Known as the bridge of the world and the heart of the universe, Panama is a cosmopolitan city full of contrasts. But, how easy is traveling as a vegan in Panama? Keep reading to discover the things you can see and do. And of course, where to find vegan food in Panama.
Our city is visited by thousands of tourists every year. Many are looking for a bit of tropical heat and outdoor adventures. For example:
- Visit the beaches,
- Hiking in the rainforest,
- Know the Panama Canal,
- Surf type sports,
- Or just relax in a tropical paradise.
If you are vegan and want to travel to Panama, you are in luck. The number of people who are interested in an animal-free diet is increasing. You can find more vegan products in supermarkets. Markets are also held where entrepreneurs put their products on sale. What they offer is mostly handmade, organic and vegan.
At the same time, restaurants are also joining this trend. Little by little they include more vegan options in their menus.
However, it should be noted that there is still more work to be done. But the important thing is to set the groundwork for options to grow more and more. And that is what is happening.
I hope this guide helps you a bit if you are traveling as a vegan in Panama. Whether you come for vacations or to live. Or maybe if you are new to veganism and want to know where to find vegan options.
Let’s start with some important information about the city and the things that you can see if you’re new to this part of the world.
Weather in Panama
I’m going to put it a little simple. Panama has a bipolar climate. There are not many options: either it rains or it’s sunny.
The city is very small. Sometimes it rains very hard in one part of the city. However, a few blocks away there may be a radiant sun. It happens all the time and it’s no joke. It’s a very crazy climate.
Apart from that, there are no very drastic changes. The weather is tropical. We have the dry season, which goes from Dec-April. And the rainy one that covers the rest of the year. There is no snow, neither autumn nor spring.
If you visit Panama you must bring light clothes, a good umbrella or raincoat and shoes that can’t be damaged by the rain. If you come during the dry season it’s less likely to rain, but an umbrella can still protect you from the sun. And don’t forget your sunscreen, non-toxic bug repellent and of course, a swimsuit!
The official language of the country is Spanish. But, many people in the capital can speak English.
Panamanians tend to speak loudly. Don’t think we are angry though! that’s only our way of speaking.
Panama uses American dollars, although legally the name of the currency is the Balboa and some coins are issued. Its value is equivalent to the dollar and both are used altogether.
Most of the shops accept credit cards and there are ATMs available on several points across the city.
How to get around in Panama
Public transport has improved greatly if we compare it to how it was years ago. The city currently has a subway line and city buses that have been upgraded.
The Panama metro has the following lines:
- Line 1: From San Isidro to Albrook (Bus Terminal)
- Line 2: From San Miguelito to Felipillo (Passing through Tocumen)
- And line 3: It’s in process, and would go from Albrook to the Arraiján area.
The rates are quite economical: around 35 cents for the subway, 25 cents for the buses and 1.25 for corridor routes.
Uber and Cabify are also widely used and are a good alternative. You can take taxis as well.
Panama is not the friendliest city for pedestrians, in fact, there are many areas where it’s difficult to travel on foot. But, this is also a good way to move around if you’re going to nearby places.
What to see and do in Panama
The city is quite small, so in a short time, you can see most of the points of interest.
These are some of the activities you can do during your visit to this small corner of Central America.
Built by the United States after the failed attempt of the French in the 1800s, the Panama Canal is considered a marvel of engineering.
It was opened in 1914 and serves to shorten the transit time of ships between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. This makes the Panama Canal one of the most important commercial waterways in the continent.
Take a walk through the Miraflores Visitor Center to see the ships pass by. While there, also visit the Museum to learn about its history.
This center has a restaurant. But I haven’t been yet, therefore I can’t confirm if they have vegan options.
As an alternative, you can also visit the visitor center located on the Atlantic side. Panama is one of the few places where you can be in the Pacific Ocean and cross to the Atlantic in less than 2 hours!
To finish your tour around the canal area, there are other attractions that you can visit, such as:
- Monkey island,
- Soberania National Park.
- Gamboa Rainforest Resort
- Summit Municipal Park
- City of Knowledge (during mercado Urbano weekend because you can find many vegan goodies) Check out their dates here.
One of the favorite spots for locals to spend the evenings and do some exercise.
This seafront runs along Balboa Avenue in the heart of the city. The best time to visit is before sunset, as it doesn’t offer many places to shelter from the sun.
Many activities are held during the year including parades, festivals, sport, and cultural events as well as the very famous carnivals.
Take advantage of your visit to enjoy excellent views of the skyline and take beautiful photos of the city.
The Amador Causeway is a road that was built in 1913 with the remains of the extracted material from the Panama Canal.
This road connects 4 islands: Naos, Flamenco, Culebra, and Perico.
ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO ON THE AMADOR CAUSEWAY:
- Bike rides or rollerblades,
- Visit the Biomuseum
- Go to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Also from here, you can take the ferries to the island of Taboga or the Pearl Islands.
At the Causeway, most restaurants focus on meat and seafood. So it is not a very good place to go and eat. But if you are in that area, you can find something in restaurants that offer Italian or Asian food. Or maybe salads and side dishes at the rest of the restaurants.
Get away from the city chaos and immerse yourself into this wildlife haven located very close to the city center.
If you are lucky, you can get to see different species such as monkeys, sloths, or ñeques. Enjoy the fresh air and do some hiking in one of the available trails.
The trails are quite short and simple. There are two that take you to a viewpoint where you can have beautiful views of the city.
The metropolitan park is located a short distance from the center. If possible, go early in the morning. Between 6-8 am it’s better to observe more birds and animals. Besides that, the temperature will be more pleasant.
Founded in 1519, Panama la Vieja was the first location of the capital. Today only the ruins remain.
The city was destroyed due to conflicts between Spaniards and English who wanted to besiege it in 1671.
Located in the area of San Felipe, the old town is one of the most historic and trendy zones of Panama city.
After Panama Viejo was burned, its settlers moved to this area. Casco Viejo is designated as a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Stroll on the brick streets, appreciate the colonial architecture and monuments. At the same time, enjoy some shaved ice or fruit juices to overcome the heat and humidity.
You can also visit some of the restaurants with vegan options such as Dodó Bon Pan cafe, Mahalo or Salvaje.
The ascent to the summit of the Ancon Hill can be done either by walking or driving (there is parking at the top). Once you arrive you can have a different view of the city and Panama bay. As well as the bridge of the Americas from a different angle.
Mi Pueblito tourist complex is located on the slopes of Cerro Ancon. There, you can find replicas of buildings from several provinces of the country. These show the architectural style that can be found throughout Panama.
One of the favorite activities of tourists is to go shopping due to the good prices they can find.
Panama also features a Black Weekend, but this one takes place in September. Offers aren’t as great as in the US though.
Some of the main shopping centers of the city are:
- Albrook Mall,
- Alta Plaza,
- Multiplaza Pacific,
- Metro Mall,
- among others.
Malls offer good dining options if you are close to one. There is always a place to find wraps, sushi, bowls, salads, sandwiches, among other things that are either vegan or can be veganized.
Get out of town
There are several interesting places not so far from the city. Take a day to visit another point near Panama like:
- Taboga Island,
- Anton’s Valley,
- the beaches of the Pacific,
- Portobelo and nearby beaches
- the islands of Guna Yala or
- a tour to know an Emberá village community.
Vegan Food in Panama
Panamanian cuisine includes a lot of rice, potatoes, plantain, corn, and legumes like lentils and beans.
If you cannot find any vegan-friendly restaurant around then you can go where the locals eat. It’d probably be possible to put together a vegan meal.
Here are some examples of Panamanian vegan-friendly food :
- White rice
- Lentil soup
- Rice with pigeon peas and coconut
- Pigeon peas soup
- Patacones or tostones (Green plantain chips)
- Ripe Banana Chips
- Bean soup
- Corn bollos (there are several versions, make sure no butter or cheese is used)
- Salads without dressing
- Hojaldre- a type of fried dough. Make sure no eggs or butter is used and check if it’s fried separately.
- Boiled vegetables
- An order of avocado
- Pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables
For soups check for no use of chicken or beef broth. And in case of beans make sure that it does not contain pork. This is uncommon but may be included in some places. Some places may also add meat to lentils so always ask.
But perhaps what you want is to go to restaurants that offer vegan food in Panama. Instead of just having to settle for snacks or side dishes.
Below are some of the vegan options you can find in Panama.
💚 Vegan Restaurant 💜 Vegetarian 💛 Restaurant with Vegan Options
Karma has earned a place in my heart and in my tummy. This restaurant gives a twist to the dishes we all know, but in a vegan version. It’s one of my favorite vegan restaurants in Panama.
They have a fixed menu which is constantly evolving and also offer brunch on weekends.
Karma has a catering service for your special events. This is a good option to surprise friends and family with delicious vegan food or a 100% vegan-approved birthday cake!
I recommend you try their burgers, Japanese curry, nachos taquilleros or broccoli tempura. But really order anything, because everything is delicious.
In addition, from time to time they make a thematic brunch that is the vegan Dim Sum. Fully recommended!
In Karma you will also find:
- Vegan meats like salami and sausages,
- Sauces and dips
- Kombucha, handmade sodas
- and more.
Location: Calle 56 Este, Obarrio, Panama
Update: Closed for the moment. Delivery only.
« Food that loves you back» is their slogan. This vegan restaurant in Panama integrates healthy dishes with a mix of original ingredients, sugar -free desserts and gluten-free options.
Try their burgers, breakfasts, desserts, sandwiches. And I personally love their vegan Pad Thai pad.
Location: Calle 75 Este, San Francisco, Panama
The famous vegan restaurant chain Loving Hut also has a branch in Panama. On their food offer, you can find dishes of Asian influence with a Panamanian twist.
They also host a fully vegan Dim Sum brunch that is absolutely delicious.
Location: Manuel Espinosa Batista Street Cali Building (Ground Floor)
Part of a holistic center, at Puro Love you can find healthy lunches, vegan desserts without refined sugar and gluten-free options.
They have both a daily menu that varies every day. In addition, they have a store where they sell some of their own branded products such as essential oils, lotions, and soaps.
Don’t leave without trying their desserts, especially the cheesecake which is the bomb!
Location: Avenida 5 Sur, Barrio San Francisco, Panama.
If you want to try one of the best vegan burritos and burgers in Panama, make sure to visit Natural Spice.
The chef has managed to create flavors that can satisfy even any meat-lover. Their food is greatly influenced by the Caribbean and Panamanian vibes. It’s always full of color and flavor.
Try the pizzas with vegan cheese made by themselves, the burgers or the raw menu which is delightful.
They also have breakfast and catering options. If you visit for the end of the year holidays don’t miss trying their tamales.
Location: La Cresta, José Fábrega Street, Panama.
Update: Permanently Closed
Sattva is a holistic center of healthy eating. Don’t miss out on their delicious Saturday brunch. I recommend the Mexican one.
They have a fridge section where you can find desserts, cold-pressed juices, salads, dips and much more.
Update: Permanently Closed
Yoga center which also offers organic food. They have a lunch menu every day as well as vegan brunch on Saturdays. They are based on balanced meals full of color, flavor, and nutrients.
Cozy restaurant located in Casco Viejo. There is a vegan brunch and they also have sandwiches, desserts, and salads.
They have a vegan-friendly lunch menu at a good price. It is available on weekdays and includes a main course, soup, drink, and dessert.
Location: Plaza de Francia, Casco Antiguo, Panama.
With a gourmet food concept and ingredients of the highest quality, mercadito understands perfectly the notion of what it means to be vegan. They have clearly identified options on their menu.
Despite not being a completely vegan restaurant, what they offer is delicious.
Try the entries like vegan Siu Mai or Bao buns. They also have awesome mains such as tacos, burgers, vegan Mac & Cheese, and more.
Location: Calle 67 San Francisco, Avenida 3b Sur, Panama.
Tbar it’s a restaurant with a healthy mindset that offers salads, hot boxes, wraps, burgers and also a wide selection of teas.
Most of their menu can be veganized or they are already suitable for vegans. Always check with staff who have a lot of knowledge and can help you.
Another thing that I love about this place is the decoration at their Obarrio branch.
- Abel Bravo Ave. with Calle 58, Plaza Strip 58 (Obarrio), Panama
- The City of Knowledge Square, Jorge Gil Street, Panama
In Panama, there are several Asian vegetarian restaurants. They have a casual atmosphere and very good prices.
All these places handle similar concepts, buffet style. Choose what you want from what they already have prepared. Each type of food has a price and you pay the total depending on how many things you ordered.
My favorite dishes are their potato salad, cress croquettes, and sushi.
💜 3 1/2
Location: PH Dorasol, Local 1A, El Dorado, Bethania (at 4th Cl and Av Miguel A. Brostella), Panama City, Panama
The watercress croquettes are a must!
Location: between 71B West Cl and Cl Juan Rivera Reyes, El Dorado, Panama
Location: Calle 49B West (at 100m from Via Espana, next to Veneto Casino), Panama
Location: Calle Ricardo Arias, El Cangrejo (at the corner of Calle 50 & 53 E), Panama
Restaurants specializing in international cuisine may offer accidentally vegan or veganizable options.
- The Raj
- Cocina de la India,
- Sabores de la India
- Taj Mahal
Make sure they don’t use Ghee and that Naan doesn’t have dairy.
Mediterranean / Middle Eastern cuisine
Enjoy dishes like hummus, falafel, Fattoush salad, Baba ghanoush, falafel wrap and much more.
- Al Basha,
- At the Saj
- Grand Café Express
- Athen’s Pizza and Panos Kretan House are Greek restaurants. I recommend their Iman pizza. It’s delicious.
Stir fries, curry, sushi, vegan ramen, poke bowls, and more.
- PF Changs. They have a veggie menu with very good options.
- Nacion Sushi
- Poke Panama. I like it because you can put all the ingredients you want without limit.
- Kaifish has a vegan Poke bowl but more can also be customized with the ingredients you want
- Taisei Ramen
- Lung Fung Palace has new vegan options on their Dim Sum and regular menu.
- Yakitori, Ajisen and Ramen 86. They have vegan ramen
- Aktibao (vegan Bao Bun option)
- Banh Mi
- Among others.
Tacos, burritos, guacamole and more.
- Juana Tranquila
- Rico Burrito
- Mordida de burro
- Tacos la neta
You can order vegetable pizza without cheese, pasta primavera, Al olio or Pomodoro sauce. Other options are bruschetta or mushroom risotto without cheese and as long as they reconfirm that they do not use non-vegan broth.
- Los Años locos is not Italian, but they have a menu with a lot of Italian food. And the best part is that they have a vegetarian menu.
- Ciao Ragazzi
- Brava Pizza
In addition to the previous restaurants. More and more restaurants are offering vegan options in Panama. You will definitely be happy!
- Crepes & Waffles: Try the lentil or Covarachía soup (without cream), the salad bar or some of their fruit juices. They also have soy milk and sherbets.
- Vitali Kosher restaurant with several vegan options including burgers, wraps, salads, smoothie bowls, and desserts.
- Mahalo in Casco Viejo
- Anti-Burger. They have several options vegan burgers and Kimchi fries!
- Juice Market
- Helado Keenes ha many options of vegan ice cream!
- Nelados– Vegan Ice Cream froze with liquid nitrogen
- Mentiritas Blancas. Artisan bakery and specialty cafe that has plant-based milks. In addition to a Vegan bowl.
- Leto Coffee
Where to buy supplies
I am increasingly surprised by the things I find in Panama. I like going to the supermarket a lot because I can always buy new things.
If you are looking for products from famous brands such as Califia milk or even Ripple. Earth Balance butter. Vegan cheeses Miyoko’s, Violife, Chao, and many more. You can find them in Panama
As for meat substitutes, there are Tofurky, Lightlife, Field Roast, Beyond Meat, Gardein, Morning Star, among other brands.
Vegan yogurt Silk, So Delicious or even Kite Hill. Vegan mayonnaise and many other things!
In the following shops, you can find various specialized products.
- Organica Store
- We Fresh Market
- Deli K
- Riba Smith
- Super 99
- El Motete
- Foodie Market
- King’s food (Ingredients of India)
- M / S Mini-Max Fruit Shop (Asian Ingredients)
- Super Kosher
- El Machetazo
- Mercado de abastos
- Mercado Urbano (once a month in City of Knowledge)
Have you already visited Panama or are you planning to come? Do you know any other place with vegan options in Panama?
I hope this guide has been helpful if you’re traveling as a vegan in Panama.
If you liked this post I also recommend the guide on where to find vegan burgers in Panama.
Leave your comments down below! 🙂