On my way to Asunción, I will have an 8-hour layover at Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen in Panama from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.

If there's a lounge at the airport, I can probably just settle in and work for a day, but my sanity might be better served if I were to jaunt out and explore a bit.

From my last trip to the area, I remember Panama City is quite a drive from the airport – around 30-45 minutes, I think.

Will I have enough time to leave the airport and spend a few hours in Panama City and still be able to get back, clear security and make my connecting flight in time, or should I just find ways to keep myself occupied at the airport?

I will be traveling on a US passport, so I should be able to qualify for visa on arrival.

  • 2
    You're not specifying what time you're arriving. If you arrive in the evening, the guide to sleeping in airports (sleepinginairports.net/casa/panamacity.htm) reports that you can find a seat to sleep on, but it ain't great.
    – MastaBaba
    Sep 13, 2012 at 5:49
  • Good point. I have updated my question to include my arrival and departure times.
    – user82
    Sep 13, 2012 at 13:08

3 Answers 3


It is a bit of a drive (probably around 30-45 minutes, as you said), and as far as I know there is no public transport so you have to get a taxi (about $30 one way). However, you have 8 hours, so you are still left with 5 hours in Panama City. If I were you, I would definitely go for it. For example, you would manage to see all of the Casco Viejo and have a nice lunch there.


So I ended up walking up to the taxi counter and saying, "Quisiera visitar un café super chévere en la ciudad, no lugar especifico."

They hooked me up with a local driver who drove me around the city, parked out by Isla Naos so I could take pictures, had brunch with me at a local café (all the while I got to practice my Spanish – super cool!) and had me back at the airport with plenty of time to spare.

The whole trip cost me US$70 plus lunch for my driver (~US$80 total).

The taxi counter is located at the far end of the international arrivals area just in front of the bank (as soon as you exit customs, take a right).


I was also going to recommend Casco Viejo, but if you have more time besides, you might also think about squeezing in a look at Panamá Viejo too.

Panama City is perhaps the most interesting capital city in Central America and, though it also has bad areas that must be avoided, is definitely safer than the others and has plenty of locals and tourists wandering about. It also has friendly helpful tourist police at least in the Casco Viejo area.

I have never been to the airport there and the taxi price sounds expensive to me, but if it's not a problem for you I would definitely suggest not missing the opportunity to have a look. Eight hours in just about any airport is going to be pretty horrible.

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