Full Day Panama City Tour
This morning, you will be picked up by your guide at your Panama City hotel. You start your city tour at the Panama Canal, where you will visit the Panama Canal Visitors’ Center at Miraflores Locks where ships can be seen transiting the waterway. The 3 floor exhibit halls will provide information about the history, engineering and current events related to the Panama Canal. As part of your tour, you will also experience the new IMAX 3D theater at Miraflores Visitor Center with the 45-minute documentary “Panama Canal: A Land Divided, A World United” narrated by Morgan Freeman.
Note: The exhibition halls are temporarily closed through 2025 due to renovations.
Then drive through the former Panama Canal Zone, managed by the United States from 1903 to 1999. Old military bases have been turned into residential neighborhoods, universities, and one of the most important commerce hubs in the region, combining airports, container ports and cargo railways that provide support to the Panama Canal operation.
Your next stop is the Biodiversity Museum, designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. As a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum, the Biodiversity Museum serves as a gateway to new information about the biodiversity and natural history of the Isthmus of Panama. Scientific experts from both the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Panama oversee the contents of the museum and aim at teaching visitors about eco-awareness, conservation and Panama’s extraordinary natural treasures in various unique exhibition galleries. Did you know that the Isthmus of Panama has more bird, mammal, reptile and plant species than the US and Canada together in just 75,990 km2 (approx. 29,000 square miles)? In fact, 3 million years ago, the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama changed both the climate and the biodiversity on the planet and played a key role in the creation of the world we know today.
Continue to Casco Viejo, where lunch will take place at a local restaurant. After lunch, continue on a historical walking tour. In 1673, after the devastating pirate attack, Panama City was moved some 7.5 km west of its original location to a small peninsula at the foot of Ancon Hill, closer to the islands that were used as the port and near the mouth of a river that eventually became the entrance of the Panama Canal. The relocated town, known today as Casco Viejo or the Historic District of Panama, not only had better access to fresh water but could be fortified. The military engineers, moreover, took advantage of the morphological conditions that complemented the wall surrounding the peninsula, all of which prevented direct naval approaches by an enemy. Several buildings within the district are identified as important for the country’s 17th-20th century heritage. Most outstanding are the churches, above all the metropolitan cathedral with its five aisles and timber roof; San Felipe Neri, San José, San Francisco and especially La Merced with its well-preserved colonial timber roof. The Presidential Palace, originally built in the late 17th century and partially reconstructed in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, is a revealing example of the transformations that characterize the Historic District as a whole. The House of the Municipality, the National Theatre, the Ministry of Government and Justice and the Municipal Palace are outstanding buildings from a more recent period. Return to your hotel in Panama City after the tour.