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How to Plan the Perfect 10 day Panama Itinerary

With tropical rainforests, pristine beaches, and deep history, Panama is an easy flight from most places in North America and the perfect place for a getaway. Even with so much to offer, Panama is often overlooked for more up-and-coming destinations such as Costa Rica and Mexico. We took this exact 10 day Panama itinerary and loved every minute of exploring this diverse Central American country. We highly recommend getting off the beaten path in Panama for your next vacation!

Below you can find all of our advice about planning a trip to Panama. We also offer several alternative itineraries at the end of this post if you want to shorten or change up your itinerary. These itineraries work well for many types of travelers and are great as Panama family vacations, Panama trips for solo travelers, Panama Itineraries for couples, and more. We did this itinerary as a family of 5 with a 7-year-old and two 11-year-olds.

This Panama itinerary is not for you if you are looking for a resort-style vacation, although you can find plenty of options for resorts in Panama.

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Overview of the Perfect 10 Day Panama Itinerary

Here is a snapshot of our 10 day Panama itinerary. Scroll down for more details and suggestions on how to alter this itinerary.

  • Day 1: Fly to Panama City and from here, get the short flight to David, rent a car and drive to Boquete
  • Day 2-5: Explore Boquete (hike Volcanos, explore the rainforest, try white water rafting and coffee tours, attend Spanish Language School)
  • Day 5-7: Drive to the coast and explore Boca Chica, Boca Brava, and Las Lajas (enjoy the beach, take a boat trip to an island, snorkel and relax)
  • Day 7: Fly to Panama City from David and explore
  • Day 8-9 Panama City (Take a Canal Tour, explore the city and bike out to Flamenco Island)
  • Day 10 Fly Home

We spent extensive time deciding what parts of Panama to visit. While we are happy with our decision to focus on Boquete and the Gulf of Chiriqui, alternative locations to explore in Panama that we strongly considered were: Bocas Del Toro, San Blas Islands, and Isla Coiba

Don't want to book your own trip?  We totally get it!  Luckily there are many tours that explore Panama for a day, a few days, or even a few weeks!  Use this itinerary to decide what you want to see and then search for a tour with these destinations in mind.  SEARCH AMAZING PANAMA TOURS

What you Need to Know to Plan a Trip to Panama

Panama forms the bridge between North and South America and its biggest claim to fame is the Panama Canal. While this is a must-see if you are in Panama, this country is also home to diverse and beautiful ecosystems. Use the information below to help plan your Panama travel itinerary.

General information for Your Panama Trip Itinerary

  • Spanish is the language of Panama although many tourist areas will have people who speak English
  • The US dollar is used widely through Panama although not all places accept credit cards. Make sure you keep enough cash on you
  • The country is deceptively big from one end to another and while some roads are excellent, other parts of the country have limited infrastructure.
  • Panama City is a mixing pot and worth exploring
  • Panama has a long and somewhat painful history and the story of building the Panama Canal made a huge impact on the country as a whole. Don’t overlook visiting this important landmark, but also don’t overlook everything else Panama has to offer

Are you backpacking Panama? Check out 16 Things to know before Backpacking Panama 

10 Day Panama Itinerary: Panama Canal Tour
10 Day Panama Itinerary: Panama Canal Tour

Best Time of Year to Visit Panama

Panama is hot all year long with temperatures in the low areas commonly in the 90s. The mountain regions are significantly cooler. The best time of year to visit Panama is during the dry season from December-April. This also coincides with winter in North America, making Panama a wonderful winter getaway.

During the wet season: May-November, you can expect more frequent showers, but still plenty of pleasant weather. Visiting during the wet season will also allow you to find better deals during the off-season and you are more likely to see whales and sea turtles.

How to Get to Panama

Tocumen International Airport in Panama City has frequent flights from many major airports – often at good deals. We booked our flights for under $600 from Boston for our February vacation. Flying is probably the easiest way to get to Panama, but if you are traveling from one of the nearby countries, you can also get to Panama by car or bus.

The Pan American Highway runs the length of Panama and is an easy way to get from one end to the other.

How to Get Around Panama

Depending on where you are going, you can get around Panama by bus or by renting a car. As a family of 5, we opted to rent a car for part of our time and to rely on taxis and Uber when in Panama City. We found the roads incredibly easy to drive between David, Boquete, and the Gulf of Chiriqui. Buses are available for most major driving routes and are very inexpensive. These buses, commonly called Chicken Buses are fun but not comfortable for longer rides. You can find mostly reliable schedules for the buses online.

You can also book transfers by van or car in many places. If you are traveling by yourself or with a small group, this is a great option, but for our family, we enjoyed the flexibility of having our own car for the price. Check with Get Your Guide for transfer options, or coordinate with your hotel/lodging.

Is Panama Safe?

We felt safe the entire time we were in Panama and were amazed at the number of ex-pats living in the country. The country is stable politically and economically and with the exception of typical safety concerns you find in other tourist areas (such as pickpockets, etc) you aren’t like to encounter safety problems. Always use your judgment and practice safe travel practices when you are traveling anywhere.

Details of Your 10 Day Panama Itinerary

Below you can find complete details for spending 10 days in Panama. Scroll down to see ideas on how to make this into a 7-day Panama Itinerary or even a Panama 2-week itinerary. We ultimately decided on this itinerary so we could see a variety of locations in Panama, limit our total travel time in the country, and get a bit off the beaten path.

Day 1: Fly to Panama (or drive/bus if you are coming from Costa Rica).

Fly from Panama City to David, Panama. We decided to book our flights separately to David and saved a bit of money this way. Once you arrive in David, rent a car (or get a transfer) to Boquete. You don’t need a car to explore Boquete, but it will likely save you money since you can visit some of the sites yourself and avoid booking tours every time you want to get out of town.

Day 2-5 Enjoy Boquete.

Boquete is a wonderful city in the hills of Northern Panama. The city has grown into an adventure-tourism hub. You will find amazing places to stay, fun restaurants, and plenty of tour companies right down the main street. Some of the top activities in Boquete include:

  • Hiking Volcan Baru
  • Exploring the Rainforest on the Pipeline Trail
  • Learning about growing and making coffee
  • White Water Rafting
  • Visiting a hot spring
  • Taking a Spanish Class
  • Try Rock Climbing

If you’re looking for more ideas of what to do in Boquete, check out: 11 Amazing Ideas for What to do in Boquete Panama. If you are tight on time, you could do one less day in Boquete, but you should have at least 2 full days to explore the area.

10 Day Panama Itinerary: Exploring Boquete
10 Day Panama Itinerary: Exploring Boquete
What we did in Boquete...

One of the primary reasons for visiting Boquete was to attend several days at Habla Ya Language School.  We took classes each day and spent the afternoons exploring the beautiful mountains and towns in the area.  As part of the langauge school, we arranged a homestay with a family which was one of the highlights of our time in Boquete.  We spent several days hiking, saw a quetzal, learned about coffee, and went rock climbing. 

The Riverside Inn – we stopped here for a drink and loved the vibe. It’s just a bit out of town, about a 3-minute drive

Hotel Isla Verde – This sweet little hotel is located right in town and has wonderful river views

Agaseke Lodge Boquete – this is a nice budget option right in town. It’s basic but a good option for kids.

Day 5-7 Explore the Gulf of Chiriqui

The Gulf of Chiriqui is on the Pacific side of Panama, about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Boquete. The Gulf is mostly under conservation and for this reason has seen very little development, despite beautiful beaches and abundant marine life. This makes it an excellent place to visit if you are looking for solitude and pristine beaches.

You can adjust your schedule slightly, but I would recommend 2-3 nights in the area, especially if you want to visit more than one location or some of the islands in the Gulf of Chiriqui. The best places to stay are Las Lajas or the Boca Chica area. If you want to get out to the islands, the Boca Chica area is best. From here you can get around to Isla Parida, explore the mangroves, or visit the beaches of Boca Brava.

To see more ideas of what to do on the Gulf of Chiriqui, check out: Top 10 Things to Do in the Amazing Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama (including Boca Chica and Boca Brava).

10 Day Panama Itinerary: Exploring Boca Brava
10 Day Panama Itinerary: Exploring Boca Brava

What we Did: 

We spent one night at Las Lajas and 2 nights in Boca Chica.  We enjoyed getting both some times in the waves (Las Lajas) and some time snorkeling out on the islands.  We stayed at Villa Azul on Boca Brava and Las Lajas Beach Resort.  Note that these are quiet destinations with limited dining opportunities.  There is also no ATM at Boca Chica, so plan accordingly.  

Day 7 – Fly to Panama City from David (you can also drive or take a bus, but expect a long ride)

Day 7-9 Explore Panama City

After spending your first week in the mountains and on the coast at some of Panama’s best beaches, it’s time to explore Panama City. On your list of activities in Panama City, make sure you include:

  • Explore the Panama Canal – if you have a full day, check out this coast to coast tour)
  • Wander through Casco Viejas
  • Check out the Biomuseo and rent bikes on the Amador Causeway
  • Walk along the Avenida Balboa and Cinta Costera
  • Take a day trip outside the City (Monkey Island, San Blas Islands)
10 Day Panama Itinerary: Biking the Amador Causeway
10 Day Panama Itinerary: Biking the Amador Causeway
10 Day Panama Itinerary: Monkey Island

We found Panama City incredibly fun and we got around the city easily using Uber. If you have extra time, I would recommend a tour of the San Blas Islands. We were really trying to find a way to explore these islands, but couldn’t fit it into our 10 day Panama Itinerary.

Where to stay in Panama City, Panama:

Ramada Plaza by Wyndham Panama Punta Pacifica – great location with a pool

Magnolia Inn in the Old Town – Great location and funky hotel in the Old Town

What We Did...

We spent 2 days in Panama City.  On the first day we dedicated most of the day to a Panama Canal and Monkey Island Tour.  We loved getting out on the water and the tour was excellent.  We also had fun visiting monkey island. 

On the other day we wandered around Casco Viejas and spent the afternoon and evening out on Amador Causeway.  We rented a multi-seater bike and ate dinner out on the water.  We happened to visit over Carnival so there were several things closed and lots of locals out and enjoying themselves.  We thoroughly enjoyed our 10 day Panama Itinerary and could recommend this exact itinerary to anyone looking for an adventure holiday in Panama.

Day 10 – Fly Home or on to your Next Adventure

10 Day Panama Itinerary: Casco Viejas

Several Alternative Panama Itineraries

There are lots of ways to adjust this schedule based on how long you have, how much you’re willing to travel, and whether there are any destinations you really want to see in Panama. When we created this itinerary, we also considered the San Blas Islands and Bocas Del Toro. We ultimately decided against these two places for two reasons. First they were more difficult to get to and required longer drives or additional flights. Second, we were excited to get a bit more off the beaten path and the Gulf of Chiriqui seemed to offer that opportunity.

If these places are on your bucket list, you could adjust your 10 day Panama Itinerary to look like this:

Panama 10 Day Itinerary with Bocas Del Toro

  • Day 1: Fly to Panama City and Onward to David
  • Day 2-4: Explore Boquete
  • Day 4: transfer to Bocas Del Toro
  • Day 4-7: Explore Bocas Del Toro
  • Day 7: Fly to Panama City
  • Day 7-9: Explore Panama City and the Canale
  • Day 10: Fly Home

Panama Itinerary 10 days with the San Blas Islands

  • Day 1: Fly to Panama City and Onward to David
  • Day 2-4: Explore Boquete
  • Day 4: Fly to Panama City
  • Day 5-7 San Blas Islands
  • Day 7-9: Explore Panama City and the Canal
  • Day 10: Fly Home
10 Day Panama Itinerary

Panama Itinerary 7 days: If you only have 1 week to spend in Panama I would recommend selecting 2 destinations and sticking to those. I would probably combine some time in Panama City with a visit to the San Blas Islands to avoid an extra day flying. If you do want to fly, you could combine Panama City with either a visit to Boquete or Bocas Del Toro.

Another option for a week in Panama is to adjust the 10 Day Panama Itinerary by removing either Boquete or the Gulf of Chiriqui (depending on whether you want more mountain or beach time).

2 weeks in Panama Itinerary: With 2 weeks, you can slow down your pace and enjoy one additional destination in Panama. I would recommend adding either Bocas Del Toro OR the San Blas Islands onto your 10 Day Panama Itinerary.

Do you have questions about traveling to Panama? Drop me a comment and I’ll update this article as needed.

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