Published On: March 7th, 2023Categories: TransportationTags:

Guide to Getting Around Panama by Car, Plane, Train, Bus, or Taxi

If you’re thinking about moving to Panama, you may be curious about how people travel around cities or from town to town. For the most part, people are traveling by bus, both in-town and across the countryside. Otherwise, you can drive (road conditions vary, especially in rural areas), fly between major hubs, catch Ubers around Panama City, and take one especially cool train. Here’s a guide.

On Foot/Two Wheels

Panama City is very walkable, especially in Casco Viejo, a popular (if pricy) expat haven. Cinta Costera is a stunning park for biking and walking, and it’s a panoramic way to get from neighborhood to neighborhood. Cyclists say Panama City is growing more bike-friendly and that weekends are popular days to ride. Most smaller towns also have walkable downtowns with restaurants and shops.


You’ll have no trouble getting a taxi in any city or town in Panama, and they’re bright yellow just like in the U.S. Instead of a meter, routes have set fares, and you should ask for the cost up front. Tips aren’t expected (but I’m sure appreciated!), and rides are very affordable. If you’d like a more predictable experience, Ubers are available, although currently only in Panama City.


If you’re a tourist, you can drive in Panama for the first 90 days of your visit. If you’re a resident, you need to get a Panamanian drivers’ license. Use this site to schedule your appointment. You can get most places in Panama by car, and the roads in Panama City are generally in good condition. Outside the city, conditions can vary, with one-lane highways that snake through the mountains. Experts suggest you not drive in rural areas at night, watch for mudslides and other wet weather conditions, and that you look out for daredevils risking life and limb to pass you on curvy roads, but if you’re adventurous, you can explore the countryside at your leisure.


Buses are the top choice for most people traveling in Panama. You can find buses heading just about anywhere you’d like to go from the Gran Terminal Nacional. Luxury buses will carry you out of the city, while shorter routes use utilitarian commuter buses. To ride, you’ll pay cash in person at the station or to the driver of any bus you flag down.


The Panama Metro is a rapid transit system in Panama City that opened in 2014 and is part of a master plan scheduled to be completed by 2040.

There’s only one passenger train in Panama, but it’s a doozy — a 45-minute trip with views of the country and Panama Canal. It arrives in Colón, a town with lots of gang activity and crime, so recommends you have a driver scheduled there to meet you. Learn more about it at, a site I think was last updated in 1997, or read the Globetrotter Girls’ lackluster experience. I think it’s still worth the trip!


For longer trips, Air Panama offers flights between major cities like Panama City, David, and Bocas del Toro.


It should be no surprise that boating options abound in Panama, with its two amazing coastlines and of course the canal! We partner with Viator to find cruises and other excursions for Panama.

Happy travels!

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