The vibrancy, the locals, the stunning buildings, the cuisine…if Cebu is not already on your itinerary, it might be worth considering some changes.
With its bustling economy and vibrant atmosphere, Cebu offers a plethora of exciting experiences and attractions. Discover the rich history of this Southeast Asian hub, from the sites where Spanish settlers first arrived to the vibrant marine parks filled with tropical sea life. You’ll be captivated by the endless wonders that await you.
1. Cebu Heritage Monument
Cebu is a city that is rich in history, with a long and eventful past. Stop by the Cebu Heritage Monument for a quick overview.
Constructed with a combination of dark stone and bricks, the architecture of this structure is a captivating blend of ships, churches, crosses, and significant historical figures. Its intricate design is both enigmatic and intellectually stimulating. Immerse yourself in the rich history and captivating stories by considering the option of hiring a guide before your trip or taking up their offer upon arrival. Experience the vibrant local culture, engage in meaningful conversations, and gain valuable insights that you might have otherwise overlooked.
Embark on an incredible journey in Cebu that will provide you with valuable insights to enhance the rest of your visit.
2. 1730 Jesuit House
It’s surprising how a hardware store can be the starting point of an unforgettable experience. Entering the 1730 Jesuit House transports you to a bygone era, immersing you in the rich tapestry of history. 1730 Jesuit House is a local initiative dedicated to safeguarding one of Cebu’s cherished landmarks. This historic house has withstood the test of time, enduring powerful storms, natural disasters, and even foreign attacks, yet remains standing as a testament to its resilience.
During the tour, your guide will lead you on a captivating hour-long exploration, showcasing the remarkable restoration efforts and an array of fascinating artifacts and antiques. You’ll have the opportunity to admire vintage cameras, intricate carvings, exquisite furniture, and even a century-old cedar chest that emanates a delightful fragrance.
3. Basilica del Santo Nino
Right here in Cebu, you can find the oldest Catholic Church in the Philippines!
The Basilica del Santo Nino, founded in 1565, continues to attract a large number of locals who come here daily to worship, guided by the principles of mercy and passion. This Catholic Church hosts a regular mass that attracts families and children who gather to express their faith.
Take a stroll through the church halls and marvel at the ancient paintings, stunning archways, and breathtaking stained-glass windows. The architecture is truly awe-inspiring and will leave you in awe. Immerse yourself in the rich history of the museum, where you will discover fascinating relics from the 17th century. Alternatively, indulge in the vast collection of books in the library, covering a wide range of modern subjects.
4. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
While other cathedrals and churches in Cebu offer insights into Filipino culture, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral delves deeper into the city’s religious history. More specifically, this cathedral serves as a testament to the rich history of Christianity in a country that once had strong connections to Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral offers a refreshing alternative to the usual tourist spots, as it remains relatively undiscovered by the majority of visitors. Feel free to explore the cathedral at your own pace and admire its remarkable architecture. You can even attend Sunday mass and experience the warm greetings and friendly smiles from the locals, who may be pleasantly surprised to see you.
5. Colon Street
No visit to Cebu would be considered finished without taking a stroll along Colon Street. Upon closer inspection, this worn-out section of pavement reveals a plethora of sights, activities, and flavors to explore.
Adorned with bustling markets offering a vibrant array of backpacks, jewelry, clothing, and shoes, this street is an ideal destination for purchasing unique souvenirs. Feel free to participate in some pleasant bargaining with cheerful vendors. Experience the delectable street food, immerse yourself in the local culture, and capture stunning moments on Colon Street.
6. SM Mall Cebu
For a taste of local life, why not explore one of Cebu’s most beloved shopping malls? SM Mall is an excellent destination for families looking to escape the scorching heat and keep their children entertained for a few hours. There are plenty of activities to enjoy. There is a wide range of entertainment options available, including an ice-skating rink, a children’s playground, and an arcade with exciting prizes to be won. Furthermore, SM Mall is situated right along the coastline, providing breathtaking, uninterrupted vistas of the water – an ideal backdrop for a memorable family photograph.
Just a heads up: this mall is absolutely massive! There are four quadrants filled with an abundance of dining options, shopping opportunities, and comfortable seating areas to help you pass the time effortlessly.
7. Taboan Public Market
If you are feeling adventurous or simply curious, Taboan Public Market offers a diverse selection of dried fruits, seafood, meat, and nuts for you to explore. We are discussing an abundance of vibrant mango, shrimp, pineapple, and fish – a delightful assortment of treats!
Every day, residents flock from various parts of the city to gather these ingredients for their cherished family recipes and laid-back munchies. Given the nature of this local market, you won’t find many items with price tags. Stay alert and sharp when negotiating prices to ensure a fair agreement.
8. Mountain View Nature Park
Mountain View Nature Park is a fantastic destination for families, offering a wide range of attractions that cater to all ages and interests. There is a water playground available for the kids to enjoy! Allow the children to freely enjoy themselves in the shallow pool equipped with slides and stairs. Additionally, there is a play area on land that truly embodies the essence of a jungle gym, with its lush green surroundings.
Parents will be amazed by the breathtaking tropical views of lush hills adorned with untouched wildlife. The breathtaking views from the viewpoints throughout the park stretch as far as the eye can see.
There is a wide range of amenities available, including a restaurant, café, public washrooms, and hotel rooms. This location is an excellent choice for a day trip.
9. Taoist Temple
Located in the Beverly Hills subdivision of Cebu, there is a stunningly crafted Taoist Temple. Prepare for an invigorating ascent as you navigate through steep steps and winding paths that lead to the summit, situated 300 meters above sea level. Upon arrival at the temple, you will be met with breathtaking vistas of the island.
Experience the captivating Taoist tradition of bringing two blocks of wood into the temple and gently releasing them onto the floor before the sacred shrine. When both blocks happen to land with their faces up, it seems that the universe is giving you the opportunity to make a wish. However, if they don’t, it suggests that the universe doesn’t think it’s the right moment for your wish to be granted. Prior to entering the temple, it is important to cleanse your hands and remove your footwear.
10. Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary
Calling all nature enthusiasts! Discover a captivating butterfly sanctuary in Cebu, where you can immerse yourself in a miniature rainforest filled with vibrant tropical plants and flowers while being enchanted by the graceful fluttering of exquisite butterflies. Make sure to have your camera ready in case a friendly visitor decides to pose for a selfie on your nose.
The Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary showcases a remarkable assortment of butterfly specimens preserved in glass, providing a captivating display of the incredible diversity within the butterfly family.
Remember to bring some cash for a small entrance fee, which supports a great cause.
11. Fort San Pedro
While traveling through the Philippines, you will undoubtedly observe a fascinating Spanish influence evident in the country’s currency, culinary traditions, architecture, and even its language. A visit to Fort San Pedro will shed further light on this intriguing historical connection.
The Spanish arrival on the Philippine coast on April 7, 1521, marked the commencement of Spanish colonization in the region. However, it’s essential to note that Fort San Pedro wasn’t constructed to mediate conflicts between native Filipinos and the Conquistadors. Instead, it was built in 1738 under the leadership of Miguel López de Legazpi to defend against Muslim raiders.
As history unfolded, the fortress was eventually seized by Filipino revolutionaries during the Philippine Revolution. When you explore the weathered remnants of this fort, you may indeed find yourself pondering, “If only these walls could speak.”
12. Island Hopping
Cebu is blessed with an abundance of exquisite little islands, boasting pristine white sand beaches and mesmerizing azure waters.
There are numerous tour offices that provide island hopping packages, ranging from half-day to full-day tours. Many of these packages offer a delightful lunch experience with the inclusion of fresh mango, adding a touch of tropical flavor.
Embark on exciting day trips that will transport you to the open waters on a catamaran. Explore stunning destinations where you can immerse yourself in snorkeling adventures, engage in local fishing experiences, and even visit charming small villages.
13. Cebu Westown Lagoon
Treat yourself to a day pass at Cebu Westown Lagoon, your ultimate destination for relaxation and basking in the sun.
Pamper yourself at this man-made lagoon, featuring rejuvenating pools, picturesque gazebos, exquisite water fountains, tranquil Jacuzzis, and exhilarating giant pool slides, all designed to enhance your sun-kissed radiance.
As the day transitions into the evening, make your way to the MO2 Bar, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant live performances by talented local bands. The bar also offers KTV, providing you with the perfect opportunity to enjoy some karaoke.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Cebu: Best Areas & Hotels
Q: Is Cebu City safe for tourists?
A: Yes, Cebu City is generally safe for tourists. However, it’s advisable to take standard safety precautions.
Q: What’s the best time to visit Cebu City?
A: The best time to visit is during the dry season, from December to May, to enjoy pleasant weather.
Q: How do I get to Mactan Island from Cebu City?
A: Mactan Island is accessible via a short drive from Cebu City or by taking a bridge from the mainland.
Q: Can I swim with whale sharks in Oslob?
A: Yes, you can have a unique opportunity to swim with whale sharks in Oslob.
Q: What should I try from Cebu’s local cuisine?
A: Don’t miss trying the succulent roasted pig known as lechon and the famous dried mangoes as snacks.