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Panama Canal
Panama Canal

Panama Canal

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The Basics

The best way for Panama visitors to see the canal is to literally get in the middle of it—on a transit or partial transit tour at sea level, travelers can experience the sensation of cruising directly through the canal, watching as the locks fill with water and your ship passes steadily through the three sets of double locks: the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks on the Pacific side, plus the Gatún locks on the Atlantic side. Between the locks is the artificial Gatún Lake (Lago Gatún), created by the Gatún Dam across the Chagres River (Rio Chagres), and the Culebra Cut, the narrowest section of the canal, hewn out of the mountains. It's also possible to see the locks by train, as you pass by the banks and through pristine rain forest en route to Gatún.

Most full- and half-day tours include roundtrip transportation and a visit to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center, a museum that tells the story of this incredible engineering feat through exhibits. The center's restaurant, theater, and terraced decks also provide comfortable vantage points for watching ships pass through. It's also possible to visit the Gatún locks (about an hour from Panama City) to learn about the Panama Canal expansion.

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Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
$135.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Great experience.
Enjoyed the boat trip on the Canal, the visits to monkey Island and to San Lorenzo Fort and finally visiting the Panama canal. Enrique our guide was great.
Ernest_T, May 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Panama City

star-5
Ocean to Ocean
Esther_v, May 2022
Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour
We had a wonderful tour, with a great tour guide, John. He had so much knowledge, not only about the Panama Canal, but also about the animals, history, etc. We learned more from John than during our visit to the Canal Museum the day before. The boat trip was beautiful, the nature and the animals.
star-5
AMAZING!!
Gea_A, Apr 2022
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
We got a private tour with Dennis, so we customized our experience based on Dennis' recommendations. He went out of his way to make it as enjoyable as possible. Highly recommend!! A great thing to do on your first day in Panama City to see what the city has to offer. Our favorites: Panama Canal, Amador Causeway, Casco Viejo.
star-5
Informative tour
Patryk, Apr 2022
5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
This is a great tour and I would recommend it. You get to see and find out a lot of information about the Panama Canal. Have delicious breakfast with a view and then go and see animals in the jungle! Must do trip if staying in Panama!
star-5
Amazing Panama Canal Experience
Kimberly_R, Mar 2022
Panama Canal Partial Tour - Southbound Direction
We thoroughly enjoyed this tour of the Panama Canal. We learned so much more from our experience than viewing from the observation level at Mira Flores. It’s a full day on the water that is very enjoyable.
star-5
Great experience
Jamontae_S, Feb 2022
Panama Canal and City Tour
Luis was great he was courteous and patient. We were running for pick up he didn’t rush us or leave us since it was a private tour for just us. He had a really nice can with WiFi and very clean offered water and stops as we requested or wanted. Definitely would recommend his for future private tours!
star-5
Wonderful Day
Helen_B, Jan 2022
Historic Portobelo and Panama Canal Sightseeing Tour with Scenic Train Ride
Due to Covid, the train was not running. However, we had the opportunity to visit San Lorenzo instead. It was BEAUTIFUL! We learned so much and had a wonderful time. We ended up having a private tour with Hector, who was so knowledgable about the history of all of the places we visited. The Aguas Claros Locks was fascinating, Portabelo and San Lorenzo were beautiful. And lunch was delicious! It was a great day and we would certainly book another tour when we return.
star-5
Great experience!
Lina_S, Nov 2021
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
Great time in Panama City! Tour was educational, fun, and beautiful. Our guide was very nice and polite. Car was clean and safe! Thank you!
star-5
Great tour
Tracey_R, May 2022
Panama Canal and City Tour
The tour was very informative. I learned a lot about the process of building the Canal. Eric was a great guide and very knowledgeable about the Canal and Panama history.
star-4
Good, not great
Lindsay_F, May 2022
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
Rogelio (Roger) was an awesome guide. Super friendly and seemed to have a good grasp on the history of the canal. It was pouring when we went to Casco Viejo, which couldn’t be avoided. However the dialogue about this part of the tour wasn’t as thorough as the canal portion.
star-5
Exploring Panamas history with a great tour guide
lora_z, May 2022
Tour of Panama City and the Panama Canal
We had a fantastic experience touring Panama city and the Canal. Roberto was a great tour guide and was extremely knowledgeable about Panamas history. He was very accommodating and friendly too. I highly recommend him.
star-5
Great way to see both the Canal and nature!
Kiersten_S, May 2022
5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
We had such a great time. Although it was an early wake-up, it was totally worth it. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and we were able to see monkeys, sloths, a toucan, and a ton of cool birds on both the boat ride and the nature walk. The Panamanian lunch was very good as well. Seeing the canal up close with huge ships passing by was an incredible experience, and at the end, she even stopped by a little market where we bought fresh local fruit. 100% would recommend if you love nature!!
star-5
Layover tour
Jeff_h, May 2022
Layover (Stopover) City tour and Panama Canal Visit
Great way to see Panama City and the canal. Knowledgeable guide made the most of our time. I recommend this tour.

Things to Know Before You Go

  • By booking ahead with a guided tour, there's a much higher likelihood of actually seeing the famous Panama Canal in action.

  • Travelers can make self-guided visits to the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center in Panama City and the Canal Expansion Observation Center in Colon on the Caribbean Sea.

  • Stop in for a meal at the Miraflores Restaurant at the Panama Canal to dine while viewing the ships cruise by.

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How To Get There

Arrive at the canal via boat, train, bus, or car. The Miraflores Locks Visitor Center has parking, but most visitors arrive as part of a group sightseeing tour with a tour guide.

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Trip ideas

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When To Get There

The morning hours and late afternoon are the best times for actually watching a ship pass through the canal.

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Nearby Attractions

A few tours depart from the town of Gamboa, situated at the end of the Gaillard Cut on the Chagres River in the Gamboa Rainforest. Neighboring SoberanÌa National Park, home to diverse bird species, sloths, and jaguars, is often visited along with a native Embera village. The Amador Causeway (Calzada de Amador) is also worth a trip; this narrow strip of land is a popular spot for recreation.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the nearest attractions to Panama Canal?
Q:
What else should I know about attractions in Panama City?
A:
As well as visiting the Panama Canal, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit: