How to Eat, Sleep, and Travel in Panama City on a Shoestring


Image via Flickr by Brent Moore

Perched between St. Andrews Bay and the shimmering waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and within easy reach of the white sands of Panama City Beach, Panama City makes for an excellent getaway destination.

While a beachfront condo on the shores of Panama City Beach could set you back some serious cash, Panama City is a great option for visitors on a tight budget. Affordable accommodations such as the Red Roof Inn Panama City is plentiful, while cheap eats and free attractions help to make this North Florida city a hit with the budget-conscious traveler.

Great Value Accommodations

Hotel rates are a fraction of the price of the fancy waterside resorts found on Panama City Beach. For some of the cheapest rooms in town, check in to the two-star Econo Lodge Panama City where rates are as little as $55 a night. All rooms have a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee-making facilities so you can cut costs by preparing snacks in your room.
Another low-cost option is the Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham Panama City, which is conveniently located just 10 minutes away from the golden sands of Panama City Beach and just a few minutes from the Panama City Mall. A host of freebies like free WiFi and complimentary breakfast will help give you more bang for your buck.
You can also try looking elsewhere for accommodations, such as on Airbnb. Airbnb lets homeowners rent out their homes and spare bedrooms to travelers who want a cheap place to stay. Not only could this save you cash, but you get to view the city from a different perspective and perhaps get some inside travel tips from your host. Use Hipmunk to compare all available Panama City hotels and Airbnb listings.

Cheap Eats

Savvy travelers avoid the inflated prices of waterside restaurants and instead head to local hotspots for delicious and inexpensive food. Finns Island Style Grub is known for its filling fish tacos and other Mexican inspired delights, and the food court in Panama City Mall is a good spot to grab a bite to eat on the go.
You can also save cash on meals by choosing to stay somewhere that has a fridge and microwave, such as the American Quality Lodge Panama City. Locally grown produce is available at St. Andrews Waterfront Farmers Market, which is held every Saturday next to St. Andrews Marina Pavilion.

Budget Transport

Most travelers fly into Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Skip the high taxi fares and instead pre-book a shuttle bus to drop you off directly outside your hotel.
If you plan on traveling to and from the beaches, then you may want to reserve a rental car. Many of the major rental companies have booths located in the airport, and ou can score some great deals if you book in advance.
Have you ever been to Panama City? Share your money-saving tips with other travelers in the comments section below.

Alisha Smith is a writer with a serious case of wanderlust. She’s most likely found road tripping up the West Coast, sipping coconut water on a beach in Bali, or writing about her adventures for