Belize is becoming an increasingly popular country to visit in the Caribbean. Known for its beautiful atolls and cayes, stunning eco-resorts, and vibrant wildlife, Belize draws in visitors from all over the world every year. Belize is especially attractive to many visitors because of the fact that its national language is English, despite being surrounded entirely by Spanish-speaking countries.
While Belize’s biggest draws are its fine resorts and gorgeous islands, many visitors decide to check out the country’s largest city, too. Belize City is the main entryway into the country, as it has both a major cruise port and the only international airport in Belize. Since most travelers pass through Belize City on the way to their resort, many decide to spend a day or two checking out the city. Despite its increasing popularity, Belize City has a disparaging reputation for crime and violence, and there are definitely some things to consider before you go.
Best Things to Do in Belize City
1. Visit the Belize Zoo
One of Belize’s most distinguishing features is its diverse and exotic wildlife. From jaguars and ocelots to tapirs and howler monkeys, Belize is packed with beautiful animals that are really fun to watch. The Belize Zoo isn’t very big, but it does offer visitors the opportunity to spend the night near the animals and go for other outdoor excursions, like canoeing. The Belize Zoo is located about 45 minutes away from Belize City by car.
2. Check Out the Museum of Belize
The Museum of Belize is a nice museum located within the city dedicated to Belize’s history. It is located in a former prison, and is filled with ancient Mayan artifacts, a real prison cell, and other important mementos of Belizean history. If you are looking for things to do in Belize City, the Museum of Belize should be on the list.
3. Hire a Guide to Show You the City’s Highlights
Some of the best things to do in Belize City aren’t really things to do, but rather things to see. From St. John’s Cathedral and the Government House to other landmarks like the colorful Belize signs, there are many attractions in Belize City that are best visited by guided tour!
4. Take a Day Trip to the Altun Ha Mayan Ruins
When you visit Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, checking out Mayan ruins is a must-do activity. While Mexico’s Chichen Itza is a real stunner, Belize’s Altun Ha is pretty marvelous as well. While it is not nearly as big or grand, it is very well preserved and is an iconic image used all around Belize. The Altun Ha ruins are located about an hour north of Belize City by car.
5. Taste Belizean Rum at Travellers Liquors
Travellers Liquors is a local Belizean Distillery that is trying to become the undisputed top rum company in Belize. Located right in Belize City, this distillery has its own museum and offers tastings of its top products. If you like Caribbean rum, visiting Travellers Liquors will definitely be one of the best things to do in Belize City.
How to Get to Belize City
There is only one international airport in Belize, and it is located right in Belize City. If you are flying to Belize, you have no other option than to fly into Phillip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City. While I normally provide recommendations for other airports to consider, there is no great international airport within reasonable distance of Belize City, and all of them require a border crossing. For tips on finding affordable airfare, be sure to check out my post with tips for finding cheap flights.
There are very few places from where you would take a bus to Belize City. One might be Chetumal, which is a Mexican city right on the border about 2 hours and 45 minutes away. Chetumal would be the next best airport to consider when flying to Belize, but it is not really any bigger than Belize’s airport and is 3 hours and a border crossing away. The other city you might bus from is Belmopan, which is the capital city located about an hour and 10 minutes to the southwest. Buses within Belize are generally very affordable and safe if you find the need to use them.
Belize City is becoming an increasingly popular cruise destination due to the natural wonders located within a short distance of the port. Cruise ships anchor in the sea and transfer passengers by boat right to an area called Belize Tourism Village. From here, you can either walk or taxi to most of Belize City’s most popular attractions. Beware that the area immediately past Belize Tourism Village is a bit dicey and you should take caution when walking.
How to Get Around Belize City
BY FOOT | TAXI |
Belize City is very walkable, as long as you are prepared to walk through some of the sketchier parts of the city. It is a relatively small city, and most things are within a mile and a half of each other. There are no ride sharing services like Uber in Belize, and the public transportation in Belize City can be a bit sketchy. If you need to go somewhere that is not within walking distance, the best bet is absolutely to hail a taxi. If you plan on using taxis, it is a good idea to have some Belize dollars on hand.
Is Belize City a Good Cruise Stop?
As more and more Western Caribbean cruises head to Belize City, travelers often wonder whether or not Belize City is a good cruise port. After all, with the worries of violence and crime within the city, is it worth going on a cruise to Belize City when you can go to a private island or a more established tourism stop, like Cozumel, Mexico? I think the answer to this question varies greatly depending on what you are hoping to do.
If you want to explore a city, I recommend going elsewhere.
Belize City itself is not a great city, and it is very inferior to other popular cruise ports like Cozumel, Nassau, and Bermuda. If you want to take advantage of some of the things around Belize City, though, like the stunning islands and the iconic Great Blue Hole, Belize City is a great cruise port that you don’t want to miss.
For nature lovers and divers, Belize City is a great cruise port. For just about anybody else, you can do better somewhere else.
Is Belize City Safe to Visit?
I have mentioned several times throughout this post that Belize City doesn’t have the best reputation for safety. While the rest of Belize is very safe and secure, Belize City is the center of a lot of gang violence and other violent crimes. We even wrote a post about a run-in that we had with a gang while we were there. If you look up crime statistics, Belize City looks like a place that you definitely don’t want to visit – especially with children. The vibe, to me, feels very similar to Juarez, Mexico.
The truth, though, is that it really isn’t as bad as the numbers will suggest. Crime is certainly much worse in Belize City than anywhere else in the country, but the touristy areas are very safe and well-patrolled. During our visit to Belize City, we actually had an encounter with a gang who tried to rob us, but as soon as we ran into a public area the threat disappeared. Belize understands how important tourism is to its economy, and it does a great job of protecting tourists from the inherent dangers of the city. As long as you practice caution, stick to the touristy areas and don’t venture out too late at night, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
That’s all we have for you about Belize City! Hopefully this post leaves you feeling informed while planning your trip to Belize. With the proper precautions, you can have a perfectly safe experience in Belize City while checking out all of the city’s best things to do. If you have any more questions, be sure to drop a comment in the comment section or shoot us an email
If you’re planning a trip to Belize City, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Otherwise, have a wonderful day and stay present!
Bette, thank you so much for your kind words! My goal is to provide the best possible information for my readers, and it means the world to me that you think I am meeting that goal. I appreciate you!