Learn how to use the metro in Panama to get to and from the airport for just .50 cents! This complete guide has step-by-step photos to help you along the way.
Typically a trip to and from Panama’s Tocumen International Airport can cost $15 – $30 each way using Uber or a taxi, but thanks to the brand new airport extension of the metro you can now do the journey for only .50 cents.
I highly recommend using the metro if you’re looking to save money, have a metro stop near where you’re staying, AND only have a carry-on. This is because it does involve two transfers and the Panama sidewalks once you’re out of the metro are a total mess. These instructions ONLY include people that have a carry on as it involves entering and exiting from Terminal 2 and not having to worry about finding luggage in Terminal 1 beforehand.
Here’s what you have to do…
From the airport to Panama City
Step 1: Follow the signs for immigration in Terminal 2
Terminals 1 and 2 connect INSIDE the airport before going through immigration so if you land in Terminal 1, you can actually exit in Terminal 2 which then connects to the metro. But the only connection between the terminals outside the airport is a shuttle. This is why the instructions are for people without luggage. You could land in Terminal 1 (not having to get your luggage in Terminal 1 and then take a shuttle to Terminal 2 to use the metro). Also make sure that where you are staying is near a metro station for this journey to be worth it. If you’re staying at a hotel or Airbnb in Panama City, you’re mostly likely going to get off at Via Argentina, Iglesia del Carmen, Santo Tomas, or 5 de Mayo (closest stop to Casco Viejo but still a 15 min walk).
Step 2: Once in Terminal 2, head down the stairs for immigration
If you landed in Terminal 2, it’s quite easy to find. From Terminal 1, be prepared to walk a lot to get here.
Step 3: Exit the airport and turn right
After immigration and customs, you’ll take a right outside the airport.
And keep going in this direction.
You’re almost there.
You’ve arrived to the station.
Step 4: Enter the metro
Head up the escalators and you’ll eventually get to the machines where you can buy a card.
Purchase a metro card at the machine for $2 and then load up a few dollars for getting around. This ride will cost .50 cents but normally line 1 is .35 cents to use and the busses are .25 cents (use google maps for accurate public transit directions). If you don’t want to purchase a card you can also scan your Visa or Mastercard on the designated sensor at the turnstile.
Step 5: Board the train
The train goes back and fourth about every 8 minutes. There are only two stops and then you’ll transfer to Line 2.
Step 6: Get on the right train at Line 2
It’s a little confusing because both doors of the train will open once you arrive to Line 2. You will exit on the right side and then board Line 2 heading in the direction of San Miguelito.
Step 7: Get off at San Miguelito and transfer to Line 1
San Miguelito will be the last stop of Line 2 so you can’t miss it. You will then follow the signs to get to Line 1. Be sure to board the train that is going in the direction of Albrook.
Step 8: Get off at your stop and enjoy all the money you saved!
If you’re staying at a hotel or Airbnb in Panama City, you’re mostly likely going to get off at Via Argentina, Iglesia del Carmen, Santo Tomas, or 5 de Mayo (closest stop to Casco Viejo but still a 15 min walk). As you exit the metro you will need to scan your card at the turnstile.
From Panama City to the airport
Heading from Panama City to the airport is very easy as well and you’ll do the steps in reverse. Remember it’s best with just a carry-on luggage because of all the transfers and will take a little over an hour. Also when you just have a carry-on and boarding pass ready, you can enter through Terminal 2 even if your flight leaves from Terminal 1 since they connect after security. Here’s a quick breakdown of the steps in reverse.
- Find the closest metro stop to you (most likely Via Argentina, Iglesia del Carmen, Santo Tomas, or 5 de Mayo).
- Buy a Metro card or just scan your Visa/Mastercard at the turnstile on the designated sensor.
- Head to the side of the metro going in the direction of San Isidro
- Get off at San Miguelito
- Follow the signs to transfer to Line 2
- Get on Line 2 heading in the direction of Nuevo Tocumen
- Get off at Corredor Sur stop
- Transfer to the special airport extension in the middle of the station
- Exit the station and walk to Terminal 2
- Have a good flight and enjoy all the money you saved!