A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Key West vs. Panama City for Families, Nightlife, Resorts, and Beaches

Should you visit Key West or Panama City?

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

Should I visit Key West or Panama City? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Key West

Key West is a laid-back, bustling, and active town. Don't miss this spot, as it's a charming small town with plenty of activities. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. With a quaint atmosphere, it also offers a unique feeling. And you can't forget about the scuba diving and snorkeling, beaches, and nightlife.

Panama City

Panama City is a active, cosmopolitan, and fun-filled beach town. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. And you can't forget about the food, beaches, and shopping.

Key West and Panama City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Cons
  • Less walkable


How is Key West different from Panama City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Key West or Panama City Better for Food?

Key West
Panama City

There are opportunities to sample the local cuisine at great restaurants in both Key West and Panama City.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Key West. The town is known for its stone crabs, conch fritters, and Mahi Mahi sandwiches.

Panama City is becoming an appealing option for foodies. Fried seafood is popular when eating out.


Is Key West or Panama City Better for Nightlife?

Key West
Panama City

Evening events are similar in both Key West and Panama City.

Key West has plenty to do after the sun goes down. This area has some of the most lively nightlife in the Florida Keys. There are quirky bars and fun hangouts where you can spend the evening.

Panama City has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. 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.

Is Key West or Panama City Better for Resorts?

Key West
Panama City

Key West and Panama City offer a relatively similar set of luxury resort options.

Key West is known as a popular and fun resort destination. There are a number of high end resorts around the island, many with recognizable names such as the Hyatt and Hilton. Prices can be high, but these resorts often come with reliable luxury.

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 Key West or Panama City Better for Beaches?

Key West
Panama City

For a relaxing beach holiday, both Key West and Panama City are good choices.

Key West is considered a top beach destination. One of the best beaches in the area is Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. The beach has soft sand and stunning turquoise water. As is typical in the Keys, the water stays shallow for great distances.

Panama City is a very popular place to visit for its beaches. With miles of long white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, this areas beaches offer a beautiful escape.

Is Key West or Panama City Better for Shopping?

Key West
Panama City

Both Key West and Panama City are good shopping destinations.

If you're looking to go shopping, Key West has some nice offerings. While it definitely has its share of gimmicky souvenir shops and t-shirt stores, there are still a number of art galleries and local shops around Key West where you can enjoy shopping.

Panama City has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are a number of malls and shopping centers in the area.


Is Key West or Panama City Better for Families?

Key West
Panama City

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Key West or Panama City.

Key West is a very kid-friendly town. Families that enjoy snorkeling, aquariums, water sports, and exploring new places will enjoy visiting here.

Panama City is one of the most popular family destinations. This area has large sandy beaches, waterparks, amusement parks, and marine parks.

Is Key West or Panama City Better for Couples?

Key West
Panama City

With fun activities for couples, both Key West and Panama City make for a good place to visit.

Key West is a very popular place to visit for couples. From Mallory Square to the beautiful nearby parks, Key West makes a wonderful, romantic destination. Whether it's your honeymoon, an anniversary, or simply a couples' retreat, Key West is a great option.

Panama City is a good town for couples to visit. The beautiful beaches and romantic restaurants make for a great romantic getaway.

Is Key West or Panama City Better for Public Transit?

Key West
Panama City

Both Key West and Panama City offer public transit options.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Key West. Public transportation in Key West is limited to a few buses.

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 Key West or Panama City a more walkable city?

Key West
Panama City

Key West is considered more walkable than Panama City.

Key West is a somewhat walkable place. The town is the most walkable part of the Florida Keys. The area around Mallory Square and Duval Street is the most pedestrian friendly.

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


Should I spend more time in Panama City or Key West?

How long in Key West or Panama City?

Both Key West and Panama City have a number of activities to choose from. You can spend a similar amount of time exploring either.

The ideal length of time for a trip to Key West is 5-7 days, and the ideal length of time for a trip to Panama City is 3-7 days.


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

One day in Key West or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the bustling town of Key West. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. 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.

The beach town of Panama City offers live music and food. Most people come for the beaches. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

A weekend in Key West or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the bustling destination of Key West. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. This town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Panama City is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Five days in Key West or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and nightlife when visiting the quaint town of Key West. 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 is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Panama City, five days is sufficent for most. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A week in Key West or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the quaint destination of Key West. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this town.

Panama City is a great place to explore. It is common to spend one week here. It's also a great beach destination, too. One week is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Panama City has to offer. This beach town offers something for everyone.

Which city is cheaper, Panama City or Key West?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Key West is $441, while the average daily cost in Panama City is $179. 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 city. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Key West and Panama City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Key West $106
    Panama City $103
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Key West $212
    Panama City $206
Compare Hotels in Key West and Panama City

Looking for a hotel in Key West 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 Key West


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: Key West Hotel Prices and Panama City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Key West $41
    Panama City $38
Typical Local Transportation prices in Key West

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Key West:


  • Rental Car for One Day
    $38

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Key West

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Key West:

  • Key West International Airport One Way Transfer: $53
  • Miami & One-Way Transfer by Motor Coach Bus: $54
  • Private Airport Transfer in Key West, Florida: $209
  • Private Arrival Transfer: Key West Airport to Hotel: $116
  • Private Departure Transfer: Hotel to Key West Airport: $116
  • Round-Trip Transfer: Fort Lauderdale to Key West: $198

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Panama City

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Panama City:

  • Transfer to Panama Canal (Miraflores Locks): $11
  • Private Departure Transfer to Panama City Airport (PTY): $12
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Panama City Airport (PTY): $12
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Tocumen International Airport to Panama City Hotels: $15
  • Shared Departure Transfer: Panama City Hotels to Tocumen International Airport: $15
  • Airport Private Transfer Tocumen Direct to Panama City: $18
  • Transfer to Dreams Playa Bonita: $18
  • Private Airport Transfer: Panama City to Tocumen International Airport (PTY): $19
  • Private Airport Transfer: Tocumen International Airport (PTY) to Panama City: $19
  • Transfer from Panama City to Tocumen Airport: $19
  • Private Transfer from Tocumen Airport to Downtown Panama City, Panama: $20
  • Private Transfer Airport PTY to Panama City: $22

Is it cheaper to fly into Key West or Panama City?

Prices for flights to both Panama City and Key West 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
    Key West $308
    Panama City $53

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Key West

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Key West.

  • Key West Sunset Dinner Cruise with Tropical Buffet: $68
  • Sunset Cruise with Buffet Dinner and Open Bar: $90
  • Private Secret Food Tour of Key West: $103
  • Secret Food Tour of Key West w/ Private Tour Option: $221

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Panama City

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Panama City.

  • Food Tour - Panama Gastronomy: $102
  • Casco Antiguo Sunset Walking Tour with Dinner: $170
  • The 'Real' Panamanian Private Food Tour: $200
  • Whale Watching + Beach + Seafood Dinner - BEST VALUE IN PANAMA: $205

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Key West $26
    Panama City $15

Tours and Activities in Key West

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

  • Self-Guided Bike Tour to Key West Beaches and Back Roads: $7.19
  • Easy Stroll Audio Tour Downtown Key West: $7.99
  • The Ghosts of Key West Walking Tour: $20
  • Key West Scavenger Hunt Adventure Mobile Experience: $21
  • Key West Ghost Tour: $24
  • 6th Sense Haunted Tour of Key West: $25
  • Haunted Walking Tour with Psychic Guide: $27
  • The Dark Side of Key West Ghost Tour: $28
  • Southernmost Key West History and Culture Small-Group Walking Tour: $28
  • Old Town Key West Literary Walking Tour: $30
  • Key West Ghost and Mysteries Guided Tour: $32
  • Southernmost Key West Historical Tour in Small Group: $33

Tours and Activities in Panama City

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

  • Casco Antiguo Virtual Live Tour: $12
  • Skip the Line: Panama La Vieja Admission Ticket: $15
  • Dolphin Sightseeing Tour on The Footloose Catamaran from Panama City Beach: $25
  • Sea Breeze Champagne Adventure: $28
  • Panama City and Canal Tour ( Centro de Visitante de Miraflores): $31
  • Panama City Beach: Gulf World Marine Park Entrance Ticket: $36
  • Private Panama Canal Tour: $41
  • Shopping Tour in Panama: $42
  • Tour Colonial Panama: $42
  • Panama Viejo Ruins Sightseeing Tour: $43
  • Panama City Tour highlight: $45
  • Panama City Sunset E-Bike Adventure: $48

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Key West $13
    Panama City $45

Sample the Local Flavors in Key West

Also in Key West, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Key West Haunted Pub Crawl and Ghost Tour: $23
  • Yes, Queen! Drag Queen Pub Crawl of Key West: $34
  • Key West Pub Crawl: $35

Sample the Local Flavors in Panama City

Also in Panama City, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Panama Bar Crawl (private): $33


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Key West and Panama City, we can see that Key West 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 Key West would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Key West than you might in Panama City.


When is the best time to visit Key West 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 Key West or Panama City in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Key West and Panama City. Many travelers come to Key West for the beaches, snorkeling, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Panama City in the summer for the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences.

Key West is around the same temperature as Panama City in the summer. The temperature in Key West is usually 84°F (29°C) in July, and Panama City stays around 82°F (28°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Panama City this time of the year. In Key West, it's very sunny this time of the year. Key West usually receives more sunshine than Panama City during summer. Key West gets 328 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. In July, Key West usually receives less rain than Panama City. Key West gets 3.3 inches (83 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 7.3 inches (184 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Key West 84°F (29°C) 
    Panama City 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Key West or Panama City in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Key West as well as Panama City. Many visitors come to Key West in the autumn for the shopping scene, the small town atmosphere, and the natural beauty of the area. Also, most visitors come to Panama City for the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months.

In the autumn, Key West is a little warmer than Panama City. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Key West in October are around 80°F (27°C), and Panama City is about 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 Key West this time of the year. In the autumn, Key West often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Panama City. Key West gets 258 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Panama City receives 256 hours of full sun.

Key West receives a lot of rain in the autumn. Key West usually gets more rain in October than Panama City. Key West gets 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Key West 80°F (27°C) 
    Panama City 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Key West or Panama City in the Winter?

Both Panama City and Key West are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Key West for the shopping scene and the cuisine during these months. Also, the winter months attract visitors to Panama City because of the shopping scene and the cuisine.

In January, Key West is generally much warmer than Panama City. Temperatures in Key West average around 70°F (21°C), and Panama City stays around 52°F (11°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Key West. Key West usually receives more sunshine than Panama City during winter. Key West gets 252 hours of sunny skies, while Panama City receives 185 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Key West usually receives less rain than Panama City. Key West gets 1.7 inches (43 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 3.9 inches (99 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Key West 70°F (21°C) 
    Panama City 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit Key West or Panama City in the Spring?

Both Panama City and Key West during the spring are popular places to visit. The spring months attract visitors to Key West because of the beaches, the small town charm, and the natural beauty. Furthermore, the beaches and the natural beauty are the main draw to Panama City this time of year.

Key West is a little warmer than Panama City in the spring. The temperature in Key West is usually 77°F (25°C) in April, and Panama City stays around 68°F (20°C).

In Panama City, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Key West. In the spring, Key West often gets more sunshine than Panama City. Key West gets 326 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Panama City receives 295 hours of full sun.

Key West usually gets less rain in April than Panama City. Key West gets 0.8 inches (21 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Key West 77°F (25°C) 
    Panama City 68°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Panama City and Key West

Key West Panama City
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 70°F (21°C) 1.7 inches (43 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Feb 71°F (21°C) 1.4 inches (36 mm) 55°F (13°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Mar 74°F (23°C) 1.7 inches (42 mm) 61°F (16°C) 4.3 inches (108 mm)
Apr 77°F (25°C) 0.8 inches (21 mm) 68°F (20°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
May 81°F (27°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 74°F (24°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Jun 83°F (28°C) 4.5 inches (114 mm) 80°F (27°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm)
Jul 84°F (29°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.3 inches (184 mm)
Aug 84°F (29°C) 3.9 inches (98 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.5 inches (191 mm)
Sep 83°F (29°C) 5.7 inches (144 mm) 79°F (26°C) 7.5 inches (192 mm)
Oct 80°F (27°C) 5.1 inches (129 mm) 71°F (22°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm)
Nov 76°F (24°C) 2 inches (50 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
Dec 72°F (22°C) 1.4 inches (35 mm) 56°F (13°C) 4.1 inches (104 mm)


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Key West vs. Panama City Travel Comparison

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