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A friend once asked me why I wanted to spend a whole week in Belize, claiming that there was nothing there but beaches.

He knew I wasn’t a beach person. I can do a day or two on the beach, but any longer than that and I will get bored and start looking for other things to do. What he didn’t know, though, was that Central America’s second smallest country had lots more to offer than just beaches.

If you’re also wondering what to do in Belize for a week, or if you should even come here, then this post is for you.

Let us start with a spoiler: One week in Belize is nowhere near enough to see it all. I had a fantastic time, and I easily would have found enough things to do to keep myself busy for another week or two.

Plus, it’s possible to visit the country on a budget or in luxury. Whatever travel style you prefer, Belize caters to it.

We hope you choose to spend more than a week in the country, but in case you’re short on time or are looking for a first inspiration, here is an ultimate Belize itinerary that takes in the best of the country. You will experience a mixture of beaches, jungle, wildlife and ancient history – basically, a taste of everything Belize has to offer.

AT A GLANCE

Are you short on time and want to do some last-minute bookings? Then check out these recommended hotels and activities for our favourite places in Belize:

Our favourite hotels for your stay:

  • Miramar Suites (Placencia, private beach, tropical gardens and a pool)
  • Dream Cabanas (Caye Caulker, small huts with a garden and a very nice host)
  • Midas Resorts (San Ignacio, charming cabins surrounded by rainforest)

Check out these awesome activities and tours:

Need more inspiration and help with planning? Get the Lonely Planet Belize before your trip!

One Week in Belize – the Ultimate Belize Itinerary

Day 1 – 2 – Placencia

Beach in Placencia, Belize

Placencia offers one of the country’s most beautiful beaches in combination with friendly people and a Caribbean atmosphere. Located on a peninsula, Placencia is also known as ‘the caye you can drive to’.

Make sure you’re prepared for your trip to Belize by taking a look at our Belize packing list!

Getting here

If you arrive from the north or by air, the easiest way is to take a bus from Belize City to Independence and then also to continue by water taxi.

You can also take a direct bus from Belize City. But since this bus only goes once a day, going via Independence is a far better option.

If you come from Guatemala, you need to first take a boat from Lívingston to Punta Gorda, then a bus to Independence and from there, a water taxi to Placencia. It might sound a bit complicated, but it’s actually quite simple and easy to do on your own.

No matter how you arrive in Placencia, we suggest staying at least two nights. If you have more time than that, even better.

Things to do

As we said, Placencia has a beautiful beach. You can spend a whole day relaxing here. Or you could go snorkelling, do a tour to one of the tiny islands located off the shore or cruise down Monkey River to see wildlife.

When I was in Placencia, I woke up at six in the morning to a tropical thunderstorm. It didn’t stop raining until noon, so I didn’t spend much time at the beach. I went out in the afternoon to take pictures but didn’t linger to relax or go for a swim.

Tipsy Tuna bar in Placencia, Belize

Instead, I spent the afternoon walking through the colourful village, which was just as awesome as the beach.

Placencia has a pedestrian walkway called ‘the sidewalk’. It runs parallel to the beach and is lined by wooden houses painted in bright colours, souvenir shops, beach bars and restaurants. We recommend you take your camera with you and spend some time walking from one end to the other.

If you decide to stay for more than two nights and want to see more of the area, you should explore the surrounding area.

Our favourite option is the trip to Monkey River, which takes you into the jungle, where you have the chance to see lots of wildlife. Listening to howler monkeys is an awe-inspiring experience, so don’t miss out on it. You can get more information about the tour as well as prices and availability here.

Did you know that the howler monkeys were used to record the dinosaur roar in Jurassic Park?

But you cannot just find monkeys. If you’re lucky, you might see crocodiles, iguanas or even manatees.

Another option is to go on a snorkelling tour. Laughingbird Caye is a protected area just a short boat ride away from Placencia, and it’s perfect if you want to explore the best the underwater world has to offer. Click here to see more details and book your tour.

What to eat and where to stay

One of the best places to have dinner in Placencia is Rumfish y Vino, a restaurant that uses lots of local ingredients. If you want to splurge on a meal, we recommend that you come here.

Besides that, you need to buy some ice cream on the sidewalk and eat your frozen treat while walking along the beach. What more do you need?

As for hotels, we stayed at Lydia’s Guesthouse, where we had a private room with a shared bathroom. The rooms and the bathrooms were spotless, the price was reasonable, and we had everything in the kitchen that we needed.

Plus, Lydia was very nice and gave us excellent advice on what to do, where to find supermarkets and how to travel onwards.

If you want to know more, you can send an inquiry about the available rooms and rates via their website.

Besides that, here are some other options that consistently receive good ratings:

Mid-Range: If you want to stay close to the sea, relax on your own private beach and have the option of jumping into a pool, you should check out Miramar Apartments. The photos look fantastic, so you should go and take a look yourself.

Budget: Do you want to rent a bungalow on the seafront? Then you should check out Heavens Gate Beach Bungalows. The huts are simple, but you’ll have your own veranda and can relax in a hammock on the beach. Click here to see reviews and check out availability and prices.

A bit more comfort: The rooms in the Ellysian Boutique Hotel are some of the most stylish ones we’ve seen. They come with a balcony, and the suites also have a spacious living room area where you can unwind. Plus, there’s a pool, direct beach access and the option to enjoy a delicious breakfast. Click here to find out more and see prices and availability.

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Day 3 – 5 – Caye Caulker

Sea shells for sale on Caye Caulker, Belize

Everyone I met on my travels had been to Caye Caulker. It not only seems to be the place to be, it’s also a great addition to your Belize itinerary.

Don’t come to Caye Caulker expecting beaches as beautiful as in Placencia. Instead, come here expecting a relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals and a great place to meet fellow travellers.

Getting there

From Placencia, a bus leaves at quarter past six every morning. It is the only bus to go to Belize City. Your only alternative is to take a water taxi to Independence and a bus from there.

In Belize City, you will arrive at the Novelo bus terminal. From here, it’s a short walk to the water taxi. The ferries to Caye Caulker leave regularly, and you shouldn’t have to wait for longer than an hour or an hour and a half.

You can buy your tickets directly at the ferry terminal and there’s usually no need to reserve anything in advance. If you prefer to have everything ready, though, click here to purchase your tickets online.

We stayed on Caye Caulker for three nights, which is a reasonable amount of time to explore the island.

Things to Do

The one thing you need to make sure of when travelling to Caye Caulker is to come with the right expectations. As I said, the island does not have beautiful beaches, so if you think you’ll spend your days on a Caribbean beach, you will be disappointed.

In fact, if you want to relax at a beach, I would advise you to stay in Placencia for three nights and just go to Caye Caulker for two nights.

But despite the lack of beaches (and shade, for that matter – bring plenty of sunscreen), you can do lots of fun things on Caye Caulker.

Check out our detailed article about all the fun things to do in Caye Caulker!

First of all, the island is located inside Belize’s only UNESCO world heritage site – the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. That means you can do some fantastic snorkelling excursions from here. Just look for day trips to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

Plus, if you know how to dive and have an advanced divers license, you could go on a trip to the famous Blue Hole.

I haven’t done any snorkelling myself since my friend doesn’t snorkel and we wanted to find activities we could enjoy together. But I have talked to a lot of people who went snorkelling, and everyone loved it. They saw sea turtles, stingrays, sharks and even manatees, not to mention hundreds of colourful fish.

Click here to find current prices and more information about snorkelling tours to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.

If you don’t snorkel, don’t worry. We still found plenty of things to keep us occupied for two full days, so you will enjoy your time here, too.

First of all, take a long walk through the village. Caye Caulker is full of colourful wooden houses and friendly locals. You can find a photo opportunity at every corner. Don’t be shy to ask locals if you want to take their pictures. I have not had a single person turn me down.

On a sail boat during a sunset tour in Caye Caulker, Belize

After walking through the village, you will eventually end up at The Split. It’s on the northern tip of Caye Caulker’s South Island. Caye Caulker used to be one island, but a hurricane split it into two parts, and now you have the South and the North Island.

The Split is a great place to hang out, enjoy a drink and splash in the water.

If you want a place with more shade, take a free shuttle boat to Koko King on the northern island. Here, you can rent a VIP area with shade, two beach lounges, chairs and a hammock. We spent a whole day here, reading, relaxing, talking to a new-found friend and cooling down in the water.

In the evening, go for a sunset cruise with Raggamuffin, a tour that I can highly recommend. It is not cheap, but it is very relaxing to sit on a sailing boat and watch the sun disappear behind the horizon. If you need more inspiration on activities on Caye Caulker, read up on it here.

What to eat and where to stay

I had good food, and I had below-average food on Caye Caulker. My best experience was, without a doubt, at Chef Juan. This tiny restaurant serves excellent dishes for an excellent price. If you’re spending one week in Belize on a budget, this is the place to eat.

I went for the curry, which I can highly recommend. My friend had a pulled pork burger, and that one also looked terrific.

On Caye Caulker, it is also easy to find street food. I had an excellent burrito that I bought from a street food vendor. Our room neighbours brought home delicious banana cake one day, and I saw multiple people selling fruit. If you’re looking for a snack, just walk down the street, and you will find one.

Street with colourful houses on Caye Caulker

As for hotel options, we stayed at the Blue Wave Guest House. It was one of the cheapest options for a private room with a shared bathroom. The room was okay. It wasn’t the best we’d ever had but not the worst one either. Just be careful if you’re planning on using the kitchen as it doesn’t have a fridge.

If we went here again, I think we would pick a different place to stay. Here are some places we found that we would consider for the next time as they all received decent ratings:

Budget: Barefoot Beach Belize offers bungalows with a private bathroom. While we didn’t stay here, we love that Barefoot Beach has a private beach with sun chairs, so you can spend hours relaxing there. Click here to see updated rates and reviews.

Mid-Range: If you’re looking for a place that’s new and clean, check out Dream Cabanas. It’s close to the water taxi and pretty much everyone mentions in their review that the host is super nice. Check out the place here.

Extra comfort: Island Magic Beach Resort offers comfortable rooms. Plus, you will have access to a sun terrace and a pool! What could be better? Click here to get more information on availability and prices.

My advice for Caye Caulker is not to leave your booking until the very last minute. The nicest places tend to book out early, so make sure to reserve your room as soon as you can.

Day 6 – 7 San Ignacio

Mayan ruins in San Ignacio, Belize

San Ignacio is located so close to Guatemala that from one of the nearby Mayan ruins, you can see the border. This jungle town is perfect for a taste of ancient history. In the area, you can find many Mayan sites. Plus, you have the chance to get close to iguanas at the Green Iguana Conservation Project.

Getting there

Getting to San Ignacio is very straightforward. Take the ferry from Caye Caulker back to Belize City. You now have two options.

You can either take a minibus straight from the ferry terminal (make sure to haggle down the price). Or, for half of the price, you can catch a chicken bus from the Novelo Bus Terminal. They leave every half an hour and take between two and a half to three and a half hours.

Our minibus took as long as the chicken bus, so there’s not much of a difference between the two besides the price.

We stayed in San Ignacio for two nights. If you have the time (and the money to do some of the expensive tours), you could easily stay longer.

Things to Do

As I already mentioned, San Ignacio is the perfect base for visiting the nearby Mayan sites. There are two ancient cities that you can easily visit by yourself. The first one is Cahal Pech, located right in San Ignacio. It is so close that you could even walk here.

The second one is Xunantunich.

Xunantunich is larger than Cahal Pech, and it is very easy to access, too. Go to the bus station in San Ignacio and take any of the buses headed towards Benque. Tell the driver that you want to go to Xunantunich and he will drop you off at the ferry in San Jose Succotz.

It’s a short (and free) ferry ride across the river. On the other side, follow the road to Xunantunich. I recommend coming early in the morning since it’s an uphill walk of about one mile. We went on a cloudy morning and were still dripping with sweat by the time we made it there.

What I loved about Xunantunich was the museum near the entrance. It gives lots of information about the Maya, the surrounding cities and Xunantunich itself. We usually like to have a guide for visiting archaeological sites, so we know what we’re looking at, but the museum was good enough that we felt we didn’t need one.

After having exhausted ourselves by climbing to the top of the highest pyramid, we returned to San Ignacio. If you want to see Cahal Pech afterwards, get off at the roundabout shortly after the town entrance. It’s as close to that site as you can get and saves you a longer walk.

Holding an iguana in San Ignacio, Belize

Besides Mayan temples, you can also see some wildlife in San Ignacio – and you don’t even have to leave the city. The San Ignacio Resort Hotel is home to the Green Iguana Conservation Project.

In Belize, green iguanas have gotten rarer and rarer since locals like to hunt and eat them. The Conservation Project breeds these iguanas and releases them into the wild. It is a fascinating place to learn about iguanas and to get very close to them.

In fact, I got so close that my scratches took a few days to heal.

If you are not travelling on a budget, there are more things you can do in the area, and it might be worth adding an extra day or two to this Belize travel itinerary to check them out.

Mayans used the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) caves as a religious site. Tours through these caves are amazing and you’ll get a unique perspective of this ancient culture.

Click here to see reviews and book your own tour on Viator now!

You could also visit Caracol, the largest Mayan site in Belize. Getting there requires travelling two hours on an unpaved road through the jungle, but the pyramids are amazing.

Many tours also include other stops along the way. Check out this one, where you can enjoy a swim after visiting the Mayan ruins.

What to eat and where to stay

We researched both lunch and dinner options and had some pretty good food while staying in San Ignacio.

For lunch, we recommend you go to Martha’s Kitchen. The food is not exceptionally good, but it is very cheap, and it is the best I’ve had in that price range in Belize. Plus, my burrito was so huge that I took the remaining half home and had it for dinner.

On our first evening, we decided to splurge and go to the Crave House of Flavour. It is not the cheapest restaurant in San Ignacio, but the food is exceptionally tasty. It took me a long time to order because I couldn’t choose between all those fantastic dishes on the menu. If you’re looking for a recommendation, the risotto is excellent.

If you’re in San Ignacio on a Saturday, make sure to also check out the Farmer’s Market for fresh produce and food. Thank you very much to Kate, our reader, who gave us this tip!

My friend and I stayed at J & R Guest House. It’s a tiny guest house run by a lovely old lady. The rooms were small, but everything, from the rooms to the shared bathrooms was spotless. And here, unlike on Caye Caulker, we could find a fridge in the kitchen – and everything else that we needed.

Unfortunately, they seem to be closed by now. If we went back to San Ignacio, here are some properties that we researched and that we would book for this stop on our Belize trip itinerary:

Mid-Range: If you want to stay surrounded by rainforest, next to a river, you should check out Midas Resorts.  The charming cabins are well-equipped and the staff can help you book horse-riding and fishing excursions. Plus, despite being surrounded by nature, the resort is only a 10-minutes walk away from the town centre. Check out rates and reviews now!

Budget: If you’re looking for affordable accommodation in San Ignacio, we recommend Yellow Belly Backpackers. This hostel is a bit out of the way, so you won’t be in the centre of town, but it receives excellent ratings. The owners, Jess and Bubbles, are super friendly and will go out of their way to help you with anything you need. Click here to see prices and availability for your trip!

A bit more comfort: The San Ignacio Resort Hotel is our preferred high-end choice. We already mentioned the hotel above, as they are home to the Green Iguana Conservation Project. They also have a pool and a spa, and each room comes with a balcony from where you can overlook the jungle. Click here for more information!

Best time to visit Belize

The best time to go to Belize is from January to May. This is the dry season when you can enjoy the best weather. Some places, like Placencia, can get rain all year long but it gets much worse in autumn.

We went in early June and already had some rain, but we also had perfect sunny days. June is still a decent month, especially if you want to avoid the crowds of the high season. Plus, it’s the beginning of the lobster season in June and you can join the Lobster Fest on Caye Caulker!

The heaviest rains fall from August to October, with some hotels even closing in September. We recommend avoiding this time of the year, if possible.


A week in Belize passes far too quickly.

If you have more time, you can find lots of other things to do in Belize. San Pedro on Ambergris Caye and Hopkins on the mainland are both supposed to be great if you’re looking for more beaches.

If you’re interested in wildlife, travel north to the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. And for more Mayan ruins, rent a car in Belize city and go and check out Altun Ha.

If you’re travelling to Belize, we have a few other resources that you will find interesting and that will help you plan your trip. Make sure to check them out!

Or click here to see all of our Belize content.

We hope you found this Belize one week itinerary useful.

If you travelled to Belize, did anything we listed on this itinerary or visited a place we have never heard of, we would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment and tell us about your experience.

Until your next adventure!

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Author

Ilona is a world traveller passionate about sharing her experiences and giving advice to fellow travellers. Having visited over 70 countries, she is always excited about her next trip.

13 Comments

  1. Ed Rascati Reply

    Thanks for the article. I love Belize. Have been twice and hope to return next year. One suggestion, listing prices, or a range of prices would be helpful.

    • Ilona Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment, Ed! We also hope we can return to Belize, although I’m not quite sure it’ll be possible for us next year already. Thank you for your suggestion! We’re going to look into adding price ranges soon.

    • Planning our first trip to Belize around April. My question is, how hard will it be to find accommodations without advanced reservations.

      • Ilona Reply

        Hi Geno,
        I would usually say that it’s not a problem to find accommodations without advanced reservations. But at the moment, you can only book accommodation in Belize that meets the “Gold Standard”, which means that many hotels and guest houses are closed. We’d therefore recommend looking into this topic beforehand and even booking in advance.
        Once things go back to normal, I hope that it’ll become easier to spontaneously book accommodation again.

      • Many many many resorts airbnb. vrbo .hotels.com are gold standard and the tours and activities also gold standard. We will be there next week. May be a bit pricier because of last minute but plenty of options. We stayed at Sapphire Beach Resort 11 miles north of town once. This will be our second time at Tres Cocos resort. Ambergris caye fb pages have lots of good information and helpful hints!!! Best of luck.

  2. Zack Trask Reply

    Information outdated, Belize and Guatemala land and sea borders have been closed since early April 2020. Belize still has not issued when land and sea borders will open. You can not easily now backpack thru Central America . Many hostels are not open in Belize due to Gold Standard restrictions. Due Diligence when now attempting backpacking thru Central America.

    • Ilona Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Zack. We agree that it’s important to look up travel restrictions and especially also restrictions on border crossings when travelling anywhere at the moment. Hopefully, things will get better this year so travel becomes easier again!

    • Stephen J Mann Reply

      Without doult the best hidden Gem in San Ignacio is The Belize Raptor Center, daily Raptor shows of their Ambassadors, learn about the ecology of the area and about its abundance of Raptors. During Covid-19 you have to make an appointment and they follow all government guidelines. Call 615-0226.

      • Ilona Reply

        Thank you for the recommendation! We hadn’t heard about the Raptor Center before, but it sounds like a great place to visit.

  3. This article made me miss Placencia and San Ignacio. Travel restrictions are lifting! Don’t forget the Farmers market on Saturday in San Ignacio. There’s a place across the street with wonderful cheap breakfast and really good coffee.

    • Ilona Reply

      Thank you very much, Kate, for the tip about the Farmer’s Market in San Ignacio! I also miss Belize and would love to go back, so I hope that restrictions will lift soon and travel becomes easier again.

  4. I found Belize very expensive. I was traveling solo and only had one free day. I had booked a trip to Lamanai and a safari river cruise to get there. One day before departure, Get Your Guide tours cancelled because they didn’t get enough people. I later heard due to the pandemic, it is very common for them to keep cancelling leaving you in the lurch. Now I was left to do nothing or book privately. Basically cost me $385. + tipping to have a local guide take me to 1) the Belize sign (ok, but no big deal. 2) to Shane the Rasta’s howler monkey sanctuary (cool to feed a howler monkey pieces of banana), 3) Go cave tubing at St Herman’s Blue Hole NP. (Guide -Marvin (?) was fantastic and very knowledgeable, definitely a unique experience). Tour of the capital city which basically was driving past the US Consulate (whoop de doo) and going by a place that made chocolate, wasn’t interested. I had a great time but NOT worth the price. Was quoted $150. to go to Lamanai privately next time I have business there. Either I book again with Get Your Guide and chance they again will cancel or pay more to go privately. Definitely poor business practice.

    • Ilona Reply

      Hi Ethel,
      We are very sorry to hear you had such a bad (and expensive) experience with Get Your Guide cancelling the tour! You are right, this is indeed poor business practice and we highly recommend you contact Get Your Guide and also leave a negative review. Cancelled tours depend on the tour operator, and your review could warn other travellers from experiencing the same. Unfortunately, these things happen and have happened to us before.
      We’re glad to hear you still had a great day, and we definitely agree that Belize is expensive!

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