So much goes into planning the perfect trip. Finding transportation, deciding on an amazing itinerary, and picking authentic restaurants is a tall order that can leave even the most seasoned traveler’s head spinning.
We’ve tapped two of Panama’s most adventurous expats to share what they’ve discovered during their time abroad. Here are some gems of wisdom from those in the know!
The Expat Experts
Jolene Schwartz is a longtime resident of Panama with an extensive knowledge of all things Panama City. Originally from New York, her time abroad working in marketing has gifted her with friends from around the world!
Marline Kipper hails from Zurich, Switzerland and has spent time working with social media execution and event planning in Panama. Her recent projects include a corporate responsibility seminar in Panama City and documentary focused on Central and South America.
What’s your favorite way to get around the country? Around Panama City?
Jolene Schwartz: I suggest renting a car. And get a map, or find a friend who knows where they’re going.
Marline Kipper: If you’re living in Panama, it’s nice to own a car. For longer trips across the country I suggest airplane or scheduled tour operators for easy travel.
How’s the weather in Panama?
MK: Beautiful! Even during the rainy season, there’s lots of sun.
Dining in Panama
Can you give us some recommendations for out-of-this-world dining in Panama?
JS: There are so many different options and types of cuisine. I love La Vitrola in Costa del Este and Rosa Mexicano in Calle Uruguay. Other greats include Maito in Coco del Mar, Hacienda Real in Bella Vista and Market on Calle Uruguay. In the old city, Casco Viejo, there’s Puerta de Tierra, Ego y Narciso, and DiVino. If you’re looking for modern upscale dining there’s the LT Signature at the Manrey, Terrae Bistro in Paitilla and Barcelona at Trump.
Where did you have your best off-the-beaten-path dining experience?
JS: At Adagio, an Italian restaurant just off Ave Balboa on Calle 38. Good service and excellent food, never crowded and simple nice decor.
If you had to boil down Panamanian cuisine to 3 staple ingredients, what would they be?
JS: Plantains, seafood, meat.
MK: Yuca, plantains, rice.
What to Do in Panama
What are some great day-trips from Panama City?
JS: Some of my favorites are Gamboa Rainforest, located just an hour outside of Panama City. It’s also fun to head to Isla Taboga via ferry. If I’m headed to the beaches, I like to head to Punta Chame and Nitro City, located about an hour away from the city as well. I also recommend Portobello for ziplining or scuba diving.
MK: My favorites are Portobello, Taboga, Gamboa, Punta Chame and the Bayano Caves.
Where should travelers venture out to in Panama?
JS: In Panama City there’s Parque Omar and Parque Metropolitano — both great places to stroll and people-watch. I also think people should take a trip to Panama Viejo — there’s a great visitor center and ruins of the original city.
MK: Outside of Panama City there is plenty to discover as well. I’ve taken trips to Bocas del Toro, San Blas (Isla Coco Blanco), Pedasi, El Valle de Anton, and Las Perlas (Isla San Jose, Isla Contadora).
What are some of Panama City’s best undiscovered cultural gems?
JS: The Canal Museum in Plaza Independencia in Casco is great. I also love the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ancon.
Where have you found the best wildlife-spotting? Best natural beauty?
JS: Parque Metropolitano — very accessible from the city.
MK: Gamboa Rainforest is great. I also love San Blas for snorkeling.
Thanks to our expat experts for all of the great information! If you’d like to be featured as an expat expert, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or share your tips with us on The Ambler!