How to Get Around Panama City
There’s so much to see and do in Central America’s most modern and exciting capital city. Here’s our best advice for getting around to see the sites and getting business done.
Arriving at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City
As soon as you leave customs, there’s an official taxi stand. These taxis are safe and reliable. It costs about $25 to go from the airport to anywhere in Panama City. Depending on the time of day it will take 15-30 minutes to get to somewhere in Panama City.
At the airport you can find car rental agencies including National, Thrifty and Dollar Car Rental.
From your hotel or any downtown street, taxis are usually easy to get as well as safe and cheap. Getting to most places in Panama City shouldn’t cost more than $5-10. It is best to negotiate the price with driver before you start. There are no taxi meters. Extra passengers will be about .75 each.
For personalized bilingual tour and travel guide services, we recommend Easy Travel.
Tip: Hotel taxis will cost quite a bit more. For a better price, walk out to the street and hail down a regular taxi.
UBER Smart-Phone App
If you haven’t heard already UBER is a nifty App for Apple or Android phones that helps to connect passengers with Drivers-for-Hire that have been screen beforehand by UBER. While UBER is a bit more expensive than regular taxis (they DO use meters to calculate your expense), they are also much less hassle. The App is in english, there is no added charge for extra passengers, and transactions are carried out through the billing information on your phone, so there’s no need to carry cash, haggle about the price, or leave a tip. They also have flat rates fees for those heading to or from Tocumen Airport-Panama City.
Panama City Tours
For organized tours, tour operators offer half day and full day excursions to see the local attractions, including the Panama Canal. Contact our recommended Tour Operators for information on where, when and how much.
City Sightseeing Double-Decker Bus
This London-style red double-decker bus makes stops at the major tourism attractions in Panama City. These include Casco Viejo, the Miraflores Museum at the Panama Canal, business district, Albrook Mall, the Amador Causeway and Panama Viejo. Get a 24 or 48 hours pass for unlimited use—a great way to get around everywhere you need to go in Panama City. For more information, visit the City Sighteeing Bus page.
Buses and the Subway
Panama City has a city-wide bus system, but most buses are very crowded and we don’t recommend them in general. There is also a new Metro system. The only tourism attraction the Metro goes to is Albrook Mall– the largest mall in Latin America with 700 stores. It is also adjacent to the bus terminal for buses to the rest of the country and Costa Rica. The subway fare are $0.35 but you’ll also have to buy a $2.00 card to start.
A GPS substitute: Waze
There are a few companies who are developing GPS systems for Panama, but our experience is that none of them are completely dependable, yet. For those of you with smartphones, Waze is a crowd-sourced GPS map, which is surprisingly dependable for getting around Panama City and David, with updates on closed roads and traffic accidents to avoid.
Google maps are not as complete and have some errors but are of help. New streets and/or street names are not up to date. This is partly because Panama is undergoing a frenzy of construction at the moment which makes it hard to keep up!
How to get to Costa Rica from Panama City by bus
There’s daily Tica bus leaving from Albrook Mall: at 11 am. You’ll need to go to the terminal at least a day ahead to buy your ticket.