Portobelo and San Lorenzo are located in the province of Colón, only one hour away from Panamá City. Portobelo is a small historic town on the Atlantic coast of the country where you can literally immerse yourself in the past, while delighting in the warm, crystal clear tropical waters. It has approximately 3,000 inhabitants who have lived there for many years.
In the sixteenth century, the Spanish conquerors needed a way between both oceans to communicate Spain with the lands of Bolivia and Perú. The Chagres River assumed that function, and soon its mouth was threatened by pirates and buccaneers’ attacks. This required the construction of these fortifications to defend it, which were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
In Portobelo you can admire part of the architecture of the colonial era. The old fortifications used by the Spanish to defend themselves against pirates stand out, among which you will find the Bay of Portobelo, dominated by the Iron Castle of San Felipe de Sotomayor, considered the most important fortification in the city. During your visit, do not miss other colonial monuments, such as the Church of San Felipe with its famous Black Christ of Portobelo, and the Royal Customs House, where the gold and silver of Perú and Bolivia were stored waiting to ship.
San Lorenzo is a Spanish fortification in excellent condition. You can visit a grave dating from 1760, the walls, the canyons, and the moat. Other important forts are San Jerónimo, integrated today in the city, and the Farnesio, where it is said that the famous corsair Francis Drake is buried.
To go to Portobelo you can leave take the Simón Bolívar road from the city of Panamá, which later becomes the Transisthmian highway. Go through Sabanitas, and then continue to Portobelo for about 45 km.
To get to San Lorenzo you can take the road to the Gatun Locks, and there you will see directions to San Lorenzo. Traveling on the transisthmian railroad to Colón adds charm to this getaway. You will skirt the Panama Canal, and enjoy the natural wealth through the tropical jungle.