For a sporty edition of our regular travel feature, we quizzed captains of the Mikkeller running club. Founded in Denmark, with chapters worldwide, Mikkeller specialises in group running events with a rewarding post-run beer

Panama City, Panama 

Eduardo Ortega, captain of Panama City’s Mikkeller chapter, gives us a rundown of the local hotspots

What is your favourite route to run in Panama City?

The first, is definitely cinta Costera, it has the best infrastructure so it can be accessed by foot and car. You run right next to the bay of Panama and the other side you have huge buildings, which makes running very interesting. Recently they lengthened it and you can finish next the country’s newest football stadium, El Maracana. If you are a fan of trail running, there are also quite a few options very close to the city, I would personally choose Cerro Azul because of the complexity of the hills and the difficulty of the route.

To finish, go to  Buenas Pintas. It’s a bottle shop that has 12 tap lines that constantly vary, it is unlikely that you will find the same beer. Is has a very good atmosphere and a selection of beer both on tap and bottle that covers all styles and flavours from around the world.

What is Panama City’s best kept secret…that you’re willing to share?

There is a small place in the centre of the city called LB Bieren. It’s a Belgian bar and the owner is a Belgian beer geek. They specialize only in these types of beer and I know people who travel from Costa Rica, Colombia and even the US to buy beers from these guys. It’s also really affordable.

What’s a bar or restaurant (or both) that best captures the spirit of Panama City?

Panama has a lot of influences from all over the world, a crossroads for many cultures and people. We were also a part of the United States for a while.

El Republicano Pub is a restaurant that I think combines a lot of culinary approaches and adapts them to the Panamanian tradition, as well as winning Burger Week with the best burger for two consecutive years. Their beers are highly respected too. It has a faithful clientele and is usually busy.

What’s a neighbourhood that’s transforming for the better?

The Casco Viejo de Panama used to be a very poor area and in could even be dangerous in some parts. It is however historically significant with museums and a presidential palace. Today, it’s a tourist site transformed and renovated, with a high density of tourists and lots of nightlife. My recommendation for the old town would without a doubt be La Rana Dorada. It’s an incredible two floor brewpub with quality beers and unparalleled pub food.

What is a tourist trap to avoid and where should we visit instead?

I think one of the biggest tourist traps is the visitor center of the Miraflores locks at the Panama Canal. They charge at the entrance, the food is not very good and there really is nothing to see. I am not disparaging visiting the Panama Ship Canal however, not at all. Go when a boat or a big ship is passing by and less than 1 km further on is the Pedro Miguel Lookout. You can see the same boat going by for free.

When is the best time to visit and why?

I would recommend the summer, around January – February. The weather is much cooler during the day and there are many outdoor activities. The Micro Brew Fest Panama is without a doubt the best outdoor festival that Panama City has to offer. It is an exclusive festival of craft beer that was founded in 2013 with only 1000 attendees, this year it received around 7000 plus. It offers the best variety of local craft beer, home-brewers and exports. There is an incredible atmosphere, it’s only once a year and it lasts two days.

Santiago, Chile

Captain of Mikkeller’s Chile chapter, Steve Macguire, offers up a couple of Santiago-based secrets

What is your favourite route to run in Santiago?

There are two main routes in Santiago that are easily accessible and free to use. On Sundays some streets are made pedestrian only which makes it even nicer to run. One route follows the Mapocho River from the suburbs of Vitacura to downtown Santiago. There is at least 12 km of beautiful parks, museums, and other historical landmarks worth checking out. The second route starts more around the midpoint of the first route in the district of Providencia which goes up the scenic hill of Cerro San Cristobal. You get a breathtaking birds eye view of the city. Along with the view, there is an enormous statue of the Virgin Mary nestled at the top of the hill, a zoo, swimming pools, and gondola rides. This second route is a bit shorter if you decide to go straight up, but there are a lot of alternative routes along the way.

What is Santiago’s best kept secret…that you’re willing to share?

I’m not sure if its a secret, but I’d definitely say Santiago’s location and climate. It never gets too extreme here. Only a few days a year does the temperature fall below 0° and in the summer it’s a nice dry 30-35°C. This country has beautiful beaches a little over an hour away from the Capital towards the west, and to the east, we have the Andes Mountains where you will find awesome places to ski or go trekking. In the gourmet aspect, Chile is known for great meat, incredible wine and a craft beer scene that is booming.

What’s a bar or restaurant (or both) that best captures the spirit of Santiago?

Hard Question. The spirit of Santiago can’t be captured by a single place, it’s too diverse. Especially these days with a major immigration surge of people from around the world, which has opened the Chilean people up to new flavours and food styles. There are classic bars that have a lot of history, for example Bar Liguria which serves traditional food in a nicely decorated place. For a more modern take on Chilean food, recently opened by the biggest local craft beer brand, you have Kross Bar. If you are looking for an excellent selection of craft beer, local and international, look for El Honesto Mike they have awesome burgers and even more awesome beer, it’s also our Mikkeller Running Club Clubhouse where we get together every first saturday to run and then drink beer.

What’s a neighbourhood that’s transforming for the better?

I would definitely say downtown Santiago, but I would fuse another two neighbourhoods, all three are in walking distance or only just a few metro stations away: Providencia and Bellavista. All three areas are full of cafes, bars, hotels, historical landmarks, and the best craft beer spots. These sectors used to be more traditional, but now there’s a more modern vibe. A lot of food styles can be found and places with more attention on ambience and effort to provide quality service and products.

What is a tourist trap to avoid and where should we visit instead?

Luckily, there aren’t too many tourist traps in Santiago. But I would recommend studying a map first and trying to avoid the rush hour. The subway is a fast and easy way to navigate this crazy town. Although, it has its peak hours as well.

When is the best time to visit and why?

Anytime of the year is fun, depending on what you want to do, but I recommend November to April for the best weather, January and February are a little more packed with tourists especially at the beach. Festivals worth checking out are Lollapalooza in April and any vendimia (grape harvest celebrations). March and April are always fun months to visit. I’m afraid Beerfests are a big thing here in Chile, but not good enough to recommend to anyone yet. How long to stay depends but I’d say no more than a week. This country is too big to just stay in the central area where Santiago is.

Words by Eduardo Ortega & Steve Macguire