Panama City is a unique capital city. Throughout its history it has welcomed people from all over the world, who have integrated and are now an indispensable part of its DNA.
Visit museums and cultural centers to soak up this mosaic of ethnicities and identities, and learn about our history and who forged it. Visit the historic circuit formed by Panama Vieja and Casco Antiguo -declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO- and also learn about the religions that coexist here in peace.
Let's take the Mirador del Pacífico monument on the Cinta Costera as a starting point, and tour these 8 key museums for sightseeing in Panama City.
1. Panamá Viejo and Plaza Mayor Museum
- Location: Panamá Viejo
- How to get there: 20 minutes by car on Via Israel or 35 by taking Metrobus lines C640 or 1672.
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Learn about the history of the first Spanish city on the Pacific coast of the American continent, the original Panama City. Walk through the centuries-old ruins of a city destroyed by pirates. Climb the cathedral tower for incredible views of the modern city and visit the Plaza Mayor Museum to learn the details of the battle and see archaeological discoveries.
Prices range from $2 to $10 approximately.
2. Museo de la Mola
- Location: Casco Antiguo
- How to get there: 7 minutes by car along Balboa Avenue or 30 minutes walking along the Cinta Costera.
- Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
It is a collection of more than 200 molas that shows the artistic value of this garment of daily use of the indigenous Gunas. The museum has 5 permanent exhibits: Technique and Evolution of the Mola, Cosmovision and Protection, Environment, Molas in Layers, Narrative Molas or Molas of Stories. In them you will learn about the history behind the designs and you will be able to make your own mola. The museum has no entrance fee and is close to all the other attractions in Casco Antiguo.
3. Interoceanic Canal Museum of Panamá
- Location: Casco Viejo
- How to get there: 6 minutes by car along Balboa Ave. or 25 minutes walking along the Cinta Costera.
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Discover the history of the transisthmian route, touring the 11 rooms of the museum. In them you will learn the step by step of the construction of one of the 7 wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal. Take a historical journey that covers the attempts of the French canal, the passage to American engineers and, finally, the handover to Panamanian hands. You can take the tour with an audio guide in Spanish, English or French or in the native languages Ngäbere, Guna and Emberá.
Ticket prices with audio guide range from $2.50 to $15 approximately.
4. Museum of Freedom
- Location: Amador Causeway
- How to get there: 8 minutes by car and 45 by Metrobus
- Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on weekends, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
In its three interactive rooms, highly specialized guides will tell you about human rights and their history. They also have temporary exhibits and a variety of public programs.
Ticket prices range from $2.50 to $5 approximately.
- Location: Amador Causeway
- How to get there: 10 minutes by car along the Cinta Costera 3 or 50 minutes by Metrobus.
- Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and on weekends, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Walk through one of the city's most scenic tourist sites until you see the iconic Frank Ghery-designed building. This interactive museum tells the story of the rise of the isthmus and how this geological event changed the world. Its 8 permanent exhibits will tell you about the first animals that inhabited these lands, the path of their evolution and the unique species that you can find throughout Panamá. When you visit, don't miss Divided Oceans, two towering semi-cylindrical aquariums that show how the Pacific and the Caribbean evolved when they were separated by the creation of the isthmus.
Ticket prices range from $10 to $18 approximately.
6. Mi Pueblito
- Location Interamerican Highway, before the Amador Causeway
- How to get there: 10 minutes by car and 1 hour by Metrobus
- Hours: Every day, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
This open-air museum shows the way of life, architecture and customs of three Panamanian ethnic groups. Mi Pueblito has 3 areas: The Plaza Afroantillana recreates the lifestyle of this people when they settled in the Caribbean islands; the Interiorana tells the life of the central provinces and their Spanish traditions, and the Plaza Indígena, currently under restoration, gives you a glimpse of the daily life of our native peoples. There is also a Museo de la Pollera, a famous Panamanian costume.
Ticket prices range from $1to $3 approximately.
7. Afro-Antillean Museum
- Location: Calidonia
- How to get there: 6 minutes by car from the Mirador del Pacífico or a 2 minute walk from the 5 de Mayo station on Metro Line 1.
- Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Just by arriving at the Museum you will be in the middle of the Afro-Antillean architectural style, a style that arrived in the country when the immigration of laborers from the Caribbean islands began. For the French project of the Panama Canal alone, it is estimated that 10,844 Afro-Antilleans arrived from Jamaica, Barbados and St. Lucia. Through photographs and stories, they will tell you the history of this people, their cultural, social, political and economic conflicts, as well as their struggle for freedom and their cultural contributions that enrich this country.
The museum ticket prices range from $0.75 to $1 approximately.
8. Miraflores Visitor Center
- Location: Omar Torrijos Ave.
- How to get there: 24 minutes by car from the Mirador del Pacífico or 1 hour by public transportation.
- Hours: Every day, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Your tour of Panama City will not be complete if you have not gone to the Miraflores Locks, at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal. Check the time of passage of the ships and you will have the incredible opportunity to see the live operation of this mega work, while an announcer tells you the history and curiosities of its construction and recent expansion. You can also watch the IMAX movie that tells its history, the impact of the construction and the peculiarities of its operation, and shows spectacular scenery of the Canal and the forest that surrounds it, all narrated by the distinctive voice of actor Morgan Freeman.
Tickets, which include the film, range in price from $1.50 to $17.22.
During your visit, walk the 8 km (5 miles) that unite the Cintas Costera 1, 2 and 3. A tour with sports activities, artistic expressions, music, monuments and street food. At the end you will arrive at Casco Antiguo, here you can spend the whole day visiting museums, historic buildings, churches, squares and also, receive the night having dinner or a drink in one of its dozens of bars and restaurants.
Explore, know, learn and feel, with all your senses, what Panama City means, its culture and history.