Panama – “The Crossroads of the Americas” is the country in which the Northern and the Southern American continents meet. Squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the country is greatly known for one of the most phenomenal engineering works of modern times: the Panama Canal. Furthermore, not only does the former Spanish colony boast gorgeous landscapes, crystal-clear waters and great biodiversity, but it also offers fascinating history and a lot of fun! Yet, compared to its neighbouring Central American countries, Panama boasts well-developed infrastructures, thus making different transfers from one place to another extremely easy and fast.
For further information about the ultimate backpacking trip in Panama, as well as the latest information about prices, visas and vaccinations, visit the German website Backpackertrail.
Best period to visit Panama
Although the country can be visited all year round, some of the most important travel guides suggest that it is best to visit the country between January and mid-April. True, temperatures remain constant all over the year (30°C on average), however, this period is considered the driest time of the year. Yet, don’t be surprised if you encounter short, daily heavy storms … This is a tropical country after all!
Best sights in Panama
The 82-kilometer long artificial waterway, which connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean, was completed in 1914. The idea behind the Panama Canal was not only to reduce time and distances, but particularly to avoid the dangerous Cape Horn route at the southernmost tip of the South American continent. Although it can take long – approximately 8 hours -, visitors can cover the whole length of the Panama Canal by boat. We suggest visiting the Miraflores Locks, which is considered by many the best spot to observe the Panama Canal and how it works. Here, you will find the visitor center, a museumand many other attractions.
The capital and largest city of the country (approximately 1 million inhabitants), is located at the entrance of the Panama Canal on the western Pacific coast. The city, which was originally established 8 kilometres away from the current location, was sacked and destroyed by the Welsh privateer Henry Morgan in the 17th century. The old site represents now an important tourist site that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Yet, the absolute highlight of the city is the Casco Viejo (old town). Not only boasts this neighbourhood important historical attractions, but it is also considered the most vibrant part of the city: shops, restaurants, bars and clubs are here waiting for you!
Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro
Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro is by far the most famous beach destination in the whole country. Here, history is often interlinked with different popular legends, which shape the story behind the origins of this place. Bocas del Toro is popular for its gorgeous beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it extremely popular among surfers, scuba divers and holidaymakers. The main town, Bocas Town, which also boasts an airport, represents the perfect “base camp” to explore the nearby territory. Some of the most popular beaches are Bluff Beach, Starfish Beach and Red Frog Beach.
San Blas Islands
Located in the eastern part of the country, San Blas islands represent the best place to experience and come into contact with the Kuna, the indigenous population who reside on the islands. These islands, extremely off the beaten track, offer visitors numerous adventures and magical places. Don’t expect 5-star resorts … the only way to visit the islands is to book a package (rustic accommodation, transports and meals) with the local population.
Sendero Los Quetzales
Not too far away from Bocas del Toro, Sendero Los Quetzales is located in the Parque Nacional VolcanBarù. The 9-kilometer-long trail, which is extremely popular among those people who want to switch off and immerse themselves in nature, represents the perfect choice for hiking lovers.
Before the Conquistadors discovered the wealth of this place – namely the abundance of pearls – the islands were inhabited by numerous indigenous people. In the last few years, Pearl Islands further gained popularity after that the tv-show Survivor was filmed here. The white sandy beaches, surrounded by thick lush-green forests and crystal-clear waters, make this place an absolute must.