Welcome to Portobelo

Today, Portobelo’s residents scratch out a living by fishing, tending crops or raising livestock. Though economically depressed, Portobelo is experiencing something of a cultural revival, with renewed interest in Congo art, music (especially punta, better known abroad as reggaetón) and dancing. The town bursts to life every October 21 for the Festival del Cristo Negro (Black Christ Festival), one of the country’s most vibrant and spiritual celebrations.

There are also nice nearby beaches, accessed by boat, and worthwhile diving and snorkeling.

Top experiences in Portobelo

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Travel guides

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Portobelo activities

$135 Tours & Sightseeing

Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal and Jungle Tour

To start this tour, you will follow the Panama Canal north to the town of Gamboa, where the Chagres River meets the canal. You will begin the wildlife viewing from a boat on the waters of the canal and Gatun Lake. You will ride along the waters of the Panama Canal right next to the ships passing through as well as have an up close view of the the abundant wildlife on its shores.  You will visit the famous Monkey Islands where you will see capuchins, howlers, and tamarins. Once you finish with the canal and lake boat ride (around 90 minutes), you will head 45 minutes north to the Caribbean side of Panama. You will visit the Agua Clara Visitor Center to see the new expansion locks working up close.  Located on the west side of the brand new Agua Clara Locks, the Agua Clara Visitor Center allows you to observe transiting vessels from a scenic lookout point and learn first hand about the various operations of the Panama Canal, the history of its construction, its participation in the world markets, and the importance of its watershed. An observational deck lets you watch the ships pass through the Agua Clara Locks on their way to the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. The next stop will be a visit to San Lorenzo National Park where you will visit a remote rainforest full of flora and fauna, followed by a freshly made picnic lunch and a tour Fort San Lorenzo. A 400 year old Spanish fort on a scenic cliff overlooking the Caribbean, here you will recount the many attacks by pirates and privateers that happened at one of the most historically important places in Panama.  The Fort of San Lorenzo, located on an 80 foot (25m) cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea at the estuary of the Chagres River, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 along with the fortifications of the city of Portobelo. It was part of the defensive system for the transatlantic trade of the Spanish Crown, and is a fine example of military architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Fort of San Lorenzo is one of the oldest fortresses in Spanish America. Here you will recount the many attacks by pirates and privateers that happened at one of the most historically important places in Panama.  Once you finish the tour of the fort, you will return to Panama City for hotel drop off.

$279.99 Cultural & Theme Tours

Portobelo Train, Gatun Locks Full-Day with UNESCO Site Tour

Departing in the early morning from your hotel, you'll head to the train station in Panama City to travel along the famous Trans-Isthmian (Panama Canal) Railway. You’ll learn about the history of this railway system, which was built in the 1850s and played a vital role in the construction of the Panama Canal. Your ride to Portobelo is scenic and comfortable as you travel through the Panamanian countryside. Upon arrival in Portobelo, you'll embark on a city tour to learn about the exciting history and culture of this port city. Notable characters such as Christopher Columbus and Francis Drake are said to have docked in Portobelo. Rumor has it that the city was also victim to vicious pirate attacks and raids. Tour the ancient forts and ruins that led Portobelo to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Areas of interest include the Santiago de la Gloria Fort, San Geronimo Fort, La Aduana and San Felipe Church. On your way back to Panama City, you'll stop at the Panama Canal for a guided visit of the Gatun Locks. You’ll learn about this intriguing system of locks, one of the greatest engineering projects to be undertaken at its time.

$144.45 Water Sports

Snorkeling Tour in Panama

Your tour will start with a pick up at 8am from any hotel in Panama City. Ground transportation from Panama City to Portobelo which will take around 1.5-hour.The snorkeling sites are 10 minutes away by boat from the diving operation. Once we reach the first site, get ready for your first dive of the day which is from the beach. Second dive is on a reef that drops from 3 feet to 50 feet vertical wall.Lunch takes place after the snorkeling excursion. After lunch we will have a short ride around the town of Portobelo before heading back to Panama City.You will be back to your hotel between 4 to 5 pm.

$200 Day Trips & Excursions

Isla Grande Tour from Panamá City

The experience starts by picking you up at 7:00am at the lobby of your hotel. From there we will take you to Isla Grande in Colón.Isla grande, means ´Big Island´, the island is not that big, but is the biggest island around, is really popular because of its beauty, people from all places come to visit Isla Grande to enjoy of the Caribbean water snorkeling, fishing or enjoying other activities.On our way to the island we will pass the historic town of Portobelo, founded 400 years ago where if you like we can make a stop. This is not part of the tour but we can make a 20 minutes stop in the place.When we arrive in La Guira we will take a boat that will take us to the island, it will take around 10 minutes to cross to the island.You can do more activities while you are in the island.Then when tour ends we will take you back to your hotel. This is an all-day tour.

$110 Day Trips & Excursions

Beautiful Mamey Island Daytour

We will pick you up at your hotel (within Panama City). No need to wake up at 5:00 am.  Our beautiful daytour starts at 8:00 am. We will make sure we grab some fresh tropical fruits for later on.  This daytour will take you to the most beautiful crystal clear beaches of my province: Colón. Before you make it to the island you will experience more:  the world heritage site of Portobelo, you may try a panamanian bollo and you will interact with very friendly "colonenses like me. Once we arrive the port, the boat ride is short, only 10 minutes and you arrive to a caribbean paradise. If, we are lucky, we may see some monkeys. Your lunch would be provided and drinks as well. It would be a relaxing, enjoyable and fun day at the beach and a little more. We always have surprises. Traffic may be heavy on the way out, so, just be prepared for that. It is worth it. You owould be dropped off at your hotel, happy and tired, around 7:30 pm

$800 Shopping & Fashion

Ultimate Duty Free Shopping Experience Tour in Colon's Free Zone

In this tour you will get to visit all the stores in Colon's Free Zone along with a guide. The tour is flexible so you can choose to focus specifically on what it is you want to shop for, be it shoes, clothes, jewelry or everything! The tour could take 6 - 8 hours, depending on your needs. Schedule time for lunch and/or dinner at Gatun Locks (Entrance to Panama Canal) on the Atlantic side.Let us know if you would like to visit Panama City's shoppers paradise such as:  SoHo Mall is a fashionista's dream come true with all designer stores.  MultiPlaza Mall is close behind with their high end goods. If you are interested in jewelry a visit to Reprosa would be in order.  They produce decorative gold pieces called huacas, similar to that found during the centuries before the arrival of the Spanish, that was made by indigenous groups . Spurred by the theft of huacas from the national anthropology museum, an American living in Panama during the 1970s set up Reprosa, which makes elaborate and stunning jewelry casts using the "lost wax" process of the ancient indigenous groups. If you're searching for a one-of-a-kind, luxury gift for someone special, come here. Reprosa has several more demure collections that include orchids, treasures from the sea, and so forth. They also offer a tour of their facilities.Panama's Luxury Shop Tours will impress even the most demanding shopper.  It will be an experience you'll never forget.  Colon's Duty Free Zone is one of a few worldwide.  The experience of touring the Gatun Locks and then shopping or vice versa will be exciting one. If there's enough time left, you could even go up the to Ruins of Portobelo, where natives sell handcrafted art and clothing.