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  • Overview

    One of the most cosmopolitan cities in Central America, Panama's chic capital is a mosaic of colour and culture with a thriving commercial and financial sector. Formerly dismissed as a centre of drug trade, Panama City has rebuilt its reputation as a fantastic holiday destination with a sense of style drawn from five centuries of history.

    The city's modern skyline is constantly expanding, adding new skyscrapers to tower over the centuries-old Baroque and Spanish Colonial buildings that populate its older quarter, known as . The district was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, and its mix of architectural styles make a great introduction to the diverse cultural influences of Panama City.

    There are many beautiful buildings in Panama City, including the cathedral on , the presidential palace (called in honour of the herons that nest there), and the Church of San Jose. Interesting museums like the Interoceanic Canal Museum, the cultural museum, and the Museum of Religious Colonial Art, give visitors insight into the city's fascinating history, while scenic parks are great for enjoying the perennially beautiful weather.

    Panama City has a diverse population with a number of American and Asian expat residents, which contributes to a lively nightlife, especially around Calle Uruguay. There are also plenty of good restaurants in Panama City, ranging from Spanish tapas and Italian pastas to local specialties like (fresh fish marinated in lemon or lime juice) and (vegetable stew). There are a number of cafes along Via Argentina, and the fish market near the Casco Viejo is the best place to try fresh seafood.

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    Panama City has a tropical climate, with temperatures staying constant all year round, ranging from 90°F (32°C) during the daytime to 70°F (21°C) in the evening. Humidity is generally high, especially during the rainy season, which is between May and December. The best time to travel to Panama City is between December and March.

    Tocumen International Airport
    Location: The airport lies 20 miles (32km) from Panama City.
    Time: GMT -5.
    Transfer Between Terminals: The terminals are within easy walking distance of each other.
    Getting to the city: There are buses and minivans dubbed Taxi de Turismo, which can be booked from the Information Booth in the arrivals hall. The transfer time is about half an hour.
    Car Rental: Car hire companies represented in the arrivals hall include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National and Thrifty.
    Airport Taxis: Regular taxis operate day and night at fixed prices depending on the number of passengers, but are not metered.
    Fascilities: There is a bank and ATM, a restaurant and coffee bars, as well as snack bars. Last-minute gifts can be bought at several stores on the first and second floors, including duty-free. Baggage storage is available, and information booths are located in arrivals.
    Parking Parking at Tocumen International Airport is plentiful and very cheap.

    Useful Contacts:

    Panama City can be difficult to navigate at first. The city has a public MetroBus system, visitors can use a Rapi>Pass card that can be bought and recharged at grocery stores.

    Taxis are the most common way to get around in Panama City, as an average ride should be under $10 to most parts of the city. Taxis are not metered, and can be hailed on the street or ordered by phone (although a dispatch fee is often charged). Taxis can also be hired at an hourly or weekly rate, which can be cost-effective for frequent sightseeing and dining trips. Rental cars are available, but the local driving is very aggressive and self-driving can be the source of frustration rather than convenience.

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