Guide to Belmopan

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National Assembly of Belize in Belmopan City

Belmopan is the capital of Belize and where most government buildings, foreign embassies and NGOs are situated. It is the second-largest city in the country and has a bustling local economy surrounding the federal government.

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

About Belmopan

Belmopan Roundabout on Forest Drive

Located in Western Belize, Belmopan is the nation’s capital and it is primarily where most government buildings, foreign embassies, and NGOs are based. The city is situated in the center of Belize, within the Cayo District. It is 45 minutes by car from the ecotourism hub of San Ignacio and 1 hour from Belize City, the center of commerce and where Belize’s only international airport is (Philip Goldson International Airport).

As one of the few planned settlements in Belize, Belmopan was not always the national capital. The former capital of Belize was Belize City, but after Hurricane Hattie destroyed much of it in 1970, the capital was relocated to Belmopan since it is on high ground and has no rivers passing through the area. Prior to Belize having dams (hydropower plants), heavy rains from hurricanes and tropical storms would at times overwhelm rivers, resulting in uncontrollable floods during the wet season.

Area:12.66 Square miles
Population:27,000 (est. 2021)
Nearby Settlements:Roaring Creek (west), Cotton Tree (east), Armenia (south)
Nearest Airport:Belmopan-Hector Silva Airstrip

Things to Do in Belmopan

Cave tubing in Belize

With the center of Belmopan primarily consisting of office buildings, it is not a typical stop for tourists. Instead, the city is often used as a connecting point for people traveling by bus to other popular destinations in Belize. However, the capital does have a few attractions, with many other top jungle attractions just a few miles outside of the city. 

Top Things to Do in Belmopan

  1. Explore the story of Belize at the George Price Centre for Peace and Development, and visit National Assembly Building, to see a brutalist representation of ancient Maya Temples
  2. Visit Nohoch Cheʼen Caves Branch for a rainforest adventure of cave tubing and canopy ziplining
  3. Hike the well-maintained jungle trails and swim in a blue cenote at St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park
  4. Eat local food or stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables at Belmopan’s various outdoor markets
  5. Explore the wildlife and lush vegetation at the Guanacaste National Park just outside the city

Where to Eat in Belmopan

Local restaurant in Belmopan City

Belmopan is one of the most ethnically diverse places in Belize and as a result, you can find food from every culture of Belize. There are several formal sit-down restaurants but small food stalls are ubiquitous. The country’s national dish: Rice and Bean with Stew Chicken is available everywhere, however, due to a high concentration of Mestizo cooks, Belizean fast food favourites such as Panades, Garnaches, Salbutes and Tacos reign supreme.

Where to Stay in Belmopan

Canopy-View Tree Houses at Cave Branch Jungle Lodge

As mentioned earlier, Belmopan is not a popular tourist destination. As a result, you won’t find nice resorts within the city. Instead, there are several motel-like accommodations such as The Inn at Twin Palms and the Hibiscus Hotel. However, there are a few really nice resorts just outside the city that can be included as “hotels near Belmopan”.

Best Time to Visit Belmopan

belize carnival

The optimal time to visit Belmopan is from January to March, which is during Belize’s dry season. You can expect sunny days and clear blue skies with limited rain showers. As for a specific day that is best to be in Belmopan, this is probably during the September Celebrations or the Agriculture and Trade Show. 

September is filled with national celebrations to commemorate the Battle of St. George’s Caye and Belize’s Independence. The Agric Show is a national weekend event in April or May where farmers and local businesses showcase their products to Belizeans.

Top Events in Belmopan
Independence Day, September 21st
Battle of St. George’s Caye Day, September 10th
National Agriculture and Trade Show, April or May

Getting Here & Around

Belmopan doesn’t have an international airport, so you’ll have to fly into the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) near Belize City. From there you can either catch a taxi/shuttle or rent a car. Transportation options in Belmopan include walking, biking, taxis, and car rental.

Taking a domestic flight to Belmopan (10 minutes) from Belize City would be the fastest way to get there but its airport is not popular so it’s used infrequently. Local airline Tropic Air sometimes flies there but you must contact reservations to book the flight.

Getting to Belmopan from Belize City by car rental, taxi or shuttle will take about 1 hour. You can rent a car or catch a taxi/shuttle at the airport. Car rentals cost approx US-$75/day and a chartered taxi from the airport to Belmopan is about US-$100. Shuttles charge a minimum of US-$75 for 1-2 persons and about US-$25/person for 3-5 people. Most all-inclusive hotels offer transportation options with their travel packages.

You can also take the local bus to Belmopan. From the international airport, you will have to take a taxi to the Belize City bus terminal (US-$25) where you can take a bus to Belmopan for about $5 USD. The bus trip is 1.5-2 hours.

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