Panama is a city of old and new. Feats of modern engineering, ramshackle rooftops and one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems all battle it out for supremacy in this city of contrasts.
Most people I met were using Panama City as a transport hub to go north to Bocas Del Toro or south to the San Blas islands, but it deserves to be a destination in its own right. With museums, the famous canal and not one but two old cities, I could have easily spent longer than five days exploring.
Gehry’s colourful Biomuseo is absolutely fantastic and provides a perfect overview of the evolution of Panama as a landmass, its natural wonders and its societal history. I also visited the ruins of Panama Viejo and went for a hike around the Metropolitan National Park. It’s also worth strolling along the front from Casco Viejo, past the fish market and into the new financial district.
Panama isn’t cheap. If I had my time here again I’d research the local bus system more to avoid having to get taxis and stock up on some groceries from a Super 99 store. That said, it’s the perfect place for backpackers to treat themselves to the odd cocktail on one of the many rustic rooftops of Casco Viejo.