If you’re like me, the name “Belize” conjures up dreamy images of virgin rain forests, jungles, ancient Maya cities, barrier reefs, scuba diving, and tropical island paradises. A much-overlooked destination, however, is Belize City itself – which is surprising given that it is not only the old capital of the country, but also a point of entry for the rest of Belize. In fact, Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport is located only a 30-minute drive from the city center.
So what is there to see, do, and experience in Belize City? From walking tours to museums, galleries, religious sites, ancient monuments, and even a casino, there is no lack of interesting, fun, and entertaining venues to keep you busy. So let’s put our walking shoes on and explore the top attractions in Belize City!
Museums and Monuments
History buffs will love Belize City, which is seeped in history and home to numerous historical monuments and buildings.
- Museum of Belize: Originally a colonial jail known as “Her Majesty’s Prison,” today this historic building is home to a permanent exhibit of Maya pottery and ornamental pieces and to a collection of historic photos, documents, stamps, and old currency which give you a taste for Belizean culture through time. To keep your kids on their toes, check out the room teeming with mounted Belizean insects. And to travel back in time to a harsher past, be sure to visit the fully-restored prison cell.
- Baron Bliss Lighthouse Monument: Named in honor of Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, the 5th Baron of Portugal and a great benefactor of Belize, the lighthouse towers over the harbor entrance and is a great place to soak up some fresh sea air while enjoying a panoramic view of the Caribbean.
- St. John’s Cathedral: Not only is this the oldest Anglican Church in Central America, but it’s also the oldest building in Belize and the only church outside of England where royal coronations took place. If you’re thinking King Edward or King Arthur, however, think again! Back in the early 1800′s, it was the crowning ceremonies of four Mosquito Indian kings which were completed here.
Top Tourist Destinations
- The Swing Bridge: This site is fun and interesting for the whole family! One of the few remaining manually-operated swing bridges in the world, it brings together the North and South sides of Belize City. Originally built to facilitate the passage of sailing boats with tall masts and other large ships through the river, the bridge continues to be opened twice daily and is among the top tourist attractions in the city of Belize. It takes at least four men and well over an hour’s time to hand-crank the bridge open and then back to its original position!
- Other popular sites include the Image Factory, the Supreme Court Building, Old Belize, the Fort Street Tourism Village, and the Bliss Institute (the cultural heart of Belize City).
- The Princess Hotel & Casino: Sightseeing is great, but to complete your vacation, you also need some time to just have some fun. Belize City has you covered there too! Believe it or not, the popular Princess Hotel & Casino is located only moments from the Belize international airport and is packed with game tables, 400 slot and video poker machines, a free midnight buffet, and nightly live shows like you’d find in Las Vegas. You can tour Belize City by day, and play by night, retiring to your room just to get enough energy for the next day. Remember: you can sleep at home, but make sure you get everything you can out of your vacation.
With these attractions and so much more, Belize City is a vacation destination not to be overlooked. Whether you are spending all your time there, or just stopping in on a whirlwind tour of Central America, you will never forget your time in Belize.
About the Author:
Johnny Hasson is a lifelong travel enthusiast who enjoys writing about his experiences across the globe. When he’s not traveling, Johnny likes to read a good book, meet new people online while playing Smart Live Blackjack, and research destinations for his next trip.