A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Panama City vs. Tampa for Families, Nightlife, Beaches, and Couples

Should you visit Panama City or Tampa?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Panama City or Tampa, 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.

Panama City

Panama City is a cosmopolitan, fun-filled, and active beach town. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. It's also popular because of the food, beaches, and shopping.

Tampa

Tampa is a laid-back, easy-going, and low-key city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. And you can't forget about the food and beaches.

Panama City and Tampa: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
Pros
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with couples


Is there more to do in Panama City or Tampa?

Both Tampa and Panama City have plenty of things to do for travelers. Both provide a wide variety of sights and activities for tourists. Panama City is more popular for its nightlife, music, resorts, shopping, and impressive beauty, while Tampa is known for its scuba diving & snorkeling and big city activities. Panama City is more touristy than Tampa and is popular for its watersports, sandy beaches, and year-round beach weather. Tampa is popular for its amusement parks, wildlife parks, and popularity as a cruise ship port.

How is Panama City different from Tampa?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Panama City
Tampa

Picking the best cuisine and restaurants between Panama City and Tampa can be difficult as they are each good in their own way.

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.

Tampa is becoming an appealing option for foodies. There are a surprising number of great local restaurants around town as well as a good food truck scene. Some favorite dishes include fresh caught seafood, Grouper sandwiches, and Cuban sandwiches.


Is Panama City or Tampa Better for Nightlife?

Panama City
Tampa

Panama City is an excellent place to visit for its evening party scene. However, Tampa is lacking in options for nightlife.

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.

Tampa is generally a quiet destination but there are options around. The city has some good nightclubs, sports bars, and other spots where locals enjoy spending the evening.

Is Panama City or Tampa Better for Music?

Panama City
Tampa

Panama City is a popular place for its music scene. However, Tampa is not a live music destination.

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

Tampa is not a live music destination.

Is Panama City or Tampa Better for Resorts?

Panama City
Tampa

Panama City is a popular place for its luxury resorts. However, Tampa is not a resort destination.

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.

Tampa is not a resort destination.


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

Panama City
Tampa

Tampa is a city with a few options for its diving and snorkeling. However, Panama City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Tampa has a few snorkeling spots. While the water isn't always the clearest, there are some nice snorkeling and diving spots in the area. Options include Shell Key and Egmont Key, Crystal River, and Fort De Soto.

Panama City is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Panama City or Tampa Better for Beaches?

Panama City
Tampa

Both Panama City and Tampa have very good beaches worth visiting.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Panama City. 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.

The beaches at Tampa attract visitors from all over. Popular beaches near Tampa include Ben T. Davis Beach, Fred Howard Park, and Indian Rocks Beach.

Is the Shopping Better in Panama City or Tampa?

Panama City
Tampa

Panama City is a popular place for its shopping areas. However, Tampa is not a noteworthy shopping destination.

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

Tampa is not a noteworthy shopping destination.


Is Panama City or Tampa Better for Families?

Panama City
Tampa

Panama City is an amazing beach town to visit for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Tampa is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Panama City is a very family-friendly destination. 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.

Tampa is a very family-friendly place to visit. The city has a number of kid-oriented attractions including Busch Gardens Amusement Park, several kid-friendly museums, and a number of animal centers, aquariums, and wildlife rescue facilities.

Is Panama City or Tampa Better for Couples?

Panama City
Tampa

Panama City is an excellent place to visit for couples. However, Tampa is lacking in options for romance.

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.

Tampa is not the best destination for a couple to visit. The area does have great restaurants and some fun places to explore, but the downtown area has room for improvement and much of the city is suburban.

Is Panama City or Tampa Better for Students?

Panama City
Tampa

Panama City is an excellent place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Tampa is not popular with students.

Panama City is a very popular beach town for students and younger travelers. It's not the spring break destination that it once was, but you'll still find students hanging out around the spring holidays.

Tampa is not popular with students.


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

Panama City
Tampa

Panama City is a decent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Tampa is lacking in options 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 Tampa. There is the street car that runs from downtown Tampa to Ybor City and stops at 11 stations.

Is Panama City or Tampa a more walkable city?

Panama City
Tampa

Tampa is a city 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.

Tampa is generally not very walkable. While there are some neighborhoods that are considered walkable, you really need a car if you hope to explore Tampa in depth.

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

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

Should I spend more time in Tampa or Panama City?

How long in Panama City or Tampa?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Panama City and Tampa. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Panama City than in Tampa. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Panama City, and 2-3 days is enough time in Tampa.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Panama City than Tampa 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 Panama City or Tampa? Ideal Length of Stay
    Panama City 3-7 
    Tampa 2-3

One day in Panama City or Tampa?

In Panama City, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this fun-filled destination offers. It's also a great beach destination, too. This beach town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

Visitors enjoy the food when visiting the low-key city of Tampa. It's also a great beach destination, too. 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.


A weekend in Panama City or Tampa?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Panama City. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Visitors enjoy the food when visiting the laid-back destination of Tampa. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Five days in Panama City or Tampa?

Panama City is a fun place to experience. In Panama City, many people enjoy the nightlife and live music that this destination offers. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

The low-key city of Tampa offers food. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Panama City or Tampa?

In Panama City, many people enjoy the live music and food that this cosmopolitan destination offers. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling. Most people come for the beaches. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is often enough time to do most activities.

Many people enjoy the food when visiting Tampa. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people come for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City.


Which place is cheaper, Tampa or Panama City?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Panama City is $224, while the average daily cost in Tampa 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 destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Panama City and Tampa in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Panama City $128
    Tampa $85
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Panama City $256
    Tampa $170
Compare Hotels in Panama City and Tampa

Looking for a hotel in Panama City or Tampa? 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 Panama City


Hotels in Tampa


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: Panama City Hotel Prices and Tampa Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Panama City $48
    Tampa $69

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Tampa

Also for Tampa, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Arrival Private Transfer: Tampa Airport TPA to Tampa City in Business Car: $72
  • Departure Private Transfer: Tampa City to Tampa Airport TPA in Business Car: $72
  • Private Arrival Transfer - from Tampa Airport (TPA): $36
  • Private Transfer from TPA to Tampa / St Petersburg / Clearwater Beach : $120
  • Private Transfer from Tampa Airport (TPA) to Clearwater Beach: $187
  • Private Transfer from Tampa Airport (TPA) to St Petersburg Accommodation: $187
  • Private Transfer from Tampa Airport TPA to Lakeland/Winter Haven: $187
  • Private Transfer from Tampa Airport to Clearwater: $120
  • Private transfer from Tampa airport To Zephyrhills, FL: $155
  • Private transfer: From Tampa to airport and vice versa : $18
  • Tampa Airport (TPA) to Lakeland / Winter Haven - Arrival Private Transfer: $54
  • Tampa Airport (TPA) to Lakeland / Winter Haven - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $107

Is it cheaper to fly into Panama City or Tampa?

Prices for flights to both Tampa and Panama City 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
    Panama City $66
    Tampa $53

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Tampa

For Tampa, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Ybor City Food Tour On Sundays: $89

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Panama City $19
    Tampa $20

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: $73
  • 2 Hour Dolphin and Sightseeing Tour in Panama City Beach, Fl: $72
  • 2 Hour Dolphin and Snorkeling Experience at Panama City: $90
  • 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
  • Beach Sunset and Lagoon Skyline Tour: $70
  • 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
  • Dolphin Sightseeing Tour on The Footloose Catamaran from Panama City Beach: $35

Tours and Activities in Tampa

For Tampa, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Ybor City Immigrant influence Smart Phone guided App (GPS) walking tour: $6.50
  • Tampa Riverwalk: A Smartphone Audio Walking Tour: $7.25
  • Smartphone Audio Private Walking Tour in Tampa Riverwalk: $7.99
  • Tampa Terrors Ghost Tour: $26
  • Discover Tampa with Local Stories from a Virtual Tour: $30
  • Shared Ybor City Historic Walking Tour: $30
  • The Official Downtown Tampa Ghost Tour: $30
  • Tampa Terrors Ghost Tour By US Ghost Adventures: $30
  • Sunset and Night Cruises Tour: $30
  • Downtown Tampa Historic Walking Tour: $30
  • Tampa History Cruise: $31
  • Tampa Celebrity Homes Boat Tour: $31

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Panama City $56
    Tampa $26

Sample the Local Flavors in Tampa

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Tampa:

  • Tampa Bar Crawl on a 2023 Street Legal Golf Cart: $40
  • Haunted Pub Crawl: $40
  • Ybor City Private Brewery Tour by Custom Golf Cart: $200


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Panama City and Tampa, we can see that Panama City is more expensive. And not only is Tampa much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Tampa would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Tampa 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 Tampa.

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


Which is Bigger, Panama City or Tampa?

Tampa has a larger population, and is about 9 times larger than the population of Panama City. When comparing the sizes of Panama City and Tampa, 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 Panama City or Tampa?

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 Panama City or Tampa in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Panama City as well as Tampa. Many visitors come to Panama City in the summer for the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences. Additionally, most visitors come to Tampa for the beaches, snorkeling, the city activities, and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

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

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Tampa. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Panama City this time of the year. In the summer, Panama City often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Tampa. Panama City gets 283 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Tampa receives 265 hours of full sun.

It's quite rainy in Tampa. Panama City receives a lot of rain in the summer. Panama City usually gets less rain in July than Tampa. Panama City gets 7.3 inches (184 mm) of rain, while Tampa receives 8.4 inches (214 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Panama City or Tampa in the Autumn?

Both Tampa and Panama City are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Panama City for the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Tampa because of the city's sights and attractions.

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

It's quite sunny in Tampa. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Panama City. Panama City usually receives more sunshine than Tampa during autumn. Panama City gets 256 hours of sunny skies, while Tampa receives 234 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Panama City usually receives more rain than Tampa. Panama City gets 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain, while Tampa receives 2.6 inches (65 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


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

Should I visit Panama City or Tampa in the Winter?

Both Tampa and Panama City during the winter are popular places to visit. The winter months attract visitors to Panama City because of the shopping scene and the cuisine. Also, the cuisine are the main draw to Tampa this time of year.

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

In Tampa, it's very sunny this time of the year. In the winter, Panama City often gets less sunshine than Tampa. Panama City gets 185 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Tampa receives 200 hours of full sun.

Panama City usually gets more rain in January than Tampa. Panama City gets 3.9 inches (99 mm) of rain, while Tampa receives 2.3 inches (59 mm) of rain this time of the year.


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

Should I visit Panama City or Tampa in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Panama City and Tampa. The beaches and the natural beauty are the main draw to Panama City this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Tampa for the beaches and the activities around the city.

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

People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Tampa this time of the year. In Panama City, it's very sunny this time of the year. Panama City usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Tampa during spring. Panama City gets 295 hours of sunny skies, while Tampa receives 299 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Panama City usually receives more rain than Tampa. Panama City gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Tampa receives 2.1 inches (53 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


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

Typical Weather for Tampa and Panama City

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