Volcán is the first town of major size that you pass along the route to La Amistad, though the town is dwarfed by its namesake. Clinging to the flanks of the towering Volcán Barú, the town of Volcán has a pleasant feel and serves as a good base for excursions and eating, though the lodgings pickings are slim.
About 250km from Panama City, the sprawling town of Santiago is a bustling hub of rural commercial activity. Halfway between the capital and the Costa Rican border, and just north of the Península de Azuero, Santiago is a crossroads town where you can easily get a hot meal and a clean bed.
A tropical island with only one road and no traffic, Isla Taboga is a pleasant escape from the rush of Panama City, only 20km offshore. With the addition of an annual festival and boutique lodgings in the works, it's becoming more of a destination. Named the ‘Island of Flowers,’ it is covered with sweet-smelling blossoms much of the year.
Headquarters of the Chiriquí Land Company, the very same people that bring you Chiquita bananas, Changuinola is a hot and rather dusty town surrounded by a sea of banana plantations. Although there is little reason to spend any more time in Changuinola than you have to, overland travelers linking to Costa Rica will have to pass through here.
With its colonial grandeur crumbling and its neighborhoods marginalized, Colón is the city that Panama forgot, in spite of vigorous development meant to court Caribbean cruise ships. Prior to 1869, the railroad connecting Panama City and Colón was the only rapid transit across the continental Western Hemisphere.