Belize City is defined by the water around it. The main part of the city is at the end of a small peninsula, jutting out into the Caribbean Sea. Haulover Creek, an extension of the Belize River, running roughly west to east, divides the city into the North Side and the South Side. The North Side is, to generalize, more affluent than the South Side. The venerable Swing Bridge connects the two sides, although in modern times other bridges over Haulover Creek, especially the Belcan Bridge northwest of the city center, carry more traffic. At the mouth of the river, just beyond Swing Bridge, is the Belize Harbor (or Harbour, as it's written locally, in the English style).

Coming from the north, follow the Goldson Highway through several roundabouts (traffic circles) to Freetown Road and Barracks Road to reach the center. Alternatively, you can swing west on Princess Margaret Drive to Barracks Road, along the seafront. From the west, the Western Highway becomes Cemetery Road, which leads you to the center via the South Side and Orange Street. The city center itself is a confusing warren of narrow streets, many of them one-way, and many may be temporarily closed, with detours that are not well-marked or are not marked at all.

If you're staying in either the northern or western sprawling suburbs, a car is handy, as there's limited municipal bus service. There are many taxis, however, with affordable rates starting at BZ$7. It's not customary to tip taxi drivers, unless they help you with luggage or perform other services. Most drivers are friendly and are happy to point out interesting sites to visitors. A few are licensed tour guides.