Essential Panama Landmarks for Expats: What to Visit Before Settling Down

Exploring Panama landmarks is a must for expats planning to make this vibrant country their new home. From the historic Panama Canal to the lush rainforests of Darién, these iconic sites offer a glimpse into Panama’s rich culture and diverse landscapes. 

Before settling down, immerse yourself in the beauty and history that define this Central American gem.

Panama is not just about the famous canal; it’s a world of contrast, from the modern skyline of Panama City to the serene beaches of Bocas del Toro. Explore the ruins of Panamá Viejo, witness the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal, and lose yourself in the biodiversity of Coiba National Park. 

Walking through Panama City exploring its important landmarks

For those drawn to the city’s vibrant pulse, Panama City is a treasure trove of cultural and modern landmarks, blending the old with the new. Expats who thrive in urban settings will find themselves at home among the towering skyscrapers, bustling markets, and historic districts. 

This dynamic metropolis offers a unique mix of Latin American culture and cosmopolitan lifestyle, making it an ideal base for expats. Whether it’s the historic charm of Casco Viejo or the modern allure of the city’s business district, Panama City caters to a variety of interests and lifestyles, promising a fulfilling expat experience.

Day 1: Exploring the Heart of Panama City

  • Casco Viejo: Start your journey in the historic district, where colonial buildings and cobblestone streets tell tales of the past.
  • Panama Canal Museum: Learn about the monumental engineering feat that connects two oceans.
  • Miraflores Locks: Witness the operation of the Panama Canal, a key maritime route.
  • Amador Causeway: Enjoy panoramic city views and a leisurely walk or bike ride.
  • Biomuseo: Discover Panama’s biodiversity at this museum designed by Frank Gehry.

Day 2: Modern Panama City and Natural Wonders

  • Cinta Costera: Begin with a morning stroll along the waterfront promenade, enjoying the city skyline.
  • Punta Culebra Nature Center: Get close to marine life and tropical forests in this outdoor museum.
  • Albrook Mall: Experience shopping in one of Latin America’s largest malls.
  • Metropolitan Natural Park: Escape to this tropical forest reserve within the city for a hike.
  • Panama Viejo: End the day exploring the ruins of the original Panama City, founded in 1519.
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Famous Panama Landmarks in Popular Expat Retreats

Panama’s allure extends beyond its urban centers, offering serene retreats favored by expats seeking a blend of leisure and adventure in their lifestyle. These areas are dotted with landmarks that showcase the country’s natural beauty and laid-back culture. 

From the serene beaches of Bocas del Toro to the cool highlands of Boquete, expats can find their slice of paradise while still enjoying a sense of community. These retreats provide a more relaxed pace of life, with access to outdoor activities like hiking, bird watching, and snorkeling, allowing expats to connect with nature and local traditions, forming a fulfilling and balanced life.

Discover Pedasí through the major landmarks in Panama

Pedasí, with its growing expat community, offers a tranquil escape, highlighting Panama’s rural charm. Known for its pristine beaches, vibrant festivals, and friendly locals, Pedasí is becoming a favored spot for those seeking a peaceful, yet culturally rich lifestyle.

Landmarks to Explore in Pedasí:

  • Playa El Arenal: A gateway for boat trips to Isla Iguana, known for its white sand beaches and coral reefs.
  • Pedasí Town Center: Experience local life and culture, with colorful festivals and traditional Panamanian cuisine.
  • Los Destiladeros Beach: Ideal for surfing and beachcombing, with stunning sunset views.
  • Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge: A must-visit for nature lovers, offering snorkeling and wildlife spotting.
  • Cerro Hoya National Park: Explore diverse ecosystems, from coastal marine areas to tropical forests, in this protected area.

Landmarks of Panama exploring Cocle 

Coronado and Chame in the Coclé region are emerging as thriving expat communities, known for their beautiful beaches and relaxed lifestyle. These areas offer a blend of natural beauty and modern conveniences, making them attractive for those seeking a tranquil yet connected expat experience in Panama.

Famous Landmarks in Coclé:

  • El Valle de Antón: A picturesque town set in a volcanic crater, known for its cool climate, hot springs, and local markets.
  • Playa Coronado: A popular beach destination for expats, with excellent amenities and a vibrant community.
  • Chame Beaches: Perfect for water sports, relaxation, and enjoying the coastal scenery.
  • La India Dormida: A legendary hill with hiking trails offering panoramic views and archaeological sites.
  • El Cope National Park: Explore the rich biodiversity of this rainforest, ideal for birdwatching and nature treks.

Famous landmarks in Chiriqui Panama’s natural highlights

Chiriquí is gaining popularity among expats for its natural beauty and tranquil lifestyle. Nestled between mountains and coast, it offers a perfect balance for those seeking adventure and relaxation. With its lush landscapes, coffee plantations, and friendly communities, Chiriquí is an ideal destination for expats looking to immerse in Panama’s natural wonders.

Landmarks to Explore in Chiriquí:

  1. Volcán Barú: Panama’s highest peak offers breathtaking views and challenging hikes.
  2. Boquete: A picturesque town known for its coffee plantations, gardens, and a hub for outdoor activities.
  3. Playa La Barqueta: A long, serene beach ideal for relaxation and observing marine life.
  4. Cerro Punta: A village in the highlands, home to beautiful flower farms and rich biodiversity.
  5. Las Lajas Beach: Popular for its calm waters and wide sandy beaches, perfect for a day trip.

Natural landmarks in Panama include Bocas del Toro.

Bocas del Toro is renowned for its stunning archipelago, attracting expats with its laid-back island lifestyle and natural beauty. This vibrant community is perfect for those seeking adventure, with ample opportunities for snorkeling, surfing, and exploring lush rainforests.

Landmarks to Explore in Bocas del Toro:

  • Isla Colón: The main island, offering a mix of nightlife, restaurants, and beautiful beaches like Playa Bluff.
  • Starfish Beach: Famous for its clear waters and abundant starfish.
  • Bastimentos Island National Marine Park: A haven for wildlife, pristine beaches, and coral reefs.
  • Red Frog Beach: Known for its exotic red frogs and excellent surf spots.
  • Bird Island: A birdwatcher’s paradise, hosting numerous species in a protected environment.

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