This steamy, tropical city is perhaps best known for its eponymous canal — a historic water passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans — but it’s been steadily gaining attention for other reasons. The party-loving spirit of Panama City is infectious, its beaches are stunning, and the art, food and culture scenes are positively cosmopolitan.
When you think of Panama City your mind might go…
Founded in the 1600s and designated a UNESCO World Heritage…
Until recently, no one would have sent you to Panama…
WHEN TO GO
When to Go: The best time to go to Panama City is during the dry season, from December through April.
NEED TO KNOW
Visas: U.S. citizens do not need to obtain a visa. Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure.Money: Local currency is the United States dollar, but the Panamanian balboa (PAB) also circulates in small coins. ATMs are available in most neighborhoods (though not all), and it’s advisable to carry enough cash to get you to the next bank or ATM — credit cards aren’t as widely accepted here as in the U.S.
Travel Health: As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travelers should be fully vaccinated before going to Panama City. Be sure to check airline requirements — as well as requirements at your destination, including (but not limited to) proof of vaccination, testing or quarantine — before you go. Tourism Panama and the CDC are the best resources for up-to-date information and guidance. Before traveling, research and prepare for what to do if you get sick while away.
Getting Here: Panama City’s airport is Tocumen International Airport (PTY), roughly 18 miles from the city center. The least expensive way to get to the city is via Metrobus (purchase a prepaid card before leaving the airport). The quickest, most convenient option is to use Uber.
Getting Around: The easiest way to navigate the city is by Uber or taxi, which are both inexpensive and widely available. Alternatively, you can also get around by bus or subway.
Local Lingo: Spanish is the official language. Learning some simple Spanish greetings and phrases is helpful. Hola! – Hello! Buenas – Hello (informal). Que xopa? – What’s up? Gracias! – Thank you! De nada – You’re welcome. Hablas Ingles? – Do you speak English? Perdon! – Sorry! La cuenta, por favor – The check, please.
Must-Have Apps: Uber; LiveWalkPTY;Waze Navigation & Live Traffic
Insider Tip: You can’t go to Panama City without sampling the city’s famous nightlife. Don’t miss checking out the rooftop bars and clubs in Casco Viejo; enjoy cocktails and tapas at sunset, and from there, let the night take you where it wants to go.