Cebu Philippines is a valuable point of interest for any tourists in the country. And that’s largely because Cebu is the second most important city in Philippines—next to Manila. It’s a favorable point for connecting travels to other cities, provinces and islands as well. Moreover, it has its own international airport in Mactan Island, which makes it open for many flights from all over the world.
Aside from its function for traveling, Cebu also houses a lot of sites tourists love to visit. Natural attractions, historic sites, shopping venues and scenic views are only few of the things Cebu has for you to see. Hence, read on, and know the best things you should do in Cebu through its fantastic sites.
14 Cebu Philippines Attractions you should Visit and See on a Tour
Cebu is a place filled with numerous sites every tourist must see. That’s why you should know the best sites to visit through your getaway on the city and its island. Here’s a list to guide you:
Drop-by at the Basilica of the Holy Child
Only having a small time to stay in Cebu? Be sure to include the Basilica of the Holy Child in the Cebu Philippines places of interest you should visit! In fact, many tourists choose the basilica if they can only visit one place in Cebu through a tour.
The basilica is the oldest Philippine church built in 1565. It belongs to the first Spanish expedition that reached the country under the leadership of Fernando de Magallanes. Moreover, it stands on the same site in Cebu Philippines where a lost image of the Holy Child Jesus was found from the natives.
The basilica is a baroque style structure which makes it appear fabulous. It was partially rebuilt in 2013, after a powerful earthquake struck the areas of Visayas.
Visit the Site of Magellan’s Cross
You can’t talk about Cebu tour without mentioning Magellan’s Cross. It’s one of the most valuable attractions in the city, which is also the cross seen on the official seal of Cebu. It’s the first Christian symbol which reached the country through Fernando de Magallanes’ expedition. Moreover, it’s easy to visit since it’s located mere meters away from the Basilica of the Holy Child.
Many Filipino Catholics sought to visit and see the Magellan’s Cross every now and then. That’s with the belief about the cross having supernatural powers. That’s why many believers take small parts from the cross which would supposedly serve as protection.
Thus, management have thought to protect the cross from getting totally ruined because of such practice. They place the real cross in safety, and made a replica for public viewing. The replica stands inside a chapel, which roof features artistic depiction of Rajah Humabon’s conversion to Catholicism.
Rajah Humabon is the ruler of Cebu when Magellan’s expedition arrived. He, his family and some tribesmen were baptized by a Spanish priest who belong to the expedition. Rajah Humabon took the name Don Carlos after the baptism.
Go inside the Cebu Metropolitan Church
Cebu Philippines has many churches built by Spaniards during their occupation. This includes the Cebu Metropolitan Church, which is only a short distance away from the Basilica of the Holy Child. It doesn’t feature breath-taking architecture, but it holds unique factors waiting for you.
The construction project to built the Colonial Cathedral began in 1565. Unfortunately, Spaniards were engaged with conflicts against Muslims which demands more funding. Hence, the construction was often interrupted and took longer to finish. Also, the church was bombed by Japanese soldiers during World War II, and a big part of it was damaged.
Tour the Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro is one of the most important historic landmark Philippines Cebu has for you to visit. Built under the order of Miguel de Legazpi in 1500’s, Fort San Pedro is the first defense settlement of Spaniards in the archipelago. The fort was originally made out of wood, but was converted into stones to efficiently serve its purpose. The conversion seeks to repel the attacks of Muslim pirates during 1740’s.
Today, the fort is open for visitors and tourists at the cost of 30 pesos entrance fee. Here you can see the historic stone structure, with its real canons still present. Also, the fort serves as a home for different artworks and pictures from its active years, which shows important people and ordinary settlers back then.
Scratch your Curiosity at Cebu Taoist Temple
Aside from Spanish and Catholic structures, Cebu Philippines also has different architectures based from Chinese culture. And the most prominent you can visit is the Chinese Taoist Temple, which is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Entrance is free for everyone too.
The Taoist temple was built in 1972 by the Chinese community in the city. Here you can see a fascinating view of Cebu, along with unique Chinese architectures and designs. A small replica of the Great Wall of China and some dragons are only few of the things you can spot in the temple.
There’s also a fascinating way to talk with god which is helpful if you desperately need an answer from the heavens. What you should do is to find the kidney-shaped blocks in the temple, then wash your hands before holding it. Lift the blocks up and drop them to the ground while thinking of your question.
You’d know it’s “yes” if one block faces its concave side up, and the other has its flat surface up. “No” if both have their concave sides up. If the blocks both have their flat surface up, it means even gods doesn’t know the answer for your question. You can try simplifying it while repeating the process.
Shop and Enjoy in Ayala Mall
There are many malls and shopping centers in Cebu, but Ayala Mall is undoubtedly the best. This is the biggest mall in the city which has almost everything you need. Hence, this is the place in Cebu Philippines if you want to buy items for your travel to other destinations in the Philippines. It’s perfect for products you can bring back to your home country as well.
Ayala Mall has groceries, clothes, cosmetics, electronics and souvenirs among other items people can purchase. You can also have delicious meals in its food court, or watch latest movies in its cinema. And these make the mall perfect for everyone to have a great time.
Have a Great Time in Mactan Island?
Mactan Island is undoubtedly an important setting for the history of the Philippines. This is where the explorer Fernando de Magallanes met his end during the battle against Lapu-Lapu. Lapu-Lapu is the chieftain of Mactan who gained victory against the Spanish fleet of Magellan. Hence, when you visit the island, you’d see a statue of the native hero near the airport. And Filipinos love to copy the battle stance of Lapu-Lapu while taking selfies.
Mactan Island is where the international airport of Cebu is located. Hence, it’s not difficult to take a tour around after arriving or before leaving. Moreover, the island is only separated from Cebu by a bridge which is about 1km long.
Cebu is magnificent, but Mactan also has its own attractions such as Banban and Tonggo Beach. These are great sites to cool-off and enjoy beach activities. That’s true even though they’re not as wonderful as other beaches in Palawan, Boracay and other popular sites in Philippines.
Another place to visit in Mactan is the Scape Skydeck restaurant. In Cebu Philippines, this is one of the best places for you to enjoy delicious meals. What’s more, you’d enjoy eating while appreciating a great view of the Mactan port. Of course, there are other restaurants in Cebu which would satisfy different food and ambient preferences too.
Spend some Time in the Yap San Diego Ancestral House
Note that Cebu is the first place in Philippines where Spanish expedition landed. Hence, when you think of what to see in Cebu Philippines, you’d surely get a lot of historic Spanish landmarks as options. And the Yap San Diego Ancestral House (or the Old House of Yap San Diego family), is one of the best choices to consider.
The house has a well-preserved Spanish style architecture which was constructed in 1675. Today, it’s a museum which features 1600’s Spanish wooden house themes. It has complete decors, religious images, lighting and dining utensils from the era as well.
The current descendants of Yap San Diego family are responsible for the maintenance and conversion of the old house into a museum. Val San Diego and his wife, Amelia, have restored the original structure of the house last 2008.
The house museum is open to the public from 9:00am to 6:00pm for a small 50 pesos entrance fee. The fee is intended for upkeeps and conservation of the historic house. It’s conveniently located near Fort San Pedro and the Basilica of the Holy Child. Thus, it wouldn’t be hard for you to drop-by.
Hike up the Osmeña Peak
Cebu Philippines is a home for many historic sites and beaches tourists love to visit. But it offers different adventure excitement as well. This includes the Osmeña Peak which would complete your Cebu getaway.
The Osmeña Peak is the highest point in Cebu Island. It’s 1,013 meters high, and stands around 80km from the city proper of Cebu. And due to developments, it’s easy to reach its peak within only 30min of hiking.
You’d enjoy viewing green surroundings because of the vegetation around the peak. Villages and vegetable plantations circle the peak as well. Needless to say, you’d get to enjoy a wonderful view when you reach the topmost area of the hill.
Helpful Guide to Reach Osmeña Peak
It’s quite an effort to reach Osmeña Peak, but it’s worth to spend for a fulfilling adventure and view. First, go to Cebu Bus South Terminal; then, hop on a bus going to Santander / Li-loan or Argao. Tell the driver that you’re going to Dalaguete Crossing for a travel to Osmeña Peak. The travel takes around 3hours at the cost of 106 pesos in an airconditioned bus.
In Dalaguete Crossing, you’d see some habal-habal or motorcycle taxis which can take you to Osmeña Peak. Prepare around 200 pesos and tell the driver about your destination. But if you have a companion, one habal-habal ride can accommodate up to 2 passengers for 100 pesos each. The habal-habal travel for around 50 minutes, and it will bring you to the Osmeña Peak Tourist Center.
The Osmeña Peak Tourist Center in Cebu Philippines asks 30 pesos entrance fee. After paying, you can begin your hike up the Osmeña Peak. The developed road is easy to walk upon; thus, you don’t need to hire a tour guide which costs up to 150 pesos.
Hop on a Spanish Guided complete Cebu Tour
Cebu has lots of attractions; hence, it’s quite troublesome to fit them all in your itinerary. That’s why you should hop on a complete Cebu tour to see and learn more about the city. This will take you to the best attractions in the city, and a Spanish-speaking guide will tell rich information about each site.
The tour brings you to key places in Cebu, such as the Basilica of the Holy Child, Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, Taoist Temple and the Yap San Diego Ancestral House. While on the tour, you’d learn specific info about each site, such as their history, features and transport options to reach them by your own.
Dance with the Beat in the Sinulog Festival
Philippines has lots of festivals all throughout the year, with Sinulog Festival as one of the grandest you should see. It’s celebrated during the third Sunday of January annually, and circles around the Holy Child Jesus. And its highlight is the grand parade of fantastic colors, music and dances on the street. Hence, you should think of coinciding your tour in Cebu Philippines with the festival.
“Sinulog” is a word which roughly translates to “water current” in Cebu. That’s because the festival celebrates the former Pahina River in Cebu, thus performers mimics its water current through street dancing. Expect to witness these performers wearing colorful attires as they dance on tunes of drums through the streets of the city. Moreover, the festival also highlights the faith conversion of Philippines from pagan belief to Christianity, which is seen on their faith to the Holy Child Jesus.
That’s why many Filipinos wants to attend the Sinulog Festival each year. Of course, you should include it in the list of what to do in Cebu Philippines through your vacation too.
Explore the Top of Cebu
Have a selfie blast in Sirao
Enjoy a Bohol Day Tour
Near Cebu sits the island of Bohol. It’s one of the top Philippines attractions any tourists must spend some time on a getaway. But if you only have a short time to stay, visiting it through a tour from Cebu is your best choice.
Bohol daytrip services are available from Cebu, which is a convenient way to enjoy many sites on the island. This lets you enjoy a boat trip with free meals on the Loboc River, see the oldest church made of stone in the country, and spend a time with tarsiers in their conservation center. This will take you to a hike up the Chocolate Hills as well, which is notable since it’s one of the iconic sites Philippines has.
Unlike the tour in the city of Cebu Philippines, daytrip to Bohol doesn’t have Spanish speaking guide for you. But that doesn’t decrease the fun and excitement you will experience through each site.
Map of Cebu Philippines
Cebu definitely has dozens of wonderful sites for you to see. And to avoid getting lost in this fascinating place, be sure to keep this useful map to guide you around:
Accommodation Options in Cebu Philippines
Be sure to know the best hotels in Cebu Philippines where you should stay. In and around the city, you’d spot different affordable and luxurious options. Thus, you’d surely find one that fits your preference and budget. Here’s a couple you should check out:
- Little Norway Guest House – this is an accommodation which is located near the airport so you won’t have a hard time reaching it on arrival. It features good and comfy rooms on affordable rates as well.
- One Central Hotel – this accommodation stands near the port and features decent rooms for guests. In addition, it has swimming pool where you can cool down before or after a day of Cebu tour as well.
There’s still a long list of Cebu hotels to consider. But regardless of your choice, be sure to book early so you’d have an instant room to stay upon arriving in the city. Accommodations easily fill-up especially on peak seasons such as January.
Planning to visit Cebu Philippines on a vacation? You’ll surely have a great time with all the fantastic attractions it has, such as religious, natural and historic wonders for you to see. Fix your itinerary now to enjoy the wonders Cebu offers!