Sitting to the west of Panama City, Arraijan is a laid-back alternative to the buzzing capital. It’s just a stone’s throw across the Panama Canal, which means you’re never too far from the action. As well as easy access to main attractions like Casco Viejo and Miraflores Locks, Arraijan is a great base for exploring Panama’s sandy beaches, lush rainforests and shimmering lakes.
Things to do
Connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Panama Canal is an impressive feat of engineering. Head out on the water, as kayaking, sailing and boat cruises are the most popular way to explore the 77-kilometre long waterway.
For a fascinating glimpse at how the canal works, a trip to Miraflores Locks is a must. It features an informative visitor centre and is a great place to watch ships pass through the canal. Just upstream is Soberanía National Park, a rainforest sanctuary that’s popular with birdwatchers. If you’re lucky, you could spot howler monkeys, toucans and sloths.
To the east of downtown Panama is Casco Viejo, a beautiful colonial neighbourhood that’s now listed as a World Heritage Site. Its cobblestone streets are an atmospheric place for a stroll, where you can stop at trendy cafes, ceviche stalls and open-air restaurants along the way.
Arraijan is a fantastic home base for day trips, with most journeys departing from downtown Panama City or Casco Viejo. In addition to the Panama Canal and Soberanía National Park, other popular destinations nearby include Monkey Island, Indian Village and Fort San Lorenzo.
Arraijan sits on the western banks of the Panama Canal, around 30 kilometres from the city. Taxis and local buses will make the trip in around 45 minutes. Organised day trips are the easiest way to visit attractions like the Panama Canal and Soberania National Park. If you’re heading to Tocumen International airport, it’s best to allow at least one hour of travel time.