Belize City, on the Central Coast, is, and always has been the commercial hub of the country. It used to be the capital until after 1961, when Belize City was almost destroyed by hurricane Hattie. Belmopan, the present capital, was subsequently built inland and on higher ground.
It is the most populated city in the country. There are four bridges which span the Belize River and connect the North and South sides of the city. Cruise ships do “stop-overs” for day tours and shopping at the Tourist Village.
Arriving by plane? You’ll land at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA), only ten minutes from downtown Belize City. If you want to visit the islands, there are two major water taxis (San Pedro Belize Express and Ocean Ferry) that go back and forth all day long from downtown Belize City.
A Walk Around Belize City
Albert Street or “Outta town”, are both synonyms for what we know as the heart of the Belize district – Downtown Belize. From 9 am to 7 pm, locals and tourists alike flood the street of downtown Belize City for anything your heart desires. Whether it is delicious tacos, mouth-watering meat pies, hot jam rolls, or fresh fruit from one of the corner vendors; you name it, it will be right there for you! Not only will you find an abundance of food options, downtown Belize is also known for its historical landmarks and colonial buildings and houses. This country is a complete melting pot of cultures, so a walk around Belize City is just what you need to experience culture and soak in the ambiance.
When walking down the crowd filled sidewalks of Albert Street, you will see small entrepreneurs on each side of you. Some will be selling gold or silver jewelry, handmade jewelry or paintings. On each corner, you can find a food vendor – the smell of fresh peanuts and pepitos (macoby seeds) will draw you near. You can also find fruit stalls or carts selling golden plums, mangoes, craboo or whichever fruit is in season for $1 a bag. On King Street, there is a small Belizean restaurant that has stood there for more than 20 years – Dits Restaurant. Here you can find warm jam rolls, lemon pie, milk cake, and so many other delicious Belizean desserts. Who doesn’t enjoy sightseeing and snacking at the same time?
At the far end of Albert Street, you will notice a large colonial designed church, known as St. John’s Cathedral, which is the oldest church in Belize. It was built in 1812 and 4 native kings of the Miskito tribe were crowned there. Across the street is the Government House, or House of Culture, that is open for visitors to explore the small museum inside.
When walking down Bishop Street, on your right, you will see the Court Houses and across from that is the Battlefield Park which used to be a meeting place for locals. Occasionally, you will notice horses passing by on either side of the street. A little further on, you will find Mule Park and the famous Swing Bridge which connects the north and south side of Belize; on special occasions, the bridge is swung to allow boats passing through – this is quite a sight to see.
Upon planning your trip to Belize, make sure a walk around downtown Belize City is on your to-do-list.