Gantry cranes are a type of crane built atop a gantry, which is a structure used to straddle an object or workspace. They are also called portal cranes, the "portal" being the empty space straddled by the gantry.

The terms gantry crane and overhead crane (or bridge crane) are often used interchangeably, as both types of crane straddle their workload. The usual distinction drawn between the two is that with gantry cranes, the entire structure (including gantry) is usually wheeled (often on rails). By contrast, the supporting structure of an overhead crane is fixed in location, often in the form of the walls or ceiling of a building, to which is attached a movable hoist running overhead along a rail or beam (which may itself move). Further confusing the issue is that gantry cranes may also incorporate a movable beam-mounted hoist in addition to the entire structure being wheeled, and some overhead cranes are suspended from a freestanding gantry.

Grantry cranes in the form of container cranes are prominent features of most container terminals, used to load intermodal containers on and off container ships.