Your guide to Belize City, Central America!
Belize City is the old capital of the jewel and also the financial and industrial hub of Belize. Contrary to popular belief, Belize City can be an enjoyable urban adventure like any other city in the world. Much history has taken place in and around its vast area making it a heritage center for Belizeans.
Just to clarify the city status: the actual capital of Belize is Belmopan, the new capital of the country. However, most people still refer to Belize as Belize City, established in 1638 as “Belize Town” and then “Belize City”, which was then abandoned as the capital a couple years after hurricane Hattie destroyed it in 1961.
With Belize City’s diverse offerings, we’re here to give you a heads up on the best of the best of things to do, see, taste, and experience in the old capital of Belize.
Belize City Video
Where to go in Belize City
The Museum of Belize
This historical site stands within the compound of the now Central Bank of Belize and has done so since the year 1857 before the CBB was even a dream. Originally Her Majesty’s Prison in 2002, the sites focus shifted from keeping criminals in, to keeping them out. A magnificent wealth of Belize’s history is housed there, from our first postage stamp depicting Queen Victoria, to the Buena vista Vase that depicts the mythical Maya Hero Twins dancing in
Originally Her Majesty’s Prison in 2002, the sites focus shifted from keeping criminals in, to keeping them out. A magnificent wealth of Belize’s history is housed there, from our first postage stamp depicting Queen Victoria, to the Buena vista Vase that depicts the mythical Maya Hero Twins dancing in victory over the Lords of Xibalba.
There is even a perfectly preserved jail cell for nostalgic value as well as traveling exhibits that are displayed for about 6 months of the year ensuring you always have some “new” Belizean history to see.
St John’s cathedral
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist is the only cathedral in Belize, and also the first church ever erected in the colony days of British Honduras. Originally completed in 1820 St John’s was built from bricks that were used as ship ballast and has stood strong for almost 200 years.
The Cathedral has been the headquarters for the Anglican diocese in Belize since 1890, a true testament to longevity and a stalwart reminder of our History in Belize.
Governor General’s home – house of culture
Built in the 1860’s, the now named Government house has been exactly that; a house for Superintendents, Lieutenant Governors, and Governors sent as representatives of the crown, as well as the first Governor-General of the nation.
The government house has seen a reception for the crowning of Miskito kings, the emancipation of slaves and Belize’s very own Independence ceremony when the union jack was lowered and the Belize flag flew for the first time.
In 1999, the Government House was converted into a house of culture and opened to the public becoming a vibrant center of culture and history for the city and the rest of the country as well.
A Recent addition to the collection of landmarks within the city, this large colorful Belize sign has become quite popular among patriotic locals and inquisitive travelers.
Perched on the sea-side in one of the north-side neighborhoods called Buttonwood bay the gazebo and park benches and the other near the lighthouse makes for perfect photo opportunities, if you’re in the area, snap a pic and check in!
Baron Bliss lighthouse
Baron Bliss, or Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, 4th Baron Bliss was a British-born traveler who became enamored with then British Honduras coastline. At the time, just weeks before his death, he willed almost 2 million Belize dollars to a trust fund that aimed to benefit the citizens in agricultural and vocational projects.
Upon his death, his will stated to build a lighthouse and bury him adjacent to it. These orders were executed by the Governor and Attorney general of the time.
The emergence of the BTL Park in the New town Barracks area of Belize City is a result of the company’s promise to provide citizens with clean and safe recreational areas. BTL has made very good on their promise, adopting multiple parks across the country and renovating them, most recently adding a large stage and wifi to their seaside park in Belize City.
The recreational area is frequently host to community entertainment events and even music festivals and concerts.
Where to eat in Belize City
Nerie’s has been one of the best in “down home” Belizean cooking for years in Belize City and truly fit the bill for authentic. With dishes like the traditional rice and beans, lamb curry, fried whole fish, and a cozy welcoming atmosphere, Nerie’s is a delight to the palette and a welcomed escape from that ever-present Belizean heat.
Nerie’s has 2 restaurants, one on Daly street and the other on Douglas Jones St.
Taka San Restaurant
Located at the start of the northern highway, on the second floor of a little shopping plaza is Taka San, Belize’s first Japanese establishment. Taka San serves up all the famous and favorited of Japanese cuisine such as onagri, miso soup, sushi, udon in various preparations, edamame, and ramen soup; real ramen soup.
Run by a Japanese family, there’s no call to question the authenticity of the flavors, all their food is tasty and the service is second to none.
It’s no coincidence that the restaurant has its name as it’s become almost a household name even in the neighboring districts. Their friendly staff, great flavor and copiously generous portions have made this restaurant a mainstay in the city and is ranked as #5 on trip advisor. Try their whole fish (yes fish is a thing in Belize City) and their Shrimp Alfredo. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself eating beside Belize’s Prime Minister, his wife, or other high-ranking officials.
Great morning coffee at le petit, located directly in front of the Radisson hotel near the Baron Bliss lighthouse. Le Petit café does morning right. They have a very friendly staff with the “Yes I Can” spirit and efficient ordering system.
Their offerings include baked treats of all sorts, breakfast croissants, meat pies, wheat and multi-grain bread, sandwiches and other light menu items. Enjoy one of their espresso options for an instant “pick me up”.
Moving away from the “Belizean Food” theme that has been going, Sahara Grill is a wonderful example of how multi-cultural Belize can be. This quaint little Lebanese restaurant is thriving in the city as locals rave over their offerings from the Middle East. All their ingredients are fresh and dishes prepared from scratch.
You’ll want to try everything, the hummus, the kebabs, and if you’re lucky enough to get there early you can have authentic baklava for dessert, what a treat!
Looking on from outside of the Riverside Tavern leaves you quite unprepared for the relaxed ambiance inside. The tables, chairs, and plush corner booths are all very comfortable and the climate control inside is a wonderful oasis from the elements. Tavern (as it’s referred to by locals) holds fame for the best burgers and beers in the city, their avocado burger, in particular, is phenomenal.
Don’t let the burgers and beer note turn you off, it’s not a noisy sports bar, Riverside tavern, ranked at #1 on TripAdvisor has all the best that Belize city can offer in one place! It is also home to concerts featuring international artists from time to time.
Chon Saan Palace
Another departure from Caribbean Belizean food is Chon Saan Palace, and a Palace it is. The restaurant is tastefully decorated in Asian memorabilia with a large Buddha statue at the entrance and a myriad of other décors within. The staff is always super friendly, and despite being busy very often orders come out quickly and thankfully so because you’ll be eager to dig into their mouthwatering preparations.
Their sweet and sour, Asian style is a huge favorite along with their fried rice, but to be fair everything on their menu is astoundingly good.
As some of you may have imagined by the name, Sumathi is Belize City’s entry representing the Indian community, and in a big way. As with most places on the list, Sumathi is comfortably air-conditioned and the furniture is quite comfortable, and the service is very friendly. Sumathi serves exclusively Indian dishes, curries, tikka masala, traditional Indian lassi for when the curry overcomes you and even Gulab janum for a light, sweet, delightful finish to any meal. For the familiar or adventurous, Sumathi is a must try.
Spoonaz Photo café & Bar
Spoonaz is definitely more of a youngsters spot, a place with good coffee, cold drinks and a lot of big ideas. The theme for this establishment is probably a first within Belize and the artsy interior a stark departure from many other establishments who tend to want to revolve around local culture. Frequently hosting live music on Fridays and numerous open mic nights makes Spoonaz a great place to kick back and indulge in some free expression.
What to do in Belize City
Bliss institute for performing arts
Created via funds from the Bliss Trust mentioned earlier, the Bliss center for performing arts is an amphitheater where Belizeans hosts orchestra recitals, ballet recitals, game shows, concerts and cultural displays.
Visit the Swing Bridge
The swing bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Belize, the oldest of its kind in Central America and one of the few hand-cranked swing bridges in the world. The original swinging purpose of the bridge was to let sailboats pass through, but has recently become used only upon special request.
Sightsee Regent St.
Regent street is one of the oldest streets in the City, in addition to being the street that St johns cathedral and the Government house are on, it’s also home to many still standing colonial houses and is a joy to stroll down and sightsee the well-preserved heritage of Belize.
Travellers’ rum tour
Travelers liquor is one of Belize’s larger distilleries and is the producer of one, three, and five barrel rums, as well as the locally famous Kuknat coconut rum. Their distilling facility has a fine tour in place which includes rum tasting and discounted purchasing.
If you fancy a slow tour to the clip-clop of trotting hooves then you’re in luck, Belize City’s inventive locals have outfitted carts and horses to take you around the best sight-seeing spots in the area.
In similar fashion to the horse carts, the calypso train takes you along a fun ride with a guided tour of Belize city to see the sights.
Helium balloon ride over Belize city
While not a traditional type of balloon, the Helium Balloon tour in Belize City gives you and unparalleled view of the surrounding areas and the sea, if you’re lucky you’ll get an aerial view of the local planes landing and boats jetting by.
Situated 4 miles on the western highway, Old Belize is a man-made beach with slides and trampolines in the little bay, with a museum that has characteristics of Belize over 30 years ago, restaurant, and marina all in one place. Old Belize is perfect for families with children who love to play in the sand and “surf”. Check them out online at https://www.facebook.com/OldBelize/
Interested in a Belize City tour? Contact The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s Inland Expeditions and automatically save 20% by using PROMO code #BT16.
Did we miss anything? comment below with your suggestions and we will review for possible addition to this Belize City guide! 🙂