Let’s be honest, it’s HOT & HUMID in most parts of Panama and that glistening, tropical sweat look just doesn’t look or feel good to most people. It’s then easy to develop a dependent relationship with the air conditioner until you see your electric bill for the first time and try to ease your addiction from it. But, thanks to Panama’s diverse landscape, there are areas that just naturally feel comfortable without AC – all you have to do is go up in elevation!
Panama’s mountain communities have year-round cooler temperatures compared to being on the coast and some are as little as 1-hour from Panama City! For outdoor lovers, you can enjoy hiking trails, waterfalls, swimming holes, bird watching, and just sitting back in a hammock with a view.
So whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a new place to call home, head to one of these mountain towns to experience Panama’s “chilly” weather.
Average High: 27°C (81°F) \ Average Low: 19°C (67°F)
Cerro Azul is a small gated mountain community that sits around 800 meters above sea level, making it a comfortable climate year-round. It’s one of the closest “cool” escapes from Panama City and will only take 45-minutes to 1.5 hours to arrive based on where you’re coming from and traffic. While here you can enjoy one of the many hiking trails, waterfalls, swimming in natural pools formed by the river, or spend time at the country club. To enter this gated neighborhood you will need to have accommodation booked beforehand.
Where to stay in Cerro Azul:
How to get to Cerro Azul:
Car: Enter “Cerro Azul” or the name of your hotel into Waze for the fastest route, head on Corredor Sur towards the direction of the airport and you’ll basically take it to the end and keep going. You’ll want to take a left on the street AFTER the sign that says “Bienvenidos Fucer” and continue for another 20-minutes following the signs for Cerro Azul. You can also take an Uber here for approximately $30.
Public Transport: Take line 2 of the of the metro to the “24 de Diciembre” stop. Once here you can take a taxi to Cerro Azul or go to the back of the La Doña Shopping Center and take one of the mini busses to Cerro Azul (leaves every 30-45 minutes).
El Valle de Anton
Average High: 28°C (83°F) \ Average Low: 21°C (70°F)
El Valle de Anton is a small town located in a luscious green valley of an inactive volcano crater – it’s the largest inhabited crater in the world! But the volcano has sat dormant for thousands of years and now is a favorite weekend getaway for Panamanians and visitors looking to escape the city. El Valle is one of my favorite getaways because it’s one of the few touristic destinations in Panama with an easy direct bus there! The spring-like climate, fresh air, and beautiful hiking trails are perfect for outdoor lovers. The most popular hike in town is trekking to the top of La India Dormida, a natural formation on the edge of the volcano crater that resembles a sleeping Indian. Along the way are a few small waterfalls you can swim in and petroglyphs dating back from pre-Colombian times. Once you reach the top, there is a stunning view of the valley and town below. Be sure to read my “Quick Guide To El Valle de Antón” for complete details on what to do and where to stay.
Where to stay in El Valle de Anton:
How to get to El Valle de Anton:
Car: Enter “El Valle de Anton” or the name of your hotel into Waze for the fastest route. Take the Interamerican Highway outside of Panama City for approximately 90km and take a right at the Delta Gas Station a little past San Carlos. From here El Valle is about 28 km. If you have Waze or Google Maps on your phone that works well for arriving at most of the hotels and hostels within El Valle.
Public Transport: At the Albrook Terminal buy a ticket to El Valle from window 22 and this will cost $4.25. The bus leaves approximately every hour on the hour.
Average High: 24°C (76°F) \ Average Low: 19°C (66°F)
Most people have heard plenty about Boquete, as it’s been attracting expats & visitors for years. But nearby Volcan is where you’ll be amongst locals in a small town with great weather. The region is famous for growing coffee and you’ll be able to enjoy freshly roasted beans at Black Mountain Coffee in town. There’s also plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy like zip-lining at Volcan Canopy Park or hiking up to Volcan Baru, where you’ll have a view of both the Pacific and Atlantic ocean.
Where to stay in Volcan:
How to get to Volcan:
Car: Enter “Volcan” or the name of your hotel into Waze for the fastest route. Once you arrive from Panama City to David by car, stay on the Interamericana highway until you get to a town called La Concepcion. Once here take a right at the sign with directions to Volcan and continue along this road.
Public Transport: Take a bus from Panama City to David and these leave every hour. From the bus terminal in David, they have busses that leave regularly to Volcan. From David to Volcan is approximately 1.5 hours.
Altos del Maria
Average High: 29°C (84°F) \ Average Low: 22°C (71°F)
Altos del Maria is a luxury mountain community on 1.5 hours from Panama City where you can enjoy the fresh mountain air. There’s plenty to do here for a weekend getaway like hiking, swimming around waterfalls, using the tennis courts, and there’s a restaurant in the community if you don’t feel like cooking. It’s overall a special place to enjoy the amazing views surrounded by nature. This is a gated community so you must have accommodation booked ahead of time.
Where to stay in Altos de Maria:
How to get to Altos del Maria:
Car: Enter “Altos del Maria” or the name of your hotel into Waze for the fastest route. Continue along the Panamericana for about an hour and you’ll eventually see signs telling you to turn right towards Altos del Maria/Sora.
Public Transit: Take the San Carlos bus from Albrook Terminal and tell the driver you want to get off at Capira. From Capira you will need to take a taxi to Altos del Maria as it will be complicated trying to use a local bus for the rest of the way.
Average High: 29°C (84°F) \ Average Low: 22°C (72°F)
Santa Fe is for the traveler that wants to be immersed in nature, away from the tourist crowds. It’s home to the stunning Santa Fe National Park where you can go river tubing, horseback riding, hike to massive waterfalls, and kayak down a river to the Caribbean sea. There’s also a coffee plantation, organic farms, and you can purchase local crafts from artisans in the area.
Where to stay in Santa Fe:
How to get to Santa Fe:
Car: Enter “Santa Fe” or the name of your hotel into Waze for the fastest route. This is approximately 4.5 hours from Panama City.
Public Transport: From the Albrook terminal in Panama City, take a bus to Santiago for less than $10 (takes around 3.5 hours). Once in Santiago they have buses that small buses that head to Santa Fe every 30-minutes until late afternoon, this journey will take about an hour.
Average High: 24°C (75°F) \ Average Low: 18°C (65°F)
Boquete is the most talked-about mountain town in Panama and once you visit you’ll see why. The temperatures rarely get above 24°C (75°F) and you’ll usually need a light sweater at night when it gets down to 18°C (65°F). There’s amazing coffee grown here (be sure to have a cup of Geisha coffee at Perfect Pair) and a bustling scene of expats that live here full time. You’ll also find a brewery, cafés, and plenty of delicious restaurants. For adventure junkies, you’ll find zip-lining, white water rafting, and The Lost Waterfalls hiking trail.
Where to stay in Boquete:
How to get to Boquete:
Car: Enter “Boquete” or the name of your hotel into Waze for the fastest route. The journey from Panama City is approximately 6.5 hours. You’ll continue along the Panamericana to David and from here follow the signs to Boquete. You can also fly to David and rent a car from there.
Public Transit: Take a bus from the Albrook Terminal to David. These leave approximately every hour. From the bus terminal in David, they have busses that frequently leave to Boquete.
Altos de Campana
Average High: 27°C (81°F) \ Average Low: 19°C (67°F)
Altos de Campana is super close to Panama City – as little as 1-hour away! While being able to enjoy the cooler temperatures you’re also short driving distance to a few different hikes in the Altos de Campana National Park, Los Cajones de Chame, or you can head back down to sea level to enjoy the beach for the day.
Where to stay in Los Altos de Campana:
How to get to Altos de Campana:
Car: Enter “Altos de Campana” or the name of your hotel into Waze for the fastest route. Continue down the Panamericana until you start to see signs for Altos de Campana.
Public Transport: From the Albrook terminal you can take a bus to Capira and then from there another bus to Altos de Campana.
Average High: 20°C (68°F) \ Average Low: 14°C (58°F)
Cerro Punta is going to be one of the “coldest” places in Panama with it rarely getting above 20°C (68°F) and typically gets down to 14°C (58°F) in the evening. This ideal climate makes it one of the largest producing areas of fruits and vegetables in the region (you’ll notice the Cerro Punta brand in the supermarket).
Where to stay in Cerro Punta:
How to get to Cerro Punta:
Car: Enter “Cerro Punta” or the name of your hotel into Waze for the fastest route. Once you arrive from Panama City to David by car, stay on the Interamericana highway until you get to a town called La Concepcion. Once here take a right at the sign with directions to Volcan / Cerro Punta and continue along this road. You will pass through Volcan to get to Cerro Punta and the journey is approximately 8 hours from Panama City.
Public Transport: Take a bus from Panama City to David and these leave every hour. From the bus terminal in David, they have busses that leave regularly to Cerro Punta. From David to Cerro Punta is approximately 2 hours.