4 star rating: Recommended 207 Reviews

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  • Address: Central Panama
  • Hours: Open daily
  • Admission: Free; prices for tours vary widely
By any estimation among the grandest public works projects in the history of humankind, the Panama Canal is an engineering triumph that forever transformed global trade. Construction began in 1904, lasted 10 years, cost some $350 million to build and claimed nearly 30,000 lives due to disease and accidents. But that sacrifice and hard work unlocked a route for ships that united two oceans and changed transportation around the world. 

Currently serving more than 150 countries with ships that reach thousands of ports worldwide, today the canal is undergoing an expansion that will double its capacity and should be completed in 2015.

Travelers can enjoy the canal in several ways, beginning with the excellent Miraflores Locks Visitor Center, a museum that tells the story of the incredible engineering feat through its exhibits. There are also one-hour sightseeing cruises along part of the canal to the famous Miraflores Locks, where you can feel the ship get raised up to pass through the locks. More ambitious explorers can take the whole fascinating trip along the 48 miles (77 km) of the waterway through all of the locks.

Practical Info

Full-transit cruises are offered and ply the entire 48-mile (77-km) length of the canal in just under 10 hours, most of which is spent waiting for the locks to empty and fill. Many travelers are happier with a half-canal trip that traverses only one lock, or even shorter tours around Lake Gatún. Don’t miss the Miraflores Visitors Center, which gives an introduction to the importance of the canal, as well as close-up views of the ships passing through the canal being raised and lowered through the locks.

Tours & Tickets

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Best Panama Canal Partial Transit Sightseeing Cruise

4 star rating: Recommended 70 Reviews

See for yourself how the Panama Canal works as you transit the Miraflores Locks, one of three locks used along the canal. The construction of the canal was one ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)

From USD $144.99

Panama City Sightseeing Tour Including Miraflores Locks

4.5 star rating: Recommended 73 Reviews

See the best of Panama City — from sea level to hilltop, canal to islands — on this full-day sightseeing tour with a knowledgeable local guide, who will regale ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $98.99

Panama City and Canal Sightseeing Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 33 Reviews

Enjoy a guided sightseeing tour and visit the most important sites and landmarks of Panama. Tour both the historical and modern areas of Panama City and visit ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 4-7 hours

From USD $104.99

City Sightseeing Panama City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 31 Reviews

Experience Panama City on this hop-on hop-off City Sightseeing tour! From the Miraflores locks to the tall skyscrapers of Panama City, this tour shows you all ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: Varies

From USD $29.00

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