10 Places To Visit In Belize City
Belize can be found resting peacefully between Guatemala and Mexico and is a one stop destination for the intrepid traveler who wants to experience Caribbean culture in its entirety. Although many tourists do not stay in Belize City( the old capital of the country), there are many beautiful attractions nearby to explore.
The largest city in the country and the former capital, Belize City is not most visitors' first destination. Although flights and cruise ships regularly bring visitors to Belize City, most tourists immediately depart for other destinations. Considering that Belize's main attractions are its lovely nature and beautiful offshore islands, it makes sense that visitors aren't overly interested in the country's largest urban area.
Making things worse is Belize City's reputation as a haven for crime, violence, and gangland shootings. Even people who love this gorgeous country admit that Belize City is often the national black eye, inflating crime statistics that skew just how peaceful and relaxed the rest of the country really is.
That being said, it's important to remember that tourism is a major industry in Belize, so the government ensures that the areas of Belize City most frequented by visitors are safe, well-patrolled, and free from major crimes. In particular, the area around the Fort Street Tourism Village, the municipal airport, and the historic downtown area where the water taxi docks, the St. John Anglican Cathedral, and the Museum of Belize are all located is safe for visitors.
Although many first-time visitors avoid Belize City, there's plenty of raffish charm to this urban center. As the long-time capital of the colony and then independent nation, Belize City has a lot of history. And the colorful characters that make up Belize's melting pot society all call Belize City home, especially the Creole. Yes, there are some areas with ramshackle housing and slow-moving canals, but Belize City also has stately colonial-era homes, lively shopping districts, beachfront amusement parks, and a flotilla of graceful sailboats.
To begin your explorations of Belize City, start with Haulover Creek, the main waterway that splits the city roughly in two. Heading towards the coast, you'll soon find the historic center when you reach the Swing Bridge. From there, you can go northeast to visit the Museum of Belize, the Fort Street Tourism Village, the beautiful BTL Memorial Park, and the Baron Bliss lighthouse dedicated to Belize's greatest benefactor.
Heading south from the Swing Bridge, visitors can tour the St. John Anglican Cathedral, the only Anglican church outside of England that was used to crown a king. You can also visit the Government House. Once the principal administration building, it is now partly a museum and partly still used for administration purposes. There are fine hotels and restaurants to be found on both sides of the bridge, so feel free to explore this magnificent urban area in Belize.
Here are the top things to see and do in and around Belize City:
The Belize Zoo
- The Belize Zoo was initially intended for animals which were injured or donated to the facility and could not be returned to the wild. The zoo is now home to an impressive array of large cats, primates, reptiles and birds. You’ll have the opportunity to view Belize’s prolific wildlife in one location.
Museum of Belize
- The rich culture and history of Belize can be explored by visiting the Museum of Belize. Apart from the Mayan relics present here, tourists will also find a lot of exhibits.
St John’s Cathedral
- Central America’s oldest Anglican Church is brimming with British colonial architecture and has a special place in the history of Belize. Tourists would visit the place when they take up the city tour.
The Government House
- This colonial building played host to various dignitaries from all over the world and tourists can visit this place to catch a glimpse of some vintage stuff like furniture and photographs.
- This archaeological site is the same displayed on the national beer of Belize, and it has tremendous attraction for archaeology lovers. Jade Head of Kinich Ahau was found here.
- This is a Marina with its own beach, waterfall, museum, restaurant, and so much more in a small, quaint place away from the hubbub of the city. It is ideal for a family outing.
- A popular spot for picnics, families can spend a day in Goff’s Caye eating barbequed conch, fish, and lobster fresh out of the sea. They can also go snorkelling when the sun sets and witness the exquisite marine life.
Belize Tourism Village
-The tourism village is the entry port for those who cruise into the city and is a place to quickly get some local beer and souvenirs for friends back home.
Tour Belize City
- The best way to catch all the sights of the city is to hire a guide who will count off all the important attractions, get tourists acquainted with local food, and also suggest great options to shop for souvenirs.
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
-Ornitologists would love this wildlife sanctuary with its hundreds of species of birds. It is 30 miles away from Belize City.
In order to experience all these sights, it is best to hire a guide. For more information about visiting or touring Belize City, please contact [email protected].
A History of Belize City
Belize City is the oldest continuously inhabited location in Belize that was first settled by Europeans. Located on the coast of northern Belize, Belize City was founded in 1638 by English loggers known as Baymen. The natural harbor and the presence of Haulover Creek (today home to the world's only manually operated swing bridge) allowed Baymen to float down mahogany and other valuable lumber logged from further in the interior.
Originally, the Baymen used the small island of St. George's Caye, located just offshore from Belize City, as their base of operations. But constant harassment from Spanish naval forces in the 18th century led the Baymen to relocate to the mainland to what was then called Belize Town.
In the 19th century, Belize Town began to grow, soon expanding to both sides of Haulover Creek. After officially becoming a British colony (known as British Honduras), the administration made Belize City its capital with government buildings and elegant, palatial homes built on the seafront and enslaved Africans (now known as Creoles or the Kriol people) living further inland.
By 1880, the population of Belize City was around 5,000, the vast majority of which were Creoles. Britain officially abolished slavery in 1833, but the power and wealth in the colony remained firmly in the hands of people of European descent, which led to riots in 1894 and 1919.
Located right on the coast, Belize City was heavily damaged by a hurricane in 1931. In 1961, Hurricane Hattie destroyed more than a quarter of the city, so the British administration decided to relocate the capital further inland, creating the city of Belmopan. In 1970, Belmopan became the official capital, but Belize City remains the country's financial, transportation, and economic hub.
In 1981, Belize gained full independence from Great Britain. At this time, Belize City began to suffer from overcrowding and drug-related gang violence, leading many residents to emigrate to the United States. However, Belize City has made something of a revival in recent times with new middle-class residential areas being built on the northern and northwestern outskirts of the city.
Today, Belize City is now the tourism hub of the country because the only international airport is located close by, and more than a million cruise ship passengers dock just offshore of Belize City every year. The historic downtown section of Belize is now a major tourist attraction along with the Tourism Village built at the mouth of Haulover Creek.