Free or cheap things to do in Panama City

Central America’s most cosmopolitan funds, Panama City has anything for everyone, from environment-class museums to trendy rooftop bars, interesting background to phenomenal viewpoints, with wildlife-loaded forests and chic seashores right on the doorstep.   

Though you may well get a lot more bang for your buck somewhere else in the area, there are nonetheless free of charge (and nearly no cost) points to see and do that will make your continue to be unforgettable – without the need of breaking the financial institution.

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People at night, dining at outdoor tables with umbrellas in the quaint and historic surroundings along the streets of Panama's old quarter
The moment a no-go zone, Casco Viejo has morphed into the city’s hippest ‘hood, with rather plazas and restored pastel-coloured mansions filled with museums, dining establishments and bars © E_Rojas / Getty Images

Wander the cobbled streets of Casco Viejo

They say the greatest points in life are cost-free, and that goes for checking out colonial Casco Viejo, the jewel in Panama City’s crown. When a no-go zone, this Unesco Planet Heritage web-site has morphed into the city’s hippest ‘hood, with fairly plazas and restored pastel-coloured mansions stuffed with museums, dining places and bars – no map expected.

Slip into the shade of the area’s ornate, incense-scented church buildings. The Iglesia de San José is famed for its glittering golden altar, when the Metropolitan Cathedral that dominates Plaza de la Independencia attracts readers for its breathtaking stained-glass windows. And for sundowners with a see, head to content hour at Tántalo’s rooftop bar.

Hike Ancon Hill for stellar city sights

Cerro Ancon dominates the skyline, with its massive Panama flag fluttering in the breeze, so join the joggers and cyclists and hike to the major of the city’s best level to soak up the 360-degree views. The street is paved, and the incline is steep but gradual and ought to just take all-around 30 to 40 minutes.

As you climb by means of the rainforest, you will get tantalizing glimpses of the cityscape while you look out for snoozing sloths and chattering toucans large in the cover – the previously you go the far better. At the summit, sheltered viewpoints acquire in glowing skyscrapers and Casco Viejo’s tiled rooftops.

Vendor arranges his display of fish at the Mercardo del Mariscos in the Casco Viejo neighborhood of Panama City
Prevent at the Mercado de Mariscos on your walk along the Cinta Costera – for much less than $5, you can deal with you to a cup of tangy ceviche and an ice-cold beer from a single of the outside stands © John Coletti / Getty Pictures

Stroll alongside the Cinta Costera

Slap on the sunscreen, put on your Panama hat and established off along the Cinta Costera. This well-liked waterfront walkway operates parallel to Avenida Balboa (which closes for the ciclovía on Sunday mornings), linking the glass-and-steel towers of Punta Paitilla to the cobbled streets of Casco Viejo.

There’s green place aplenty, so pick a bench and indulge in some men and women-watching, from the roller girls to raspado (shaved ice) sellers, the skate boarders sharpening their tricks to some energetic seashore volleyball. And really do not overlook the city’s numero uno picture stop, the rainbow-coloured Panama sign. 

Cease at the Mercado de Mariscos to see pelicans hovering for a totally free seafood lunch as the fishing boats unload. For much less than $5, you can deal with yourself to a cup of tangy ceviche and an ice-cold beer from a single of the outdoor stands.

Acquire a beach working day

Panama City is just a pebble’s toss from some stunning beaches. Pack a picnic, and for the value of a ferry or bus ticket, you will shortly have your ft in the sand underneath a swaying palm.

Volcanic Taboga Island – the historic Island of Bouquets – is just a 30-minute ferry hop (US$24 return) from the Amador Causeway. Playa Restinga is a person of the most well-known shorelines, with a skinny spit of sand connecting it to small Isla El Morro. Take a look at in the course of the week to stay clear of the crush of city escapees.

Playa Gorgona could not be the Pacific coast’s prettiest beach front, but it can be achieved by bus in just beneath two hours. At the Albrook Bus Terminal, hop on a bus (all around $4) to San Carlos, then get off at the Gorgona exit, and the beach is inside of walking distance.

People biking on Amador Causeway with boats in the background
Panama City’s Amador Causeway is walkable – the sea breeze cools things down – but very best explored by bicycle © Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Illustrations or photos

Stroll – or cycle – about the Amador Causeway

Established from rocks unearthed throughout the Panama Canal’s development, the causeway was intended as a Pacific breakwater, and a hyperlink to the 3 modest islands of Naos, Perico and Flamenco. Now, this seafront promenade has been reinvented, with cycle paths, paddleboarding and wood-fired pizza joints.

At 6km (3.7 miles) it is walkable – the sea breeze cools factors down – but best explored by bicycle Bicicletas Moses does rentals from $2.80 an hour. The assertion architecture and colorful angles of the Frank Gehry–designed BioMuseo are difficult to miss out on, and really do not forget to prevent and just take in the sights. 

See the famed Panama Canal for the value of a taxi

If you never want to splash the income on a canal transit or a vacation to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Centre, there are areas where you can get a glance at this legendary waterway – dubbed a person of the “seven wonders of the present day world” – for less. 

From the Amador Causeway, you can look at ships enter the canal and sail beneath the Bridge of the Americas. Or, for a feeling of its sheer scale and a bird’s-eye view of the freighters, supertankers and cruise ships on the canal, get an Uber to the western stop of the bridge and search down. 

A Kuna, aka Guna, woman selling molas in an open air market in Panama City.
Casco Viejo’s Museo de la Mola celebrates Panama’s vivid textile art, seen in this article at an open-air industry in Panama Metropolis © Ivan_Sabo / Shutterstock

Anything for artwork fans

If you’re wanting for a cost-free art deal with, head to the Museo de la Mola (MUMO) in Casco Viejo. This 5-space museum celebrates the mola – vivid textile artwork, handcrafted by indigenous Guna females from the San Blas Archipelago. With almost 200 examples on screen, you can explore the mola’s evolution, how it is created, and the meaning at the rear of the geometric designs.

In Ancón, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (aka MAC Panama) is a showcase for Panamanian and Latin American artwork, with a roster of momentary exhibitions. Admission is absolutely free but donations are often welcome look at the calendar for totally free and wallet-pleasant evening activities. 

Nearby, the diminutive Museo Afro-Antilleano, which pays tribute to the thousands of West Indians who produced up the the greater part of the canal’s overseas labor drive, is really worth the $1 admission. 

Verify out Panama City’s park existence

There’s no lack of inexperienced spaces exactly where you can escape the city hubbub. Smack in the middle of the metropolis, the expansive Parque Recreativo Omar is house to a jogging trail, outside fitness centers, children’s perform locations and a fruit-and-vegetable marketplace. Search out for free open up-air concert events and artwork exhibitions in summertime. 

The sprawling Parque All-natural Metropolitano will come with a price tag of $5, but for that, you get five nicely-marked trails by way of wild jungle, the place tropical foliage teems with wildlife, like monkeys and sloths. And there are showstopping metropolis sights from the mirador. out?v=OICKz5d0t8s

Sway to the rhythms of jazz

You never have to be a jazz aficionado to appreciate the annual Panama Jazz Festival. A single of the country’s major musical situations, it attracts rising quantities of new music fans from all around the globe for its equally intercontinental line-up, alongside with famous locals like Rubén Blades.

Ticketed gatherings are unfold across theaters over a 7 days in mid-January, but there’s no cost for open-air concert events. The breathtaking – and free – finale will take position in the Plaza de la Independencia, in the heart of Casco Viejo. 

Window-shop ‘til you drop at a mega shopping mall

If you require to choose a time-out from the heat or shelter from a hefty downpour, you can often dip into a single of the city’s lots of mega malls.

At the Multiplaza Shopping mall, alongside the designer stores, there are around 50 restaurants, cafés and out of doors lounges to go well with all budgets. If you’re touring with kids, the additional wallet-welcoming Albrook Shopping mall has loads to entertain them, which includes a carousel and exciting workshops. And Wednesdays imply half-price tag tickets at the malls’ movie theaters.