Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019. 3:17 pm CST.
It’s not the most well-known of Caribbean vacation destinations, but the beautiful nation of Belize should absolutely be on your bucket list. From pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters to dense jungle and ancient ruins, the country’s small stature certainly doesn’t impact its offering for tourists of all kinds.
As a destination filled with adventure, culture and beauty, figuring out where to even begin your exploration can be overwhelming. That said, when traveling to Belize, there is really only one obvious destination which allows you to experience all the country has to offer: Belize City.
As the old capital of Belize, the city is steeped in history and is a melting pot of tourist delights. Split into the up-market North Side and the historic South Side, Belize City is generally abuzz with tourists of the cruising variety as a multitude of cruise lines make use of the city’s copious number of attractions to keep travelers of all kinds entertained.
Many ships stay in port for the day, but with the city’s ever-growing popularity some now offer an overnight option too (something which we definitely recommend if you get the chance).
So, are you heading to Belize City on your next vacation? Here’s a rundown of the top 9 things you can do with your time in this wonderful city.
1. Belize Museum
Located on the city’s North Side, the Belize Museum is the cultural heart of Belize City. Built over 150 years ago to house prisoners, the building was reopened in 2002 as the country’s dedicated showcase of Belize’s rich culture and history. From ancient Mayan artifacts (some over 3,000 years old) to remnants of the British Colonial Era, the Museum is a must-see when visiting the city. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday so plan your trip accordingly so you don’t miss out.
2. St Johns Cathedral
Not just your average church, St John’s Cathedral is the oldest surviving building from the British Colonial Era, and its architecture certainly shows its British origins. Juxtaposed between ornate pews, stained glass windows and an antique organ is the Cathedrals links with the country’s Indigenous culture. Located in the heart of Belize City’s historic district, the Cathedral offers free entry, 7 days per week, so make sure you make time to visit, even if just for an hour or two.
3. The Government House
The Government House, more commonly known now as Belize House of Culture, is yet another one of Belize City’s reminders of the Colonial Era. Built while still under British rule in 1814, Government House was the main residence for British dignitaries over the years. However, the function of the building changed when Belize was liberated and gained independence in 1981 becoming more of a celebration of Belize independence. Wander through the numerous rooms, take a look at the historically significant pieces and soak in the overwhelming sense of cultural pride in this incredible building for an afternoon well-spent in this fascinating city.
4. Fort Street Tourism Village
If you’re looking for some retail therapy, lively entertainment and great bars and restaurants, Fort Street Tourism Village is where you should head. With over 30 gift shops selling everything from souvenirs to Belize-made chocolates, the colorful harbor village is sure to have something for everyone. What’s more, the village ramps up its offering on days when cruise ships are in port, with many vendors setting up pop-up shops outside the village too.
5. Belize Zoo
The Belize Zoo is around a 30-minute drive from Belize City and is absolutely worth the short trip. Housing over 125 animals native to Belize, the zoo is set on 29 acres of tropical savanna. Open every day, tours of the zoo only take around 2 hours, so you could easily fit in this attraction in a morning or afternoon.
6. Swing Bridge
The oldest swing bridge in Central America, The Belize City Swing Bridge is located in downtown Belize City. This historical landmark is actually one of the only surviving manual swing bridges in the world, so watching it open and close for a few passing minutes will be a sight you’re unlikely to experience again!
7. Altun Ha
Located about an hour outside of Belize City, Altun Ha is one of the most visited tourist sites in Belize. The magnificent Mayan temple excites tourists with its ancient carvings, rich and meaningful history and sacred and spiritual significance. Taking a tour from Belize City is the best option for visiting this historic site; not only will it make your journey hassle-free, but you’ll also benefit from the knowledge of your guide as you learn about the site’s fascinating history.
While you can take in the ruins from ground-level, most tours will involve some degree of hiking, so make sure you bring comfortable shoes!
8. Caye Caulker
Belize is well-known for its beautiful beaches and azure waters, and you can even embrace them while visiting the city! Located just 20 miles off Belize, this small island is perfect to spend a few hours relaxing on the white sand or snorkeling in the warm waters. Accessible by water taxi, getting to and from the island is quick and easy (which is obviously important if you’ve got a ship to catch!).
9. A Little Bit Of Adventure
Looking a little further afield, but still in the realms of a viable day-trip from Belize City, there are a number of options if you’re looking to get away from sightseeing and embrace your adventurous side. From tubing to zip-lining, there are a number of tours operating daily which take your from the city to adrenaline-junkie paradise in an hour or less! Our personal favorite is cave kayaking!
So, are you planning a visit to Belize City? Let us know in the comments which activities you’re hoping to fit into your trip…
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