As an expat who lives on the other side of the country in a small mountain town, I like to escape to Panama City every once in a while to enjoy the events, restaurants, museums, shopping, and general excitement of la Ciudad de Panama. Many locals say “there are two Panamas: the city, and everywhere else,” because the greater metropolitan holds almost half the country’s population and is so starkly different from the rest of the country. My ideal getaway in the city includes taking advantage of all the things the city offers and can’t get in Boquete.
Wine and Dine in Panama City
Let it be known: I love food. Who doesn’t, right? Panama City has incredible restaurant options, from Brazilian steakhouses to Asian and Arabic cuisine, with new options popping up constantly.
Go to the fancy rooftop restaurants for happy hour, enjoy a beautiful view of the city at sunset and just order a national beer (even that could cost you $5 is some of the fancier locations, where it normally would never be more than $2).
Then head out to a different spot for dinner, where you’re guaranteed to eat better for less.
I love to search “Restaurant PTY” on TikTok to explore recent videos from young people in the city sharing the latest hot spots to grab a bite in the metropolis.
If I’m feeling less adventurous, I’ll go to everyone’s favorite Panamanian fusion restaurant in Casco Viejo, “Lo Que Hay,” which never disappoints.
The Must-Sees in Panama City – The Classics
But I also like to explore other fun activities. Some classics include visiting the Panama Canal, spending an afternoon at the Bio Museum, hiking Cerro Ancon, enjoying ice cream on the Amador Causeway, or meandering Casco Viejo.
I usually end up lounging at a pool to avoid the intense midday heat. Many towers and hotels offer a day pass to enjoy their pool, lounge, and restaurant. Or I hit the mall. The shopping in Panama City is unparalleled in the country, and I can often find better deals, too.
I like the MultiPlaza and MultiCentro Malls, because they don’t get as crowded as some others. In the evening, it’s nice to walk around the French Plaza in Casco Viejo and select the food and drink destinations for the evening.
Before COVID, I would search for the local bands too, so I look forward to the return of live music. If you are looking for new things to do in the city, the best place to check is social media, specifically TikTok and Instagram.
That’s where you’ll find out about the latest fun spots and events. In fact, that’s how I heard about the new Smash Room PTY, also known as fury rooms. You pay for 30 minutes in a room with bottles, TVs, windshields, and weapons.
You blast music and break everything in sight. My fiance and I tried it on our last visit and had a blast swinging around baseball bats, dancing, yelling, and laughing as we got out all our stress and frustrations.
Living in the city offers the tremendous advantage of new restaurants, shops, museum exhibits, and other activities to explore. However, since Panama is such a small country, no matter where you decide to live, the city is only a short day’s drive or a quick plane ride away.
If you love the countryside, but also enjoy city life now and then, Panama might be the perfect place for you. What does your ideal weekend in a city look like? Tell me in the comments, and if you can’t comment just yet, become TCI Expat member for free and let us know your favorite Weekend thing to do.
by: Megan Thompson