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Local time Panama City



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).

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 services

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.


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.

Time to city

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

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 by boat

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 operators

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 (

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Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels


Toscana Inn Hotel

A modestly-sized boutique hotel in Downtown Panama City, Toscana Inn comes equipped with air conditioning and Wi-Fi in every room. Café Los Girasoles restaurant serves up Panamanian cuisine for dinner and a complimentary buffet-breakfast spread in the morning.

The Westin Playa Bonita Panama

A luxury, beachfront hotel with six restaurants, a full-service spa, business centre, kids club and three infinity pools, each kitted out with a swim-up bar. Located approximately 20 minutes outside of the city centre, flanked by rainforest, the resort has 611 luxury rooms and suites, many offer views of the Pacific.

El Machico Hostel

Situated in Panama City's Marbella district, this lively hostel fosters a laid back atmosphere with courtyard swimming pool, open air cinema nights, pool games and a small bar.

Hotel DeVille

This is one of Panama City’s top-end boutique hotels, located in one of the city's most romantic spots. Each of the 33 rooms are individually (and impeccably) decorated. The difference here is in the details right down to the antique furniture that graces each handsome room. Beautiful and classy, with rooms and suites available at rather high prices but you won’t be sorry.

Hotel Riande Continental

Centred on a palm tree-fringed swimming pool, this sophisticated Panama City hotel is an excellent choice if you're searching for low-key luxury. Spacious rooms offer modern furnishings and sweeping views of the Panama City skyline. All rooms have a mini-bar and cable TV, and there is a surcharge for the Wi-Fi which is available all over the hotel.

Las Clementinas

Las Clementinas is another Casco Viejo charmer, in a fully-revamped colonial building in the most beautiful part of town. They have gone for understated elegance and style here, and have definitely succeeded. Furnishings are either original antiques or perfect replicas. Las Clementinas also has a bar and cafe with great food.