4.5 star rating: Recommended 336 Reviews

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  • Address: Central Panama, 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
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Panama Canal Partial Transit Sightseeing Cruise

4 star rating: Recommended 1053 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
Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour, Panama City, Day Cruises
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 144 Reviews

This unique tour of the Panama Canal goes from the Pacific to the Atlantic ocean as you see the canal from the water and by foot. An exciting boat ride down ...  Read more

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

From USD $125.00
Panama City Sightseeing Tour Including Miraflores Locks, Panama City, Full-day Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Panama City Sightseeing Tour Including Miraflores Locks

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 918 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 Canal and Gatun Lake Jungle Eco Cruise, Panama City, Walking Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Panama Canal and Gatun Lake Jungle Eco Cruise

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 40 Reviews

In this tour that departs from central Panama City you will get up close and personal with the Panama Canal and the abundance of wildlife on its shores.  You ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $60.00
Panama City Tour And The Canal, Panama City, Day Cruises
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Panama City Tour And The Canal

Imagine the tales of Gallantry and Piracy that played out in the narrow streets of Colonial Panama known as the Casco Antiguo. This scenic, get acquainted, ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $130.00
Panama Canal Eco-Cruise and Rainforest Discovery Center, Panama City, City Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Panama Canal Eco-Cruise and Rainforest Discovery Center

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 16 Reviews

In this tour you will travel the Panama Canal by boat and see transiting ships up close as well as the diverse wildlife on the shores of Gatun Lake.  ...  Read more

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

From USD $105.00
Eco Canal Cruise On Gatún Lake And Miraflores Locks, Panama City, Day Cruises
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Eco Canal Cruise On Gatún Lake And Miraflores Locks

This tour combines the engineering marvel of the Panama Canal with an ecological boat ride on the Gatún Lake. Upon departing from the pier, your ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $175.00
Colon Observation Center of the Canal Expansion From Panama City, Panama City, Day Cruises
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Colon Observation Center of the Canal Expansion From Panama City

The Expansion Observation Center allows visitors to witness history in the making, while observing the construction of the new locks of the waterway.

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

From USD $285.00
Private Luxury Panama City Tour from the Beach Resorts, Panama City, Day Trips
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 3

Private Luxury Panama City Tour from the Beach Resorts

This Special Itinerary is for guests staying at Panama's beautiful beach resorts but still want to see Panama City´s most famous attractions and historical ...  Read more

Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: Flexible

From USD $158.00
Panama Canal Transit Tour, Panama City, Half-day Tours
TVRM_SORTED : true ESSENTIAL : 1 ADMISSION : 5

Panama Canal Transit Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 48 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

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