Best Ways to Visit The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is one of the best man-made industrial feats of the 20th century and must be on everyone’s bucket list. There are several ways to visit the Panama Canal. Which one is best for you?

Visit The Miraflores Visitor Center

The most traditional way to visit the Panama Canal is going to the Miraflores Visitor Center.  Foreign visitors must pay $20 to enter the Miraflores Visitor Centre.

The Miraflores Visitor Center is located about 20 minutes-drive from Casco Viejo. The cost of an Uber is about $5. Watch out for the local taxi drivers on the way back. Make sure that you have data on your phone to hire a return Uber.

At the Miraflores Visitor Center there is:

  • An interactive museum 
  • A viewing deck where you can watch the locks in action and watch ships, large and small, pass through the Miraflores Locks
  • A buffet restaurant 

The best tome to go is about 2pm when the ships start coming from the Atlantic side and you can have a nice lunch in amazing surroundings.

Partially or Fully Transit – Visit The Panama Canal

The Partial Transit tour lasts approximately 6 hours and includes hotel pickup and drop-off, lunch, and non-alcoholic drinks. You will go through the locks at Miraflores and Perdo Miguel and drop you off at at the Gamboa Dredging Division to catch a bus back to the city. The cost is about $145 per person.

The Full Transit Tour will take a whole daytime and will involve a very early start. No problem at all, of course, if you are taking the transit on a cruise ship. A full day transit will cost about $200 if you are not on a cruise ship.   

Drive Over The Gatun Locks

Amazingly, although there are 2 bridges over the canal on the Panama City Pacific side (soon to me 3), there is no bridge yet on the Atlantic side near Colon, a new bridge is being constructed but it seems to be taking an eternity.

Instead, the only way to cross the canal on the Atlantic side is to drive over the Gatun Locks. It is certainly a unique experience on a visit The Panama Canal and you will have no other choice if you are visiting Fort Lorenzo or Shelter Bay Marina.

Agua Clara Visitor Center

The Agua Clara Visitor Center has recently been constructed as part of the massive Panama Canal extension project. The extension project built a new set of larger locks to allow some of the largest ships in the world to transit the Panama Canal). As you can image ships have got a whole lot larger over the last 100 years),

To  Agua Clara Visitor Center is a 90-minute drive from Panama City and not accessible by public transport so you will need to hire a car or visit the centre as part of a tour to the Atlantic side of Panama.

The center is open from 8 am – 4 pm and has a $15 entrance fee.

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