The Canal and Central Panama Travel Guide
Central Panama's destinations are nearly all within a two-hour drive from Panama City, or in case of the islands to the southeast, within 90 minutes of the city by boat or plane. Most of the region's attractions can be visited on day trips from the capital, but a couple spots require overnights. Calle Omar Torrijos leads north from Panama City's Balboa neighborhood to the canal's Pacific locks, Summit, Gamboa, and Gatún Lake. If you go straight on that road past the left turn for Gamboa, you'll reach the Autopista Alfredo Motta, a toll road that leads to Sabanitas—where the road east to Portobelo and Santa Isabel begins—and Colón, and the turnoff for the Gatún Locks and San Lorenzo, shortly thereafter. The westbound Carretera Interamericana is reached by taking Avenida de los Mártires over the Bridge of the Americas. It becomes a two-lane highway and veers west before Chorrera, and winds over the mountains before reaching the Central Pacific beaches and El Valle de Antón, one to two hours from the city by car. The Pacific islands of Islas Taboga, and Contadora are reached by daily ferries or flights.