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A short distance from diverse attractions and regions, from rainforests to indigenous communities and tropical archipelagos, the city is worthy of attention in its own right, and not just because of its world-famous waterway.

The ruins of the original Panama City in Panama Viejo (destroyed by the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan in 1671) are testament to the first city built on the Pacific Coast of the Americas, and founded to facilitate the transfer of Spanish-plundered riches from the Incan Empire in South America to Spain.

The colonial influence is strongest in the 'Casco Viejo', known as the 'second Panama City', and containing 17th century churches and convents and handsome 18th and 19th century buildings. Modern-day Panama City is set around the bay, and has a prosperous business district, lively nightlife, a fantastic restaurant scene and the only rainforest within city limits in the world: the Metropolitan Natural Park. Panama was also recently put on the Hollywood map thanks to the filming of the Quantum of Solace Bond film in and around the city.

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A Note on Price

A 10-day itinerary to Panama, visiting Panama City, the highlands and the San Blas islands, will cost from around £2,400 per person including flights.