Belmopan is the capital of Belize, nearer the geographic center of the country than (former capital) Belize City. It was established following the massive damage that occurred when Hurricane Hattie struck Belize City in 1961; an inland location was deemed a safer location for the national government than the low-lying seaside metropolis of Belize City.
Getting in to Belmopan is easy; two highways serve as a entrance to Belmopan: the Hummingbird Highway and Western Highway. Travel from Belmopan to Belize City using the novelos or the batty bus lines is less than US$6 (BZD12) per person.
Buses to and from Belize City leave on or close to the hour. Express buses take an hour to an hour and a half, whilst non-express buses can take up to two hours to travel between the cities.
You can get around Belmopan by car or taxi, but Belmopan is a small city. Walking can get you around and really show you the true city.
There is a taxi rank at the Belmopan bus station in Market Plaza. Always agree on the price before getting into a taxi. Most taxi fares within Belmopan will cost between $5-10 Belizean dollars, longer trips will incur a larger fee.
Mayan sacrifice at Actun Tunichil Muknal
Many tour companies in and around Belmopan run tours to a wide variety of interesting caves, ruins, and jungle trails. It's a good idea to look for reviews for other tour companies on review sites before booking, in case some of them may have treated guests poorly.
Most of these are day trips, leaving early in the morning and returning the same afternoon. Note that not all tours are available on any given day. Most tour companies require a certain minimum number of registrations before they'll make the run. Checking in the night before for which tours are available the next day is often the best option.
- St. Herman’s cave – Exploring a remote cave once used by the ancient Mayas for ceremonial purposes. Hundreds of pieces of Mayan pottery chard's can be seen inside the cave. The cave is approximately a mile long and is adorned with beautiful stalactite and stalagmite making this a beautiful place for photographs.
- Cave Tubing - Enjoy floating past side windows that filters the jungle light trough the mist as you swirl around stalactites and stalagmites looming from above and below through the underworld mystic cave caverns. Cave tubing can be done at either Jaguar Paw or St. Herman's Blue Hole National park, just minutes away from Belmopan.
- Zip-lining - is as close as you can get to flying over the jungle. As you soar from tree to tree, experience a bird's-eye view of the Belize jungle, and scenery that cannot be seen from the ground. You will be securely fastened to a harness that is attached to a cable. You push off from a platform up in a tree and zip along the cable to another platform
- Actun Tunichil Muknal (usually abbreviated to "ATM") is a Mayan sacrificial burial site near Belmopan. The site is contained entirely within a cave system, and access to the relics is gained via some 500 metres of climbing over rocks, wading and swimming through water that is at times over 1.5 metres deep. The cave was a sacred site for the Mayans and it contains many examples of pottery, ceramics and stoneware, as well as several sets of human sacrificial remains, one of which (known as the "Crystal Maiden") has been almost entirely covered in limestone crystals by the water in the cave. The site is about 45 minutes drive from San Ignacio, and, due to the caving aspect, it may only be visited when accompanied by an official guide (who will provide appropriate safety equipment). Most tour companies in San Ignacio are able to offer officially guided tours.
- Barton Creek Cave Barton Creek Outpost: Take the road in Georgeville to Mountain Pine Ridge, drive 50-60 minutes and turn at the large brown sign on the left to Barton Creek Archaeological Reserve. It's about 4 miles from there.
- Caracol Biggest ruin in Belize, yet mostly unexcavated, so you really feel like you are in a national park on a ruin. Ca'ana, place of the sky, is one of the biggest and most massive temples in the Mayan world. Definitely a must-see ruin, and it comes with stops at Rio On Pools and Rio Frio Cave too.
- The Artbox, an art gallery which is great for tourists.
Belmopan is a good place to walk around the neighborhoods and market plazas. It is a great place to discover, as it has a low crime rate and is very laid back and relaxing.
The Belize Zoo is only a few miles down the road from Belmopan and can be reached by bus or by taxi. The zoo houses a wide range of wildlife native to Belize, most of which have been rescued.
Caves Branch is also a short distance from Belmopan and offers cave tubing and zip lining tours.
- Go for a horseback ride
- Rent bicycles
- Cave Spelunking at St. Herman's Cave
- Hike the jungles
- Zip Line, Cave Tubing or swim in the river
- Native birdwatching and insect study
- Visit the Friday Farmer's Market in near the terminal in Belmopan
There are many tour companies in Belmopan City. Many of these conduct day trips, leaving early in the morning and returning the same afternoon. Note that not all tours are available on any given day. Most tour companies require a certain minimum number of registrations before they run. Checking in the night before for which tours are available the next day is often the best option.
Most hotels in Belmopan will also book tours for you, with their preferred tour company. The more popular tours, such as Cave Tubing, ATM Cave, and St. Herman's National, run daily, so you need only provide a day's notice.
Upside Down Tours: Crystal Cave is one of the best tours to visit a wide variety of interesting caves, rivers, and jungle trails.
Belize True Adventures: Belize True Adventures is known for providing amazing tours and jungle hike throughout Mountain Pine Ridge, including Xunantunich.
Belize Jungle Master: Belize Jungle Masters is well known for providing outstanding Zip lining in Belize.
Things to buy in Belmopan include Belizean groceries and gifts from the gift shops. Angelus Press is a great place to shop for gifts where you can buy flags, maps, books and Belizean trinkets.
Every Tuesday and Friday there is a market day held in the center of the city. Many locals set up booths selling inexpensive clothes, DVDs, trinkets, food, and produce. Many Belizians from surrounding towns and villages ride the bus to get to Belmopan's market day so it is a great way to experience the culture. If you want to experience it at its busiest point, plan to come early, because many booths close downs during the hottest part of the day.
There are a lot of clean Chinese-owned restaurants in Belmopan that make great Belizean food.
A number of small food stalls can be found in Market Square near the bus station.
Corkers restaurant (also near the bus station) offers a wider variety of western foods than most.
Drink only the bottled water.
Belmopan has very few options to rest your head, which is even more difficult if you are trying to find a last-minute place to stay. There are two motels that rent by the hour and two hotels. Spend the night at a jungle hotel instead (but book ahead and arrive before dark to avoid driving on Hummingbird Highway with only your high beams).
- Bullfrog Inn. A long stand by in Belmopan, a standard hotel and average restaurant.
- Yim Sang. A 2 star hotel with a restaurant and bar.
- Belize Jungle Dome, Banana Bank, ☎ 8222124, . Jungle Lodge, found just 4 miles outside the capital city. Owned by a former UK soccer player and MTV Presenter. Facilities include 5 lodge rooms, 3 Bedroom Garden Cottage, 4 Bedroom Villa, Wireless Internet, Swimming Pool, on-site travel company and tour operator. Number one rated accommodation in Belmopan on Trip Advisor with over 170 reviews.
- Banana Bank Lodge, ☎ 501-832-2020, . A very nice accommodation just a few miles outside of Belmopan next to the Belize river. They own a huge section of the jungle and provide horseback riding.. Have awesome canabas and have a great pool..
- Super Palm Resort, ☎ 011+501-822-3258, . checkout: 11:00. This accommodation is a okay accommodation, a bit too expensive for what you get, and the website definitely doesn't show what the place really looks like. The place is run down.. The pool is broken/empty.. The internet is not working half the time.. And the staff is probably working on a commission as they try to rip you off on everything they can.. Seen many accommodations during my travels, but definitely will NEVER recommend this place to a friend..
Embassies and High Commissions
- Grenada, 3½ Miles Northern Highway, New Horizon Building, Suite 1, Belize City, ☎ (501) 223-2588 ([email protected], fax: (+501) 223-1069).
- Mexico, 3 North Ring Road, Embassy Square, Belmopan, ☎ (501) 822-4011 ([email protected], fax: (501) 822-2487), .
- Spain (Honorary Consulate), 2 Marine Parade, Belize City, ☎ (501) 223-5040 ([email protected], fax: (501) 2223-0276).
- United Kingdom, North Ring Road/Melhado Parade (Entrance via North Ring Road), Belmopan, ☎ (501) 822-2146 ([email protected]), .
- United States, Floral Park Road Belmopan, Cayo Belize, ☎ (501) 822-4011 ([email protected], fax: (501) 822-4012), .
- Venezuela, 17 Orchid Garden Street, Belmopan, ☎ (501) 822-2384 ([email protected], fax: (501) 822-2022).
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