The city of Colón is Panama’s gateway to the Caribbean. It’s the main port of entry. If you’re cruising nearby, there’s a high chance Colón will be one of your stops.
While it’s not the most popular city in the country, it definitely has incredible sights and experiences to offer. There’s plenty to do, but if it’s a cruise ship that’s taking you to Colón, you will likely have just a day to explore the region and its beauties.
But you better be excited! Because while you are preparing for your trip, we’ll prepare a bucket list of things you can easily fit into the small amount of time you’re going to spend in the city.
7 Best Things to Do in Colón
Agua Clara Visitor Center
Being located on the Atlantic side, near Colón City, Agua Clara Visitor Center has made it clear that both its legacy and beauty will continue to shine upon the world.
In this remarkable place, you can learn more about one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering: The Panama Canal.
Up in the Visitor Centre, you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Canal, specifically the famous Gatun Lake, where you can see gigantic cargo ships and other vessels peacefully riding the waves. It’s a perfect place for photos and/or daydreaming.
Agua Clara Visitor Centre also offers a Projection Room, where you can see a short historic movie about the Canal. Throughout your visit to the room pay close attention to the walls and exhibits for the interesting information that will astonish you.
If you happen to be hungry after the information and the trip, the Centre offers two great dining options. One of them is a coffee shop, where you can have a quick snack and something to drink. And the other one is a restaurant, where, if you aren’t in such a rush, you can enjoy a nice, peaceful meal.
Before you leave, don’t forget that there is also a gift shop. Get a special something for a special someone or just get it for yourself. Cherish the memory of this heavenly place.
Interested in the Panama Canal and all it has to offer? Check out these tours to get to know the historic city and canal.
Fort San Lorenzo
Fort San Lorenzo is another must-see in Colón. Starting as part of a defense system for transatlantic trade, it is one of the most significant military ruins in the country. The original fort dates back to 1595 and sits on the top of a cliff, watching over the Caribbean sea and the mouth of Rio Chagres.
Today, the fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It did have to be rebuilt a few times in history as it has been burned to the ground and fired at by pirate cannons.
There are no official tour guides on the grounds, tourist offices around town can aid you with maps that’ll help you get to know the region by yourself. Some tours do include Fort San Lorenzo as a stop if you’re not looking to spend the entire day exploring.
Gatun Lake, Monkey Island and Sounds of Silence Island
Gatun Lake is a large artificial lake to the south of Colón. It takes a major part in the Panama Canal, carrying ships and other vessels for 33 km of their transit across the Isthmus of Panama. At the time the largest man-made lake was created. Gatun Dam was also the largest of its kind.
With the creation of the lake, many hilltops became islands. The largest and most famous one of them is Barro Colorado Island, home to the world-known Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).
Monkey Island is one of the most famous stops in Gatun Lake. Various tourist agencies offer trips there. For some of them you have to just call or just message to get picked up.
When they hop you on a high-speed motorboat in the lake, you’ll be amazed by the flora and fauna that surrounds the lake. If you’re lucky, you might get to see one of the small Gatun Lake crocodiles.
Once you get off the boat, you’ll walk onto the beautifully forested banks of the lake into the protected area where you’ll be able to see capuchin monkeys, three-toed sloths, howler monkeys and various kinds of toucans! Yes, toucans!
After the wildlife extravaganza, you’ll be able to get on that boat again and drive to an even more remote location, which is the Sounds of Silence Island. Where everything around is nature. Seize the chance to find yourself rocking on a boat, having red sunset rays soar above your head, surrounded by swinging leaves and singing birds. Sweet enjoyment of the soul.
When it comes to shopping, Colón has it all. Avenida Central is a six-block-long pedestrian mall that is lined up with restaurants and shops of all kinds. You can find everything, from dollar stores and small souvenir shops to designer suits, dresses, and perfume showrooms.
Shopping in Colón is a treat. Panama Viejo is an old district in the city, there you can find one of the largest, in the country, art and craft markets with vendors from all over the world.
Another thing that makes shopping a thrill is the bargain. Many of the vendors are willing to negotiate a price. You can have a shirt’s price brought down from $40 to $15. However, bargaining isn’t that easy, but it rewards you with a rewarding experience. It gives you a winning sensation.
Panama Canal Railway
The train that connects the oceans. The Panama Canal Railway could perhaps be one of the best train rides in the world. It passes through lush rainforests and cruises alongside the Canal’s locks. It simply captures the essence of Panama’s beauty.
The Railway has been active since 1855, effectively connecting Colón (Atlantic Coast) to Panama City (Pacific Coast) in just an hour ride. And you don’t even need a reservation! Panama City is definitely a blooming flower that needs to be seen, but the road to the city is where the magic lies.
However, their service’s long history doesn’t mean that they haven’t modernized. The inside of the train is being constantly updated though the implementation of luxurious coaches, carpeted floors, bathrooms, wooden blinds, a bar and, of course, air conditioning!
The whole trip would take you anywhere from six to 10 hours. Because of that, it is advised that you make sure you plan it out thoroughly, so you don’t miss your ship. There are also some tours that offer the train ride as an activity.
La Granja Campo y Aventura
La Granja (The Farm) is an ecological and ecotourism center about 10 kilometers from Colón, Panama. This is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for adventure activities. In The Farm, you enjoy experiences such as kayaking, horse riding, zip-lining, paintballing, fishing and so much more!
However, if you’re not all about adventure and you just want to chill in nature, La Granja has got you covered as well! They offer a nice and cozy poolside with a restaurant nearby. If you want to go for a stroll, they also do hike tours. So you can go adventuring while you’re adventuring!
And if you don’t have your cruise ship waiting for you at the port and you have a bit more time, The Farm offers accommodation in the form of cozy, atmospheric bedrooms!
The Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Trip
The Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Trip combines the majority of activities that are listed above. It’s a full-day adventure.
This amazing offer comes with a pick-up option. Meaning you can get picked up from various points in Colón. The walkthrough looks like this:
You’ll hop into an air-conditioned minibus that will take you to the coast.
You start by going with a boat to Monkey Island, observing the picturesque of the rainforest flora and fauna on the way there.
Afterward, you’ll be taken to the Agua Clara Visitor Center to enjoy the panoramic view and learn about the importance and history of the Canal.
Next, you’ll visit San Lorenzo National Park, followed by a picnic and a tour of Fort San Lorenzo, the 4-century old Spanish fort on a cliff with a view of the Caribbean.
The trip also includes lunch and bottled water throughout the day.
Your full-day trip ends with a return to your starting location. So you’ll be able to board the ship again.
Where to stay in Colón
Looking for where to stay in Colón? Check out these hotels located in Colón.
Is Colón Worth a Visit?
There are many ways to make your time in Colón a story worth telling. However, the ones listed above are perhaps the best of the lot. Panama is definitely worth a visit.
Don’t waste a minute! Explore!
Last Updated on January 29, 2023