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Transportation in Panama City
Panama has good international flight connections to major American and European cities like Miami, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Madrid and Amsterdam and major cities in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Panama City has two airports: the Tocumen International Airport, also called Hubs of America, is the hub for all international flights, and the domestic airport, the Marcos A. Gelabert Airport, often referred to as Albrook Airport, operates flights between Panama City and national destinations, including the three archipelagos of Bocas del Toro, San Blas and the Pearl Islands. Traffic can be heavy in Panama City and traffic jams are common, so be patient.
This Panama City Transportation Guide gives some details about getting to and from Panama city, as well as transportation options for getting around while you are here. General transportion information for getting to and from Panama, as well as around the country, can be found by visiting our Panama Transportation Guide. You should also check out our interesting Panama City Tours , which are a great way to explore all that the city has to offer!
Getting to Panama City
Tocumen International airport is located 35 km (20.5 miles) to the east of Panama City's centre, about a 45-minute trip in either direction. Shuttle service between the airport and city is available (between US$20-25/person). Taxi service is more expensive but also quicker (between US$28-40) depending on your location.
For transport from the airport to the city (or from the city to the airport), we recommend Green Path Transfers, who offer eco-friendly airport transfers in hundreds of destinations around the world.
Visit our partner Air Valid for Airline Reviews and Information about Panama.
Airlines Servicing Panama:
International (from/to Tocumen International Airport)
- American Airlines
- Continental airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Nature Air (flights to Bocas del Toro from Costa Rica)
- IBERIA etc
Domestic (from/to A.Gelabert Airport, most of the time refered to Albrook Airport)
- Aeroperlas (www.aeroperlas.com)
- Air Panama (www.airpanama.com)
The Panama Railway Company operates a unique rail service: Panama City to Colón (Pacific to Atlantic side) and back. The journey is absolutely breathtaking - you will enjoy views of the Panama Canal, Gatun Lake, Pedro Miguel locks and the rainforest. This tour is for the early bird - the train leaves Corozal Station at 7am and it takes approximately an hour to arrive in Colón, a good gateway to explore the region and its historical forts. The same train then returns to Panama City at 17h00. A 15-minutes taxi ride from Panama City center will get you to Corozal, the main train terminal. Operates daily from Monday to Friday.
The Albrook bus terminal located near the Marcos A. Gelabert airport and the Albrook Mall serves all destinations within the country and other Central American countries.
Transportation time to destination:
- Panama city- Santiago - four hours
- Panama city - David - five hours
- Panama city - Colon - one hour and a half by highway 45 minutes
- Panama city- San Jose (Costa Rica ) - 15 hours
Panama City has a good road network. Signage, however, can be pretty inadequate and it takes considerable skill to negotiate one's way through the traffic jams and crowed streets. The Pan-American Road is in good condition and is your gateway to the Pacific beaches, Gobernadora Boca Chica islands, and the Costa Rica border. Two major highways serve Panama City - the Corredor Sur from Tocumen International Airport to Panama City and the new Panama - Colón Highway.
Getting Around Panama City
By Public Transportion
While Panama City's public bus system is extensive, getting around can present quite a few problems if you don't speak Spanish. Some driver's are crazy and do not respect any driving laws, making passengers nervous and uncomfortable. However, if you are up to the challenge, look for destinations displayed in the front windshield of the buses. Don't go looking for bus schedules: they do not exist in the City center. Fares are cheap (US$.25). Buses usually operate between 05:00 hrs and 22:00 hrs. In the interest of safety, tourists are advised to hire taxis for early morning or late night rides.
Do not miss the opportunity of seeing and riding one of the diablo rojo buses, the colorfully painted buses that are common throughout Panama. Typically, a diablo rojo sports a customized exterior, featuring politicians, celebrities or artists. There are ongoing discussions about replacing them.
Taxis are usually waved down on the city streets. Fares usually do not amount to more than a few dollars and follow newly applied tariff zones. So, if you are unsure about the rate you are asked, request your taxi driver to show you in which zone you are. In time of heavy traffic, taxi drivers are unwilling to accept passengers if it deviates them from their normal route. Be prepared! We advise you to ask the drivers cab how much it is before getting in the cab. That way you will not be surprised!
You can find car rental companies at your arrival at the international or domestic airports or at El Cangrejo. Most of the car rental agencies have an office in Via Veneto.
Car rental companies:
Getting to other islands by boat
If you're visiting Isla Taboga, or "The Island of Flowers" in the Gulf of Panama, you'll have to take the ferry service. Departures are from the northern side of Naos Island, one of the three islands that make up the picturesque Amador Causeway. ("La Playita de Amador"). Look for the pier close to the Smithsonian Institute facility. A round trip ticket costs $12.00 per adult and $7.00 for children under 12 years.
If you are visiting Contadora and other islands in Pearl Islands, you will have the option between ferry or flight. AirPanama and Aeroperlas service to Contadora is less than a half an hour flight.