At once steeped in history and remarkably cosmopolitan, Panama City is a dynamic destination in its own right, as well as a gateway to the abundant tropical wonders of Panama. If you only have one day to spend in this Central American metropolis, here's how to make the most of it.
Presidential Palace (Palacio de las Garzas)
Av. Eloy Alfaro, Panama City, Panama
Originally built during the 17th century when Panama was under control of the Spanish crown, this neoclassical white mansion in Casco Viejo was a customs house for a time before it was converted into the official presidential residence in 1922.
To see inside the palace (and catch a glimpse of the president’s pet birds), you’ll need to reserve a free tour at least two weeks ahead of time. These tours take visitors through the first two floors of the palace, including a ceremonial room where official state documents are signed. If you’re lucky, you may even get a wave from the president or first lady. If you don’t have a tour booked, some guards might let you peek into the courtyard. Some city tours stop outside the building in the historic quarter, where you can take in its neoclassical facade.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Presidential Palace is popular with architecture buffs and photographers.
If you’re taking a tour, bring identification and be prepared to pass through security.
Book tours in advance to avoid disappointment.
How to Get There
The Presidential Palace is situated in Casco Viejo, Panama City’s old town. Visit the neighborhood as part of a guided tour, or catch a taxi if you’re visiting independently.
When to Get There
Palace tours are offered Tuesday through Thursday and must be booked at least two weeks ahead of time. Otherwise plan to stop by as part of your Casco Viejo explorations.
Attractions in Casco Viejo
This relatively small neighborhood is packed with things to see and do. On your way to or from the Presidential Palace, consider stopping by the Interoceanic Canal Museum to learn more about the city’s engineering marvel; hop into one of several area art galleries; or grab a drink at a hip rooftop bar.
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- Casco Viejo
- Panama Interoceanic Canal Museum (Museo del Canal Interoceánico)
- Metropolitan Cathedral
- Afro-Antillean Museum of Panama (Museo Afro-Antillano de Panama)
- Ancon Hill (Cerro Ancon)
- Fuerte Amador Cruise Port
- Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Americas)
- Metropolitan National Park (Parque Natural Metropolitano)
- Punta Culebra Nature Center
- Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador)
- Panama Canal
- Miraflores Locks
- Panamá Viejo (Old Panama Ruins)
- San Jose Church (Iglesia San Jose)