Arguably the most famous attraction in Panama is the Panama Canal. As one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World, the Panama Canal is a must-see for anyone traveling in the country. Built to dramatically decrease the travel time for ships between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, the Canal has seen over 900,000 vessels and counting. At one point this engineering miracle was considered impossible to build, but today, you can see it for yourself.
Did you know that the The Canal uses a lock system to lift ships up 85 feet to the elevation of the canal? How about the fact that it takes 8-10 hours for each ship to make the transit through the canal? Learn about all of this and more at the visitor center at Miraflores, where you can watch an IMAX documentary of the history of the canal narrated by Morgan Freeman. At Miraflores, you’ll also be able to watch the ships in transit just a few meters away.
For another vantage point, visit the Agua Clara Visitor’s Center on the Atlantic side of the Canal in Colón. Here, you’ll be able to see both the ships and the canal. Agua Clara is also where the brand new, larger locks are housed. Consider making a day of it, by canoeing The Chagres river afterwards, where you can visit the indigenous Emberá community in the Panama Canal watershed. Want the full Canal experience? While in Panama City, you can even organize a crossing of the Canal as a day trip to see the locks from a new perspective.
To visit the Canal, the Miraflores Visitor Center is just a 15 minute drive from downtown Panama City. The Agua Clara Locks are a 1 hour drive from the capital, nearby to Colon City in the Atlantic.