Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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1 Week In Panama: An Epic Nature-Centered Itinerary


I got here away from Panama satisfied that it’s totally underrated. With all of the journey discuss fixated on the better-promoted Costa Rica, its neighbor typically goes ignored — although it gives an identical array of ecotourism experiences and browsing hotspots, to not point out a protected capital to discover.

I’ve carried out two journeys to Panama: one for every week and one lasting two weeks. Not every thing made the lower on this itinerary, so what I’ll current here’s a “better of” journey route specializing in the highlights.

On this 1 week itinerary, you’re going to get an epic mixture of historical past, tradition, nature, and journey within the stunning nation of Panama. I’ll additionally show you how to navigate your approach round whether or not you’re touring solo, with pals, or as a pair.

So, let’s dive in and uncover what 1 week in Panama can provide!

Day 1: Panama Metropolis

Panama City buildings in the distance and park and coast.
Skyscrapers of Panama Metropolis

Your week-long journey will begin in Panama Metropolis, the capital metropolis. Whereas I feel the town is just of average curiosity from a vacationer’s perspective, it stands out for being a largely protected capital in Central America, so you may discover it with out too many worries.

I’ve written extra about whether or not it’s price visiting Panama Metropolis, however in a nutshell, I feel it’s price at the very least spending your first day right here. This contemporary metropolis doesn’t have an inexhaustible listing of issues to do, however you must on the very least see the world-famous Panama Canal and the charming space referred to as Casco Viejo.

Arriving in Panama Metropolis

You’ll fly into Tocumen Worldwide Airport. From there, it’s only a brief trip into the town. The very first thing you’ll discover is the distinction between the previous and new elements of the town. On one hand, you will have the fashionable skyscrapers, and on the opposite, you will have the charming colonial structure.

The most effective issues about touring to Panama is that they have a wonderful transport system, so it’s simple to get round. The community of metros and buses makes it easy to navigate your approach across the metropolis, and they’re all very reasonably priced.

You may as well hail a taxi or seize an Uber within the metropolis. I like to recommend taking an Uber when you’ve got the choice. Taxi drivers are identified for elevating the costs for vacationers, so utilizing Uber can prevent some cash and trouble.

Exploring Panama Metropolis

A woman facing backwards walking on a street in Casco Viejo, Panama.
Casco Viejo

Kick off your exploration in Casco Viejo, the walled previous heart of Panama Metropolis, the place each cobblestone appears to inform a narrative. Wander by way of the colourful streets, snapping pics of the gorgeous structure and popping into stylish cafes for a caffeine repair or a fast snack. Don’t neglect to take a look at the quaint retailers and artwork galleries that give this UNESCO World Heritage Website its modern-day vibrance.

This legends tour is an effective way to completely expertise the neighborhood in simply a few hours. You’ll be part of a neighborhood on foot and uncover the hidden gems and engaging treats of Casco Viejo.

Whereas the colourful historic structure is gorgeous, the Casco Viejo isn’t that large, so having a tour information sharing native tales and historic context is a serious profit if you wish to discover it correctly.

Afterward, head to one of many rooftop bars for lunch, akin to Sama Sky Lounge or at CasaCasco, from the place you will get a wonderful view of the Panama Metropolis skyline.

After lunch, make your method to the Panama Canal. This iconic marvel of engineering is a must-visit when in Panama Metropolis. In case you go to independently, make sure you time it so {that a} ship is passing while you go to as a result of with out it, it’s not practically as spectacular! You may as well be part of this tour and be taught concerning the historical past and significance of this spectacular waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

I’ve stayed within the fashionable space of Panama Metropolis in addition to within the Casco Viejo. With someday within the metropolis, I positively suggest staying within the latter. The previous city is brimming with charming boutique motels and there are even some price range choices. I like to recommend staying at La Concordia; the vibe is charming, and the decor is a mixture of classic and fashionable.

Day 2-4: Boquete

On day 2, it’s time to depart the town and head to the charming mountain city of Boquete. Identified for its pure magnificence, espresso plantations, and journey actions, it’s the proper escape from the hustle and bustle of Panama Metropolis.

Get to Boquete

Street in Boquete with a few people and cars.

Attending to Boquete is an journey in itself, with winding roads and breathtaking views of the countryside. You may get there in a couple of alternative ways:

  • By air: The quickest method to attain Boquete is by taking a home flight from Panama Metropolis to the close by metropolis of David. It’s additionally the most costly, costing slightly over $100. From there, you may take a bus or taxi to Boquete. The bus solely prices about two {dollars} from David and takes about an hour.
  • By rental automobile: This provides you essentially the most flexibility to cease at totally different viewpoints and discover at your personal tempo. You’ll be able to seek for rental automobiles in Panama Metropolis right here.
  • By bus: The general public buses in Panama are cheap and dependable. Simply be ready for an extended journey, as it could possibly take round 7 hours from Panama Metropolis to Boquete. The bus leaves from Albrook station and goes to David, the place you’ll have to change buses earlier than reaching Boquete.
  • By shared shuttle: Many firms provide shared shuttle providers that can decide you up out of your resort in Panama Metropolis and drop you off at your resort in Boquete. There’s a nice choice for many who don’t wish to take care of the trouble of driving or navigating public transportation however don’t wish to pay for a personal taxi. By taking a shared shuttle you’ll skip having to switch to David and can go on to Boquete

Climbing in Boquete

When you arrive in Boquete, you’ll instantly discover the cooler local weather and more energizing air. It’s slightly slice of paradise for nature lovers, with loads of mountaineering trails and waterfalls to select from.

And when you’re a espresso lover, you’re in luck – Boquete is thought for its world-renowned espresso plantations.

Most definitely, you’ll be exhausted from the journey except you determine to take a flight, so spend the primary day stress-free and acclimating to the slower tempo of this charming city.

Get up on day 3, energized and able to begin your adventures. I like to recommend having a fast breakfast earlier than heading out for a morning hike within the cloud forest. Lots of people decide to do that on their very own as there are such a lot of totally different trails to select from, however when you’re not accustomed to the realm or need a information, this half-day tour is a superb choice.

You’ll head to the beginning of Pipeline Path, a straightforward and scenic hike by way of the forest with loads of alternatives to identify wildlife like colourful birds, monkeys, and even sloths when you’re fortunate.

Attempt Boquete’s Famed Espresso

A coffee plantation in Boquete, Panama.

After a morning of working up a sweat, head again to city for a tasty lunch at one of many many cafes or eating places. You’ll be able to’t go unsuitable with anyplace you select – however my favourite is The Fish Home.

Don’t miss the prospect to sip on a domestically roasted espresso whereas taking within the stunning views of the mountains and surrounding panorama.

Higher but, you may strive one of many world’s greatest espresso varieties: geisha espresso, identified for its unimaginable aroma and taste. You’ll discover these beans in different elements of the world at a excessive price ticket, however right here, you may take pleasure in it for a fraction of the fee. The charming and comfy La Vuida Del Cafe is my favourite cafe to have a cup of the geisha bean.

You may as well go to native espresso farms, akin to Finca dos Jefes. Bear in mind they don’t actually do ‘walk-ins’ although. Whereas exploring the realm by bike with some pals I ended by this espresso farm, however they weren’t so eager on letting us in with out an appointment. A lot of the espresso farms solely settle for guests who’re on a neighborhood tour.

You may as well take a guided tour at Finca Casanga. The expertise right here could be very hands-on, informative, and interactive!

Journey Actions in Boquete

A woman taking a picture of a waterfall in Boquete, Panama.

On day 4, you’ll wish to get up and instantly head to Olga’s for breakfast. It is a must-stop spot for anybody visiting Boquete. Olga herself will greet you with a heat smile and essentially the most mouth-watering breakfast choices from savory omelets to candy pancakes.

After breakfast, it’s time to get your adrenaline pumping with some outside actions. One of many coolest issues to do in Boquete is to paddle down the Chiriqui Viejo River with this superior tour firm. Elsewhere I’ve carried out Class IV rapids, which actually was slightly excessive at instances, however the rapids listed here are Class II – III, which is nearly good.

If rafting isn’t your factor, you may also go zip-lining by way of the cloud forest or go mountaineering to hidden waterfalls. I liked doing the Misplaced Waterfalls path, which snakes by way of a lushly jungled valley and passes by three beautiful waterfalls.

In Boquete, I like to recommend staying on the Boquete Backyard Inn. The views of this boutique resort are gorgeous as you’re surrounded by lush greenery and colourful flowers.

Day 5–7: Bocas Del Toro

A beach in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.

On day 5, you might be headed to just about everybody’s favourite spot in Panama, Bocas Del Toro. These islands among the many mangrove forests are an ideal mixture of rest and journey. Positioned on the Caribbean facet of Panama, they’re identified for his or her crystal-clear blue waters.

Get to Bocas del Toro

Attending to Bocas from Boquete isn’t too onerous as a result of so many vacationers are coming this manner. I like to recommend leaving as early as potential from Boquete, because the drive takes 4 hours, and also you don’t wish to miss out on a full day in Bocas! One of the best ways to get there’s by reserving a shuttle. Caribe Shuttle is a superb choice that’s low-cost and dependable, however you may ask your lodging in Boquete to guide any shuttle for you.

The place to Keep in Bocas del Toro

The primary island of Bocas will instantly welcome you with a laidback Caribbean vibe with colourful buildings, reggae music enjoying within the streets, and scrumptious seafood.

However there are literally 9 predominant islands within the Bocas del Toro archipelago, every with its personal distinctive vibe and points of interest. The most typical islands to remain in are Isla Colon and Isla Bastimentos, however there are little eco-resorts and lodges sprinkled all around the archipelago.

Isla Colon is essentially the most handy base. Its southern peninsula is house to Bocas del Toro City, which has all method of bars, eating places, and transportation connections. Contemplate staying at Barrbra BnB Over the Sea, which is on the quieter west facet of the peninsula, however inside 5-10 minute strolling distance from the vigorous city.

Choose to be nearer to nature? Then take into account staying on the massive island of Colon itself. Two wonderful lodging choices listed here are the cleverly named Nowhere and Someplace sister motels, that are a stone’s throw from a stunning pure and unspoiled seaside the place sea turtles hatch, whereas nonetheless being a brief taxi trip from the city.

Isla Bastimentos is way more unfold out, having a extra secluded and ‘distant’ really feel. It’s nonetheless pretty simple to achieve lodging right here due to the water taxis departing from Bocas del Toro City. In case you search round and discover, say, some tremendous dreamy ecolodge on this space (or on Isla Solarte or Isla Cristobal) you may nonetheless go for it.

Nonetheless, with a restricted variety of days, the logistics of staying in Isla Colon are a bit simpler. Keep away from staying within the small village of Bastimentos, which has had some safety points at evening. It’s nicer anyway to remain in one of many B&Bs or ecolodges that‘s surrounded by jungle.

What to Do in Bocas del Toro

The sea at Colon Island in Panama.

On Day 1 in Bocas, relying on what time you arrive, head straight to the seaside!

Essentially the most well-known seaside is Starfish Seashore, identified for its crystal clear water and abundance of starfish. It’s situated on the other facet of the island from city, nevertheless it’s well worth the journey. You’ll be able to both seize a taxi or lease a motorcycle to get there. However do not forget that getting a taxi again to city could also be tough, so prepare a trip beforehand when you don’t wish to bike again.

After some seaside time, head again to city for dinner and drinks. There are many eating places and bars, however one must-try is the well-known El Ultimo Refugio. Positioned proper alongside the seaside, this restaurant is so yummy and has some epic views.

Day 2 is all about island hopping and exploring the gorgeous surrounding islands. One of the best ways to do that is by reserving a tour by way of one of many firms on the island. Make sure that to buy round, as a great deal of firms provide the identical excursions at totally different costs.

In style stops embrace Purple Frog Seashore on Isla Bastimentos, Zapatilla Cayes for snorkeling, and Dolphin Bay to catch a glimpse of untamed dolphins. Most excursions are round 6 hours lengthy, so deliver some sunscreen and put together for a day of enjoyable within the solar.

After a day on the water, head again to city for dinner and drinks. Attempt some native Panamanian delicacies like sancocho (hen soup) or ceviche. Octo is a superb restaurant to go to, providing recent seafood and a laid-back ambiance.

For Day 3, get up early and luxuriate in a stunning dawn out of your lodging. In case you’re feeling adventurous, lease a motorcycle and discover the island’s lush jungle trails, or spend the morning absorbing the final day of solar on the seaside.

Heading Again to Panama Metropolis

Panama City in the distance.
Ancon Hill

Relying on the way you’re heading again to the mainland, you’ll should be slightly versatile in your final day. In case you’re taking a flight, the tiny airport is situated on Isla Colon, and check-in is an hour earlier than departure.

For these taking a ship again, you’ll take a water taxi from Bocas del Toro city to Almirante after which catch a 6-hour bus to Panama Metropolis. (I like to recommend the flight.)

And there we have now it: my epic 1-week itinerary for Panama. From the town to the seaside, you’ll completely fall in love with this small nation in Central America.


Some hyperlinks could also be affiliate hyperlinks, that means I’ll earn fee from services or products I like to recommend. For extra, see website insurance policies.

Posted APR 29, 2024



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