Yes, you’ve actually read correctly, it is possible to visit the famous Panama Canal at Miraflores Locks nearly for free! See how it works below.
You might have already informed yourself about how to visit Panama Canal. Wherever you look, you will always stumple over the high ticket prices. So were we when planning our visit and because of that we actually have cancelled that visit. We really wanted to see the famous symbol of Panama but were too not willing to pay the high entrance fee of 20$ p.P. When we had almost given up our plan, we found out how to see the ships passing for free.
Normally, if you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t get to see any of the canal. It is enclosed by high walls which is why you literally see nothing of the monument from the outside.
How to get to Miraflores Locks
There are regular buses leaving from Albrook bus terminal. Sometimes you need to get out on the main road, bus stop “Miraflores-R” at the branch to the canal as the bus only goes there if enough passengers want to go there. But don’t matter it’s only a 10 minutes walk to the entrance from there (see map). If the bus goes directly to the Canal the bus stop is “Esclusas Miraflores”. By bus is by farthe cheapest way to get there. With your metro card it costs only 0,25$!
You can also get there easily and probably more comfortable by uber for aproximately 5$ from the city center.
How to visit Miraflores Locks for FREE
The only legal way to see the ships passing through the Locks is “buying” a ticket for the restaurant. You don’t have to pay money for it but you need to order it at the cashier desk. After that you can pass the security control and go up to the restaurant. The restaurant has got a fine panorama terrace where you can sit as long as you want if you order something to drink. But this won’t crash your budget as the cheapest drink (lemonade) costs only 2.5$. You can also eat at the restaurant but only indoors and they only offer buffet for ~30$ p.P.
In Conclusion it IS possible to visit Panama Canal totally for free if you just want to catch a short look at the locks. But we think that also 2.5$ is really cheap in comparison with the 20$ entrance fee and you can stay as long as you want to.