There are so many things to do in Panama City, it’s hard to know where to start. Whether it’s shopping, sightseeing, live music, or wining and dining, this cosmopolitan city truly has something for everyone. The same goes for fun, outdoor adventures. One of the biggest requests from tourists, and expats staying or living in Panama, is where to find the best outdoor activities and adventures either in the city, or close by. Luckily, there are plenty, and you’ll find that your next outdoor escape is just a stone’s throw away, and at a budget and skill level that is sure to fit anyone. Here are our suggestions for the best things to do outdoors in Panama City.
Take a hike up Ancon Hill
Ancon Hill is a historic, and ecologically lush area that sits at the western edge of Panama City. And while technically within the capital city’s limits, it’s far from urban. Ancon Hill will give you the feeling like you’ve crawled deep into the Panamanian rainforest, mixed with a quiet, historic neighborhood that blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings. You can hike from the bottom to the top in under an hour, and will see some of the most spectacular aerial views of the city, all along the way. Ancon hill is located next to Casco Viejo, Balboa, and the Panama Canal, and can be easily reached by taxi ($5-7 from hotels/apts in the center).
Check out the Biodiversity Museum on the Amador Causeway
While this Frank Ghery designed building gives you mostly an “indoor” experience, it’s a great way to discover the makeup of the great outdoors of Panama. There are thousands of flora and fauna to see and learn about first hand, and it’s a great place to visit for both a fun, and educational experience. You can also make an outdoor day of it, as it’s located at the beginning of the Amador Causeway, where you can rent a bike, roller blade, or stroll along the 1+km tree-lined paths that run between islands, right on the ocean. Not only can you see and learn about Panama’s tropical life in nature, you can also experience it, and have fun while doing so too!
Take a Day Trip to The Coronado/Chame Coast
At just about an hour and twenty minutes southwest of Panama City, Coronado and the Chame area are the perfect beach getaways for both residents and tourists. There’s everything from white sand beaches (Punta Chame, Playa Blanca) to shopping, restaurants, surfing, ATV rides, snorkeling, and fishing easily at your disposal, along the Chame coast. If you feel like a rest and relaxation trip, Coronado has plenty of beach clubs, beach restaurants, and quiet public beaches where you can take in some sun, and chill as you like. We recommend renting a car, but if you don’t want to, there are both buses and taxis that will take you to the area.
Yoga and Slack Line in Parque Omar
If you’re looking for a fun morning or afternoon in the city that will stimulate both your mind and body alike, you’ve got to check out the yoga and slack line groups in Parque Omar. Largely a loosely-organized community effort, groups of people gather every Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting) to practice yoga, meditation, and the physical art of slack lining (walking a tightrope-like cord between trees). Everyone is welcoming, and there is never money involved. Simply show up around 9am, or 3pm for the afternoon crowd, and say hello. There are also a number of organized group outings and events in the park as far as these things go, so check out Facebook, Twitter, and Google to see if there’s a specific event or class you want to attend.
Rent a bike on the Cinta Costera
It doesn’t take long to realize that the Cinta Costera (Coastal Belt) is one of the most iconic attractions in modern day Panama City. It’s a 7km (4.3 mile) thin but long stretch of park area and bike paths, that runs right along downtown Panama City’s coastline, from Punta Paitilla to the old city, Casco Viejo. It’s full of fascinating local flavor with musicians, joggers, skaters, vendors, picture takers, and yes, bikers. Renting a bike is the best way to see the whole thing, and get some exercise while you’re doing it. You can rent bikes towards the beginning of Cinta Costera 3, near the Casco Viejo end, at Rally Bikes about midway through (Ave. Balboa), or in Casco Viejo itself. Rentals are done by the hour, or by the day, and there are even those fun 4-person covered bike carts available if you’re up for some family adventures!