Don’t count out Belize City just yet: this breakout Central American hub is yet to be fully discovered before jetting off to the greener or coastal corners of Belize. So how’s this for a 2023 travel resolution instead? Why not vow to give the often-overlooked destination, like Belize City, a try on a city break? Belize was named one of the trendiest international destinations emerging in the post-pandemic world, after all, and spending time in any city can be one of the most effective ways to tap into that country’s culture. For a tapestried history, convenient central location, plus all Belizean food of a fascinating cuisine that melds Central American and Caribbean, Belize City has a glimpse of it all — here are five reasons to choose it for your next city break in 2023.
1. Centrally Located
No connecting flight needed. The Philip Goldson International Airport, Belize’s one and only international airport, sits right on the outskirts of the city. And although the City of Belmopan is the capital, Belize City once was too. Sitting at sea level, the former capital of then-British Honduras was almost entirely destroyed in October 1961 by Hurricane Hattie. Despite moving capitals in 1970 after the devastation, historical relics in the form of buildings and infrastructure can still be seen in parts of the city. But we’ll get to that.
It’s about a 10-minute drive from the airport into Belize City itself. And choosing where to stay is also a factor to keep convenient. Beyond the ferns and flowering plants of the Best Western Plus Belize Biltmore Plaza’s tropical gardens, the comfy 90-room resort is classic yet chic, right on the highway. Not to mention, Belize City is just a 2-hour flight from continental US hubs like MIA, ideal for a quick break.
2. Historical Sight-Seeing
Go on a scenic tour of Belize City to discuss its economy, culture, historical landmarks, and architecture by heading downtown, either on foot or in an open-aired tour van. Then, cross the Swing Bridge, a hand-cranked metal bridge that replaced its wooden predecessor in 1923, which connects the north side with the south side. On the other side, you’ll find St. John’s Cathedral, the oldest Anglican Church in Central America and the only place outside of England where kings were crowned. The Museum of Belize, once a functioning prison up until 2002, is also near southside Belize City.
And for something even more thrilling, sign up for the eco-tour on the Belize River by boat, which navigates a nearby stretch of mangrove forests. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and manatees.
3. A Food Scene, Found
Not unique to just Belize City, but the entire country’s emerging culinary scene has a little something for everyone, regardless of budget. Organize your own food tour for Belizean favorites like whole-fried fish fresh from the coast alongside rice and beans at the hotel’s full-service restaurant, the Biltmore Bistro, or with lapping sea breezes at Smokeez Restaurant, within walking distance. Or err further into the melting pot of cultures with strongholds like Sumathi Restaurant for Indian, Chef Roger or Sahara Grill for Lebanese, Taka Kitchen for Japanese, or Canton’s and Chon Saan Palace for Chinese—some more rustic than others, but all the while, authentic.
After, satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to The Ice Cream Shoppe, an ice-cream parlour serving up scoops of handcrafted dairy perfection with a location that’s been in the family for decades; seasonal flavors like Sugar Corn, Dit’s Coconut Pie, and Mango Chamoy taste even fresher. Stay classic with choices like Lemon Pie (which, in actuality, is made with Tahitian limes and not lemons) from Nelly’s Sweets or Sugar Fix Bakery. Or, go contemporary, with a luxury Lemon Pie donut from Bleu Bakery.
And because Belizeans take their drinking seriously and the country’s distillery district is worth a visit too, add Traveller’s Rum Museum to your list for a crash course on Belizean barrel-aged rums. More of a beer person? Di Bruwry is a pretty tribute to Belize’s Belikin Beer, the quintessential beer of well, everyone in Belize. Try a flight of Two-5s, their craft versions using farm-to-glass interpretations of starfruit, bird pepper, and valencia oranges.