Situated just 10-15 minutes north of Panama City, Miraflores Locks contains two chambers and is the Canal's southernmost set of locks. A visitors center, complete with museum, restaurant/bar, souvenir shop and auditorium resides just in front of the locks' control tower, providing visitors with close-up views of the locks and vessels during transit. Visitors have the option of viewing the Canal from the roof, offering scenic views of Miraflores & Pedro Miguel Locks, Miraflores Lake, Centenary Bridge and surrounding area or, the second level, which has comfortable, shaded seats. Pamphlets and other printed material about the Canal are available upon entering the visitors center.
Buses to Miraflores Locks depart regularly from the Albrook Bus Terminal, and take only 15 - 20 minutes to arrive. Buses that read "Miraflores" will take you all the way to the visitor's center, whereas buses that read "Forestal" will only drop you off along the main road that passes in front of the Locks. If you opt for the latter, you'll need to walk about 5-10 minutes in order to reach the Visitor's Center. After passing through the entrance gate, continue walking until you cross over the steel bridge - the Miraflores Dam will be off to your right. Then, stay to your left and proceed until you reach the large staircase/elevator that leads to the main entrance. Metro buses to Miraflores Locks depart every 30 - 45 minutes.
Pedro Miguel Locks, which contains only one chamber, resides just north of Miraflores Locks, on the northern most part of Miraflores Lake. Unlike Miraflores, there is no visitors center, however, there is a large parking area in front of the locks allowing visitors to get an close up view of the vessels as they enter into and out of its single chamber.
Buses to Pedro Miguel Locks depart from the Albrook Bus Terminal, and take only 20-25 minutes. Metro buses that read "Forestal" will drop you off along the main road that runs just in front of the locks.
Gatun Locks, which has three chambers, provides the best opportunity to view the Panama Canal in operation. Southbound and northbound vessels can be seen throughout the day, allowing visitors to follow the vessels as they navigate between Gatun Lake and the Caribbean Sea.
Situated just in front of the Locks' control tower is a large, comfortable viewing area, where bilingual speakers are always present to narrate and answer any questions you may have. There is also a small souvenir shop at the entrance.
There are no pubic buses that will take you directly to the Gatun Locks entrance.
Partial and full transits through the Panama Canal are offered regularly. Partial transits include a trip under the Bridge of the Americas, through Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks, up Gaillard (Culebra) Cut, under the Centenary Bridge, and on to Gamboa, where you'll disembark. Full transits continue northbound from Gamboa through Gatun Lake, passing Barro Colorado Island (Smithsonian Institute) to your left, through Gatun Locks, and then on to Colon, where you'll disembark. Most partial and full transits depart from Panama City, however, on occasion your tour will consist of a southbound transit, in which case you will be transported, by bus, to Gamboa or Colon where you'll begin your tour.