Panama is a gorgeous country, famously known for the Panama Canal. It's also filled with beautiful forests, beaches, and wildlife!
It sounds like a perfect destination for people who love great weather and the great outdoors.
If you plan to visit Panama soon, looking up the airports in the country is a great idea. I do this whenever I plan a trip to understand which airport has the better location and what amenities are available.
I always like to try and route my trip through the one with better lounges. Is it just me who wants to get lounge access wherever I go?
So, before you book your flights, it's a good idea to get a better idea of the airports in Panama. Frequently, travelers can have a horrible first impression of their destination because of the airport alone. I'm here to help you avoid that!
When booking flights, you might notice a few different airports in Panama. Let me give you the insider scoop on navigating Panama's airports, including all the helpful tips to ensure your airport experience goes as smoothly as possible!
But wait—you are here about Airports in Panama country vs. Panama City in Florida, right? Remember, they're two different places, and today I'll be giving you in-depth info about the country Panama and its airport...
How Many Airports are There in Panama?
Before I dive into all the details, let's start with the basics.
While there is one large international airport, there are over 100 Panama airports that route domestic and international flights. Don't panic though, you won't need to pick the best Panama airport out of hundreds.
Some "airports" are just small airstrips and will likely not be an option for large airline carriers, so you'll be limited to a handful of airports.
The international airports in Panama that you're most likely to travel through include the following:
- Tocumen International Airport (PTY) - Panama City
- Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert" International Airport (PAC) - Panama City
- Enrique Malek International Airport (DAV) - David
- Bocas del Toro "Isla Colón" International Airport (BOC) - Bocas del Toro
I've included Panama airports map below that includes the top airports in the country in relation to one another. You'll get a better idea of where you're landing!
Fun fact: Panama has more private airstrips per square mile than any other country in the world!
What is the Major Airport in Panama?
The Panama Tocumen International Airport (PTY) is the largest major international airport in Panama. Panama Tocumen International Airport is in Panama City, Panama's capital city—and also its largest!
If you are flying in from a different continent, chances are you'll be landing at the PTY Airport. It's pretty convenient, located only a 30-minute drive from the downtown city center.
Note: As I mentioned, Panama City is also a city in Florida, U.S. Be careful not to get these two mixed up when booking your tickets! Panama City in Florida has the airport code "ECP".
Now you know!
Airports in Panama City, the Capital
If you're headed to Panama City, you might see that there are, in fact, 2 airports there.
In addition to Tocumen International, there is Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert" Airport (PAC).
Now the real question is, which should you choose?
The decision will be made based on where your flight originates. While both airports are international, Tocumen is more extensive, accommodating more flights and prominent airlines.
In contrast, Albrook Airport operates internationally, with flights originating in Central America. So, depending on how far you're traveling, you might not have a choice between airports.
Helpful Tip: When booking flights to Panama, take a look at the airport code! It'll tell you which airport you'll land at based on the airline you fly with and where your departure is.
When comparing the two airports, Albrook is closer to the city center. It's only 4.3 miles vs. the 12.4 miles you'll need to travel when coming from Tocumen. It also has a metro connection to the city center, which PTY Airport doesn't.
Both airports only have one terminal, but as Tocumen is a larger airport, it also has more amenities. So the airport that is "better" for you depends on what your considerations are.
If keeping the cost of getting to and from the airport low is essential to you, Albrook Airport will be cheaper if you're flying in from the Central American region. But if you're more into great airport amenities, you may want to route yourself through PTY.
The Main International Airport in Panama: Tucomen International Airport
What to Expect
Upon arrival at PTY Airport, you'll find that it's a modern facility with various upgrades and expansions to serve its growing number of passengers better.
The airport has a range of amenities, including duty-free shops, restaurants, and lounges. So it's got all the basics you need whether you're flying out or spending a layover here.
My biggest complaint about the airport in Panama City is that the food options are somewhat limited compared to larger international airports. That said, you'll still find a decent selection of eateries offering local and international cuisine.
You might also notice the airport's role as a significant hub for Copa Airlines, which has numerous flights connecting the Americas. Because of this, the airport can be busy, and layovers are common for travelers heading to other destinations in the Latin America region.
Immigration and customs procedures are generally straightforward, although wait times can vary depending on the time of day and the number of incoming flights.
Once you've cleared these areas, you'll find various options for ground transportation, including taxis, rental cars, and shuttle services, to take you to your next destination.
Lounges in Tocumen Airport
If you have a long layover or want to treat yourself before your next flight, the PTY Panama Airport has 3 airline lounges you can explore.
The 3 lounges are The Copa Club Lounge, The Lounge Panama, and The Royal Saloon. The Copa Club Lounge is only for individuals flying in certain classes of Copa Air, or you can pay ~$59 at the door.
The Lounge Panama and The Royal Saloon accept those with Priority Pass, or you can pay at the door for a fee of $45 for The Royal Saloon.
Remember that you can download DragonPass to compare all of the Tocumen Airport lounges!
Airport Accommodations In or Near Tucomen Airport
Looking for a place to rest before or after a flight or during a layover? Several accommodation options exist either directly at Tocumen International Airport or nearby.
One thing to note is that these are hotels vs. hostels, and pricing can be a bit higher due to their proximity to the airport.
Here are my recommendations:
- Express Inn PTY Aeropuerto Internacional Panama: This inn isn't very fancy and doesn't have high ratings, but it provides basic but clean accommodations for a very affordable rate. It's great for travelers on a budget and the closest you'll get to hostel pricing near the main Panama City airport! It also offers a shuttle service to and from the airport.
- Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Casino: Riande is just a few minutes from the airport and boasts a higher rating than the budget alternative. This hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service, a swimming pool, and even a casino to pass the time.
- Courtyard by Marriott Panama Metromall: Coming in around the same price point as Riande, you may want the brand name of Marriot. This Courtyard is a bit further from the airport but located near Metromall for those who'd like to shop or dine. The hotel also provides an airport shuttle.
Getting from Tocumen International Airport to the City Center
While it's true that the main airport in Panama is a little over 12 miles from Panama City itself, there are a few ways for you to get to the downtown core from the airport.
If you fancy using public transportation to get to Panama City, the Metrobus will allow you to do just that.
You'll have to purchase a prepaid card at the airport before boarding, but single fares can be as low as $0.25.
You'll want to take the bus towards Corredor Sur to head toward Panama City.
While it might not get you to Panama City, there is a free shuttle bus transfer from Tocumen to the Metro Mall Shopping Center.
These shuttles run approximately every 30 minutes from 10 am - 12 pm, Monday through Saturday, and then every hour otherwise until 5 pm.
These shuttles are run by the Panama Tourism Authority. You'll find kiosks within Panama's main international airport that you can go to for more information.
There are official taxi ranks outside the airport, where you can grab a cab to take you to your destination.
The journey can take around 30 minutes, although allow up to 2 hours during peak hours due to traffic. You can expect to pay approximately $30 for a taxi to Panama City from the airport.
Uber also operates in Panama, so you can call an Uber if you prefer to use that app.
If you're hoping to explore Panama by car, you can rent a car at the Tocumen Airport. For the best deals, you should always book in advance.
Here is a list of companies from whom you can rent at Tocumen Airport:
- ACE Rent a Car
Other Panama City Airport: Albrook "Marcos A. Gelabert"
What to Expect
Unlike its bigger cousin, Tocumen, Albrook Airport is much smaller but conveniently located closer to the city center. Its location makes it ideal for internal flights and quick getaways.
This smaller airport has basic amenities like shops and snack counters, sufficient for its mostly domestic traffic. You won't find many lounges or luxury services here, but the essentials are covered.
A big bonus of this Panama airport is that it's usually not as crowded as Tocumen, which means quicker immigration and security checks. You'll find that it's frequented by smaller carriers operating within Panama and to nearby countries.
When you get to Albrook Airport, you'll find taxis and ride-share services like Uber are readily available. Given the airport's proximity to downtown Panama City, fares are generally reasonable.
There are also bus options for the budget-conscious traveler.
Accommodations in Panama City
Unlike Tocumen, lodging options right by Albrook are somewhat limited, but given its closer location to the city, a short taxi or Uber ride will get you to a broad range of hotels in no time.
Since you're closer to the city already, I can recommend affordable stays like hostels and bed and breakfasts.
Looking at highly-rated cheap places to stay in Panama, I'd choose between Panama House Bed & Breakfast and the Magnolia Inn Casco Viejo. The first options is more homey vibes, but the second is an excellent option if you're looking for a bit of upscale vibes at a reasonable price point.
Overall, I think that Albrook Airport offers a quicker, more convenient gateway for domestic travel and a simpler, fuss-free experience.
Outside of the Capital: Bocas Del Toro International Airport
What to Expect
While most international flights route you to Tocumen Airport, you may have seen Bocas Del Toro International Airport (BOC) if you're headed there.
If you're eager to explore the stunning islands of Bocas del Toro, this quaint airport will be your first stop. Located on Isla Colón, the largest island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, the airport serves as the regional gateway for travelers itching to experience Caribbean bliss.
The airport has one terminal and only flies to and from 2 cities. It's definitely a no-frills airport. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in convenience and proximity to the islands' main attractions.
Basic amenities like a small café and a gift shop are on offer. The vibe here is laid-back, aligning well with the island lifestyle you're about to dive into.
You can reach Bocas Del Toro from Panama City on Air Panama, departing from Albrook Airport, or from San Jose de Costa Rica.
If you want to visit Bocas Del Toro, I recommend you fly into Panama City and then to Bocas Del Toro Airport on a domestic flight. You can also opt for an approximately 10-hour bus ride, but flying is definitely faster as the flight time is a little under an hour!
Requirements to Travel to Panama
List of Requirements
Remember to prepare all of these things and bring them with you when you're traveling to Panama:
- Valid passport (with at least 6 months to expiration when you enter the country)
- Return flight ticket or ticket to your next destination
- Proof of at least $500—can be in your bank account, cash, traveler's check etc.
- Address of your accommodations
- Visa (if from a required country)
- Yellow fever vaccine is required for travelers from Brazil
Panama Covid-19 Restrictions
[COVID-19 Restrictions and Guidelines may change overnight. Please consult your local government for the latest up-to-date information]
Currently, there are no COVID-19 restrictions or requirements.
To Panama, We Go!
Now that you're familiar with the airports in Panama, you're ready to start planning your trip! Don't forget to use Pilot to keep all your trip planning and itineraries in one place.