A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Clearwater vs. Panama City for Beaches, Families, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Clearwater or Panama City?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Clearwater and Panama City. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Clearwater

Clearwater is a outdoorsy, adventure-filled, and relaxing coastal city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Panama City

Panama City is a fun-filled, active, and cosmopolitan beach town. It's a gorgeous place to visit. It's also known for live music, food, and beaches.

Clearwater and Panama City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Clearwater or Panama City?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Clearwater. Although Clearwater and Panama City are popular destinations, Clearwater has more sights and attractions for tourists. Clearwater is very popular for its museums, food, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, and beaches, while Panama City attracts visitors for its nightlife, music, and impressive beauty. Panama City is more touristy than Clearwater and is known for its watersports, sandy beaches, and year-round beach weather. Clearwater is famous for its beautiful white sand beaches, laid back atmosphere, and watersports. It is also well known for Clearwater Beach.

How is Clearwater different from Panama City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Panama City and Clearwater. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Clearwater or Panama City?

Clearwater
Panama City

Clearwater is a great destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Panama City does not have museums and landmarks.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Clearwater can be an interesting and educational experience. Perhaps most well known is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, but there are also a surprising number of museums nearby such as the Dalí Museum, the impressive Chihuly Glass Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Panama City does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Clearwater or Panama City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Clearwater
Panama City

Clearwater is a great destination for its restaurant scene. Also, Panama City is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Clearwater. Head to the waterfront for some of the best seafood. Unfortunately this is also where you'll find the highest prices. Shrimp, crab, and a fresh catch of the day are common on many menus.

Panama City is becoming an appealing option for foodies. There are many waterfront restaurants that serve freshly caught seafood. Head to town for a charming atmosphere or grab a bite at a casual eatery. Fried seafood is popular when eating out but you'll also find plenty of options for land-lovers. Most restaurants also have kid-friendly menus.

Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Nightlife?

Clearwater
Panama City

Panama City is notable for nightlife. Also, Clearwater is not as famous, but is still a good coastal city to visit for nightlife and partying.

Panama City has plenty to do after the sun goes down. The nightlife is particular crazy during spring break, when the town fills with students. Head to the famous Club La Vela or Spinnaker for music and fun at night.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Clearwater. You'll find laid back beach clubs, glitzy wine bars, and relaxed bars where you can spend a nice night out.

Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Music?

Clearwater
Panama City

Panama City is a good destination for live music. However, Clearwater is not a live music destination.

You don't have to look far to find a unique music venue in Panama City. A popular way to enjoy music in the area is to find a restaurant with a lounge where local musicians perform.

Clearwater is not a live music destination.


Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Resorts?

Clearwater
Panama City

Clearwater is a great destination for its resorts. Also, Panama City is still popular, but not quite as popular for its luxury resorts.

Clearwater is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. You'll find a number of nice resorts along the coastline. Some of the most popular are the Sandpearl Resort, the Opal Sands Resort, and the Clearwater Beach Marriott.

Panama City has a few great resort options. Most people stay in condos that are VRBO's or Airbnbs, but there are resorts in the area as well.

Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Clearwater
Panama City

Clearwater is a nice place to visit for its diving and snorkeling. However, Panama City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Clearwater has a few areas where visitors often go scuba diving or snorkeling. There's both snorkeling and diving nearby. Some of the best dive spots are within and hour of the shore and you'll find diving shops that offer trips.

Panama City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Beaches?

Clearwater
Panama City

Clearwater is an amazing coastal city to visit for the beache. Also, Panama City is still popular, but not quite as popular for the beach.

The beaches in Clearwater are among the best in the world. Clearwater Beach is on many lists as one of the best beaches in America. It's the most popular beach in the area and it spreads out over 2.5 miles. Sand Key Beach is another popular destination as is the pristine Caladesi Island State Park.

The beaches at Panama City attract visitors from all over. With miles of long white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters, this area's beaches offer a beautiful escape. Head to the area's state parks for the most natural experience. These include St. Andrews State Park and Camp Helen State Park. A day trip to Shell Island is also popular.


Is the Shopping Better in Clearwater or Panama City?

Clearwater
Panama City

Both Clearwater and Panama City are nice shopping destinations.

Clearwater is a great destination for shopping. You'll find all of the standard shopping options in the area such as malls, shopping centers, and outlets. Westfield Countryside Mall is a popular destination as is the Cleveland Street District.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Panama City. There are a number of malls and shopping centers in the area.

Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Families?

Clearwater
Panama City

Panama City is a world-class destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Clearwater is not as famous, but is still a good coastal city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Panama City is very family-friendly. This area has large sandy beaches, waterparks, amusement parks, and marine parks. Kids will enjoy playing around at WonderWorks, cooling off at Shipwreck Island Waterpark, and learning about marine life at Gulf World Marine Park. There are also many watersports and water activities that are fun for the whole family.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Clearwater is very family-friendly. Check out the playground and activities around Pier 60. Less crowded and family-friendly Sand Key Park is another favorite spot and the playgrounds at New Coachman Park and Crest Lake Park are also fun. Clearwater Marine Aquarium is another popular attraction for visitors with kids.

Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Couples?

Clearwater
Panama City

Clearwater and Panama City both great destinations for a couple.

Clearwater is a very popular place to visit for couples. There are beautiful parks and beaches as well as romantic activities like sunset cruises and dolphin spotting tours. Couples will also enjoy dining on local seafood and shopping at the local venues.

Panama City makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. The beautiful beaches and romantic restaurants make for a great romantic getaway. This is the perfect place to take sunset walks along the beach and sample freshly caught local seafood.


Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Students?

Clearwater
Panama City

Panama City is notable for students. However, Clearwater is not popular with students.

Many students visit Panama City. It's not the spring break destination that it once was, but you'll still find students hanging out around the spring holidays.

Clearwater is not popular with students.

Is Clearwater or Panama City Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Clearwater
Panama City

Both Clearwater and Panama City offer reasonable public transit options.

Public transit is generally limited in Clearwater. The Clearwater Jolley Trolley connects some of the area's highlights. There are also public buses that run several routes through town.

Public transit is mostly limited in Panama City. Most people need a car in Panama City but there is a trolley service that connects major tourist areas.

Is Clearwater or Panama City a more walkable city?

Clearwater
Panama City

Clearwater is a nice place to visit for its high level of walkability. However, Panama City is a beach town with minimal options for its ease of walking around.

Clearwater is a somewhat walkable place. The waterfront and downtown areas are surprisingly walkable.

Panama City is not a very walkable coastal city. There's often construction and the streets aren't designed for pedestrians.


For even more information, also check out Is Clearwater Worth Visiting? and Is Panama City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Panama City or Clearwater?

How long in Clearwater or Panama City?

Both Clearwater and Panama City have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Panama City than in Clearwater. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Clearwater, and 3-7 days is enough time in Panama City.

Families should spend more time in Clearwater than Panama City. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Clearwater, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Clearwater than Panama City. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Clearwater that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Clearwater than Panama City if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Clearwater.


  • How many days in Clearwater or Panama City? Ideal Length of Stay
    Clearwater 3-5 
    Panama City 3-7

One day in Clearwater or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the adventure-filled coastal city of Clearwater. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Most people visit for the beaches. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

With shopping and nightlife around the active beach town of Panama City, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Clearwater or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the adventure-filled destination of Clearwater. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This coastal city offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

With nightlife and live music around the destination of Panama City, there's plenty to do. It's also a great beach destination, too. It offers something for everyone. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything.

Five days in Clearwater or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the beautiful coastal city of Clearwater. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Panama City, a popular beach town, is full of activities for travelers. This is a popular place to visit for five days. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. In five days, you should have a good grasp of this beach town. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


A week in Clearwater or Panama City?

Many people enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting Clearwater. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. Most people visit for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Panama City is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have one week, this beach town makes for a great vacation. One week should give you a good understanding of everything this beach town has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Cruise Tours and Packages in United States of America, The Best Cultural Tours in United States of America, The Best Camping Tours in United States of America, and The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Panama City or Clearwater?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Clearwater is $309, while the average daily cost in Panama City is $224. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Clearwater and Panama City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Clearwater $141
    Panama City $128
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Clearwater $282
    Panama City $256
Compare Hotels in Clearwater and Panama City

Looking for a hotel in Clearwater or Panama City? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Clearwater


Hotels in Panama City


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Clearwater Hotel Prices and Panama City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Clearwater $221
    Panama City $48

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Clearwater

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Clearwater:

  • Private Airport Transfer to St. Petersburg or Clearwater Beach : $105
  • Private Transfer from Clearwater to Tampa Airport: $120
  • Private Transfer from St Petersburg Clearwater Airport to St Pete Beach: $75
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to Clearwater Beach - Arrival Private Transfer: $103
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to St. Petersburg - Arrival Private Transfer : $64
  • St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) to St. Petersburg - Roundtrip Private Transfer: $129
  • St. Petersburg to St. Pete–Clearwater Airport (PIE) - Departure Private Transfer: $64

Is it cheaper to fly into Clearwater or Panama City?

Prices for flights to both Panama City and Clearwater change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Clearwater $46
    Panama City $66

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Clearwater -
    Panama City $19

Tours and Activities in Clearwater

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Clearwater are as follows:

  • Clearwater; Aspirations Winery Tour and Tasting Experience: $21
  • Daytime Yacht Sightseeing Cruise with Optional Dining : $27
  • Clearwater Daytime Yacht Sightseeing Cruise with Optional Dining : $27
  • 1-hour Dolphin Sightseeing Adventure Cruise from Madeira Beach: $28
  • Shark Teeth and Shells, Dolphin and Shelling Tour Boat Clearwater Beach : $28
  • Clearwater Beach: Dolphin and Island Sandbar Boat Tour: $28
  • Mega Bite Dolphin Tour Boat in Clearwater Beach: $28
  • Dolphin-Watching Sunset Cruise: $29
  • Tour with Dolphins and Sight Seeing: $29
  • Dolphin Quest - Sightseeing/Eco Cruise, John's Pass, Madeira Beach, FL : $29
  • St. Pete Beach Dolphin Racer Speedboat Adventure: $30
  • Safety Harbor: Haunted History Guided Walking Tour: $30

Tours and Activities in Panama City

Here are a few actual costs in Panama City for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Panama City Beach: SkyWheel Ticket with Sunset Option: $19
  • SkyWheel Panama City Beach Sunset Ticket: $23
  • Panama City Beach: SkyWheel Ticket and Mini Golf Combo: $26
  • Sunset Dolphin Cruise in St. Andrews Bay: $29
  • Self-Guided Bike Tour: Safe, Fun, St. Andrews!: $33
  • Sunset Cruise with Good Jibez Only in Panama City Beach: $36
  • Panama City Beach Dolphin Sightseeing Sail: $40
  • Shell Island Snorkel and Dolphin Catamaran Cruise with Island Time : $52
  • Sunset & Dolphin Catamaran Cruise with Island Time: $52
  • 90 min Cruise at Lower Grand Lagoon : $54
  • Panama City Beach Water Activity Adventure Catamaran Sail: $55
  • Swim with the Dolphins Boat Tour in Panama City Beach: $63

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Clearwater -
    Panama City $56

Sample the Local Flavors in Clearwater

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Clearwater:

  • The Tour and Wine Tasting Experience at Aspirations Winery: $20


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Clearwater and Panama City, we can see that Clearwater is more expensive. And not only is Panama City much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Panama City would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Panama City and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Clearwater would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Clearwater than you might in Panama City.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Clearwater Expensive? and Is Panama City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Clearwater or Panama City?

Clearwater has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Panama City. When comparing the sizes of Clearwater and Panama City, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Clearwater or Panama City?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Clearwater or Panama City in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Clearwater and Panama City. Many visitors come to Clearwater in the summer for the beaches, snorkeling, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Panama City for the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In the summer, Clearwater is around the same temperature as Panama City. Typically, the summer temperatures in Clearwater in July average around 82°F (28°C), and Panama City averages at about 82°F (28°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Panama City this time of the year. In Clearwater, it's very sunny this time of the year. Clearwater usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Panama City during summer. Clearwater gets 265 hours of sunny skies, while Panama City receives 283 hours of full sun in the summer.

Panama City receives a lot of rain in the summer. Clearwater gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Clearwater usually receives more rain than Panama City. Clearwater gets 8.4 inches (214 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 7.3 inches (184 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Clearwater 82°F (28°C) 
    Panama City 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Panama City in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Clearwater as well as Panama City. Most visitors come to Clearwater for the shopping scene during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Panama City because of the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In October, Clearwater is generally a little warmer than Panama City. Daily temperatures in Clearwater average around 75°F (24°C), and Panama City fluctuates around 71°F (22°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Panama City. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Clearwater this time of the year. In the autumn, Clearwater often gets less sunshine than Panama City. Clearwater gets 234 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Panama City receives 256 hours of full sun.

Clearwater usually gets less rain in October than Panama City. Clearwater gets 2.6 inches (65 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, June to November in Clearwater is the hurricane season.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Clearwater 75°F (24°C) 
    Panama City 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Panama City in the Winter?

Both Panama City and Clearwater are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The winter months attract visitors to Clearwater because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, the shopping scene and the cuisine are the main draw to Panama City this time of year.

Clearwater is a little warmer than Panama City in the winter. The daily temperature in Clearwater averages around 60°F (15°C) in January, and Panama City fluctuates around 52°F (11°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Clearwater. Clearwater usually receives more sunshine than Panama City during winter. Clearwater gets 200 hours of sunny skies, while Panama City receives 185 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Clearwater usually receives less rain than Panama City. Clearwater gets 2.3 inches (59 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 3.9 inches (99 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Clearwater 60°F (15°C) 
    Panama City 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit Clearwater or Panama City in the Spring?

Both Panama City and Clearwater during the spring are popular places to visit. The beaches are the main draw to Clearwater this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Panama City for the beaches and the natural beauty.

In the spring, Clearwater is around the same temperature as Panama City. Typically, the spring temperatures in Clearwater in April average around 71°F (22°C), and Panama City averages at about 68°F (20°C).

In Panama City, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Clearwater. In the spring, Clearwater often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Panama City. Clearwater gets 299 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Panama City receives 295 hours of full sun.

Clearwater usually gets less rain in April than Panama City. Clearwater gets 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, the hurricane season in Clearwater is June to November.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Clearwater 71°F (22°C) 
    Panama City 68°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Panama City and Clearwater

Clearwater Panama City
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 60°F (15°C) 2.3 inches (59 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Feb 61°F (16°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 55°F (13°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Mar 67°F (19°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm) 61°F (16°C) 4.3 inches (108 mm)
Apr 71°F (22°C) 2.1 inches (53 mm) 68°F (20°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
May 77°F (25°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 74°F (24°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Jun 81°F (27°C) 6.5 inches (165 mm) 80°F (27°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm)
Jul 82°F (28°C) 8.4 inches (214 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.3 inches (184 mm)
Aug 82°F (28°C) 8 inches (203 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.5 inches (191 mm)
Sep 81°F (27°C) 6.3 inches (161 mm) 79°F (26°C) 7.5 inches (192 mm)
Oct 75°F (24°C) 2.6 inches (65 mm) 71°F (22°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm)
Nov 68°F (20°C) 1.8 inches (45 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
Dec 62°F (17°C) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 56°F (13°C) 4.1 inches (104 mm)