Guide to Belize City

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Front view of the Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize (BZE)

Belize City is the largest city in Belize and the country’s center of commerce. It is Belize’s former capital and often, the first point of contact for travelers since it hosts the country’s only international airport (Philip Goldson International Airport).

On this page
About Belize City
Things to Do
Where to Eat
Where to Stay
Best Time to Visit
Getting Here & Around

About Belize City

Downtown Belize City

Located at the eastern tip of Belize’s central coast, Belize City is home to the largest population of Belizeans. Although it is no longer the official capital, because of the Philip Goldson International Airport, it remains the main gateway to everything and anything in Belize’s mainland or cayes and atolls.

Belize City is home to the largest concentration of large hotels, conference facilities, and a cruise ship terminal. This city is not necessarily the ideal base for a long holiday in Belize, but it’s worth exploring for a day or two and using it as a temporary base for nearby top attractions.

The city has a reputation for not being a safe place to visit. In particular, the southside of Belize City where a lot of poverty is evident. However, tourists are rarely victims of crime and there are many parts of Belize City that are actually really nice, such as the Kings Park neighbourhood, which borders the Caribbean Sea and is near the Belize Municipal Airport.

Things to Do in Belize City

belize zoo entrance sign

Spend a day and explore the old capital which is full of historical sites like Baron Bliss Lighthouse, Belize’s Supreme Court, the House of Culture, and St. John’s Cathedral. You can also check out the Museum of Belize, housed in the old prison built back in 1857. It was an active and working prison until 2002 when it was converted to a museum.

Within a short drive of the city are abundant nature and wildlife opportunities. The entire Belize district is home to a number of wildlife sanctuaries and reserves such as Crooked Tree. One of the top attractions in the country, the Belize Zoo is home to a number of rescued and endangered native animals.  Manatee viewing opportunities are nearby as well.

Also worth a visit is one of Belize’s signature Mayan sites, Altun Ha. After a few days in Belize, you are likely to recognize its largest temple, “The Temple of the Masonry Altars.” It is the featured temple on Belize’s national brew, Belikin Beer.

Top Things to Do in Belize City

  1. Go on a scenic tour of Belize City to discuss its economy, culture, and architecture. Typical tours also include jaunts to the Government House and St. Johns Cathedral.
  2. Leave the city for a bit to explore the Belize Zoo. The zoo only has rescued animals that are native to Belize and they roam “free” in large enclosures that replicate their natural environment.
  3. While you’re out of the city, why not explore a Maya Temple? Roughly an hour away from Belize City is Altun Ha, which is where the famous Jade Head of the Maya Sun God Kinich Ahau was found.
  4. Visit the Museum of Belize. Set inside the historic Queen Elizabeth’s prison, this activity is great for anyone interested in learning about Belize’s history and culture.
  5. Take a guided trip to Goffs Caye. This is the perfect beach day excursion. You get to eat fresh BBQ lobster, conch or fish and drink as much rum punch as you want.

Where to Eat in Belize City

Hudut Garifuna Food
Hudut with Fu-fu and Casava bread

A lot of people come from all around Belize to eat in Belize City with its array of multi-ethnic restaurants that may not be found in all parts of the country. While you can eat everything from Chinese to Lebanese, some of the best local eats can be found here. Think fry jacks, johnny cakes, meat pies, conch ceviche, rice and beans, and my personal favorite – the seaweed shake. It’s one of the most unique drinks you can get in Belize and as the name suggests, it is made with seaweed. It has condensed milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg and some vendors even sell them with a shot of local rum or brandy for an extra “pick me up”. You must also try the famous Panty Ripper!

Where to Stay in Belize City

The Great House Inn Colonial-style Hotel in Belize City

As mentioned, Belize City is home to the largest hotels with conference and meeting facilities. Hotels like the Radisson Fort George and the Ramada by Wyndham Princess are key properties for both local conferences and international seminars held in Belize. As you venture beyond Belize City’s waterfront area, you will find smaller guesthouses and properties like the Black Orchid Resort in Burrell Boom.

Best Time to Visit Belize City

belize jouvert

The best time to visit Belize City is from December to April, during Belize’s dry season which coincides with Belize’s tourism high season since you can mostly expect great weather. Due to the popularity of this time, however, the downside is that hotels, tours, and activities are more expensive.

But in all honesty, things in Belize City are relatively not that different during the tourism low season, and on top of that, many discounts are offered. Belize’s off-season is during Central America’s wet season, but unless you’re visiting during a tropical storm, often the rain is overnight or for brief 1 or 2 hour periods, and the rest of the day is fine.

As for a specific day that is the best time to visit Belize City, this is perhaps during Belize’s September Celebrations. Every year, for almost the entire month of September, Belize City comes alive with many festivities leading to the main event being Independence Day on September 21st.

Getting Here & Around

Most overnight visitors to Belize arrive in Belize via Belize City since the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) is located there. The airport is actually situated in Ladyville, a suburb of Belize City to be more specific. From there, you can catch a taxi, arrange a transfer or rent a car at the airport. Since Belize City is in Belize’s largest district, you can also use various means of public transportation (aka bus) to get there and around.