Panama is a country with a long rainy season, which can be a bummer. If you’re the type who doesn’t like staying indoors a lot, finding activities you can do is crucial. If museums and malls are not your cup-of-tea, there’s a lot of things you can do.
Panama’s rainy season runs between June to December. During this time, you can travel around and taste local Panamanian gastronomy. You can also visit the Miraflores Visitor Center, enjoy live music in Panama City, and go to Casco Viejo. You do historical church tours, take some martial arts classes, and even visit artisan markets.
Are you looking forward to having a wonderful time around rainy Panama? If you’re curious about what you can do while it rains, here are some great ideas. These won’t bore you.
1. Taste Authentic Panamanian Food
Panama has a lot of local fares that you can classify as comfort food. Because of the tropical nature of the locale, you can try to enjoy many classic rainy-day dishes. Panamanian cuisine is a mix of Spanish and Native American techniques, with mild and refreshing flavors.
If you’re looking for gastronomic delights, there are different places you can visit in Panama. In Panama City itself, there is a variety of food stops that offer authentic Panamanian food. Along Via Argentina, there are at least three restaurants that have daily specials. Restaurants like El Trapiche and Restaurante Angel offer favorites like authentic sancocho.
Around the juncture of Calle 11 Este and Avenida B is also a food mecca in Panama City. Places like Donde José sell superb food.
To top off your food journey, you can try and taste the ice cream at GranClement in Casco Viejo. They offer some of the most delicious ice creams and sorbets in the city itself. They have it at Dulce de Leche, Pistachio, Blackberry, and even vegan dairy-free ice cream.
Why go out in the rain and try to taste the gastronomic delights that Panama has? Much of the weather is going to be cloudy, lacking the sun that you came to this country for. The food, however, is there to give you some cozy feelings.
Much of Panamanian food is there to give people energy. The plantains, meats, and vegetables give off a relaxing taste, especially in the rain. The soups give off a hearty meal while the meats give you a full belly.
Going around in Panama’s small cafeterias and mom and pop shops can be an excellent way to learn the city. It allows you to explore around and get off the beaten path, away from tourist traps in Panama.
Authentic Panamanian food is there to give anyone who eats it some energy. The food is there to uplift your mood on a rainy day – to wake you up on a cold, sleepy afternoon.
2. See Ships Passing The Canal in the Miraflores Visitor Center
One of the must-see spots in Panama is the Miraflores Visitor Center. It’s one of the country’s modern marvels, with the entire task as hard as global milestones. The visitor center shows off the engineering feat that is the Panama Canal.
Building the Panama Canal was a marvel of engineering unlike anything seen before. Roosevelt wanted a way to move ships quick between the Atlantic and the Pacific. In exchange for supporting the Independence of Panama, he asked to build a canal. This canal will go through the isthmus and allow ships to pass through.
By 1914, the United States completed the Panama Canal, which was, at the time, a significant achievement. While the US gave away their control of the canal eventually, the channel stayed. Gigantic ships still pass through it every day.
Today, the Miraflores Visitor Center overlooks this milestone, which makes it a perfect place to visit. Even on rainy days, the passing of mega-ships in the locks is a sight to behold. The visitor center also has everything you would want without going in the rain.
The center has an open field with many historical pieces like old trains used for moving materials. It also has interactive exhibits that talk about the entire history of the canal’s construction. The visitor center even has a movie area that shows off different clips of the channel.
What makes the Miraflores Visitor Center unique, however, is its vista. It has an open-air terrace that allows onlookers to see ships passing by. You can go around and watch as much as you want. There is also the Miraflores Restaurant with tables on the terrace overlooking the canal.
One pro-tip is to reserve a table in the Miraflores Restaurant on the terrace after 2 PM. You’ll notice that more ships pass by around this time. It’s best to get their lunch buffet to sample all of what they can offer. They also have a slew of different desserts that taste delicious.
3. Dig Deep Into Panama’s Music Scene
Not many people talk about the music scene in Panama. It’s one of the country’s best-kept secrets and going around on and listening live is great. If it’s raining outside, why not liven it up with some of Panama’s best musicians?
Where will you find the best of Panamanian music? There are different places you can find it in the city itself.
For starters, you can visit El Apartamento y El Sotano near Avenida Balboa and Federico Boyd. It’s a nice pub that offers live music, a superb selection of beers, and indie performers.
If you want a night of dancing and theatrics, the Teatro Amador along Avenida Central is the place. It’s a superb place for concerts and events that will make the rain irrelevant.
For metal fans who like some cheaper beers and the underground scene, Hangar 18 is the place. You can find it in Calle 65 Oeste, a few meters away from Calle Harry Heno. It has crazy rock and rock, nice pool tables, and fantastic cold beers any metalhead would love.
There is also a jazz club in Casco Viejo called Danilo’s, named after Danilo “Cholo” Perez. You can find it in the American Trade Hotel, which is one of the best hotels in the area. Their performers rotate between local and international jazz musicians, which makes them an unavoidable stop.
While you’re in Casco Viejo, there’s also the Piña Calavera in Calle 11 Este. They have some awesome live music from Thursday to Saturday. It’s one of the best underground bars in the city that hosts alternative sounds. You can expect to find cool people drinking some cocktails here every weekend.
If it’s pouring cats and dogs outside, why not spend time with indie music? Discover what kind of music that Panama has to offer you. Any of these places would be a great place to visit and spend a few hours in.
Get a beer, enjoy some beats, and sit down. This is also one of the best ways to connect with locals with the same tastes in music.
4. Take A Look at the Beautiful Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo is the heart of Panama City and one of the most historic grounds to visit. For those who want to see old Panama, this is where you go. It has charisma at every corner, and it stays beautiful even when it’s pouring outside.
What makes Casco Viejo unique is the locale. It’s a melting pot of everything old and new in Panama, both foreign and domestic. Casco Viejo has some of the best cultural hotspots that you can visit even in rainy weather.
To start, you can visit the Palacio de la Garzas to see the Presidential Palace in Panama. You can also go around Plaza Bolivar and Plaza de Francia among others. Even if it’s cloudy, they provide an excellent view for you to see.
There are many cafes, shops, and beautiful structures all around for you to choose from. You can go to El Mercado del Mariscos for some delicious exotic fish. You can eat something delicious at the Manolo Caracol.
Go around and visit the many colonial buildings in the locale. There is almost an infinite number of colonial mansions that Spanish landmarks in Casco Viejo. If you’re the solemn type, bring out your umbrella and walk around on the beautiful cobblestone paths.
Casco Viejo also hosts Panama’s signature chocolate brand: Oro Moreno. Oro Moreno boasts the best of Panama’s “tree to bar” chocolate production. They grow their chocolates in Bocas del Toro and combine them with local ingredients.
You can even go around and look at indigenous crafts sold by the locals. You can find the Guna’s colorful molas, baskets by the Wounaan, and even ornamental carved objects.
To end your Casco Viejo tour, go to the local craft brewery and bar. You’ll find La Rana Dorada at Calle 9 con Calle Boquete. Taste their delicious Blanche IPA, Pilsners, Porters, and even their local Grand Cru.
Whatever you want to do during a rainy day, Casco Viejo will have something for you.
5. Go On a Historical Church Tour Around Panama
If you like history, one particular tour you can do on a rainy day is a church tour. Panama has many different churches, thanks to the original Spanish conquistadors. They set up many different churches to help convert the locals to Roman Catholics.
To start, you can go to the Catedral Basílica Santa Maria la Antigua de Panamá. It consecrated in 1796, with 108 years worth of construction beforehand. It’s one of the oldest and among the most luxurious churches in the city itself.
If you want something that is more like an architectural marvel, there are also newer churches. There are the Iglesia del Carmen and the Iglesia de San Francisco de Asis for beautiful, modern church designs. Outside Panama City, you can visit The Church of Nata de Los Caballeros in Cocle.
For those who are not around Panama City, there are also historical churches you can visit. The Iglesia de San Pedro in Isla Taboga is a great place to visit. While it’s not as big as many cathedrals, it’s the second oldest church in the hemisphere.
Another small but beautiful church is the Iglesia de San Francisco de la Montana in Veraguas. Don’t fool yourself with how simplistic the exterior of the church. The inside of this church is very ornate, with many hand-carved pieces in its tabernacle. It also shows the local culture when the altar built up.
Why visit the different historical churches in Panama? Churches in Panama are not only a religious destination but also an art and historical stop. Many of these buildings received the best treatment during the colonial years of Panama. They house some of the most luxurious sculptures and speak of the dominant architectural styles of the time.
6. Learn Self-Defense Around Panama City
If it’s raining outside, one of the few things that you can do is go to the gym. The problem? Going to the gym can be a tedious slog. If you’re settling down or staying in Panama for long, why not get yourself some martial arts classes?
Panama has one of the most successful martial arts scenes in Central America. They have one of the best boxing scenes and a growing taste for mixed martial arts. If you have some time, it’s best to try and learn martial arts for self-defense or as some form of exercise.
Where can you go?
For people who want to learn boxing, the best place to do it is in Panama Knockout Boxing Academy. This gym is under the ownership of the children of Roberto Duran. If you’re not familiar, Roberto “El Cholo” Duran is Panama’s most famous athlete of all time.
In this gym, they’ll teach you the best techniques to take advantage of your boxing talent. They’ll start you with the basics and help you learn more as you go on.
To those who want to learn martial arts beyond boxing, Panama City has a buffet of studios. You can pick different studios. Via Argentina and Via Espana have many martial arts gyms. Some choices include:
- Tang Soo Do
- Krav Maga
- Brazilian Jiujitsu
As you can see, that’s a wide range of martial arts that you can learn in your free time. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or try to learn self-defense, it’s a great way to spend time. Get around 1 to 3 hours of training a day, and you should get better in no time.
One of the most worthwhile places to visit should be the Rilion Gracie Jiu-Jitsu dojo along Viña del Mar. It’s a superb academy for anyone trying to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in their free time. They accept both adult and kid learners alike, so it shouldn’t be much of a problem.
7. Visit Panama’s Growing Artisan Markets
One of the best features of going around in Panama is the abundance of artisan products. Buying products from locals is an excellent investment in improving their lives. Local-made products are not only low cost; they also give people a stable livelihood to count on.
During the rainy season, you’ll find that more artisan shops pop up in many artisan and flea markets. This time is around the period where many locals can’t farm, so they focus more on handicrafts. A lot of these artisan products are unique and very hard to come by.
Many of the local products in Panama come from local tribes. From hats, baskets to tapestry, you can find a lot of good picks in and around Panama City itself.
So, where are the best artisan markets in Panama?
You can start at Panama’s Mercado de Mariscos in Calle 15 Este. You’ll find different catches of the day from the locals. It also offers different kinds of food options cooked fresh from the local fare.
There’s also the Mercado Nacional de Artesanías near the original Panama Viejo. They have many souvenirs, with hats and other types of handicrafts. You can even find tribal style masks and woven products by the Guna and Embera people.
If you want some of the best products from the local artisans, there’s also the Mercado de Artesanías de Balboa. You can find them near Avenida Amador in Balboa, near the Canal Zone itself. The market offers excellent artisanal crafts from every corner of the country. These products include everything from paper masks to handmade dolls.
The rainy season can be a headache, but going to artisan markets in Panama is an excellent way to spend that lazy, overcast afternoon during the rainy season.
Rainy days in Panama can be a bummer. If you’re looking for things you can do on a rainy day, there are still a lot of activities in the city and beyond. For those who don’t like idling in malls and museums, there are many things you can do.
Go and eat the local fare. Go on a historic sightseeing tour in Panama’s churches. Enjoy the local artisan wares and support local products. Absorb more of Panama’s culture through its music and its martial arts.
Whatever you want to do, Panama likely has something for you. It’s a melting pot of many things from all around the world. What do you do on rainy days?
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