Belize City, Belize

 A fair percentage of tourists in Belize choose to spend as little time as possible in Belize City, the country’s only major urban area. This may be explained by the fact that, on the whole, the country’s main attractions are natural and nautical, making any kind of prolonged visit to its only metropolis superfluous. But another (and equally likely) explanation is this: outside of certain spots, the city itself just isn’t a very safe place for anyone, let alone cash-and-camera toting tourist types. ‘Dodgy’ is the word many travelers use to describe Belize City, and even those who admire its raffish charms and cultural vibrancy (and, to be fair, there’s plenty of this) admit that the city – unlike the rest of the country – is anything but relaxed.

That being said, Belize City is still the historical (if no longer the actual) capital of the nation, making it an interesting place to spend a day or two for those interested in the nation’s history and culture. Its ramshackle streets are alive with colorful characters who represent every facet of Belize’s ethnic variety, especially the Creoles. The urban scenery encompasses not just malodorous canals and grungy slums, but also handsome colonial houses, seaside parks, bustling shopping areas and sailboats bobbing at the mouth of Haulover Creek. You might find Belize City menacing, but you won’t find it dull.

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