Tocumen International Airport, Panama City: Where to Eat During Long Layovers for Vegetarians and Vegans

Tocumen International Airport is big and modern. It’s gotta be one of the busiest airports in Central America – if not the busiest. There are lots of stores such as Adidas, Dolce & Gabbana ads everywhere and of course, Duty Free shops where one can buy more alcohol and chocolate than you’d ever consume.

Upstairs, the airport has a big food court.  The good news is that it’s pretty vegetarian friendly – but only somewhat vegan friendly. The vegetarian-friendly eateries you’ll find at Tocumen International Airport:

  • Quiznos
  • Dominos
  • Air Margaritaville
  • Carl’s Jr.
  • Duran Coffee
  • Cinnabon
  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
  • Fresh popcorn stand

If your layover is short you can grab a bite quickly. Or if you have more time, relax at the Air Margaritaville and maybe even watch a soccer match while you’re there.

I got a warm, freshly made sandwich from Quiznos and after flying all night, it really hit the spot – fresh bread, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, olives, and cheese. Vegans could customize the same sandwich sans the cheese.

From Duran Coffee I got a chocolate chip muffin to have on the plane back to San Francisco.

The Air Margaritaville is a sit down place and good if you’ve got a few hours between flights and there’s a soccer match on that you’re interested in. They had nachos and a couple other items on the menu that looked good.

There’s a fair amount of seating and constant turnover but many people still struggled to find seats. At one point a solo traveller, stranger sat down at our table, as there were no other seats. We were only using two of the four seats.

For vegans the Quiznos and Air Margaritaville would be my recommendations since you can customize your order. At the other eateries salads were pre-made in grab n’ go boxes. Another option would be to get fries at Carls Jr.

Language. Knowing Spanish is super helpful at this airport. Many of the employees at the eateries didn’t know or spoke very limited English.

Payment: I paid by credit card but their currency is the US dollar so you don’t have to worry about converting money.

WiFi and charging stations. You can get free WiFi for 45 minutes. WiFi was pretty good. Some of the gates have charging towers or plugs. We didn’t see any in the food court.

Transit Travelers. Unlike the United States, transit travelers do not have to go through immigration nor collect their luggage and re-check in. We just got off the plane and hung out at the airport until our next flight.

What to do during your layover at Tocumen International Airport. Our layovers were 5 hours on the outbound and 4 on the inbound. That’s pretty long but still too short to explore Panama City, so we just waited it out at the airport. I’ve traveled through Panama previously and it’s about 20 miles to the city center from the airport which can take 40 minutes in moderate traffic.

Also 4-5 hours would definitely had not been enough time to go through Immigration and Customs, get to the Panama Canal and back in time for our flight. The Miralores Locks are about 27km away from the airport.

If you had an overnight layover you could go out and have a nice meal, stay at the InterContinental or a hostel (like I did), stroll around Casco Viejo, and maybe see part of the Gamboa Forest. Ships move through the Miraflores Locks at specific times so you’d have to time that. It’s a pretty amazing thing to see and definitely worth it to visit the museum at the Canal as well.

Ship with the crew on deck, going through the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal, 2010


Vegetarians, layovers at Tocumen International Airport are no worries. Vegans, you have limited options but you’ll find something at Quiznos or Air Margaritaville.

It’s a nice and very large airport with a good food court, charging stations, shops,and  free  WiFi for 45 minutes. In other words, not the worst airport to have a long layover.

I hope you found this article useful and unique. I try to address travel issues related to women travelers as well as vegan and vegetarian travelers – groups that are often overlooked in travel publications. If you did find this useful or helpful, please let me know by submitting your comments and questions!

Happy and safe travels. Keep adding those stamps to your PassportPages!

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