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Panama City, Panama

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With a skyline that rivals many of North America's and Europe's largest and most cosmopolitan cities, a historic district designated as a World Heritage Site, and its palm-tree-lined walking path and bike lanes forming the Cinta Costera, Panama City is unrivaled in Central America.

Often referred to as a "poor Miami," Panama City's upscale malls, bilingual residents, and first-world presentation help to distinguish it from most other Latin American capitals.

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Stretching more than 10 miles, the Cinta Costera offers visitors an unparalleled view of Panama City's downtown area and coastline. From Punta Paitilla, the "Cinta," as it is known, straddles Panama Bay and Balboa Avenue as it heads west until reaching the famous fish market, or "Casa de Mariscos." Then, it encircles Casco Antiguo, passing alongside the newly built Macarena Stadium, before turning south and proceeding down the Amador Causeway before reaching its end at Flamenco Island. Spread over 65 acres and built over several years in multiple phases, the Cinta provides ample space for leisure activities and peaceful strolls and is popular with locals and foreigners alike.

Panama's smorgasbord of ethnicities has laid the foundation for an impressive catalog of restaurants and bars, including most international chain restaurants. So, Panama offers something for everyone if you fancy Japanese sushi, Italian cuisine, Argentinian beef, and even those with a seasoned and demanding palate. And as one would expect, Panama City possesses a vast supply and variety of accommodations from which to choose. Everything from small, inexpensive hostels to large, international chain hotels are at one's disposal, dispersed throughout the city's legion of residential communities.

Despite its sprawling appearance, the downtown area of Panama City is relatively small, and its compactness makes travel quick and easy; you are always a short taxi ride or a few stops on the Metro away from where you want to go. The Metro train — the first of its kind in Central America — is economical and practical, ideally suited to shuttle tourists to their final destination. Used in conjunction with the municipal Metro Bus, most of the city's attractions are accessible using public transportation, including Casco Antiguo, Miraflores Locks, Panama Viejo, and the Amador Causeway.

Irrespective of your budget or timeframe, there is no shortage of things to do or see during your stay in Panama City. For those with more time, a day or multi-day excursion to El Valle de Antón, Guna Yala (San Blas), or Santa Catalina are options.

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