Panama City: what to do on a layover

Travelling on a budget sometimes means we land ourselves with long layovers. Although IMG_20171210_140330 (1)this might not seem ideal, we found this to be a fun and unique way to travel. We often save several hundred dollars and get the opportunity to visit a new place!

On our trip home from Colombia, we had a 8 hour layover in Panama City, Panama. A quick google told us that this city has a lot to offer. People often visit the Panama Canal, but as we like outdoor adventures, we decided to visit the Metropolitan Natural Park.  The Park is about a 25 minute taxi drive from the airport, which seemed like a good choice for a few hours of hiking.

The entry into the park was very affordable at a few dollars each. There are five trails to choose from with different loops throughout the park. The Mono Tití Road has a lookout point with an amazing city view. We decided to IMG_20171210_130117double back and continue further in the park after seeing the view in the hopes of seeing more wildlife. Even though we were there is the hot afternoon, we saw several coatis, capybaras, lots of birds and lizards. We also saw two tame racoons that live with the people that run the park. They were very friendly and cute!

On our way out we decided to visit the butterfly sanctuary for USD $5 each. A staff member who speaks English and Spanish took us on a tour of the facility, let us hold some butterflies and answered questions before leaving us to explore.

Overall, this was an easy and fun excursion if you find yourself with several hours in Panama. We likely had time for another stop, but we decided to have dinner at the airport before boarding.



  • You will have to clear customs to enter Panama and pass security on the way back. If you have large luggage it is best to check it through to the final destination
  • Taxis are more expensive then South America. Be prepared to pay USD $35 for a taxi from the airport
  • To cut costs, exit through the bus terminal and start walking. We picked up a taxi just outside the airport to Metropolitan Park for USD $25
  • There was more English, but know some Spanish words


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