City meets rainforest: Why Panama is perfect for an easy-going Latin American adventure

As the country celebrates 200 years of independence, there’s never been a better time to dip into its easily accessible nature and charismatic capital, says Sunshine Flint

Wednesday 24 November 2021 17:28
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<p>Panama City framed by tropical rainforest</p>

Panama City framed by tropical rainforest

Panama is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain. The country was making its way towards full independence ever since until the new millennium finally brought it with the US ceding control of the Panama Canal. But Panama has much more to explore than its famous canal and dense capital city of the same name. The country’s small size (roughly equivalent to the Republic of Ireland) means its rainforests and mountains are within easy reach from both its Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Here’s how to get the best of city life and natural wonders in a long weekend.

Day one: Panama City

In the past decade, the capital’s building boom has launched its skyline higher and denser – it now has the most skyscrapers of any city in Central America. But it’s also the oldest city on the Pacific Coast: founded in 1519 and sacked by pirate Henry Morgan then rebuilt a few miles away in 1671. The original colonial quarter of Casco Viejo, Panama Bay, is a Unesco World Heritage site with a mix of 17th-century ruins, restored palacios-turned-hotels and green squares.

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