Introducing Colón Province
The mere mention of Colón sends shivers down the spines of travelers and Panamanians, but there is more to the province than its notorious capital. Stretching along the Caribbean coast from Veraguas Province in the west to the Comarca de Kuna Yala in the east, Colón Province is mostly undeveloped and virtually inaccessible, but steeped in a rich, accessible history.
During the colonial era, gold and silver bound for Spain were stored at the Caribbean coastal towns of Nombre de Dios and Portobelo. These were once the world’s wealthiest cities, attracting scores of pirates. In 1572 the English privateer Francis Drake sailed into Nombre de Dios and plundered its riches before reducing the city to ashes. In 1739 Portobelo was sacked by Admiral Edward Vernon, forcing Spain to finally abandon the Panama crossing in favor of sailing around Cape Horn. Today, the ruined city of Portobelo and the nearby fortress of Fuerte San Lorenzo stand as testaments to the faded glory of the Spanish empire.
The provincial town of Colón has also long passed its zenith. Although the city itself is an urban jungle racked by violent crime, the surrounding area is home to everything from pristine beaches and lowland rainforests to colonial splendors and modern engineering marvels. Within the span of a few days, you can snorkel in Caribbean waters, spot tropical birds on private reserves, stumble across ruins and admire the massive locks on the lesser-known side of the canal. And of course, it’s worth mentioning that the luxury train connecting Panama City to Colón is arguably one of the greatest rail journeys in the Americas.
Panama Canal Partial Transit Sightseeing Cruise
See for yourself how the Panama Canal works as you transit the Miraflores Locks, one of three locks used along the canal. The construction of the canal was one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken at the time, and it made an enormous impact on shipping in the region.
Portobelo by Rail and Gatun Locks Full-Day Tour from Panama City
Combine two of Panama's most famous cultural attractions on a full-day rail and coach tour from Panama City. First, travel by train to the UNESCO-declared city of Portobelo and learn about its people, culture and history. Then, travel to the Gatun Locks at the Panama Canal before heading back to your Panama City hotel.