Sitting on the picturesque coastline overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Belize City is the only major township in the country by the same name. It sits on a jutting headland with its sea port taking up the southern edge. The majority of visitors to Belize come to see its most famous attractions, from the Maya temples hidden in the jungle terrain to the west, to the exciting reefs that offer divers some of the best underwater scenery in the world. But the city holds plenty of attractions as well, and cruises are making it a favourite destination to stop at in the Caribbean.
Belize is an ancient country with a fascinating culture and some very unique history. Visitors are enticed by the opportunity of exploring a lost civilization as well as discovering its interesting flora and fauna. Belize City is vibrant and lively, hosting year round festivals that reflect local culture and beliefs. Everywhere you go the people are welcoming and inquisitive and there’s a party atmosphere here most months of the year. Stuck on what to do on a stopover in Belize? We’ve listed a few of the most popular visitor attractions to get you started:
Caracol: Take a day trip to see these ancient Mayan ruins which were built around 1200BC. Mostly used as places of worship and Royal temples, they were also the site for sacrifices to the Gods. There are several of the pyramid shaped structures still standing and visitors can view the sacrificial altars and the necropolis that sits to one side of the site.
Government House: In the days of British rule, this wooden building was the seat of power. Nowadays it’s a museum and filled with a variety of ancient artefacts from that period. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the city and is carefully preserved.
Zip lining and Tubing: For a tour of the city with a difference, join a zip-lining tour that takes you over the urban area and through some of the country’s dense jungle. This extreme sport can boast one of the longest zip lines in the southern hemisphere located right here in Belize. Afterwards, head down a canyon where you’ll enjoy some river tubing through the underground caves with a fully qualified guide.
Shopping in Belize
When it comes to shopping, Belize doesn’t have the variety many modern port cities enjoy. What is does have though, is a dedicated shopping area just for tourists arriving by cruise ship. It’s called the Belize Tourist Village and it’s a blend of shops and outdoor market stalls that sits right on the water’s edge, next to the port terminal. It’s usually a hectic place and only opens up when there’s a ship on the horizon. Be prepared to meet hawkers and hustlers vying for your attention, but you’ll also find some great bargains including gifts, alcohol and local spices.
Just outside this dedicated market is the unofficial one – the tourist flea market. It’s another place that only springs to life when a cruise liner is in port. Here you can find some decent hand carved wooden items as well as some chintzy T-Shirts and baseball caps to take home.
Eating Out in Belize
The cuisine in Belize is typically spicy, resembling Mexican in flavour and style. There are some restaurants in the city to visit but the best places to grab an authentic meal are from local street vendors who serve corn-fried tortillas with beans and a selection of meats. Look out for the version of this dish known as Caldo. They were the original flatbreads of the Mayan empire and are sometimes still cooked on the traditional hot flat stones they used all those years ago.