Panama’s capital city is a melting pot of culinary, cultural and environmental delights.
Famous for its world-changing canal and abundance of plant and animal life, Panama City has come into its own in recent decades. The nation’s capital and largest city is the definition of fusion: It is the only capital in the world with a rainforest within city limits, boasting more animal, insect and bird species than the United States and Canada combined. It’s a major international financial center with an economy that’s heavily dependent on the canal, breweries, oil refineries, steel-rolling mills, and clothing and wood factories. Its culinary scene blends cultural influences from years of foreign rule—first by Spain, then by Colombia—as well as from the men and women from China, Africa, the West Indies and Europe who came either by force or by choice to work on the canal. With tons of new construction and concentrated efforts at cleaning up the streets, Panama City is quickly becoming a top Latin American destination for food, art and history, as well as its pristine beaches and consistently balmy weather.
When to go
Panama City has two seasons: dry and wet. Dry season lasts from December to April, while wet season goes from May to November, with November being the rainiest and least desirable time to visit.
DRY SEASON (DECEMBER–APRIL)
Snowbirds from North America and Europe flock to Panama City for its predictable temperatures—highs consistently between 65 and 78 degrees—and stunning coastlines. Late January brings the five-day Jazz Festival and its lineup of internationally renowned musicians. The country’s largest festival, Carnival, takes place during the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday in February or March. The streets fill with parades, dancing, drinking and trucks carrying water tanks to spray the crowd. Water balloons and buckets are also part of the celebration, so keep cell phones and other electronics tucked away.
WET SEASON (MAY–NOVEMBER)
Excessive rain might sound like a negative, but it brings more perks than downsides in Panama City. The rainforests are in full bloom—lending this time the nickname “the green season”—and the rain typically never lasts for more than an hour. This is also prime time for white-water rafting thanks to high rivers. November 3 and 4 are Independence Day and Flag Day and are celebrated with parades, fireworks and other large-scale entertainment.
- Metro: Panama City was the first country in Central America to get an underground metro system in 2014. There are plans for four lines, but so far only one—Linea 1 (Line 1)—is fully completed and operational. It includes 14 stations and runs from the bus terminal in Albrook to San Isidro.
- Bus: Buses are the fastest and most cost-effective way to get around Panama City. In addition to adding 465 new vehicles in 2017, the bus system also partnered with Google to track exactly when the next bus will arrive. Tickets are valid for two-and-a-half hours, including transfers.
- The easiest way to use Panama City’s public transportation system is with a rechargeable metro card. Cards cost $2, and you must add at least 50 cents on them to be valid. They can be purchased at all metro stations and the bus terminal in Albrook.
- Panama uses U.S. currency.
- Sidewalks are scarce in the city, and where they do exist, they are often warped from the tropical climate and heavy rains during wet season. Be diligent when walking.
- Buildings in Panama do not have street addresses. Technically streets have names, but without street numbers they’re not much use for giving or receiving directions. The best way to get around is to use neighborhood names and landmarks.
The unbeatable downtown location of Radisson Decapolis Hotel Panama City boasts several excellent on-site dining options, a rooftop pool, a business center, a full-service aqua spa, and beauty salon. The downtown location provides easy access to shopping, a casino, and the historic Casco Viejo district.
Radisson Hotel Panama Canal provides guests with easy access to Panama’s beautiful beaches, amazing architecture and excellent shopping. The Bridge of the Americas, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, is within sight from our pristine hotel location.