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How To Spend 24-Hours In Panama City, Panama

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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If 24-hours is all you have to explore this fascinating city in Central America, here are some highlights that should not be missed. 

Morning 

Breakfast at El Trapiche

Today, after more than 30 years in operation, they consider themselves much more than just a restaurant, but safe-keepers of Panama´s culinary traditions. Not a bad way to start the day. 

El Trapiche begins its story in 1983 when three friends decided to bring the flavors of the Panamanian countryside to the City. Starting at 7 am, El Trapiche starts serving up authentic Panamanian cuisine including eggs, black beans, tortilla, yucca, chorizo, and so much more.

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Experience the Panama Canal

After breakfast, get an early start at the Panama Canal. Depending on the time of year, it can be overrun by tourists by the afternoon. This infamous waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean is an engineering feat that shouldn’t be missed. Depending on how much time you want to spend here, it could be worth signing up for a tour that can give much more insight into the history and global impact of the canal. 

Panama Canal | NNehring | Getty Images

Afternoon

Lunch in The Old Town

Next, head over to Restaurante Santa Rita for lunch in Panama City’s Casco Viejo (old town). The restaurant features a casual, rustic setting with a large wine and cocktail list and hearty meals that pair old with new styles of cooking. 

Explore Casco Viejo / San Felipe

Take some time to just walk through the streets of San Felipe, also known as Casco Viejo. This is the heart of the old city, as well as Panama’s most charismatic neighborhood. This unique walled city, consisting of 16th & 17th Century Spanish Colonial Architecture, is a gem which was unknown to most of the outside world until 1997 when UNESCO named Casco Viejo a World Heritage Site. Now, a vibrant community consisting of a sharp contrast of old and new, local and foreign, Casco Viejo is a charming stop and a photographer’s dream. 

Casco Viejo in Panama City, Panama | L. Toshio Kishiyama | Getty Images

RELATED: Which Central America Destination Is Best For You?

Evening 

Cocktails with a View

La Vespa is a restaurant and cocktail bar with live music and a robust menu highlighting delicious seafood and pasta dishes. With stunning views of the Panama Bay, sunset is the perfect time to sit down for some drinks and a recap of a perfect day. 

Hit the Town

Casa Jaguar is a restaurant during the day, but by midnight, the place turns into a dance party. La Tana is another spot located in Casco Viejo that offers nightly dancing and a rotating schedule of DJs. If those options sound like a bit too much, head to Relic Bar for a fun late night scene in an underground setting without the cramped dance floors and heavy techno beats. 

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Leah Freeman-Haskin

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