garzas -- glide back and forth across the front patio. The city skyline views from this street are outstanding.

Turn right on Calle 5a Este, and head south 1 block, then turn left on Av. B. Walk 1 block until you reach Parque Bolívar.

3. Plaza Bolívar

One of Casco Viejo's prettiest spots, Plaza Bolívar and the buildings that surround it have undergone a face-lift over the past few years, and there are several cafes here for those who feel like stopping for a coffee or snack. The plaza originally was called Plaza de San Francisco, but was renamed in 1883 in honor of Simon Bolívar, widely considered in Latin America to be the hero of independence from Spain. There is a commemorative monument to Bolívar in the center of the plaza. The grand Palacio Bolívar (now the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Relations), on the northeast edge of the plaza, was built on the grounds of a former Franciscan monastery that succumbed to various fires. Of interest here is the totally restored Salón Bolívar (tel. 228-9594; Tues-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 1-5pm; $1/50p adults, 25¢/15p students), site of the famous 1826 congress organized by Bolívar to discuss the unification of Colombia, Mexico, and Central America. The historical importance of this salon prompted UNESCO to declare Casco Viejo a World Heritage Site. During office hours (Mon-Fri 9am-3pm), it is possible to visit the courtyard inside the Palacio and admire the building's lovely architecture and tile work. Next to the Palacio is the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco de Asís (Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi) , one of the original structures from Casco Viejo but nearly totally destroyed by fires in 1737 and 1756. It has most recently been restored in 1998.

Across the plaza, on Avenida B and Calle 4 Este (you'll pass it when arriving at the plaza), is the Iglesia San Felipe de Neri, one of the first churches built in Casco Viejo (1684-88). Though damaged by fires, the church has recently been restored and is worth checking out, at least from the outside. The church apparently opens to the public only twice a year.

Turn left on the south end of the plaza onto Av. B to visit the:

4. Teatro Nacional (National Theater)

Built between 1905 and 1908, on the grounds of the old Concepción Monastery, the lovely Teatro Nacional hosts theater and classical-music and ballet performances; unfortunately, they do not have a website and their show calendar is available only by calling tel. 262-3525, or by visiting and clicking on "Calendar." The theater opened in 1908 with a presentation of Verdi's Aida, and it is perhaps best known for the frescoes rendered by Panama's most famous painter, Roberto Lewis. Recent renovations have preserved both the frescoes and the baroque decor (scarlet and gilded tiered balconies, and a grand chandelier). The cost to enter and poke around is $1 (50p) per person. It's open Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm and sometimes on the weekends (but with no set schedule). Following Avenida B, behind the National Theater, is the Ministerio de Gobierno y Justicia, initially designed as a presidential building and built, in a neoclassical design, in 1908 in tandem with the National Theater by the Italian architect Genaro Ruggieri.

Continue along Av. B (the street bends and changes names for 1 block to Calle 2da) until it ends at Av. Central. Turn left on Av. Central (Calle 1a) and follow until arriving at the stairs to the Esteban Huertas walkway. Walk up and circle the:

5. Plaza de Francia

The Plaza de Francia (French Plaza) is a Casco Viejo highlight, a historically important site and a delightful place to stroll around and crunch on a raspado (Sno-cone) from one of the several vendors. There is also a wonderful fresh breeze here. When you head down Calle 1a, the road turns into an inviting and lovely walkway called Paseo Esteban Huertas, which is partially covered by pretty bougainvillea. You're walking atop las bóvedas, or "the vaults," which originally functioned as a Spanish dungeon and later as a jail, storehouse, and offices. Oficina Casco Antiguo (tel. 228-3664; [email protected]), offers free Saturday tours (in Spanish), leaving from its offices at 9:30am. This walkway also runs along the old defensive wall that once protected the city. From this vantage point you can see the Bridge of the Americas and ships lining up for their turn to enter the canal. Continue along the walkway and down to the French Plaza. Originally the main plaza (Plaza de Armas) of Panama City, it is now a commemorative monument to the failed French canal effort. Also here at the plaza is INAC, the National Institute of Culture, which has an art gallery (Mon-Fri 8am-5pm) and the French Embassy.

Head back to Av. A and walk west until reaching Calle 3ra. Here you'll find the:

6. Iglesia de Santo Domingo & Museo de Arte Religioso Colonial

Only ruins remain of Iglesia de Santo Domingo, built in 1678 but victim of several fires including one in 1781, from which time it was never rebuilt. The church kept its fame, however, through the building's unusual supporting arch made of stone, which survived the fire. The arch, called Arco Chato, was unusual in that it was long and not very arching, seemingly defying gravity. When U.S. senators debated whether to build a canal in Panama or Nicaragua, they took the arch's longevity to mean that little earthquake activity made Panama a safer place to build. Next to the ruin site is the Museo de Arte Religioso Colonial .

Continue 1 more block to Calle 4ta, turn right and walk 1 block to Av. Central. Here on the east corner is:

7. Casa Góngora

This structure is the best preserved example of a Spanish colonial home in Casco Viejo. The house, built in 1760 by a wealthy merchant, was renovated with city funds, and much of its original woodwork, including ceiling beams, has been maintained. The Casa is also now home to the Casa de la Cultura y del Artista Panameño (tel. 212-0388 ), a cultural center for local artists, with occasional live jazz music, folkloric presentations, fashion shows, and changing art exhibitions. Drop by to see what's happening or check out the newspaper's calendar listings for shows.

Head up Av. Central, crossing the Plaza de la Independencia (where you started). Continue on to Calle 9a to:

8. Iglesia de la Merced

Built in 1680, this church was transferred, stone by stone, from its Panama Viejo site. The facade is still an excellent example of one of Casco Viejo's oldest buildings.

Walk south down Calle 9a until you come to:

9. Plaza Herrera

The lively Plaza Herrera is dedicated to General Tomás Herrera, in honor of his battle for independence when Panama was still part of Colombia. Park benches here are good for people-watching or just for resting.

Walk 1 block east on Av. A to Calle 8a. You'll come to:

10. Iglesia de San José

Your last stop is at the most famous of Casco Viejo's churches, the Iglesia de San José, and its baroque golden altar. The story goes that when pirate Henry Morgan raided Panama Viejo, a priest had the altar painted black to hide it from looters, later moving the altar to Casco Viejo. However, studies place the altar's stylistic details in the 18th century, casting doubt on this legend. It's a gorgeous work of art nevertheless, and worth a stop. From here you can head back to Plaza Independencia by walking 1 more block east on Avenida A, turning left on Calle 7, and walking 1 block.

Note : This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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29+ Unexpected & Incredible Things to Do in Panama City, Florida

Created On: March 26, 2024   |   Updated: April 5, 2024   |   Leave a comment

As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended. Please see our disclosure policy for details. Thank you for being so supportive! 

I absolutely adore exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast and uncovering its hidden treasures! One of those treasures is Panama City, next to Panama City Beach, but an entirely different experience. I’ve compiled my favorite things to do in Panama City, Florida, and I hope they inspire you to visit.

Panama City has everything from breathtaking sunsets to bustling historic districts, from lively marine life to a vibrant food and arts scene. This coastal paradise is the ultimate Florida getaway, offering something for everyone to enjoy.

LOVE PC sign at visitors center - Panama City.

Getting There

Panama City is served by Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport (ECP), about 20 minutes from downtown. Visitors arriving by car can enter via Interstate 10 and US Highway 98.

  • ~1 hour from Destin
  • ~2 hours from Tallahassee
  • ~2.5 hours from Pensacola

Where to Stay

guest room view of bay from Hotel Indigo.

I had an exceptional experience staying at the Hotel Indigo at the Panama City Marina , and I’d stay there again in a heartbeat. Plus, it’s the newest hotel in Panama City. The rooms and views are absolutely gorgeous, and its location at the marina can’t be beat. It’s also walkable to historic downtown Panama City.

Stay tuned for a complete review post on this hotel .

Things to Do in Panama City, Florida

Here are some captivating reasons why Panama City deserves to be at the top of your Florida bucket list.

colorful boats at St. Andrews Marina.


Explore shell island’s marine life with flippin’ awesome adventures.

My unique marine experience on the Flippin’ Awesome Adventures boat tour tops my list of things to do in Panama City, Florida. Captain Chris, a skilled marine biologist, knows the area’s marine life as if it were the back of his hand, and he brought us up close to the wondrous sea creatures along St. Andrews Bay and Shell Island. It was SO much fun!

Read more about it in my article: Unforgettable Panama City Boat Tours with Flippin’ Awesome Adventures

hand holding scallop in front of Shell Island.

Spend the Day at St. Andrews State Park

With shorelines along the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay, St. Andrews State Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and families. The park is perfect for activities like biking, fishing, and kayaking, and the 1.5-mile sandy beach is a serene spot for a leisurely stroll or some family fun in the surf. Nature lovers can explore the park’s trails, like the Heron Pond Trail and Gator Lake Trail, in search of wildlife and breathtaking views. Additionally, boat shuttles whisk visitors to the enchanting Shell Island for further adventures.

panama city florida walking tour

Take a Sunset Dolphin Cruise on the Grand Mere

Grand Mere cruise boat.

One of my favorite activities in Panama City was taking the 1.5-hour sunset cruise aboard the Grand Mere double-decker boat. Although it has an air-conditioned cabin, I stood out by the railing on the upper level the whole time, taking in the view.

swimming hole and beach in gulf by Panama City.

We spotted several dolphin pods diving and jumping in the waves below. Seeing dolphins in the wild never gets old, but they’re hard to photograph well.

dolphin fin sticking up from water.

And then, oh man, as the sun started setting, the sky lit up with all the colors. It was the perfect ending to an unforgettable day!

sailboat with colorful sunset colors in sky behind it.

Explore Oaks by The Bay Park

The Old Sentry Tree at Oaks by the Bay Park.

Just a stone’s throw away from the lively eateries and cute boutiques of St. Andrews, I discovered Oaks By The Bay Park, a serene oasis on the bay. Right smack dab in the middle stands the towering Old Sentry Tree, a centuries-old live oak that’s seen it all. And it’s now surrounded by a gorgeous new timeline mural.

mural surrounding Old Sentry Tree.

Past the tree, a boardwalk stretched, leading to a breathtaking panoramic view of St. Andrews Bay.

winding boardwalk at Oaks by the Bay Park.

It was beautiful in the daytime, but I couldn’t help picturing how epic the sunsets must be at night.

royal tern sign at Oaks by the Bay Park.

As I strolled back from the water, I stopped to admire the scattered carved wooden sculptures dotting the park. And, for all you history buffs, don’t miss the old salt pot.

I could have spent hours at this beautiful waterfront park, but there are so many things to do in Panama City that I had to get moving!

octopus tree carving with blue sky in background.

Sit and Swing By the Shore

swings along beachfront Panama City.

Sit back and relax on the colorful pergola swings at Asbell Park while enjoying the view of boats sailing by on St. Andrews Bay. It’s one of my fave beach access points in Panama City.

When you’ve had your fill of swinging, cool off by dipping your toes in the surf or wading into the waves.

Pro Tip: There’s a parking lot across West Beach Rd., which is a busy road, so make sure to use the safety crossing signals when heading to the park.

beach in Panama City.


Follow the panama city mural trail.

With some 20-odd murals scattered throughout downtown and in St. Andrews (with more to come), you’re bound to stumble across several of them as you explore all the fun things to do in Panama City. Still, if you’re a mural junkie (like me!), you may enjoy making it a point to follow the mural trail and see them all.

Panama City postcard mural.

Along with the stunning postcard mural, you’ll find sea creatures, whimsical animals, sidewalk murals, and more.

tortoise mural - Panama City.

The Darkside and Lightside murals in St. Andrews are absolutely stunning! They can be found along Beck Avenue on the sides of Sound Collective and Little Indigo Spa.

Lightside mural.

And if you search around St. Andrews, you’ll uncover oodles of micro-murals with sweet, whimsical themes.

bunny and balloon mural on brick wall.

Go on a Gallery Stroll

butterfly mural on outside of Panama City Center for Arts.

Pop into the Panama City Center for the Arts to peruse the galleries and gift shop. The murals on the outside are as beautiful as the artwork on the inside.

bronze colored turtle sculpture at Panama City Center for Arts.

Check Out the Saltworks Sign and Antique Salt Pot

old salt pot at Lake Caroline.

Directly across from Asbell Park , there’s a sign detailing the history of St. Andrews Saltworks and one of the original salt pots used during the Civil War.

Salt pots were large containers used to boil seawater for extracting salt. By heating the seawater until it evaporated, salt was left behind for various purposes, such as food preservation and seasoning. This method was particularly common in coastal regions lacking access to salt mines.

St. Andrew Bay Saltwork sign.

Explore Bay County History

Bay County Museum sign.

Local history museums always pique my interest—I love uncovering the events that shape the region. Although time was tight at the Bay County Museum , some exhibits caught my eye, like the display on The Hang Out and other tourist attractions from yesteryear. Old Florida fascinates me.

Hang Out Display Panama City Museum.

I also enjoyed the exhibit featuring the area’s Civil Rights Trail stop—the historic Gideon vs. Wainwright landmark court case. The Supreme Court ruled that anyone accused of a crime is guaranteed the right to legal counsel—a pivotal piece of history. Don’t miss the interactive video that accompanies the exhibit!.

Gideon vs Wainwright JFK quote.

Many other fascinating artifacts, stories, and events illuminate Panama City’s heritage. History museums aren’t just for buffs—they’re fun and eye-opening for everyone.

entrance to Bay County Museum.

Take a Walk Through History (Self-Guided or Guided)

Panama City Florida map.

Take off on a self-guided exploration of Panama City’s two historic districts using this guide or the free Florida Stories app . The app offers narration and historical insights at each stop.

For a guided experience, join the free walking tours of Historic St. Andrews offered by the Panama City Publishing Museum every Wednesday and Friday at 1 pm.

Explore Panama City’s Ink-Stained Legacy

Panama City Publishing Museum.

The Panama City Publishing Museum is a living testament to the legacy of the West family, who played a pivotal role in shaping Panama City’s history. George Mortimer West, a multifaceted entrepreneur, founded the city and established the Panama City Publishing Company building in 1920 alongside his wife, Lillian Carlisle West. This historic building housed Panama City’s earliest newspapers and was a commercial print shop for local businesses.

inside Panama City Publishing Company.

Inside the museum, visitors are treated to a glimpse of the past with vintage printing equipment, personal artifacts of the West family, and over 70 historical items, including original printing presses.

Lillian Carlisle West, a trailblazer in her own right as the first woman registered to vote in St. Andrews, continued to run the business after George’s passing.

The museum offers monthly rotating exhibits, ensuring there’s always something new to discover about Panama City’s vibrant history.

Original Heidelberg printing press.


Make a seaside souvenir at panama city hot glass.

Panama Hot Glass workshop area.

For our Panama City, Florida adventure, we wanted the perfect keepsake, and what could be better than crafting a glass sea star?

At Panama City Hot Glass, the experience is incredibly hands-on, probably the most hands-on hot glass encounter I’ve ever had. From start to finish, the instructors encouraged us to participate in nearly every step of the process!

Any opportunity to work with hot glass is a must for me! (I created ornaments in Grapevine, Texas , and crafted pumpkins AND paperweights in Corning, New York .)

lady heating glass in glass oven.

Create Your Own Jewelry

inside Bead Lady shop

I was blown away the moment I stepped into LH Bead Gallery . It’s a jewelry-making wonderland with thousands of beads in every color and size imaginable. People travel from miles around to experience it. It’s a super-sized version of The Bead Lady in Concord, NC.

strings of colored beads on a wall.

Here’s the most incredible part: LH Bead Gallery hosts ongoing walk-in workshops and teacher-led classes, so whether you’re a seasoned pro or just itching to give it a shot (like me!), there’s fun stuff happening all month long.

workspace in The Bead Lady

Here’s a tip: Check out the display case in the back showcasing finished projects. It’s the perfect way to scope out which classes you want to dive into.

upcoming bead class finished project examples.

Get Artistic with Floriopolis

craft supplies in Floriopolis.

Floriopolis in Panama City is a community arts and education center offering workshops, classes, and events to promote creativity and the arts. It’s a fun place where everyone can get involved and explore their artistic side.

Fun Fact: Floriopolis was one of the original names of Panama City!

craft kit supplies at Floriopolis.

Stop in to see what Floriopolis is up to. Some of their fun community art projects have included Fence Art, store window painting, the FLLUXE Arts Festival featuring fantastic chalk art, and a Flower-Palooza.

murals on windows of shop in St. Andrews.


Dine with a sunset backdrop.

There are several waterfront restaurants in Panama City with amazing views. Here are my faves:

sunset in Panama City as seen from Harrison's restaurant.

Harrison’s Kitchen & Bar

patio dining at Harrison's.

Staying at Hotel Indigo ? Enjoy a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk to this nearby restaurant—it’s just steps away. Don’t miss the chance to soak in the glorious Panama City sunsets from the patio, especially on a beautiful day.

I opted for a refreshing salad for dinner featuring fresh peaches, candied pecans, and grilled chicken—it was perfect!

salad with peaches, pecans and chicken.

Uncle Ernie’s Bayfront Grill

waterfront view from Uncle Ernie's at night.

Perched over St. Andrews Bay, this spot offers three levels of outdoor dining, perfect for soaking in waterfront vibes. Although we missed the sunset during our late dinner, the ambiance by the water was still magical.

Insulata Roma Salad.

Bayou Joe’s Marina & Grill

Bayou Joe's entrance.

Savor breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the water at Bayou Joe’s. Unlike any other spot, this restaurant is on the water as the dock extends into the inlet, offering stunning 180-degree sunrise and sunset views.

Pro Tip: Bayou Joe’s sits at the marina where Flippin’ Awesome Adventures sets sail. It’s the ideal spot for a meal before or after your marine excursion.

view of Bayou Joe's from dock.

Steam on 5 (at Hotel Indigo)

chairs along rail at Steam on 5 Rooftop Bar.

Located on the 5th floor of Hotel Indigo, the open-air rooftop bar and restaurant boasts sweeping views of Panama City Marina. Steam on 5 offers a full coastal cuisine menu and delightful craft cocktails. Our mid-afternoon snack of flatbread pizza was the perfect complement to the stunning scenery as we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon.

margherita flatbread.

Keep in mind that the open-air setting can get quite warm and humid on muggy days, but the stunning view and a refreshing drink can make it all worth it.

chairs at Steam on 5 Rooftop Bar.


Have breakfast on the bayou at mama’s.

Big Mama's On The Bayou interior.

I loved this cozy diner-style restaurant situated along Little Johnson Bayou. If the weather’s nice, sit out on the patio and enjoy the scenery; it’s absolutely gorgeous there!

view of bayou behind Big Mama's on the Bayou.

At Mama’s On The Bayou , you’ll find a breakfast spread full of classics: think fluffy pancakes, crispy bacon, and eggs cooked just right. Indulge in decadent French toast or the comforting goodness of biscuits and gravy (trust me, they’re amazing!). Whether you’re getting ready for the day or taking it easy in the morning, Mama’s breakfast menu has something for everyone’s taste buds to enjoy.

biscuit and sausage gravy with bacon.

Spice Up Your Palate at Holi Indian Grill

interior of Holi Indian Grill.

I had a mouthwatering lunch at Holi Indian Grill! The menu was full of tempting options, but I couldn’t resist their Tikki Masala paired with warm, pillowy Naan bread—it was fantastic! The dish also had a side of rice and chickpeas, adding to the deliciousness.

We also indulged in some samosas for starters, which were excellent. Whether you’re a spice lover or simply curious about Indian cuisine, Holi Indian Grill is the place to be.

tikki masala with naan.

Vibe, Sip, Taco at El Weirdo Taco Pub

decor inside El Weirdo

El Weirdo Taco Pub embraces the weirdness! From the quirky decor both inside and outside, it’s an Instagram enthusiast’s dream come true.

But what really steals the show? Their crazy good tacos! They have a variety of delicious tacos, including vegetarian options, and they serve some really fun cocktails too.

plants growing inside hood of wildly painted car at El Weirdo.

Chow Down on Island Style Grub at Finn’s in Little Village

entrance to Little Village in St. Andrews.

Finn’s is located in the Little Village, a waterfront shopping, dining, and entertainment venue in St. Andrews. The beachy casual restaurant is known for its fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Little Village restaurant in St. Andrews.

If you’re craving a taste of the sea, their fish tacos are very popular, but I decided to go for something different and try their veggie tacos. Packed with spring mix, black beans, sweet potatoes, pico, cabbage, Valentina, and cheese, they were a flavorful surprise. The sweet potatoes and spicy sauce, in particular, were absolutely delicious.

vegetarian tacos.

Shop and Explore Historic Downtown Panama City

streetscape in downtown Panama City.

Downtown Panama City just completed a major glow-up, and it’s seriously awesome! They’ve spruced up the streets with colorful plants and flowers and widened the sidewalks, too, so there’s even more space for outdoor seating. The whole downtown vibe is so welcoming now.

bee mural in Panama city.

Though not currently open, the Art Deco exterior of the Martin Theatre in downtown Panama City begs to be photographed.

art deco exterior of Martin Theatre in Panama City.

And the shopping ain’t bad either! Stop into Accents , Jute & Palm and The Little Mustard Seed for home decor and accessories, and visit Baywitch for crystals, jewelry, and all things metaphysical . And don’t miss C & G Sporting Goods for all your outdoor gear needs.

inside Accents store.

Shop Historic St. Andrews

St. Andrews Mural.

Save some of those pennies for shopping locally in St. Andrews, too.

downtown St. Andrews buildings.

Pop into the shops at Little Village for fair trade and handcrafted local treasures, and for cute clothing, accessories, and gifts, I loved Gypsy Willow and Twisted Toucan .

shops in Little Village.


Treat yourself to a relaxing massage.

The Spa on Harrison is a hop and a skip away from Hotel Indigo at the Panama City Marina, where I stayed. Plus, being on Harrison Avenue, it is also walkable from downtown.

During my visit, I managed to squeeze in a 30-minute massage and let me tell you; it was absolute bliss! What’s great about this spa is that you can undress in the treatment room—no need to deal with lockers, robes, and slippers. It’s all about keeping things simple and stress-free.

massage room at The Spa on Harrison.

Raise a Glass to the Past

bar inside History Class Brewery.

The moment I stepped into History Class Brewing Company , I was hooked! Everywhere I turned, memorabilia, photos, and artifacts brought the area’s past to life in such a cool way. It was like taking a stroll through history right there in the brewpub.

History Class Brewing Company logo and historic photos.

Check out the QR codes scattered around the brewery—they’re like little treasure maps to extra history tidbits. And you’ve gotta make a pit stop in the bathroom hallways; they’re packed with some seriously fantastic displays. You’ll learn about Paul Conrad, aka “The South’s Strongest Boy,” and get the scoop on the history of the “Jr. Store.” It’s genuinely a mini history class during your brewery visit.

bank vault door entrance at History Class Brewing.

Ink Up, Drink Up

Need some new ink? And a drink? Start by making an appointment for your newest tattoo at one of the most incredible tattoo shops in Panama City— The Prominent Goat , a speakeasy-style tattoo parlor.

inside The Prominent Goat.

Once you’ve been inked, you can reward yourself with a visit to Thistle & Thorne , an eclectically designed craft cocktail and tea bar connected to The Prominent Goat. The decor will blow your mind—it includes a supine skeleton named Betty in a glass case.

I can’t think of a better reward for sitting for a tat than a proper cocktail or, in my case, some freshly brewed tea—they have countless varieties. Thistle & Thorne is where art meets spirits in the wildest way possible.

bar at Thistle & Thorne.

Final Thoughts

I was excited to see how unique Panama City, Florida, is from its neighbor, Panama City Beach. It’s a quieter, more historic destination with the same turquoise waters and soft, sandy beaches. And it has phenomenal places to eat!

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Panama City Sightseeing & Canal Tour

Starting from $71/pers $139/pers

The perfect introduction to Panama City and to the famous Panama Canal

We offer 3 variations of this tour, full day, half-day (private only) and shore excursion for guests on cuise ships arriving to Port Amador. Along this captivating journey through the heart of Panama City, you will visit the following sights:

The Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks Visitors Center + IMAX 3D) $ Located right in front of the Miraflores locks on the Pacific side of Panama, this is where you can see up-close the operations of the canal and the transiting ships through one of the original locks. $ Tickets can be purchased during the booking process or onsite. EXPECT LONG LINEUPS AT THE TICKET BOOTH. WE STRONGLY SUGGEST THAT YOU PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS IN ADVENCE THROUGH US.

Cerro Ancon A small nature sanctuary surrounded by the urban jungle of Panama City, Ancon hill stands tall in its 650-foot height. The highest peak in Panama City that offers breathtaking views of the city, the port and the Panama Canal. Even though it is located in the middle of the city, Ancon Hill has managed to retain a bit of wilderness and is home to sloths, tamarins, coatis and armadillos.

Amador Causeway This gorgeous 6-kilometer road extension connects Panama City to several islands known as the Causeway Islands. It was initially built as a break water for the canal entrance from the rocks extracted during the excavation of the Panama Canal and now serves as an entertainment boardwalk and a popular social destination. It’s the ideal place for photo enthusiasts as you can capture a beautiful panoramic of the city’s skyline or a romantic sunset plunging into the ocean.

Casco Viejo also called Casco Antiguo (the Old Town) Located in Panama City, is a historic district renowned for its vibrant blend of colonial architecture and contemporary flair. With its cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and charming plazas, Casco Viejo offers a captivating atmosphere where visitors can explore centuries-old landmarks, trendy art galleries, chic restaurants, and lively nightlife.

You will also be able to see La Cinta Costera, Avenida Balboa, Las Americas Bridge and the Fish Market (Mercado de Mariscos).

Note: Half-day tours might not include all of these sights, if you have any must-see please mention them in the comments section during the resevation process.

Tour highlights

  • Discover Panama City old and modern architecture
  • Blend into the rich culture and diversity of Panama
  • See the Panama Canal, a marvel of modern engineering
  • Experiance colonial architecture and modern culture
  • Enjoy panoramic views of Panama City and stunning views of the city skyline

Days available

Pick up time and duration.

Pick up times:

  • Private tours: 8:30am
  • Semi-private tours: between 8am and 8:30am (exact time will be confirmed 24h in advance)
  • Full day tours and shore excursions: 7.5h
  • Half-day tours: 4.5h
  • Hotel pick up (Panama City only)
  • Transportation
  • Bottled water

Not Included

  • Entrance fees to Panama Canal Visitors Center (tickets available for purchase during checkout)
  • Lunch / Meals
  • Port tax (if applicable, added during checkout)

What to bring

  • Passports of all passengers (mandatory)
  • Hat / Cap / Sunglasses
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Light & comfortable clothes
  • Level: Easy Details: Light walking (1-2h), some stairs
  • Suggested age: All ages

Street in Casco Viejo

Street in Casco Viejo

Miraflores Visitors Center (Panama City Tour)

Miraflores Visitors Center

Amador Causeway Marina

Amador Causeway Marina

Panama Sign

Panama Sign

Miraflores Visitors Center

Amador Causeway Panama


Searching Availability...

  • Please note that currently the Miraflores visitors center is undergoing a major renovation. Because of that, the museum and exhibition halls are currently closed. Expect long delays at the ticket booth, we strongly suggest puchasing your tickets in advence on our website. You will have the option to add the tickets to your booking during the checkout process.
  • Our semi-private tours offers an exclusive small group (max. 12 guests) experience with personalized attention, while allowing for some interaction with other like-minded travelers.
  • Our private tours provides a fully personalized and exclusive travel experience tailored to the individual or group’s specific interests and preferences, with a dedicated guide and no other participants.
  • This tour must be booked at least 2 days in advance of the tour date.
  • Kids 0-5yo are always free
  • Cancellation terms and conditions

Fequent questions about this tour

Q: What are the attractions at the Miraflores Visitor Center?

  • The Miraflores Visitor Center offers a variety of attractions for visitors to enjoy and learn more about the Panama Canal. Among these attractions are four exhibition halls that showcase the Canal’s history, biodiversity, and international significance in an engaging and visually appealing way.
  • Additionally, the center also features a new viewing deck at Miraflores, designed to offer exceptional views of the Canal’s operation with a modern and strategic layout. This facility allows visitors to closely observe the transit of ships through the iconic locks.

Note: Please note that currently the Miraflores visitors center is undergoing a major renovation. Because of that, the museum and exhibition halls are currently closed.

Q: Can you customize this tour with an attractions or specific sight I have in mind?

Absolutely! We can custom build a tour just for you, our staff will be more than happy to assist you with that. Simply send your request via our contact form and we’ll get back to you within 24h.

Any other questions?

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  • Worry-Free cancellation
  • Tailor-made
  • Safe and secure
  • Certified guides
  • Fully insured for your peace of mind


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Travel Guides

Panama city.

Panama City , the largest city between Pensacola and Tallahassee in Northwest Florida , is known for lively waterfront restaurants , unbeatable fishing , and easy access to world-class beaches for water sports, diving , and nonstop fun in the sun.

Outdoor adventures abound both on and off the water at 1,200-acre St. Andrews State Park , situated along the shores of St. Andrews Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Here, visitors can explore the park’s hiking trails and spot wildlife , surf , fish , paddle , swim, and camp by the water. From the state park, visitors can take a shuttle to Shell Island , a pristine, uninhabited island that is only accessible by boat and a popular day-trip destination for shelling, swimming, and paddling. Beyond the park, Panama City’s proximity to Panama City Beach means it’s just minutes away from nearly 100 beach access points .

The city’s four historic neighborhoods —  St. Andrews , Millville , Glenwood , and Downtown Panama City — each offer their own unique history and cultural significance, and the historic downtown is brimming with culinary delights , boutique shops , foodie hotspots, and local gems serving the flavors of the Gulf Coast.

History buffs will enjoy walking through the city’s two historic districts and visiting the Panama City Publishing Company Museum and Bay County History Museum . Art enthusiasts won’t want to miss seeing local exhibits at the Panama City Center for the Arts , and visitors can watch performing arts from around the world and special events at the Marina Civic Center .

Plan your trip at Destination Panama City .

Panama City is home to St. Andrews State Park and just minutes from nearly 100 beach access points of Panama City Beach.

  • St. Andrews State Park
  • Carl Gray Park
  • Earl Gilbert Park
  • Shell Island
  • More Panama City beaches
  • Beach access points of Panama City Beach

Play on the beach, see dolphins, and visit family-friendly attractions.

  • Playgrounds
  • Dolphin tours
  • More family-friendly things to do


Visit galleries, museums, and historic sites.

  • Art galleries
  • Mural Trail
  • Historic walking tours
  • Annual events


Play all day on and off the water.

  • Boat rentals
  • Birding, walking, and paddling trails
  • Fishing charters
  • Bay cruising
  • Snorkeling and diving
  • Bike rentals


Visit the area’s accessible attractions.

  • Spring Avenue Park
  • Accessible attractions in Panama City Beach

Dine by the water, indulge in sweet treats, and enjoy fresh-from-the water seafood.

  • Outdoor dining
  • Dock and dine
  • Oyster Trail
  • Ice cream and desserts
  • Coffee and tea
  • More places to eat and drink

Shop for antiques, gifts, beach gear, fresh food, and more.

  • Specialty gifts
  • Farmers markets
  • More places to shop

Tee off on the area’s scenic golf courses, play tennis, and watch sporting events.

  • Golf courses


Four-legged family members are welcome at Panama City’s dog-friendly restaurants and attractions.

  • Al Helms Dog Park
  • Pet-friendly dining
  • Pet-friendly lodging


Choose from waterfront hotels, vacation rentals, budget motels, and more.

  • Hotel Indigo Panama City Marina
  • Holiday Inn Panama City
  • Hilton Garden Inn Panama City
  • More places to stay

Panama City Events

Panama City Oyster Trail

Fishing by Kayak

Quick Facts

Family-friendly city with watersports & nearby beaches

Nearest Airport

  • Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport


Strategic alliance partners.

Florida Walking Trails

The florida national scenic trail.


This national treasure is 1 of 3 walking trails contained entirely in one state, and 1 of 11 National Scenic Trails in the country. The Florida National Scenic Trail is divided into four main geographic regions: Southern Region, Central Region, Northern Region, and our very own Panhandle Region.

While the trail is mostly used for hiking, adventurers can also camp, swim, bike, horseback ride, paddle, and picnic on designated sections of the trail. In the Panhandle Region, you will find the unique environment Florida has to offer, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world! See pitcher plants, hardwood hammocks, salt marsh, pine flatwoods, orchids, and dune grasses all across northwest Florida (Panhandle Region). Observe wildlife in its natural habitat, and spot bald eagles, osprey, black bears, otters, sea turtles and piping plovers.

The closest segment of the Florida Trail borders the crystal clear spring-fed waters of Econfina Creek. The surprisingly rugged and delightfully diverse Econfina Creek Trail is 17.7 miles long and traverses ravines, sidehills, and high bluffs above this spring-fed creek. Looking to add a paddling excursion to the walking trail experience? Rent canoes and all the gear you need for a relaxing and fun-filled day on the Econfina waters at Econfina Canoe Livery .

Thru-hikers that complete the entire trail usually start in the southern region and work their way north. The thru-hiker season runs from October through April and an annual celebration and reunion called Billy Goat Day takes place every January.

Use the ArcGIS map , provided by the US Forest Service, to find your nearest access point, key data on trail management, and planning tools.

Tours Are By Reservation Only.

Dolphin And Snorkel Tours

Coastal Wildlife Adventures ®

Shell island dolphin and snorkeling tours in panama city beach, fl, choose your snorkel and dolphin tours.

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Get up-close with dolphins and other fascinating marine creatures on this unforgettable adventure as we visit Shell Island in Panama City Beach, Florida. Book this tour online today!

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Private Shell Island Charter

Create unforgettable memories as you explore the stunning marine life of Panama City Beach, Florida. Book your private dolphin watching adventure today!

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3 Hour Shell Island Dolphin and Snorkeling Tour

Experience the incredible wildlife of Shell Island with our dolphin and snorkeling tours in Panama City Beach, Florida. Book your Shell Island dolphin and snorkeling tour online now for an unforgettable adventure today!

Large Group Private Charter

Private Charters for parties over six (6) guests.

Dolphin Encounters

Shell Island

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World-Famous Sunsets

BYOB And Snacks

Watch Dolphins at Sunset

Amazing Wildlife Encounters

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a close up of a sign


Look at this adorable baby Hammerhead Shark we saw in the bay yesterday! Hammerhead sharks love to eat flat fish that lay on the sea floor and burry themselves, such as stingrays and flounder. Scientists believe their oddly shaped head covered in Ampullae of Lorenzini, which are electrictroreceptors, give them a huge advantage of finding their food.

The Best Day of Your Vacation Awaits

Personalized dolphin tours and educational experiences

Our mission is to work with a purpose: By providing Panama City Beach dolphin tours as educational experiences, which allows a greater understanding and appreciation of wildlife. We are an eco-friendly tour and take steps to make sure we do not disturb or harm any wildlife. The dolphins will thank you for choosing an eco-tour outfitter who cares, we will too.

Snorkeling tour with Capt. Lorraine Frasier

Get Up Close & Personal on our Dolphin Tours! ★★★★★

We had a wonderful time snorkeling and observing the dolphins on our visit. Our captain was quite knowledgeable and fun to be around. She took us several places while we were out and was quick to point out all the interesting sights around Shell Island and Saint Andrews State Park. Would 100% recommend this tour for anyone visiting the area. You won’t be disappointed.

Captain Keaton was amazing. He was knowledgeable about the marine life and took us to “secret” locations where we got to see unique items. At one point we got to a sandbar and found 11 starfish among sand dollars, mollusks and fish (we put everything back). We saw several dolphins and even got to view two full grown loggerhead sea turtles. Captain K was great with my two young boys (6 and 3); he answered all their questions and even let them both “drive” the boat. I would recommend this tour to everyone! My brother, a local, turned us on to them and I’m so glad we didn’t book with anyone else.

It was an amazing experience to be in the water with dolphins swimming all around us. We also got to snorkel over a shipwreck and saw lots of interesting fish.

We had a great time on this tour! Keaton (turtle) was our captain and very informative about the dolphins and turtles and all the other sea creatures we seen snorkeling. He made sure we got to see lots of dolphins as well. This is our favorite thing to do when we come to PCB. We will be back!

Panama’s Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo Hotel Will Immediately Immerse You in the Local Culture

The luxury hotel just celebrated its one-year anniversary.

Taylor Jean Stephan


Sofitel Panama City Review

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When I first got the invite to Sofitel’s Panama hotel, I misread the email as an invite to Panama City, Florida, which was not at the top of my bucket list for U.S. cities to visit. After reading the email a little closer, I learned I was invited to the Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo in Panama... the country . I had never been to Panama before, so I figured it’d be a great opportunity to check out the hotel and visit a new place. Still, I didn’t know much about Panama—all I knew was that I’d be staying at a charming five-star hotel located on the eastern edge of the city’s historic Casco Viejo District in celebration of its one-year anniversary.

The flight from LAX is a little over six hours long, and I was graciously upgraded to business class by Copa Airlines , Panama’s official airline. The international airline has flights from 16 destinations in the U.S. Copa Airlines also has a “Panama Stopover” program, which allows you to make a pit stop in Panama for anywhere from 24 hours to seven days without paying additional airfare to go to or return from your final destination. Once I landed, it was only about a 30-minute drive from the airport.

Softiel Panama City Review

When we pulled up to the hotel , I was struck by how pristine the all-white, French-inspired hotel looked situated along the water’s edge. The 159 guest room property, nestled tightly between old cobblestone roads, was by no means opulent but was a stark contrast to the rest of the rustic buildings we had just driven by. The hotel , which is more than one hundred years old (and was first built in 1917), is teeming with history. The original structure, designed by legendary American architect James C. Wright, was originally known as the Club Union, an exclusive social club for local businessmen and foreign ambassadors, including Albert Einstein and Queen Elizabeth II. It’s since been reimagined, but details of that time period are still threaded throughout the present-day architecture and décor.

Panama is humid, so walking into the air-conditioned, tiled lobby was the perfect welcome. The lobby boasted a massive fresco map of the Panama Canal, stunning ornate chandeliers, lots of windows, and the chic Mayda Lobby Bar, where many a cocktail would be had during my stay. Even though it was only a three-hour time difference from California, I was more jet-lagged than I anticipated (probably because I took the red-eye flight). After being ushered to my suite, I proceeded to pass out immediately in the supremely comfortable bed.

sofitel Hotel Panama Review

I stayed in one of the hotel’s suites, the Magnifique oceanfront room , which came with a very charming iron balcony, complete with classic French doors that overlooked the water, perfectly framing the Panama City Skyline. The room itself was complete with a four-poster bed, the softest white linen sheets and cushiest mattress, mahogany floors, and a plush velvety blue couch. For me, the best part of the room was the sprawling marble bathroom with brass hardware fixtures and a not-to-be-missed standalone cobalt blue tub (which I took full advantage of throughout the trip).

After a long slumber, my first order of business in the morning was finding a coffee at the attached Vera Café , where I tried the most delicious fresh iced ginger latte (which was so good I ordered it on repeat for the rest of my trip). We kicked off the next day with a four-hour walking tour and window shopping at a local Panama hat vendor. My favorite part was the friendly local street cats greeting us at every turn. Once we returned back to the hotel, I decided to explore the grounds. Overall, it has a quaint but luxe feel with a small pool area perfectly overlooking the sea. The adjacent kitchen and bar offer fresh poolside snacks like juices and smoothies, quinoa bowls, and tropical cocktails.


The hotel spa experience was exceptional—in fact, it was one of the best deep-tissue massages I’ve ever had. As far as off-site excursions, I’d recommend stopping at Cantina del Tigre restaurant, which is ranked no. 25 on the 2023 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. Our group made a pit stop there before an obligatory visit to the Panama Canal, and with innovative veggie-filled options like vegan ceviche and Arroz Rojo, it did not disappoint.

Another can’t-miss activity (which can be organized through the front desk of the hotel) is a visit to the Embera Tribe, one of the seven Indigenous groups of Panama. I won’t spoil the full experience, but after a scenic 25-minute canoe ride along the Chagres River, you’ll find yourself in a small, remote community where you can expect to be embraced by the Embera. There, you’ll learn all about their history and customs; it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience.


On our second to last night, we dined at a property at Caleta , operated by Michelin-starred chef Lorenzo Di Gravio. The polished space, complete with Mahogany paneling, leather banquettes, and distressed mirrors, gives it a vibey upscale Parisian brasserie feel. We were lucky enough to dine in the private second-floor dining room, and there was no shortage of seafood plates like fresh oysters, cilantro-loaded octopus, and shrimp curry.

On our final evening at the property, we checked out Ammi Skybar , the hotel’s rooftop bar, for cocktails and apps. Our last stop before retiring to bed was Arcano , the secret speakeasy (located in an undisclosed location on the premises). Inside the low-lit space, you can expect cocktails paired with tarot cards and other fun surprises, but you have to know someone to get in. Definitely inquire upon check-in.

panama city florida walking tour

Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo

After four culture-filled days, it was time to return back to reality—something I was not looking forward to after such a wonderful stay. This was the first time I’d been on a press trip and truly felt immersed in the local culture. From the historical hotel to immersive excursions, I left feeling genuinely enriched. If you find yourself in Panama City for work or pleasure, make sure you book a stay at Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo .


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Inside a 5-star hotel in Panama City's richest neighborhood, complete with 2 infinity pools and a Louis Vuitton-inspired speakeasy

  • I spent a night at the JW Marriott in Panama City's richest neighborhood.
  • The five-star hotel is in a building formerly known as the Trump Ocean Club.
  • Amenities include infinity pools, a spa, a gym, restaurants, and spacious rooms. 

Insider Today

Moises Muñoz, the international sales manager at the JW Marriott Panama, put it perfectly when he said I wouldn't need to leave once I arrived at the five-star hotel.

The JW Marriott Panama is located in The Ocean Club building in the heart of Punta Pacifica, Panama City's richest neighborhood . Between the building's attached businesses and the hotel's amenities, I had everything I needed.

I could access infinity pools, a spa, a gym, and a handful of restaurants without leaving the Marriott property.

Without stepping outside the 70-story building — where the hotel is located — I had even more dining options, salons ready to cut hair, manicurists waiting for clients, cigar shops, and a casino taking up the top two floors of the high rise.

After one night, it was clear that the JW Marriott Panama was unlike any hotel I've visited. Take a look.

The 70-story building is located in Panama's rich Punta Pacifica neighborhood.

panama city florida walking tour

When it comes to Panama City and luxury, it's hard not to mention Punta Pacifica.

The neighborhood is home to popular restaurants and luxury condominiums. Duncan McGowan, the president of Punta Pacifica Realty , told Business Insider that Punta Pacifica has the most expensive real estate across Panama City.

A quick search shows single-bedroom apartments costing $200,000 and luxury penthouses for $5 million .

From the skyline, the building is hard to miss.

panama city florida walking tour

Punta Pacifica sits on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, and just a few decades ago, the neighborhood's skyline didn't exist.

Originally, the area was marshland, but in the early 2000s, it was developed into the neighborhood it is today.

More than a dozen high-rises line the coast, but one building with its oval-shaped walls stands out: The Ocean Club.

Inside is the JW Marriott Panama, the neighborhood's only five-star hotel.

I told locals I was staying at the JW Marriott, but to them, the building is better known as the Trump Ocean Club.

panama city florida walking tour

Before the building was called The Ocean Club, it was the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower.

As Punta Pacifica was being built in the early 2000s, a developer named Roger Khafif took on the task of building the 70-story high-rise.

To up the building's credibility and notoriety, it licensed the Trump name, the Associated Press reported .

The building made headlines, but not for something positive. Instead, an NBC and Reuters investigation found that many of the property's brokers, customers, and investors were tied to drug trafficking and international crime.

In 2018, Marriott International took over management and renamed it The Ocean Club, the AP reported .

But even with the rebrand, the original name seemed to stick. Everyone I spoke with during my Panama trip knew it as the Trump building or Trump tower.

On my second night in Panama City, I headed to Punta Pacifica for a night at the JW Marriott.

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I made it to the entrance of the building, where valet drivers were waiting to whisk away cars, and impressive statues filled a lobby.

While the building is 70 stories, 24 make up the Marriott. The rest are businesses, condominiums, and a casino.

panama city florida walking tour

McGowan said that TOC is one of the country's largest mixed-use buildings. The first floor is home to two hallways of businesses. The majority of the floors are condominiums and apartments. Twenty-four floors are the Marriott, and the top two levels house a casino.

I arrived at the building and headed to Marriott's lobby on floor 12.

panama city florida walking tour

The hotel lobby is on the 12th floor, where guests can check-in.

There, I was handed a key to my executive suite.

panama city florida walking tour

The JW Marriott is home to 320 hotel rooms and suites . For my one-night stay, I was in an executive suite.

According to TripAdvisor, standard rooms typically cost between $193 and $290 for a night. BI received a media rate for the room.

I was taken aback by the suite's size as I stepped inside.

panama city florida walking tour

I rarely find hotel rooms this large in major cities.

The open-concept room had an area with a stunning bathroom.

panama city florida walking tour

The suite was open concept, with spaces naturally flowing into the next.

A partial wall with a vanity and two sinks separated the bathroom from the rest of the suite.

A tub faced Panama's horizon and sunset.

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A bathtub big enough for two was perfectly positioned to look out to Panama's skyline.

The bathroom also had a closed-off area with a toilet and another glass room for the rainfall shower.

Adjacent to the bathroom was a living area with a loveseat and desk.

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Here, there was plenty of space to unpack my suitcase, spend an evening writing at the desk, and relax on the loveseat.

Nearby was a table, minibar, and balcony.

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While the table was small, it had ocean views, and the minibar was stocked with drinks and snacks.

The balcony offered a bird's-eye view of the neighborhood.

panama city florida walking tour

Floors below, there was a bright blue pool, playground, and car garage. Across from me were a handful of condominiums, and I had a partial view of the nearby ocean.

Back inside was a king-sized bed.

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The final area of the suite was the bedroom area. A bed faced a television, and two nightstands bookmarked the bed.

I was settling in during golden hour, which meant the entire room was lit in warm sunlight.

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The room feels modern with its marble flooring, white interiors, and abstract art. Thanks to an entire wall of windows, the golden sunset warmed up the space.

After dropping off my bags, I joined Muñoz for a property tour. We started by exploring the businesses in the downstairs area of the building.

panama city florida walking tour

Muñoz said to fully understand the hotel's appeal, you have to start at the bottom of the building.

Here, two long hallways are filled with businesses of all types. Walking around, I spotted real-estate offices, salons, restaurants, convenience stores, and cigar shops.

Then, we headed back upstairs to the Marriott. Here, a bar is the first thing that greets guests.

panama city florida walking tour

Between the first floor and the hotel are condominiums and apartments.

The first thing guests see when they arrive is the hotel bar.

Also on this floor are the hotel's lobby and a speakeasy.

panama city florida walking tour

Bold red curtains lead to Cava 15, a speakeasy at the JW Marriott Panama. Muñoz said the bar was designed in conjunction with Louis Vuitton.

I could see the parallels. The room was full of leather and brass embellishments.

A floor away was the hotel's spa and gym, accessed by the entire building.

panama city florida walking tour

I typically picture a treadmill or two and a stationary bike when I think of hotel gyms. If I'm lucky, there might also be a weight rack and room for stretching.

But at the JW Marriott, the gym was bigger than the one I go to back in Denver. The only caveat, Muñoz said, is that the building's permanent residents also have access to the space.

From what I could see, that wasn't an issue — the gym had only a few people exercising when I stopped by.

Also on the floor was a spa where guests and residents could book treatments and massages.

The hotel is also home to a few restaurants, including one serving Panamanian cuisine.

panama city florida walking tour

The hotel has two restaurants. The first, Masi, is located on the 14th floor. It has an incredible outdoor terrace filled with plants and greenery, and chefs serve Latin American and Panamanian dishes.

A floor below is a poolside restaurant called Azul.

On the 13th floor, guests can take a dip in one of the hotel's two infinity pools.

panama city florida walking tour

Muñoz said a visit to the JW Marriott wouldn't be complete without a swim in the hotel's pools.

As soon as the pools came into view, I understood why. The infinity pools seamlessly blended with the Pacific Ocean, and one of them offered stunning views of the city's skyline.

The floor was also home to two smaller pools.

Near the pools, Marriott's elite members can accessive an executive lounge.

panama city florida walking tour

Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite, and Ambassador Elite Marriott Bonvoy Members can also visit the hotel's executive lounge, which serves coffee, sodas, and appetizers each evening.

After our tour, I headed back to the infinity pool to catch the last few minutes of the sunset.

panama city florida walking tour

The infinity pool was easily one of the most stunning pools I've seen. Before the sun sank beneath the horizon, I hopped in.

It was an ideal lap pool, plus a submerged level had lounge chairs suitable for relaxing and soaking in the pool's warm waters.

Then, I spent the rest of my evening dining at Masi.

panama city florida walking tour

Good food is one of the main reasons I love to travel, so when I learned the hotel had a restaurant serving Panamanian food, I took Muñoz's advice and decided not to leave the property for dinner.

At Masi, I dined on three types of ceviche — some of the freshest ceviche I had during my trip. I also enjoyed a pumpkin dish and a mezcal cocktail.

By the time the meal was over, I was stuffed and relieved I had only an elevator ride to my hotel room.

Finally, it was time to sleep. I hopped into the large king-sized bed, and before I knew it, the morning sun was creeping through the room's curtains.

panama city florida walking tour

Full of fresh seafood and smelling of chlorine, I hopped in the hotel's bed and quickly drifted off to sleep.

After packing my bags and checking out, I said goodbye to the Marriott and one of the prettiest pools I've swam in.

panama city florida walking tour

The infinity pools and ceviche were the highlights of my short stay at the JW Marriott. But even after one night, I understood how the hotel and neighborhood got its reputation for luxury.

panama city florida walking tour

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    Every Friday, there is a free walking tour with a guide from 1:30 to 2:30 pm. This is a short walking tour around the historic "downtown" in St. Andrews. The tour leaves from the Panama City Publishing Company Museum (free) on Beck Avenue. Do this tour if. you have any interest at all about the St. Andrews neighborhood and it's history.

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