With its rich culture, breathtaking natural wonders, and pristine seaside location, it’s no wonder Belize City is such a popular travel destination. Yet, if you’ve never ventured to the Central America city, then trying to figure out what to see and do is a challenge in and of itself. Fortunately, we’ve done all the work for you by highlighting the best attractions and adventures in the area. Here are the top five things to do in Belize.
1. Get to Know the City with a Historical Tour
Dating back to the days of the Maya, understanding the local culture requires taking a step back into the past. Start by visiting the Museum of Belize. Located in a restored prison building that date backs to the 1800s, the museum houses art, artifacts, and exhibits spanning over 3,000 years of the region’s history. Other popular historical attractions in the area include St. John’s Cathedral and the Swing Bridge.
2. Meet the Local Wildlife
Part of what makes Belize such a magical place is its majestic wildlife, and the locals are committed to protecting it. This characteristic is incredibly apparent at the Belize Zoo. Covering 29 acres, the attraction only features species native to the area, serving as a sanctuary for rescued animals. Visitors are able to view these magnificent creatures in person and learn the importance of wildlife education and conservation.
The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is another fantastic location to explore the Belize District’s natural treasures. Consisting of over 16,000 acres of protected land, the sanctuary offers a variety of nature trails and boat-based exploration through the wetlands. There are hundreds of species living in the area, including the Jabiru stork, but all creatures remain wild without enclosures. Wear your most comfortable shoes because it’s definitely a trek, but it’s well worth the sweat for nature enthusiasts.
3. Take a Day Excursion to the Islands
Belize City’s convenient coastal location also provides easy water access to some of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Two of the top destinations in the area are Caye Caulker and San Pedro. Luckily, the San Pedro Belize Express offers affordable water taxis to both spots daily. If you’re traveling with a group, you also have the option to book a private charter to the islands.
San Pedro offers a wide selection of retail outlets and eateries, but visitors are drawn to the town because of its close proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef and the Great Blue Hole. Seeing the reef and the sinkhole up close and personal are unforgettable experiences, so book a diving or snorkeling tour. Over on Caye Caulker, the laid-back attitude of the locals sets the perfect scene for a day of beachside lounging. The island is also only a few minutes away from the reef, providing another excellent opportunity to witness the spectacular attraction in person.
4. Dive into Ancient Mayan Culture in Chetumal
Visiting Mayan ruins is one of the top things to do in Belize. While the Altun Ha site is only about an hour outside of Belize City, Chetumal, Mexico, to the north offers easy access to even more breathtaking archeological finds. Fortunately, Chetumal is also accessible by water taxi. Book an excursion directly from Belize City or extend your island excursion by a day and travel by boat from San Pedro — it only takes about 90 minutes on the water.
Once you arrive on the Yucatán Peninsula, make the Museum of Mayan Culture your first stop. The attraction offers hundreds of artifacts, along with educational exhibits exploring Mayan culture in Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. From there, book a guided tour to explore the Mayan ruins at Dzibanché, Kinichná, and Kohunlich.
5. Eat & Drink Like a Local
Back in Belize City, spend some time getting to know the city through its cuisine. The area’s diverse population and rich heritage blend together to create a delicious selection of unique dishes. Located at the historic Great House, the Smokey Mermaid offers a fine dining experience with freshly caught seafood and authentic Caribbean flavors. The Riverside Tavern, on the other hand, offers a casual atmosphere with comfort food offerings, like jerk chicken, and linguini pasta. If you want to mix with locals, visit The Wet Lizard for local delicacies, like fresh fried snapper, a thirst-quenching margarita, and water views.
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