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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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5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
star-4.5
$105.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Awesome experience. Highly recommended
Boat ride on the canal and a walk through the rain forest was great. Delicious Breakfast was included.
Rhonda_R, Jan 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Panama City

star-5
Great tour with great and...
Guenter_K, Jan 2022
5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
Great tour with great and very knowledgable guide. Jerin patiently explained us all about the wildlife which we experienced during this 5 hour tour on water and in the rainforest. Meeting the monkeys on the boat was a memorable experience as well as seeing the variety of different species during the rainforest walk. The breakfast overlooking the Panama Canal was the cherry on top. We would definitely recommend to do this tour!
star-5
Must do in Panama City
Magdalena_B, Jan 2022
Panama Canal Partial Transit
Well organized trip. Great communication with a company. We really enjoyed it our visit to Panama Canal
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
Panama is a gem
Carol_K, Jan 2022
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
We were treated very well and learned a lot. We highly recommend this tour. The tour really made our trip!
star-5
Cesar was great! He was...
Lashanda_M, Jan 2022
Monkey Island and Panama Canal Eco Tour with transfers
Cesar was great! He was very knowledgeable about the canal and the monkeys. He knew a lot of the history of Panama. He did a wonderful job and I recommend this tour.
star-5
Spectacular views, informative guide, great service
Marcia_H, Jan 2022
Panama Canal Partial Tour - Southbound Direction
We were lucky to witness two large ships going through the lock system at the same time as us. Beautiful nature vistas surrounding the canal. Informative and well-articulated guide. Good luck snd plenty of refreshments. 360 degree views from the covered deck and below. Great that the boat was not overful. Plenty of space to move around. Friendly staff. Convenient hotel pick-up. All round a wonderful experience. Warmly recommended!
star-5
Great tour with Luis!
Jessica_M, Jan 2022
Monkey Island and Panama Canal Eco Tour with transfers
Watching ships enter the canal and then visiting the monkeys on Miraflores was such fun! I would recommend this trip for sure. Luis did a great job explaining how the canal operates.
star-5
Wonderful Tour
Roshanna_W, Jan 2022
Monkey Island & Panama Canal experience
The tour was amazing. Our guide Daniel was wonderful, he made any stops that we requested on the way to the tour and also on the way back home. Definitely a great experience. You get to experience the monkeys coming on the boat and grabbing peanuts out of your hands; also you see all the big ships passing to enter the locks. I would recommend this trip especially with Daniel being the tour guide.
star-5
Will not disappoint.
Stephenie_W, Jan 2022
5 Hr Combo-Panama Canal boat ride+Monkey Isles+Rainforest walk & Local Breakfast
Jerin was a great tour guide. He made the experience personal and went above and beyond. We went on a very sunny day, so unfortunately we did not see a lot of wildlife, however it did not ruin the day. It was still a great tour and we would highly recommend it. The best part was the authentic Panamanian breakfast. It was amazing.
star-5
Cool old town and unforgettable Panama Canal
Ross_K, Dec 2021
Private Tour of the Historic Center of Panama and Canal
The Panama Canal is truly remarkable. The history, the engineering…almost beyond imagination. One quick note for the tour company: we would have liked more discussion of the history of Casco Viejo during that part of the tour. But still overall a great day.
star-4
Just great
henry_g, Nov 2021
Panama Canal Full Transit Tour
Wonderful experience to go through the lock in panama canal. Lots of good information in english. Spanish and german. Very early morning( had to get ip at 4 am)

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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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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