Panama’s Tocumen International Airport is rightly known as the hub of the Americas. It is the home to COPA airlines and as such serves as a transfer hub for flights all over, but it is also the main gate of entry for tourists to the country as well. Getting to and from the airport efficiently means one can enjoy more time in the city or beyond as there is much to see and do here. The airport lies 35km North of the city center.
Options for travel to and from the airport include public bus, rental car facilities on site, shared passenger vans and taxis. Below the descriptions of how to use each will be presented.
Bus: Several public bus routes link Tocumen Panama International Airport and central Panama City. When coming from the city itself almost any bus with the destination Tocumen stops at the airport. The journey time is 60 minutes and the fare is around $1.25. It is only possible to use this bus network on the Metrocard system, not with cash. This is a rechargeable card one can buy and fill all over the city. Unfortunately there is no place in or near the airport that one can actually buy a metrobus card. We called the airport to confirm this, there are only refill machines at the airport. So that means arriving to Panama one is regulated to another means of transit into town and some even pay locals a cash equivalent to swipe the card for their ride.
Once you are in the city you can find a kiosk from which to purchase a card and can fill it to use around town or for your airport return. There are two major bus routes into the city, one covers the Northern sections called Tumba Muerto-Tocumen serving stops like: Plaza Edison or el El Dorado and the other Corredor Sur Tocumen covers the Southern sections including the major bus terminal Albrook and serving stops in between like: Balboa Avenue, Multicentro, or Paitilla.
Car Rental: Tocumen Panama International Airport has a wide variety of car rental facilities on site that offer nearly round the clock access and service. The airport road is accessible using either the South Corridor toll road or Avenida Domingo Diaz/Via Tocumen, both of which come directly from Panama City. It takes less than 20 minutes via the toll road, whereas it can take an hour or more using the regular Avenue.
Shared Vans: Several companies operate shared ride services that offer door to door service based on the number of persons taking the van. In groups of four or more the van rate comes to $11 per person, higher if a smaller group takes the van. Be prepared to make stops all around the city at the hotels of those with whom you are sharing the van.
Taxi: Taxis are abundant and usually cost around $31 to get into town. This includes the toll road fee so do not let your driver tell you otherwise. There are taxi stands inside the airport to get a prepaid rate ahead of time.