When is the best time to visit Panama?
Home to the historic Panama Canal, pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and several indigenous tribes, Panama is an enticing mix of breathtaking natural wonders and enriching cultural experiences. To experience the best of what this diverse country has to offer, it’s important to find out the best time to visit Panama.
The period from December to March sees pleasant temperatures, dry days, and plenty of sunshine and are some of the best months to travel to Panama. With tourists visiting the country for Christmas, New Year’s, and the Carnival that happens in February or early March, you’ll have to plan well in advance if you want to be part of the festivities.
The months from May to September are characterized by short showers that last for no more than an hour or two. While not peak tourist season, it’s still a good time to visit Panama if you don’t mind the occasional rain. The region is uniformly warm and humid and temperatures don’t vary much during the year with daytime highs averaging between 86 – 91°F.
A festive spirit pervades the country, and January is one of the most popular months to visit Panama. Day time temperatures are in the mid to high 80s in Panama City. Plan ahead if you want to visit the country during this time.
- Visit the Miraflores Locks, part of the historic and impressive Panama Canal, to watch the passage of ships to and from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
- Jazz lovers unite at the internationally acclaimed Panama Jazz Festival that takes place in Panama City
Clear blue skies dominate with February being the driest month of the year. It is one of the best times to visit Panama. Day time temperatures cross the 90s while nighttime temperatures range from the mid-60s to 70s.
- Join in the celebration of the country’s largest party at the Carnaval
- Take in impressive views of of the city’s skyline and the Bridge of the Americas from the Paseo las Bóvedas in Casco Viejo
March is also a popular tourist month as day time highs continue to be in the 90s along with clear, blue skies.
- Shop for the quintessential Panama hat and traditional Mola fabrics from the Kuna tribe at Paseo Esteban Huertas
- Stroll the busy Avenida Central and take in stunning views of the city at Cinta Costera
April is the hottest month of the year, with temperatures around 95°F. It is also the month the country transitions from the dry to the wet season. This change in weather translates to higher humidity levels.
- Live it up in Panama City’s most happening neighborhood, Casco Viejo, the Old Quarter.
May signals the start of the monsoon season. It is a shoulder season as tourists continue to visit the country, though not as much as the previous month. Expect to see clear, blue skies in the morning followed by heavy yet short rain spells in the afternoon.
- For the freshest ceviche, head to the Mercado de Mariscos
With short-lived thunderstorms happening for 15-16 days in the month, the surroundings turn lush and green. Day time temperatures are now in the mid-80s, and sea temperatures are at their highest at around 83°F.
- Savor a cup of Panamanian Geisha, one of the most expensive coffees in the world
Rainfall levels drop slightly in July, but with close to 16 rainy days, it’s off season for travel. Temperatures stay steady at around 86°F.
- Discover the natural history of Panama with a trip to the colorful BioMuseo
- Watch Humpback whales breaching at the Panamanian Pacific Coast
The country is bang in the middle of its wet season. Temperatures, however, are warm with daytime highs in the mid-80s, and nighttime lows in the mid-70s.
- Catch a performance at the Teatro Nacional that boasts of beautiful, ornate interiors
- Go dolphin-spotting in the Pacific Ocean
The frequency of rain starts to pick up in September, with considerable rain falling over the month. Temperatures are warm and similar to what they were in August.
- Savor some of Panama’s unique cuisine – a blend of Caribbean, Spanish, African, and Native American flavors!
- It’s the last month to see the majestic Humpback whales in Panama before they migrate southward
It’s the wettest month of the year, but that doesn’t seem to dampen the colorful celebrations that happen across the country. It’s high season for local travel.
- Marvel at the Altar de Oro (Golden Altar) at the Iglesia de San José church
November is wet, but it is also a busy domestic travel season. With multiple Independence Day celebrations, everyone is in vacation mode. Local businesses close, and everyone heads to the beaches.
- Get up close with monkeys, anteaters, and sloths and spot a staggering number of bird species at the Parque Natural Metropolitano
Sunny skies start to show up towards the second half of the month, just in time for Christmas and New Year. It’s one of the best times to visit Panama, so plan your trip well in advance.
- Head to one of the city’s many swanky rooftop bars and welcome the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display.
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Best Time to Visit Panama by Season
With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, Panama follows a typical tropical weather pattern. The dry season runs from mid-December to mid-April, and the wet season lasts from May to December. The Caribbean Coast receives more rainfall while the Pacific Coast offers slightly lower temperatures.
Panama is a year-round destination with rain showers during the wet season lasting no more than an hour or two during the day and the environs turning a beautiful shade of green. If, however, you want to laze under a warm Caribbean sun with uninterrupted hours of beach bliss, the best months to visit Panama are January, February, and March, when day time temperatures are in the 80’s, and there’s plenty of sunshine to go around. The wet season starts in May with short but heavy rain spells making an appearance. The months of July to September are ideal for whale watching in Panama when the waters are rife with breaching humpback whales and dolphins too! October and November see the most rainfall. It’s a busy time for domestic travel due to a number of national holidays. During festivals such as Christmas, New Year, Easter and the Carnival, traveling to Panama may be difficult due to road-blocks, parades and closure of shops and businesses.
What to pack
City exploration calls for lightweight pants and skirts and a good pair of walking shoes. You will find local women dressed in smart dresses, and we recommend packing a few of those for times when you want to attend a party or eat out at an upscale restaurant. Semi-formal trousers and short-sleeved shirts work well for men.
Panama experiences a typical tropical weather pattern with short bursts of rain happening throughout the year. It is wise to pack a lightweight rain jacket and rainproof phone cover, even if you are visiting the country during the dry season.
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