Travel to Panama City

Flying to Panama City

Panama’s national airline Copa Airlines ( operate direct services to the capital from Argentina, Aruba, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, St Maarten, USA and Venezuela.

There are no direct flights to Panama City from the UK. Indirect options involving one change include flights with British Airways via Madrid, KLM via Amsterdam and American Airlines via Miami. Prices tend to be about the same all year round - the best option is often to book two separate flights via the USA. Airlines operating direct flights from the USA include American Airlines, Copa Airlines and United.

Flight times

From London - 14 hours (including stopover); New York - 5 hours 20 minutes; Los Angeles - 6 hours 30 minutes; Toronto - 5 hours 40 minutes; Sydney - 25 hours (including stopover).

City Airports: 
Telephone:+507 238 2700

Tocumen Panama International Airport is situated approximately 17km (11 miles) east of Panama City.


There is an ATM and a bank in Departures on level 100. Bureaux de change facilities are available.


Porters are on hand to assist with luggage. Trolleys are available but cannot be taken out of the customs area. A lost and found office (tel: +507 238 2938) is also available to assist with missing property queries.

Travel by road


All roads lead to Panama City – it is the geographical centre of Panama and it is hard to miss if you’re driving. Like most Central American countries, you drive on the right. Driving in the city can be chaotic. You need to be prepared to be pushy; keep your eyes peeled at all times and beep that horn as if your life depends on it. It is not for the faint-hearted, but the main roads through the city are slightly more manageable. Look out for the one-way systems.

Theoretically you only need a licence from your country, but the police can make things difficult for you if you’re stopped, so get hold of an International Driving Permit if you possibly can. The minimum driving age is 18. Speed limits are 40kph (25mph) within cities and 100kph (62mph) on the highways. Insurance is not mandatory in Panama – so drive very carefully.

Emergency breakdown service:

Your car hire company will arrange roadside assistance in the case of a breakdown.


The decently-paved Panamerican Highway runs from one end of Panama to the other, stopped in its tracks only by dense rainforest at the Colombian end. Thus, you can get to just about everywhere worth seeing in Panama by stopping off along the way.

Driving times:

From Boquete - 7 hours; Bocas del Toro - 10 hours; David - 7 hours.


Coach travel in Panama is recommended. Panama City’s Gran Terminal is large and modern and part of the Albrook shopping centre. Ticket prices vary depending on the standard of the coach, but they all tend to be air-conditioned. There will be many buses going to every destination.

Travel by rail


Rail travel from Panama City is limited, as it is for much of Central America.

Rail fans can enjoy a historic train route from Panama City to Colon along the famed canal. It is a luxury service generally providing beautiful views. The service departs Monday to Friday at 0730 from Corozal Station (just north of the Miraflores lock), which gives plenty of time to explore Colon before the return journey at 1715. It’s a good idea to buy your tickets in advance.


Panama Railway Company (tel: +507 317 6070; operates services from Panama City to Colon and back. The train is very comfortable and the ticket price includes a snack box.

Journey times:

From Colon - 1 hour.

Travel over water


From Panama City, you can travel to Colombia via the San Blas Islands, or on a transit, either full or partial, of the Panama Canal. The former involves travelling by private boat from the Island of Carti. You can book tickets within hostels in the city. The latter involves booking a seat with a tour company. The boats leave from Panama City’s main port of Balboa, or Flamenco Marina.

Ferry services:

For full or partial transit of the canal from Panama City, the following tour companies are recommended: Canal & Bay Tours (tel: +507 209 2002;, Panama Marine Adventures (tel: +507 226 8917; and Panama Jones (

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.