Cebu is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Philippines—and for very good reasons. The Visayan province is known for its beautiful culture and significant historical landmarks - as well as their famous lechon, or roasted pig.
Aside from the rich culture that transports you back to the country’s roots, Cebu also boasts dazzling beaches, luxurious resorts, waterfalls and hiking spots. If you’re in the province's capital city, it might be a little difficult to know where to go first, especially if you only have a day to spare. Here are some of the best spots in Cebu City to help you along the way in creating one of the best travel experiences ever.
One of the definite highlights of Cebu is the Magellan’s cross. The cross is housed inside an octagonal building and due to its unique shape you can even see it from afar! A beautiful ceiling is seen in the inside. The art shows the first mass held and the conversion of the Cebuanos to Christianity. It’s so inspiring to be able to step on something with so much historical and religious importance in the country.
|A typical Sunday morning at the Magellan's Cross site|
|This marker explains everything - the history behind the cross' replica and the beginning of Christianity in the Philippines|
Basilica del Sto Niño
Within a walking distance from Magellan’s cross is Basilica del Sto. Niño. It is the oldest Catholic church in the country. There were 3 structures built but they were destroyed by fire. The present church’s exterior bell was badly damaged during the 2013 earthquake. It does not make the church less beautiful though. Seeing the church stand reminds us that filipinos are resilient and will stand firm despite of hardships they face. It can get a little crowded in here, however, because of the influx of tourists.
|[2017 stock photo] Basilica del Santo Nino|
|[2017 stock photo] a typical night at Basilica del Santo Nino|
|[2017 stock photo] Basilica del Santo Nino|
Fort San Pedro
Another very historical landmark, Fort San Pedro was built by the Philippines’ very first governor - Miguel Lopez de Legaspi. It served as a prison, zoo, and a stronghold for rebels. There is even a small museum inside to help visitors learn more about the fantastic history behind Fort San Pedro - and how significant it really is to the Cebuanos, and Philippine independence.
|Fort San Pedro entrance|
|A mini gallery inside the entrance area of Fort San Pedro|
Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines
Upon visiting, Colon Street might seem like any busy, bustling street in the Philippines, but in actuality, it’s actually known as the oldest street in the entire country! There is even a monument acknowledging its status. Aside from the history, Colon Street is a great spot to shop, being the busiest shopping center in the entirety of Cebu. There are street stalls and night markets where you can haggle for lots of trinkets, clothes, and souvenirs to take back home.
|Colon Street, the Philippines' oldest street|
Despite being a predominantly Catholic province, Cebu is home to a beautiful Taoist temple built by the local Chinese community way back in the 70s. The multi-tiered structures are very well-built and makes you feel as if you’ve been transported all the way to China. The temple is open to both Taoist worshippers and non-worshippers alike.
|[2009 stock photo] Taoist Temple in Cebu City|
Sirao Flower Farm
Known as “ Mini Amsterdam”. Sirao Flower farm is a picturesque farm located in Cebu Transcentral Highway. It sits on top of a hill giving the people a panoramic view of the surroundings. The place is definitely instagrammable! There is a ₱50 entrance fee, but the view is more than worth it!
|[2017 stock photo] Sirao Flower Farm|
Temple of Leah
Dubbed as the “Taj Mahal of Cebu”. The Temple of Leah is dedicated to Leah Albino-Adarna by her husband. It’s so beautiful to see a monument built because of love.
The family is prominent in the city because of their business. The place is huge, spanning over 5,000 square meters. It is located on top of a hill and the view is definitely breathtaking. The architecture resembles both Greek and Roman architecture. There is a museum, library and an art gallery in the compound and the temple open 24 hours daily.
Enjoy the view of the city at the Tops
Cebu City is definitely a sight to behold, but it’s even better seen from the sky. The Tops Lookout gives visitors a chance to experience just that! Day or night, the city below is a picturesque scene. You have to take a 20 minute ride to get up to the very peak, but there are lots of sitting areas and the Tops - a place where you can grab some food and refreshments.
- Lechon Cebu at House of Lechon or CnT - Lechon is the Cebuano speciality, and the House of Lechon as well as the CnT restaurants are great places to get your fix.
- Siomai sa Tisa - This affordable and delicious meal can be found at Tisa, Labangon in Cebu. With just a hundred pesos in your pocket you can fill your tummy up with their delicious specialities.
- Larsian - There’s no better place for barbecue than the Larsian restaurant in Fuente! You can pick out the food you want to eat from the dozens of barbecue stalls and have the staff cook them for you.
- SUTUKIL (Sugba, Tula and Kilaw) - Fresh seafood catch of the day like tuna or lapu-lapu cooked/prepared in 3 styles - Sugba (grilled), Tula (soup/stew) and Kilaw (cooked in vinegar/ceviche).
- Buy Pasalubong at Tabuan Public Market (great for dried fish: danggit, daing na pusit)
- Shop Dried Mangoes and Otap
|The famous Lechon Cebu|
|"Tula", Cebu's version of fish stew)|
- Despite many speaking the local dialect, Cebuano, a good percent of the population understands and speaks English and Tagalog fluently.
- Traffic can be a little hefty especially during rush hours.
HOW TO GET THERE
As of this writing, Mactan-Cebu International Airport serves 25 domestic destinations and 22 international routes.
All major airlines in the Philippines offer direct flights from Manila to Cebu. The flight typically lasts around 1 hour and 10 minutes. Tourists also have the option to go to Cebu by ferry. 2Go travel offers this route, however the travel time lasts about 10 hours.
- From the airport in Mactan, you can take a MyBus, metered taxi or Grabcar going to Cebu City.
From Mindanao, other parts of Luzon and Visayas
There are direct flights to Cebu from the following airports: Clark in Pampanga and Puerto Princesa in Palawan (Luzon); Dumaguete, Bacolod, Iloilo, Roxas City in Capiz, Caticlan in Aklan (Visayas) ; and Davao City, General Santos, Cagayan De Oro City, Butuan City, Surigao City and Siargao Island (Mindanao).
This post is actually based from our Cebu City DIY day tour in June. I know there are a lot of interesting places and things to do in the Queen City of the South, but our schedule is quite tight on this trip – our priority was to attend a friend’s wedding. But you can comment down below so that on our next trip to Cebu we will definitely include your suggestion/recommendation on our priorities! BTW, special thanks to wifey – she’s a great travel buddy and assistant during this trip. :)