What's the best time to visit Panama?
The best time to visit Panama is during the dry season from December to March, offering great weather and minimal rain, ideal for beach and outdoor activities. However, this period sees higher prices and larger crowds, especially during major events like Carnaval and the Panama Jazz Festival in January.
Despite these drawbacks, the dry season is a vibrant time to experience Panama’s biggest festivals and excellent diving conditions.
Panama is one of the most popular destinations to visit in Central America. While it’s always hot and humid in Panama, certain times of the year offer a much better vacation experience. We’ll break down each season in detail below.
The Overall Best Time to Visit Panama
The dry season arrives in December and lasts until March. Visitors flock to Panama for its wonderful climate and minimal rains during this time. By December, Panama is in peak season, and it may be difficult to book a room for big holiday weeks like Christmas and New Year.
During this time, temperatures and prices creep higher. As a result, January is one of the best times to travel to the beaches of Panama. The temperatures are warm, and the beaches are pristine during January.
Easter brings even more crowds to enjoy Carnaval. This event often coincides with American spring break. This means large crowds of partying college students visiting Panama.
If you want to avoid these crowds, you should avoid heading to Panama during Carnaval. Less rain also makes for excellent diving and snorkeling. You’ll experience increased visibility underwater, and enjoy a life-changing experience under the sea.
Finally, the dry season is home to some of the biggest yearly festivals in Panama.
- Enjoy Feria de la Flores y Del Café. The Flower and Coffee Festival is in January.
- Las Tablas Carnival is Panama’s biggest festival. It takes place before Ash Wednesday.
- Jazz fans can enjoy the Panama Jazz Festival in January.
Thanks to the amazing weather and plethora of events, the dry season is the best time to visit Panama. It may cost more, and the hotels are crowded, but Panama’s dry season is exceptionally fun.
Cheapest Time to Visit Panama
The cheapest time to visit Panama is during the low season between April and early December. While you may experience heavy rains every day, you can still find plenty of things to do during the rainy season.
Surfers will love the rainy season as the waves rise on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Scuba diving is also a popular activity during this season.
Animal lovers will want to visit between August and September to get a chance at shark or orca sightings. If you prefer less dangerous animals, May gives you a chance to experience loggerhead and green sea turtle nesting on the Caribbean coast of Panama.
September is also one of the best times to travel around Panama. The rains slightly subside during the month, and prices will be lower than high season.
Bocas Del Toro is a popular destination during this time as it has less rain than the rest of the country. The chain of islands is a Caribbean paradise that has a laidback vibe. They also host their world-famous Bocas del Toro festival in September.
The rainy season also brings exciting white water rafting. You can find guided trips along the Chiquir river and in the Boquete region.
Least Busy Time to Visit Panama
As the rains begin, fewer travelers head to Panama. The rainy season begins in mid-April and lasts until early December. During this time you should expect rain every day but not all day. Some days you can experience torrential downpours, while other days you’ll get plenty of sunlight.
October and November have the most consistent rains, which means fewer visitors. If you’re not worried about getting a little wet, you can enjoy reduced prices across the country during these months.
The rains and lack of tourists don’t stop the festivities in Panama. During the season, you can find many fun and exciting events to attend.
- Panama hosts country-wide festivities during Easter.
- Celebrate with costumed dancers at the Corpus Christi celebration in May.
- Enjoy the Bocas del Toro fishing celebration in September.
- Panama celebrates two Independence events on November 3-4 and November 28th.
Worst Time to Visit Panama
Even the worst time to visit Panama is a good time. The rainy season begins in May and extends until November.
September and November tend to have the worst rains and dangerous travel conditions. Rains during the rainy season can be oppressive. Many rural roads close due to storms and flooding.
Flash floods are common in many areas of the country and can cause massive damage. Thunderstorms may cut power in both small and large cities. Also, hurricanes may hit Panama from both coasts during the rainy season.
Travelers need to check tropical storm advisories and plan their trips accordingly to avoid life-threatening hurricanes. September and October feature the highest risk of gales in Panama. Still, Panama is relatively safe from hurricanes compared to other Central American countries.
October travelers can enjoy the Festival del Cristo Negro in October. This festival features thousands of pilgrims visiting. November brings two independence day festivals as well.
Still, many visitors love visiting Panama during the rainy season. During these months, travelers can enjoy reduced costs at hotels, food, and activities. There are also fewer travelers, and you won’t feel overcrowded during the rainy season.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have questions about Panama? Below are some of the most common questions asked about visiting Panama.
What is the rainy season in Panama?
The rainy season begins in May. By June, rains should be heavy and daily. The rainy season extends into July and goes until late November. While rare, hurricanes can hit Panama during October and November. While there is plenty of rain during the season, travelers can enjoy lower prices during the season.
What are the hottest months in Panama?
You’ll find Panama the hottest near the end of the dry season. The dry season begins in January and extends until April. March and April are by far the hottest months with temperatures averaging above 90F.
Is Panama cheap to visit?
You’ll find traveling around Panama is cheaper than in Europe or the United States. The cost of living in Panama is approximately 30-40% less than in the United States. But Panama is pricier than many other Central American countries. Staying in hostels or eating local food are two of the best ways to lower your costs while visiting Panama.
How many days are enough for Panama?
To get the most out of visiting Panama, you should plan a trip that lasts at least five to ten days. While you can see plenty of the country in five days, you may feel rushed. If you plan on visiting multiple areas of Panama, we suggest staying for at least ten days to enjoy the country.
Can a US citizen go to Panama?
US citizens can go to Panama. Upon arrival in Panama, you’ll need to provide a passport valid for at least three months after the date of entry, a round trip-bus ticket or plane ticket, and proof of solvency. As an American, If you plan to stay longer than one hundred eighty days you need to apply for a visa.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Panama?
As someone who likes to stay dry, the best time to visit Panama is during the dry season. By December, the rains in Panama subside. This leads to amazing weather and fun festivals. The dry season also means many more tourists and an increase in prices.
Still, if you can afford the prices and don’t mind crowds, the dry season is the best time to visit Panama. The rainy season is the worst time to visit Panama due to the weather. But, for travelers on a budget, visiting Panama during the rainy season is an option.
While it may rain every day, there are far fewer tourists during this season. Prices also drop sharply during the wet season. No matter when you decide to visit Panama, you’re in for a treat. Happy travels!