If you have a long layover at Tocumen International Airport and you’re not sure what to do, why not head out to explore Panama City.

As the largest hub in Central America, Panama City has a lot to offer travelers.  With vibrant neighbourhoods, a rich history, and cultural diversity there are so many things to experience. Instead of waiting for hours at the airport take advantage of your time and get a small taste of Panama City.

Consider layover logistics and timing

Whether you have an 8-hour layover, a 12-hour layover, or something in between, make sure you leave enough time to make it back for your return flight. Keep in mind you will be going through security twice. Clearing customs and leaving the airport usually takes between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours (although it can take longer) and getting through security for your departure flight usually takes closer to 2 hours.

Check beforehand if you need to pick up luggage or if it will be delivered directly to your final destination. Also, ensure that you are checked-in for your next flight. If you need a place to store your bags, there are luggage lockers available at lower level of Tocumen Airport that charge between $5-$10 USD per bag. Again, account for the time it takes to store baggage.

panama city layover tour

Getting to Panama City from the airport

The easiest and fastest way to get into the city on your layover is via taxi. Taking a taxi from Tocumen International Airport into Panama City costs approximately $35 USD. You can grab a taxi directly outside the airport. Tipping is not customary here and your ride should include all toll fees.

It’s important to take into consideration traffic and travel time. Panama City is known to have a lot of traffic congestion that is especially bad during weekday rush hour (usually 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM Monday to Friday). If your flight arrival or departure times coincide with rush hour, plan ahead and leave yourself extra time.

What should I do on an 8-hour layover?

An 8 hour layover in Panama City is just enough time to see the highlights. We suggest the following:

Food Tour Panama City - Afro-Panamanian Culinary Heritage

What should I see and do on a 12-hour layover?

With a 12 hour layover, you have time to explore the city at a comfortable pace. In addition to the highlights above we recommend adding one or two of the following sights:


Can I do something on a 5-hour layover?

If you have a 5 hour layover in Panama, we recommend heading to Panama Viejo. A historical monument complex, it covers a distance of 1.5 km and usually takes 2 hours to visit.

Panama Viejo is closer to the airport, making it a safer option given your time constraints. However, make sure to consider your flight status, luggage situation, and traffic.

Book a tour for your layover in Panama City

Since you have a limited time, you may want to consider booking a Panama City Layover Tour. A pre-booked tour will remove the hassle and stress so that you can actually enjoy your time in the city. Plus, your tour can be customized according to your flight times and personal interests.