Start your trip in the capital, Belize City. Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, was a British colony until 1964 (which explains the many English names) and gained its independence in 1981.
Belize City isn’t very popular with travellers and is meant to serve more as a starting point for your journey. As in any capital city, you’ll find everything you need, but some neighbourhoods should be avoided after dark. Nevertheless, it’s still worth spending one or two nights here. At the Museum of Belize, you can learn about the history of this small country, and then check out the Baron Bliss Lighthouse and its expansive view of the Caribbean Sea.
In one of the city's hostels, you can sleep in a dorm for as little as €20 per night.
When you leave Belize City, head north towards the Mexican border and on to your next adventure: Sarteneja, a small fishing village on the Sarteneja peninsula, which juts out into Corozal Bay and the Caribbean Sea and is home to Belize’s largest coastal lagoon.
If you're looking for peace and quiet, you’re in the right place – you won’t find too many tourists in Sarteneja, just local fishermen and a few expats.
The town is dotted with dusty streets, goats running freely, coconut palms, and white-sand beaches and is surrounded by water shimmering in all shades of blue. It seems like a little paradise.
Enjoy a good night’s sleep in a hostel for around €15 per night.
Had your fill of rest and relaxation? Off you go to the southern part of Ambergris Caye, to San Pedro – a town buzzing with action and one of the most popular places in Belize. Plan the boat ride from Sarteneja in advance since departure times are usually very early in the morning. The boat and bus ride will cost you about €27.
Fun fact about Ambergris Caye: it’s (allegedly) the island that inspired Madonna’s hit song “La Isla Bonita.”
Try to avoid the three main streets where most of the restaurants, shops, and hotels are located – you’ll only find typical tourist traps, overpriced souvenir shops, and “tour guides” at every corner. Head to the real San Pedro, a little further away from the city centre. Be sure to stop at one of the food stands or BBQ grills along the road for some inexpensive Creole food like garnaches (small corn tortillas with bean puree, cheese, and pickled onions), which make for the perfect snack.
With its colourful houses, smiling local fishermen, cold beer, and beautiful sunsets, you can’t help but be happy in San Pedro.
Get a bed in a dorm in town for €25 per night.
A boat trip takes you from San Pedro to the neighbouring island of Caye Caulker. The island is only 8 kilometres long and 2 kilometres wide and much less touristy than Ambergris Cayer.
The island's motto is "Go Slow", so just enjoy your time here and relax. From here, you can book a tour to the Great Blue Hole, the 124-metre deep sinkhole off the coast of Belize. This requires a diving licence and strong nerves, as the journey includes a three-hour boat ride.
Those who shy away from the depths of the sea and prefer to stay in shallower waters can snorkel the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.
In one of the hostels on Caye Caulker, you not only have the opportunity to stay in an 8-bed dorm for €11 a night, but you are also sure to meet one or two like-minded people with whom you can share your backpacking experiences.
Heading south, you have solid ground under your feet again. By boat and bus, you'll eventually reach Hopkins, named after a famous English missionary.
The Belize Barrier Reef can also be explored from here, so if you haven't had enough of snorkelling, you can continue to explore the underwater world here.
Hopkins is ideally located for visiting Belize's Mayan sites. All of the ruins are located inland on the border with Guatemala, so it's a good idea to leave early in the morning to allow plenty of time on site. The most famous ruined city in the country is Caracol. The extensive ruins are located at the foothills of the Maya Mountains and were first settled in 1200 BC.
The best-preserved ruins are Xunantunich and are located about 40 kilometres from Caracol. So, you can visit both in one day. Xunantunich translates as "stone woman" and the site consisted of a total of 25 temples and palaces during its magnificent period.
In Hopkins, you'll be out and about a lot. To relax at the end of the day and enjoy some peaceful nights, find a place to sleep in one of the hostels. For €15 a night, you can get a bed in a 14-bed dorm.
Go further south to Placencia – a village that has long been popular among travellers.
Situated directly on the sea, the combination of white beaches, glittery-blue water, and palm trees will blow you away. If you don’t want to work on your tan, get off the beach and take time to get to know Belize's flora and fauna – an excursion to one of the three nearby nature reserves can be booked at any of the local tourist agencies.
Placencia itself is known for its restaurants and bars, so enjoy the unique blend of Latin American and Creole influences that its cuisine has to offer. Try local dishes like cochinita pibil, a marinated, braised pork dish that originates from the Mayas – the meat is so tender that it melts in your mouth. Seafood is also a staple, as the Caribbean plays a large role in daily life.
Enjoy Caribbean vibes and a bed for €12 per night in a hostel.
Finish up your trip and return to Belize City, as all international flights depart from there. A bus from Placencia to the city costs about €9. If you spend the night in the city before heading home, stay in a hostel – the staff will usually help you arrange a taxi to take you to the airport, so you don't have to worry and can fly home completely relaxed.