An 8-Day Itinerary for a Panama Getaway

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Advisor - Katie Anderson
Curated By

Katie Anderson

  • Couples Travel

  • City Travel

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • All-Inclusive Travel

  • Boutique Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Group Travel

  • Honeymoons

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • Entertainment

A low-angled shot of the streets with tall buildings during the daytime.
Curator’s statement

If you’re looking for an incredible place to warm up, a convenient international location to travel with kids or a wonderful cultural experience, look no further than Panama! Having just returned from a family adventure to Panama with my 2-year-old and 4-year-old, I have nothing but positive feedback and can offer guidance for solo travelers, couples, families or groups. Panama offers amazing wildlife experiences such as monkey and sloth tours. The historical sites include the Panama Canal and the Panama Canal Museum. There is also delicious Panamanian cuisine and warm weather for those who simply want to relax and enjoy!

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Where to stay

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Days: 1-5 in Panama Tocumen

An aerial view of the swimming pool with palm trees near a hotel during the daytime.

Fly from your home airport to Panama Tocumen for a 7 or 8 night stay depending on when you land. If you fly on Copa Airlines, you can even earn United miles with your United Mileage Plus number. Travel by arranged transfer from Panama Tocumen to the Westin Playa Bonita Panama for a 4-night stay. This is a beautiful resort offering all-inclusive options, views of the Pacific Ocean or surrounding rainforest, a sensory spa and multiple outdoor resort pools to enjoy. This is a very easy option for those traveling with children who may not want a long journey.

Alternatively, for solos or couples, or if you don’t mind a longer journey, you could swap your stay at the Westin Playa Bonita and take another flight on Air Panama from Panama City's Marcos A. Gelabert Intl (PAC) airport to Bocas Del Toro, a beautiful island in the Caribbean Sea. This is a quick 45-minute flight from Panama City, offering lush rainforests and renowned surf spots.

During your stay at the Westin Playa Bonita, I would recommend a Lake Gatun Wildlife Tour from Panama City. On this tour we saw three different types of monkeys, a crocodile, and my girls had an opportunity to feed the monkeys (bananas and peanuts). They absolutely loved it! Tour pick-up is available from your hotel with morning or afternoon tour options. We did have to pay an additional $20 for tour pick-up from the hotel property.

Days: 5-8 in Casco Viejo, Old Town, Panama

An aerial view of the buildings during the daytime.

Travel by arranged transfer to Casco Viejo, Old Town, Panama and check in for a 3-night stay. If you are traveling from Westin Playa Bonita, a transfer can be arranged for you in advance if you prefer. If you are traveling from Bocas Del Toro, you will take a flight back to PAC from BOC and then make your way to Old Town to finish out your Panama adventure. A few recommended accommodations in Casco Viejo include: Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo — Panama City, Hotel La Compania — The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, Central Hotel Panama — Casco Viejo or the American Trade Hotel.

Spend some time walking and exploring Casco Viejo at your own pace and visit the Panama Canal Museum, which is near the Central Hotel Panama — Casco Viejo.

During your stay in Casco Viejo, I would recommend a Panama Canal Partial Tour — Southbound Direction. This is absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience to see the locks up close as you make your way through the Pedro Miguel Locks and the Miraflores Locks. Lunch, soda and water are offered on the boat, included in your tour. Tour pick-up is offered from the American Trade Hotel, which is walking distance from any Casco Viejo accommodation. This tour is approximately six hours, but did run longer in our case.

Another recommended tour option is a Tour at the Chagres Rainforest and Embera Indigenous Village. This tour might be more suitable for adults or those with older children, as it involves a hike to a waterfall, as well as a jungle river cruise and a performance of traditional song and dance. The tour is approximately 7 hours and can be taken during your stay at Playa Bonita for an additional $30 pick-up fee or from Casco Viejo.

Need to Know

Where to Eat:

  • Casa Casco – A restaurant with beautiful décor, great food, and great service!

  • Restaurante Casablanca – A delicious spot for brunch or dinner located in Plaza Simon Bolivar. This was one of my favorite meals.

  • Restaurante El Nacional Sabores de Panama - Very reasonably priced authentic Panamanian food in the center of Old Town.

  • Diablicos – A true, authentic spot for delicious Panamanian cuisine and decor.

  • Café Unido Casco Viejo – Perfect spot for a quick breakfast. The empanadas, Nutella waffles and coffee were all delicious.

  • Lotus House of Coffee – Casco Antiguo – This is a cute little café with delicious coffee and breakfast sandwiches.

  • Tiempos Coffee at American Trade Hotel — Perfect spot to grab a coffee if you are staying here or prior to heading out on a tour (several of the tours offer pick-up from this hotel).

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Katie Anderson's guide, A Scenic Summer Getaway to Banff. This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Panama.

Advisor - Katie Anderson

Travel Advisor

Katie Anderson

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