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Top 10 things to do in Panama

From swanky cocktail bars to jungle adventures, there’s more to Panama than a famous canal.

If you’re looking for more than 1000 miles of spectacular coastline, millions of acres of lush national parks and countless cultural encounters, then check out Panama.

Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Panama has long been defined by its famous waterway. But the southernmost country of Central America has much more to offer: travel bloggers A Cruising Couple recommend 10 must-dos for your holiday hit-list:

1. Sail the San Blas Islands

Want secluded, tropical islands without the millionaire price tag? San Blas Islands are comprised of 378 islands and cays, of which only around 40 are inhabited. Expect underwater encounters with sand dollars, sea urchins and colorful fish, while back on dry land visit the indigenous Kuna tribes and experience their traditional way of life.

Set sail around the beautiful San Blas Islands.

2. Stroll through Casco Viejo

Panama City’s hippest hangout, Casco Viejo is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also one of its most historic neighbourhoods. With a unique blend of pretty and gritty, make sure you pay a visit to Granclement for some of the best gelato outside of Italy.

Stroll through Casco Viejo.

3. Admire the Panama Canal

Ok, so while it’s not the only attraction, you can’t visit Panama without seeing it. The main trade route between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean for 100 years, the Panama Canal is an engineering marvel. Be sure to time your visit when a giant vessel is passing through the impressive lock system.

Admire the Panama Canal.

4. Dance the night away in Panama City

Head to the shore for a decent night out in Panama City with plenty of old town charm. Check out vintage salsa bar Havana Panama for a unique and authentic experience.

Dance the night away.

5. Go hiking in Altos de Campana National Park

Altos de Campana was Panama’s first national park, yet only avid birdwatchers and a handful of locals seem savvy to the natural treasure. Just an hour outside of Panama City, the cool rolling hills, lush forests and stunning ocean vistas are easily accessed.

Hiking in Altos de Campana National Park.

6. Soak up the sunshine at Isla Iguana

Located outside of the sleepy beach town of Pedasi, Isla Iguana is aptly named after the black iguanas that lounge on the island’s beaches. Do like these reptilian locals and lay out to soak up the sun, or you could go snorkeling or adventuring through mangrove forests, the choice is yours.

Isla Iguana.

7. Try white-water rafting in Boquete

If it’s adventure you’re after, then make sure you check out Boquete. Go white-water rafting through mountain valleys, or try your hand at zip lining high above the Chiriqui Highlands. For a more sedate activity, try spotting the rare and brightly coloured tropical birds called Quetzals that live here.

Get some adventure time in Boquete.

8. Go jungle trekking at Soberania National Park

With beautiful rainforests just 45 minutes outside of the capital city, it’s easy to take a day trip out to Soberania National Park. Keep an eye out for sloths, monkeys, toucans and maybe even a jaguar!

Meet the local wildlife in Soberania National Park.

9. Island hop at Bocas Del Toro

Bocas del Toro province is made up of nine islands, two national parks, and is home to a diverse array of wildlife and world-renowned surf and scuba spots. Explore all nine islands by boat, with stops at Bird Island, Starfish Beach and Dolphin Bay. No prizes for guessing what you’ll find at these appropriately-named places.

Explore Bocas Del Toro province in Panama.

10. Savour the local coffee

Got to get that morning caffeine fix? Panama produces some of the world’s finest jo, thanks to its volcanic soil and tropical climate. The coffee farms around Boquete are considered some of the best. Pick up a cup of Panama Geisha, a local roast, for $9.

Try some of the tastiest coffee in the world in this tropical paradise.

Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple – adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,

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