When planning a vacation to Panama one of the highlights of your trip will be a visit to the Panama Canal. Although the Panama Canal has three locks, visitors mostly go to the Miraflores Locks because of its proximity to Panama City. A quick 20 minute car ride from downtown Panama City and you will arrive at the Miraflores Visitor Center. It is possible to go by yourself, although transportation must previously be arranged since there are no taxis in the Miraflores Visitor Center. Most visitors however choose to include this visit in a Panama City Tour, which usually includes Casco Viejo and Panama Viejo or the eco tourism destination of Gamboa, which is just past the Miraflores Visitor Center.
The Miraflores Visitor Center is open ever day, including holidays, from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., but the Miraflores Restaurant is open from 12:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. allowing visitors to see the ships cross the Panama Canal a night! The Miraflores Restaurant offers a buffet style menu, but it is possible to just sit down for a beer or a coffee to watch the ships. There is also a snack bar at the top where the observation deck is located.
The Miraflores Visitor Center at the Panama Canal has different prices for nationals and residents, than for foreigners. To encourage Panamanians to visit the center, the partial package is free, while the complete package has a maximum cost of $3.00. For foreigners the partial package cost up to $5.00, while the complete package has a maximum cost of $8.00. Students and minors get a special discount, as well as retired nationals and residents. Children under 5 have no cost to visit the Miraflores Visitor Center at the Panama Canal.
The complete package allows you to go to the exhibitions and the observation deck. There are four exhibitions at the the Miraflores Visitor Center at the Panama Canal:
-The History Hall
- The Hall of Water: Source of Life
- The Canal in Action
- The Canal in the World
These exhibits are the heart of the Visitor Center and include historic pieces, interactive modules, video presentations, models of the Panama Canal, and objects used in Canal operations.
When planning your visit to Panama do not forget to include a trip to the Miraflores Visitor Center at the Panama Canal. For more hands on tourist there are also Panama Canal Crossing Tours available.
This post is also available in: Spanish