With lush jungles, an incredible reef system and lively, colourful towns, it’s easy to see why Belize is one of the Caribbean’s most beloved getaways.
Whether you’re an adventure lover, wildlife watcher or sun-seeker it’s the kind of place that has something for everyone, including idyllic islands, mysterious Mayan ruins and unforgettable animal encounters.
While budgeting one week for your Belize itinerary isn’t enough time to see the whole country, you can still see the main highlights which stretch from the Guatemalan border all the way out to the Caribbean Sea.
Here’s where to go in Belize in a week.
Days 1 to 3: San Ignacio and Cayo District
After touching down at the airport in Belize City (BZE), kick off your itinerary for Belize by heading west towards the jungle.
The Cayo district is the place to be for adventure-seekers and history buffs alike, thanks to its concentration of Mayan ruins, caves for exploring, rivers to tube down and wildlife spotting: think toucans, howler monkeys, crocodiles and even jaguars.
What to do in San Ignacio, Belize:
ATM Cave Tour:
One of the most unforgettable Belize excursions is found here: the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave Tour. And it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
The cave was once frequented by the Mayans to perform human sacrifices—evidence of which remains today in the form of crystallized skeletons complete with bashed-in skulls (hey, no one ever said the Mayans were nice).
To get there, visitors walk about 45 minutes through the jungle and swim across three rivers, before slipping on a headlamp to navigate through the pitch-black cave.
Inside, there are a series of obstacles like huge boulders and tight rock spaces to climb over or swim through, which makes for an exhilarating adventure.
Combine that with a fascinating history lesson thanks to the ancient artifacts within an arm’s reach, and it’s easy to see why this is one of the country’s most popular tours.
Other activities in the Cayo district include horseback riding over the lush hillsides, hiking through limestone caves, canoeing down meandering rivers, and exploring the Mayan sites of Cahal Pech and Xunantunich, a historic complex located in the village of San Jose Succotz which is one of the most popular things to do in Belize.
Book one of these top-ranked guided tours:
Explore the Tikal Mayan ruins:
While it’s not technically in Belize, another popular day trip is to the ruins in Tikal, Guatemala—plus, it’s an easy way to get another passport stamp!
The journey through the scenic Guatemalan countryside takes about two hours from the town of San Ignacio, including stops to admire shimmering lakes and sample the coffee the country is famous for.
Nicknamed “Jurassic Park” and nestled among 60-thousand hectares of forests and wetlands, Tikal was once a stronghold for the Mayan civilization and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today, the sprawling site is home to impressive temples that visitors are welcome to climb to the top of, to enjoy incredible panoramic views of spots like the Great Plaza and Lost World complex.
Tikal is also popular with wildlife lovers, as the reserve is home to more than 300 species of birds plus jaguars, pumas, monkeys and those cute coati. Click here to book
Book a tour from San Ignacio to Tikal, Guatemala:
Where to stay in San Ignacio:
There are plenty of places to stay in San Ignacio to suit all price points and needs, but the most important thing to keep in mind is how you plan to spend your days.
If you’re simply looking to relax or explore the surrounding jungle by taking part in activities like birding, then staying in a unique jungle lodge is a good choice.
Properties like the Caves Branch lodge has treehouses that soar 75 feet above a river and tree canopy, while the Gaia River Lodge has charming thatch-roof cabanas boasting views of tropical gardens and waterfalls.
However, if you plan on filling your days with activities like the ATM Cave Tour and heading to Tikal, basing yourself in San Ignacio is your best bet to cut down on driving time and get more of a local flavour.
A fabulous option is the luxurious San Ignacio Resort Hotel which is just steps away from the centre, yet feels like an oasis as soon as you step inside thanks to the gorgeous pool area surrounded by towering palm trees, which are frequented by the resident iguanas.
The service is great, with staff being extremely responsive leading up to and during your stay no matter what your request is (rose petals and champagne in your room? Arranging a tour? No problem!).
Best of all, the well-appointed, spacious rooms are gorgeous—seriously, you’ve probably never had a bathroom so big in your life, and the private outdoor patios are the perfect place to watch the sunrise. Click here to book
How to get from Belize City to San Ignacio
The drive from Belize City to San Ignacio takes about two hours, and the roads can be a bit rough. Some hotels will arrange transportation, otherwise rent a car or book a private transfer:
Days 4 to 7: San Pedro and Caye Caulker in Ambergris Caye
Once you’ve had your fill of the jungle, head across the country to Ambergris Caye for the next part of your Belize travel itinerary.
The group of islands is found off Belize’s east coast in the Caribbean Sea, with the main tourist hub being San Pedro.
The bustling town doesn’t have paved roads (like pretty much everywhere else in the country), so everyone gets around on golf carts (book a rental here) which adds to the charm of this seaside spot.
San Pedro is accessed via a 90-minute ferry from Belize City, and also has a domestic airport connecting it with spots like Belize City, San Ignacio, Caye Caulker and Belmopan.
Things to do in San Pedro, Belize:
Fly over the Great Blue Hole:
Belize’s most breathtaking and famous landmark is the Great Blue Hole. Found in Lighthouse Reef in the Belize Barrier Reef (the second largest on the planet), the massive underwater sinkhole is more than 300 metres across and 125 metres deep, making it one of the world’s top dive sites.
Tour operators in San Pedro and Caye Caulker offer full-day snorkel and dive trips, but snorkelling in the Great Blue Hole isn’t the best way to experience it since it’s a long boat ride out and hard to see much from the water’s surface.
WATCH: A scenic flight over the Great Blue Hole in Belize
The ultimate way to see the Great Blue Hole is from the air, and companies like Tropic Air offer scenic flight tours from Belize City, Caye Caulker and and San Pedro.
Taking off in a tiny plane from San Pedro, the hour-long flyover heads east over the Belize Barrier Reef, passes over Turneffe Atoll, then gets to Lighthouse Reef which is home to the Great Blue Hole.
There, the pilot does about a dozen circles around it, ensuring passengers on both sides of the plane get an incredible birds-eye view. Heading back to San Pedro, you’ll fly over tiny islands and a shipwreck, and the water is so clear that it’s possible to spot manatees, rays, sharks and dolphins.
If there’s one experience in Belize worth adding to your bucket list, it’s this!
Go on a catamaran cruise
Despite its perch on the Caribbean Sea, Belize isn’t known for its beaches which is why most activities involve getting out on the water.
One of the best excursions when it comes to seeing the highlights of Ambergris Caye is a full day boat tour.
The first stop is the Hol Chan Marine Reserve which is like swimming in an aquarium, thanks to its incredible visibility, brightly coloured coral and underwater life including turtles, dolphins and more than 100 types of fish.
Shark Ray Alley is up next, which is exactly what it sounds like: the chance to snorkel with schools of nurse sharks.
They’re practically harmless and prefer to stay closer to the ocean floor, so you can put your fears aside and simply enjoy watching the beautiful creatures effortlessly glide below.
There are also manta rays and plenty of tropical fish, which make for a captivating underwater scene.
The last stop of the day is a two-hour visit to Caye Caulker to have lunch and explore the island, before setting sail back to San Pedro with rum punches in hand. Click here to book
Book one of these tours to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve:
Relax on Caye Caulker
You don’t need an organized tour to visit Caye Caulker, as it’s easily accessible from San Pedro via plane or a 45-minute fast ferry ($20 one way, or $36 USD return).
This sleepy spot is the true definition of “island vibe,” the kind of place where holidays are spent lazily relaxing in the sun, paddling around the shoreline or saddling up to the counter at a beach bar surrounded by groves of palm trees.
There’s not a lot to do here, which is exactly why people come, and the tranquil island is so tiny you can walk around the whole thing in about an hour.
If you go, wander through the village to admire the colourful streetscape, then head to “The Split” which is the most happening spot on the island.
Grab a drink at the Lazy Lizard and sip it under a palm-thatched umbrella propped up right in the water, surrounded by sun-seekers tanning on the neighbouring dock.
How’s that for an un-Belize-able vacation?
Where to stay in San Pedro, Belize:
While Caye Caulker is also a good spot to overnight, for convenience some might find it easier to stay put in San Pedro if you only have one week in Belize.
From luxury resorts to beach bungalows and hostels, the island has an option for everyone. A top pick is the luxurious The Phoenix Resort, an all-suite hotel with an envious waterfront location right in the centre of the island.
Modern units range from one to three bedrooms, making them ideal for groups of all sizes, and each one boasts beach views, a full kitchen, laundry and huge private balcony complete with a dining set and loungers.
Amenities include Molton Brown bath products, an on-site spa and restaurant, complimentary airport transfers, SUP, kayaking, bike rentals and yoga classes, and even a nightly cocktail hour. Click here to book
READ MORE: The Phoenix Resort in San Pedro, Belize
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
- Belize’s ATM cave tour: Where adventure meets Mayan sacrifices
- 5 reasons to stay at The Phoenix Resort in San Pedro, Belize
- A day trip to the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal, Guatemala
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