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

Should you visit Marathon or Panama City?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Marathon or Panama City, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Marathon

Marathon is a relaxing, quaint, and beautiful island. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the scuba diving and snorkeling, beaches, and nightlife.

Panama City

Panama City is a fun-filled, active, and cosmopolitan beach town. It's a gorgeous place to visit. Other reasons to visit include shopping, nightlife, and live music.

Marathon and Panama City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Popular beach
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students


Is there more to do in Marathon or Panama City?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Panama City. Although Marathon and Panama City are popular destinations, Panama City has more sights and attractions for tourists. Panama City is very popular for its nightlife, music, and shopping, while Marathon attracts visitors for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, and impressive beauty. Panama City is more touristy than Marathon and is popular for its watersports, sandy beaches, and year-round beach weather. It is also well known for Pier Park. Marathon is famous for its Loggerhead sea turtles, the Dolphin Research Center, Sombrero Beach, and its many places to scuba dive and snorkel.

How is Marathon different from Panama City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Marathon
Panama City

Both Marathon and Panama City offer a number of nice restaurants to choose from.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Marathon. There are restaurants with waterfront terraces, raw bars, and other seafood eateries where you can enjoy fresh caught fish for a reasonable price.

Visitors will find a budding food and restaurant scene in Panama City. 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 Marathon or Panama City Better for Nightlife?

Marathon
Panama City

Panama City is great for nightlife. Also, Marathon is not as popular, but is still a nice island for nightlife and partying.

Many people head to Panama City for the nightlife scene. 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.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Marathon. Popular nightlife venues include JJ’s Dog House & Sports Bar, Brass Monkey, and Cabana Club.

Is Marathon or Panama City Better for Music?

Marathon
Panama City

Panama City is a nice place to visit for live music. However, Marathon is not a live music destination.

The music scene helps keep Panama City active and fun. A popular way to enjoy music in the area is to find a restaurant with a lounge where local musicians perform.

Marathon is not a live music destination.

Is Marathon or Panama City Better for Resorts?

Marathon
Panama City

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

Marathon is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. Popular resorts include Isla Bella Beach Resort and Tranquility Bay Resort.

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 Marathon or Panama City Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Marathon
Panama City

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

Marathon has a few areas where visitors often go scuba diving or snorkeling. There are many dive shops around Marathon and the area has dive spots that are great for every level. Some of the best sites are Sombrero Reef, Coffins Patch, and Thunderbolt wreck. There are also many snorkeling trips that head out to Sombrero Reef.

Panama City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Marathon or Panama City Better for Beaches?

Marathon
Panama City

Both Marathon and Panama City have superb beaches worth visiting.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Marathon. Sombrero Beach is a popular spot for picnics, swimming and seeing the Loggerhead Turtles from April through October.

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 Marathon or Panama City?

Marathon
Panama City

Panama City is a nice place to visit for shopping. However, Marathon is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Panama City. There are a number of malls and shopping centers in the area.

Marathon is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Marathon or Panama City Better for Families?

Marathon
Panama City

Panama City is a must-visit destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Marathon is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its family-friendly activities.

Panama City is an amazing family-friendly beach town to visit. 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.

Marathon is a very kid-friendly island. Kids will enjoy getting face-to-face with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center. Families can also explore Pigeon Key or play in the water at Sombrero Beach. Families will find no shortage of activities on the island.

Is Marathon or Panama City Better for Couples?

Marathon
Panama City

Marathon and Panama City are both superb to visit as a couple.

Marathon is a great island if you're traveling as a couple. With beautiful views, 7 Mile Bridge, and plenty of activities, this area makes a romantic destination for couples. There are beaches and waterfront spots that offer a romantic setting for couples.

Panama City is a very popular place to visit for couples. 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 Marathon or Panama City Better for Students?

Marathon
Panama City

Panama City is great for its student-friendly activities. However, Marathon is not popular with students.

Panama City is a great beach town to visit as a student. It's not the spring break destination that it once was, but you'll still find students hanging out around the spring holidays.

Marathon is not popular with students.


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

Marathon
Panama City

Panama City is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Marathon is not a good destination for its public transit.

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.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Marathon. There's no real public transportation in town. A car is essential.

Is Marathon or Panama City a more walkable city?

Marathon
Panama City

Marathon is a island with a few options for its high level of walkability. However, Panama City is a beach town with minimal options for its ease of walking around.

Marathon is generally not very walkable. Shops and restaurants and spread out along a central road, making walking difficult to impossible.

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

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

Should I spend more time in Panama City or Marathon?

How long in Marathon or Panama City?

Both Marathon and Panama City have a number of activities to choose from. In our opinion, Panama City has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Panama City than Marathon. However, 3-7 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Panama City than Marathon 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 Panama City.


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

One day in Marathon or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the relaxing island of Marathon. 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 Marathon or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the relaxing destination of Marathon. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This island 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 Marathon or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and nightlife when visiting the quaint island of Marathon. 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 Marathon or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Marathon. 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 island.

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.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to United States of America, The Best Train & Rail Tours in United States of America, The Best Sightseeing Tours in United States of America, and The Best Cruise Tours and Packages in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Panama City or Marathon?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Marathon is $158, 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 Marathon and Panama City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Marathon $76
    Panama City $128
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Marathon $152
    Panama City $256
Compare Hotels in Marathon and Panama City

Looking for a hotel in Marathon 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 Marathon


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: Marathon Hotel Prices and Panama City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Marathon $47
    Panama City $48

Is it cheaper to fly into Marathon or Panama City?

Prices for flights to both Panama City and Marathon 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
    Marathon $51
    Panama City $66

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Marathon $27
    Panama City $19

Tours and Activities in Marathon

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Marathon.

  • Snorkel Adventure at Sombrero Key Light Reef: $80
  • Florida: Sunset Champagne Cruise on the Marathon Mermaid: $82

Tours and Activities in Panama City

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

  • 2 Hour Dolphin Sightseeing Tour with Capt. Zach's Adventures: $68
  • 2 Hour Dolphin and Sightseeing Tour in Panama City Beach, Fl: $72
  • 2 Hour Private Dolphin and Sightseeing Tour in Shell Island: $65
  • 3 Hour Cruise, Snorkel, Swim/float Sandbar - tandem tiki option: $80
  • 90 min Cruise at Lower Grand Lagoon : $54
  • Beginner Scuba Diving Tour PCB Free Videos: $129
  • Beginner Scuba Diving Tour with Videos-PCB: $129
  • Catamaran Snorkel and Dolphin Watch Tour in Panama City Beach: $60
  • Cypress Springs Eco Adventure: $110
  • Discover Snorkeling Tour in Panama City: $65
  • Dolphin Sightseeing Tour on The Footloose Catamaran from Panama City Beach: $35
  • Famous Private Center Console Boat Tours of Panama City Beach: $295

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Marathon $24
    Panama City $56


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Marathon and Panama City, we can see that Panama City is more expensive. And not only is Marathon much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Marathon would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Marathon 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 Panama City would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Panama City than you might in Marathon.

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


Which is Bigger, Marathon or Panama City?

Panama City has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Marathon. When comparing the sizes of Marathon 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 Marathon or Panama City?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Marathon or Panama City in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Marathon as well as Panama City. The summer months attract visitors to Marathon because of the beaches, snorkeling, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Panama City this time of year.

In the summer, Marathon is around the same temperature as Panama City. Typically, the summer temperatures in Marathon in July average around 84°F (29°C), and Panama City averages at about 82°F (28°C).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Panama City. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Marathon this time of the year. In the summer, Marathon often gets more sunshine than Panama City. Marathon gets 328 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Panama City receives 283 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Panama City. Marathon usually gets less rain in July than Panama City. Marathon gets 3.3 inches (83 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 7.3 inches (184 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Marathon or Panama City in the Autumn?

Both Panama City and Marathon are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Marathon this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Panama City for the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In October, Marathon is generally a little warmer than Panama City. Daily temperatures in Marathon average around 80°F (27°C), and Panama City fluctuates around 71°F (22°C).

It's quite sunny in Panama City. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Marathon. Marathon usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Panama City during autumn. Marathon gets 258 hours of sunny skies, while Panama City receives 256 hours of full sun in the autumn.

It's quite rainy in Marathon. In October, Marathon usually receives more rain than Panama City. Marathon gets 5.1 inches (129 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


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

Should I visit Marathon or Panama City in the Winter?

Both Panama City and Marathon during the winter are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Marathon for the cuisine. Furthermore, many visitors come to Panama City in the winter for the shopping scene and the cuisine.

Marathon is much warmer than Panama City in the winter. The daily temperature in Marathon averages around 70°F (21°C) in January, and Panama City fluctuates around 52°F (11°C).

It's quite sunny in Marathon. In the winter, Marathon often gets more sunshine than Panama City. Marathon gets 252 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Panama City receives 185 hours of full sun.

Marathon usually gets less rain in January than Panama City. Marathon gets 1.7 inches (43 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 3.9 inches (99 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Marathon or Panama City in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Marathon and Panama City. Many visitors come to Marathon in the spring for the beaches and the natural beauty. Furthermore, most visitors come to Panama City for the beaches and the natural beauty during these months.

In the spring, Marathon is a little warmer than Panama City. Typically, the spring temperatures in Marathon in April average around 77°F (25°C), and Panama City averages at about 68°F (20°C).

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Panama City this time of the year. In Marathon, it's very sunny this time of the year. Marathon usually receives more sunshine than Panama City during spring. Marathon gets 326 hours of sunny skies, while Panama City receives 295 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Marathon usually receives less rain than Panama City. Marathon gets 0.8 inches (21 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


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

Typical Weather for Panama City and Marathon

Marathon 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)