10 fun (day) excursions from Panama City

Panama City is a very nice city itself, as well an ideal base for excursions. Whether you are looking for pristine rainforest, stunning waterfalls, white beaches or wildlife… Around the city you will find it all!

In this blog, we show you 10 fun trips you can take from Panama City.

#1 Hike the pipeline trail in Soberania National Park

About a 30-45 minute drive from Panama City ($20-$25 by Uber) you will find Soberania National Park. A beautiful rainforest and one of the best places in Panama to spot wildlife and birds.

Among other things, you will find The Pipeline Trail, also called El Camino del Oleoducto. It is a fairly flat hike and about 17 kilometers long in total, so you can hike as long as you want! It is recommended to do this hike early in the morning, as you will have the greatest chance of seeing wildlife.

Even though we were only there by noon AND only did a small stroll, we saw monkeys, a caiman, blue morpho butterflies, a sloth, white-nosed bear and agoutis, among others.

👉 The location of the pipeline trail

If you have the opportunity, be sure to stay one or more nights in this region. We stayed in Gamboa Rainforest Reserve, a place where you really enjoy the rainforest with all its wildlife to the fullest.

#2 Visit The San Blas Islands

White sand, palm trees and crystal clear water. The San Blas Islands consist of more than 300 tiny bounty islands in the autonomous, indigenous Guna Yala region.

We actually advise against going here on a day excursion. Why? The drive there is very long (3 to 4 hours) and you won’t get the ultimate San Blas experience until you spend the night there. Our advice: book 2 or 3 nights on one of the paradise islands!

👉 Book 2 nights at Yani

👉 Book 3 nights at Yani

Prefer just one night? You will stay on the same island with this tour.

We can recommend this island, called Yansailadub or Yanis, as well as this overwater bungalow, it was a very special experience. San Blas may seem expensive, but trust us, it’s worth every single dollar!

Good to know: most people complaining about San Blas were not well-informed. If you like pure luxury, do NOT book an excursion to San Blas. You go here for the unique experience, there is no luxury, it is rather primitive.

You can read about my personal San Blas experience here.

#3 Visit the pearl islands

Does San Blas seem a little too far away to you for one day up and down, or a little too primitive? If so, the Pearl Islands may be an option. Just 2 hours from Panama City, you’ll find these paradise islands.

You can go there on your own, or book a day excursion. You can spend the night there, too, by the way! (in as much luxury as you want 😉 )

#4 Spot monkeys from Lake Gatun

In Lake Gatun, you can spot three different species of monkeys: the capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys and tamarins. With some luck, you’ll see all three of them, just like us!

During the excursion, you will take a boat ride through the Panama Canal, past the big ships, to Gatun Lake. There you sail past several islets (“monkey island”) where the monkeys live. Along the way, you will very likely encounter other animals.

What I personally liked most, is the fact that there is a lot of wildlife in a place where humans have had so much influence. Despite the construction of the Panama Canal, animals continue to live here. I also understood from the guide that the canal is protected to preserve animal populations. It’s fun to see the different monkeys up close and to sai through the lake and canal!

👉 Book the Monkey Island excursion here


We combined Monkey Island with a visit to the native Emberra tribe. This excursion is slightly more expensive, but a nice 2-in-1 experience. You book the same excursion here!

#5 Take the jungle cable car

The aerial cable car is a fun experience in the Gamboa rainforest. In this 600-meter-long cable car, you go 130 meters up into the sky. It’s cool to “hang out” among the trees in the rainforest like this.

At the top there is another 30-meter-high observation tower where you have a unique 360° view of the rainforest and the Panama Canal.

A fun day trip from Panama City that doesn’t require that much effort in this clammy heat!

👉 Book jungle cable car here (includes visit to a sloth sanctuary and butterfly garden)

👉 This tour is slightly more expensive, but more value for money. Here you do both the cable car and the refuge, as well as a boat ride on the Panama Canal and Gatun Lake where you have a good chance of seeing monkeys and crocodiles. So 3 excursions in 1!

#6 Zip line through the rainforest

Fancy an adrenaline boost? Go ziplining!

In Gamboa, you fly over and through the rainforest via 10 platforms overlooking the Panama Canal and the Chagres River.

This activity is next to the jungle cable car, so it may be easy to combine.

👉 Ziplining including transportation from Panama City

👉 Tickets without transportation

#7 Hike to Jaguar Falls

Are you someone who likes brisk hikes and loves waterfalls? Then Jaguar Falls may be for you. This is a beautiful waterfall in a remote spot in the jungle. First you go to the eco-village of Kalu Yala, from there you hike to Jaguar Falls.

You could go there and back in one day, but it’s even better to spend a night in Kala Yala. More info on accommodation options can be found here.

👉 Jackson tells you all about the Jaguar Falls hike!

#8 Go to an Emberra village

Did you know that Panama still has many indigenous tribes? You can visit the villages of the Emberra tribe with a guide. We have to admit that we had a bit of a zoo feeling at first, but that passed soon.

Today, these people live off tourism and selling art. So by visiting them, you are literally supporting them. And at the same time, you get a unique look into the life and history of the Emberra tribe. Very special to see, and it also gave an extra dimension to Panama. A place where culture is still truly present (although we also realize that these people do not always walk around looking like this 😉 ) It’s a nice place to take colorful photos!

👉 Book your Emberra visit here!

We combined Monkey Island with a visit to the native Emberra tribe. This excursion is slightly more expensive, but a super nice 2-in-1 experience. You book the same excursion here!

#9 Visit El Valle de Anton

Is Valle de Anton not on your schedule? Good news, this place is perfect for a day trip from Panama City. There is a direct bus from Albrook Bus Station to El Valle. It takes about 2.5 hours by bus and it leaves every hour. If you go early, you can take a nice hike through the mountains or visit one of the waterfalls.

Prefer an organized tour? Travelling Souls Panama will take you to two beautiful waterfalls, and you will still have time to explore the village.

👉 Check out the tour from Panama City to El Valle.

👉 Book a guided India Dormida hike including transportation from Panama City here.

Taking your own rental car to El Valle? 👉 Through Sunnycars you can easily rent a car in Panama City, including the most comprehensive insurance.


#10 Go party on a Catamaran

Do you like a boat party? Then this day tour from Panama City is probably for you!

A catamaran will take you to the beautiful island of Taboga where you can swim, snorkel and relax on the beach. Afterwards, sail back to Panama City and enjoy the open bar and music!

👉 Book the catamaran tour here