4.5 star rating: Recommended 312 Reviews

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  • Address: Central Panama
  • Hours: Daily
  • Admission: Varies
In 1914, when the first ships sailed through the Panama Canal and directly into the history books, a route for ships that united two oceans was unlocked, shaving nearly 9,000 miles off of the long sailing trip around South America. The engineering triumph forever transformed global trade.

The best way for Panama visitors to see the canal is to literally get in the middle of it—on a transit cruise tour, travelers can experience the sensation of passing directly through the canal, watching as locks are filled with water and your ship passes steadily through. It's also possible to see the locks by train, as you pass by the banks and through pristine rain forest en route to Gatun Lake. Or, to learn the fascinating history behind this marvel of modern engineering, visit Miraflores Locks Visitor Center, a museum that tells the story of the incredible engineering feat through its exhibits. The center's restaurant, theater and terraced decks also provide a comfortable vantage point for watching ships pass through.

Today, over a century after the grand public works project was installed, the Panama Canal has once again been expanded with new locks and widened existing ones to accommodate much larger ships that can carry three times as much cargo—expanding from roughly 4,000 containers to about 13,000.

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

Practical Info

The morning hours and late afternoon are the best times for actually watching a ship pass through the canal. You can also visit the Gatun locks about an hour from Panama City, where a Panama Canal Expansion Observation Center helps detail the steps involved in working to expand the canal.

Did You Know? Depending on a ship's size, the toll to pass through the Panama Canal can be up to half a million dollars.

Tours & Tickets

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Panama Canal Partial Transit Sightseeing Cruise, Panama City, null
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Panama Canal Partial Transit Sightseeing Cruise

4 star rating: Recommended 108 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 Canal Transit Tour, Panama City, Day Cruises
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Panama Canal Transit Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 4 Reviews

The tours lasts approximately 6 hours and starts on the Pacific side and ends at Gamboa Lake while passing through the Miraflores Locks. A truly unique ...  Read more

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

From USD $190.00
Panama City Sightseeing Tour Including Miraflores Locks, Panama City, Day Cruises
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Panama City Sightseeing Tour Including Miraflores Locks

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 99 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 $79.20
$99.00 Save $19.80
City Sightseeing Panama City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour, Panama City, Walking Tours
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City Sightseeing Panama City Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 46 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
Panama Canal Full Transit Tour, Panama City, Hop-on Hop-off Tours
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Panama Canal Full Transit Tour

Experience a Panama Canal Full Transit Tour navigating from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in one day. Enjoy the comfort of being in a small vessel ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 12 hours (approx.)

From USD $180.00
Luxury Full Day Panama Canal and City Tour, Panama City, Day Cruises
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Luxury Full Day Panama Canal and City Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 4 Reviews

This full-day schedule is the perfect and fun packed choice for seeing Panama City's most famous attractions and historical sites in first class style and ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $168.00
Luxury Half Day Panama Canal and City Tour, Panama City, Full-day Tours
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Luxury Half Day Panama Canal and City Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 6 Reviews

Get a luxurious, personalized and comprehensive overview of the Panama Canal on this 4-hour tour from Panama City. Enjoy personalized service and attention ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $108.00
Panama Canal Partial Tour - Northbound direction, Panama City, Half-day Tours
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Panama Canal Partial Tour - Northbound direction

Navigate through the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks. Enjoy the action of the Panama Canal's operation.

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

From USD $135.00
Panama City and Canal Sightseeing Tour, Panama City, Day Cruises
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Panama City and Canal Sightseeing Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 39 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
Luxury Canal Riviera Tour- Coast to Coast, Panama City, Bus & Minivan Tours
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Luxury Canal Riviera Tour- Coast to Coast

This Driving and Walking tour schedule is the perfect and fun packed choice for seeing Panama City´s most famous attraction and engineering marvel in first ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $199.00

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