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If there is one place in the Philippines that is worth a visit, it would be the province of Southern Cebu– located in the Visayas part of the Philippines and also called the Queen City of the South. This article is about the best of cebu tourist spots and will help you with your travels.
Cebu is a place rich in history and culture. It is a place with a lot of first’s which tourists will enjoy especially those who wish to partake in a cultural journey.
If it is an adventure that you seek, then you’ll find that Cebu is not short on activities. You will also soon find out why it is a place for adrenaline junkies and serious explorers. In this article, you will find out the exciting activities you can do and the places to visit and where to go in Cebu.
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Sure, the Philippines has a lot to offer when it comes to top attractions in Cebu, but you’ll notice that the province of Cebu is always part of that list.
So, why Cebu? The answers can be broken down to several explanations as to why Cebu is a must-go place, but the main answer would be because of the numerous things you can do in the province.
But the best things that you can do while in Cebu depend on what type of activity you enjoy doing as a tourist. You can either be someone who wants to experience extreme sports which are out of the ordinary or a person looking for cultural enhancement by visiting historic sites, religious sites, museums and heritage of Cebu. Cebu offers the best of both worlds.
As previously mentioned, Cebu offers numerous activities that will suit the interests of different types of tourists. From an adventure-savvy to a cultural scholar, Cebu City street in the Philippines will be a place where everything is always exciting.
Table of Contents
It should be stated up front that this is not the most comprehensive regarding a Cebu tourist guide. What is intended here is to give you a look at one of the most beautiful places you will ever have the opportunity to visit on earth. A place where you will find that offers you a safe and enjoyable place to visit, where you can have peace and solitude, yet see sites and events that will pique the interest of your heart, and make you smile every time you think of your vacation. In essence, I want you to have a guide to Cebu that will show you why you want to come to the region of the world.
Before getting into some of the sites and events that you will want to see, no Cebu tourism guide, or guide to any area on the planet, would be complete without ensuring that your fears or concerns are alleviated from the start. Traveling to a foreign region anywhere on the globe can be concerning, because you may not know anything about the people, the culture, or criminal activity.
This is a place where you can find lots of safety visiting. It is an area that has a strong police force, a population that is friendly and welcoming, and all of the amenities that make you feel right at home.
In many places around the globe, you have to worry about large groups of tourists attracting a criminal element. However, because Cebu and many other areas around the Philippines have not become as popular with cebu tourist spots, you don’t see that kind of detail here. This is why it is a fantastic place to visit.
Cebu is located in the Visayas area of the Philippines. It is right in the heart of the island region, meaning that the islands around it offer a protection from strong currents, making it ideal for those who love to swim or spend time in the water. You will also find that potentially dangerous forms of sea life don’t usually come to this island, because of where it is situated.
The island covers about 1.8 mi.² and is the ninth largest island in the Philippines. There are about 3.5 million people that lived there, and it is an area that is covered by some of the most beautiful beaches the globe has to offer, and you will also find that fishing is unbelievable here. There is also a large coal mining industry on the island.
There are two seasons in Cebu – a dry and a wet season. The dry season lasts from June to December, with the rains coming from January through May. Typhoons are rare in this area but do happen on occasion. The average temperature is about 97°, with the coolest temperatures occurring between March and May when it reaches about 64° for most of the day.
There are a large number of islands that are directly around Cebu. To the east, you will find Leyte and Bohol, and to the West, there is Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. Each of these islands offers fantastic sites and natural beauty for you to be able to visit, and some tours leave from Cebu that takes you to these islands to visit each day.
The longer you can stay in the region, the more opportunity you will have to visit these locations. They are indeed spots that offer you a lot of flora and fauna that you have probably not seen anywhere near where you live. This is why so many spend a week or more within the area so that they can take in as much of the beauty of the Philippines as possible.
Also, there are four different bodies of water that surround the island. These include the Visayan Sea, Camotes Sea, the Cebu Strait, and the Tenon Strait. Each of these bodies of water offers fantastic areas to go swimming, as well as an excellent opportunity to catch an abundance of fish. You may find that you want to catch and cook your meals, and this is quite easy to do in any one of these bodies of water.
This Cebu City travel guide will help you to find great places to stay, eat, and visit while you are visiting Cebu. For hotels, there are some fantastic places to visit whether you want to be along the beach area or more inland.
A Hotel must be just 30-45 minutes from the airport and provides very comfortable rooms, a buffet that is offered each night for dinner, and a lot of the amenities that you have come to expect when staying in a hotel in the United States. This must have a good Internet connection, a business centre, and an outstanding room that provides a comfortable bed.
When you are checking for a hotel it must have the importance of spacious rooms, and visitors will love the breakfast buffet that is offered each morning. This must be a very quaint looking hotel, which is one of the more stylish on the island. There are not a large number of rooms, which means you can enjoy lots of solitude and peace all staying in the hotel.
One of the great activities that you will want to do while staying in Cebu is to island hop. There are many great locations around Cebu to visit, including Olango Island, Virgin Island, and Bantayan Island. There are cruise ships to go to these islands each day and provide lunch for you when you arrive. During your time there you can lay out on the beach, swim in the waters, feed the fish or birds, surf, kayak, and do a huge number of other activities that you will love and enjoy.
The Kawasan Falls is one place in Cebu that you will surely want to visit. It is one of the most beautiful places that you can imagine going to and allows you the opportunity to camp out overnight there, underneath the falls or near other camping sites around the water. The water is a beautiful blue, more spectacular than you can imagine.
Around the area, there are great restaurants that offer some of the best sweet-and-sour food you have ever tasted. You will also love the different kinds of spices and cuisine that are offered. While there are some traditional foods from other countries that you will find here, such as Italian, American, and French, it is the Filipino cuisine that is spectacular. You will also like the fact that the fish that is offered in their dishes is likely to have been caught that very morning.
To get around in the city, buses cost about $0.30 for you to ride. They traveled to all of the critical areas around the island, meaning that you can see everything and get to any location on your agenda.
Some of the historical structures that you will want to visit include Fort San Pedro, the Cebu Taoist Temple, Plaza Independencia de Cebu, and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. You not only can view incredible religious structures that date back hundreds of years, but other buildings make this trip something that will leave you in awe.
The great thing is that different tours afford you the opportunity to get to this island, which put you up in a hotel and send you on tours each day that allows you to enjoy the full beauty of the Isle of Cebu.
The Cebu itinerary three days budget started when you arrived at the island, providing you transportation to your hotel. You will then get to witness the sunrise in Oslob, in fact, we have written a very comprehensive guide on Cebu to Oslob that is a must read before beginning an incredible backpacking trip, that includes a boat ride and dinner. All of this for just pennies on what you would pay if you are on a tour and another country. Over your three day excursion, you will see whale sharks, visit the Kawasan Falls, have lunch and dinner at some of the most fantastic restaurants, and visit the Simala Church.
There is also a Cebu itinerary five days budget tour which gives you all of the locations that you would see on the 3-day tour plus additional locations. You will visit all of the historical religious structures, including visiting several Buddhist temples, churches, and other institutions that are unbelievably beautiful. There are visits to other islands around the area, and you will have a fantastic meal at the Lantaw Floating Restaurant. It truly is amazing what you will get to see on either one of these two tours, and is one reason why you will want to make Cebu the destination for your next vacation.
Swimming with the whale sharks is an activity that you can do in Oslob which is located in the southern part of Cebu. The small municipality facilitates this activity and guides you on how to properly conduct yourself when interacting with these gentle beasts.
Tourists find the encounter with whales overwhelming. After all, you never get to swim with whale sharks every day.
This is not for the faint of heart since this activity involves a lot of jumping from high falls which can go as high as 30 feet, rappelling, swimming down rapids, and nature tripping. The canyoning activity can be done in the small municipality of Badian, south of Cebu. This small town is a home to several falls and a picturesque canyon where the activity would take place. The whole tour usually ends in the grand Kawasan Falls where tourists enjoy a cool splash of the falls by going through it on a raft.
A lot of people don’t know that sky diving is among the activities that the city of Cebu offers to its adventurous tourists. For sky diving, you have to travel to the northernmost part of Cebu which is the Bantayan Island where the activity is being held. You can experience the breathtaking view of the whole city of Cebu while free falling from a private plane. It is indeed an experience that will last a lifetime.
If you have seen Cebu from above, then you would definitely want to see what lies underneath. Scuba diving is among the enjoyable activities that you can do while in Cebu. You need to travel all the way to Malapascua Island, north of Cebu, where numerous diving spots can be found. The island of Malapascua is a very popular diving spot for beginners and experienced divers that one of its diving spots, Monad Shoal, is ranked 11th in the top 101 diving sites in the world by Asian Diver magazines.
The breathtaking view of the underworld of Malapascua Island is enough to make tourists experience something beyond words. There are sites where you can explore sunken ships and planes which are remnants of war, but the most exciting part of scuba diving on the island is the daily sightings of Thresher Sharks which is abundant on the island.
Another thing is when to visit in Cebu City and a popular Cebu tourist attraction is to boasts about is their magnificent beaches from the north to the south. If you want to experience fine white sand with crystal clear sea, you might want to check the famous Bantayan Island from the north. If you’re heading south, Moalboal and Sumilon Islands are among the best tourist spots and attractions as the beaches there are stunning and beyond beauty.
There are several ways to get around the entire Cebu. Here are the different modes of transportation that you can use to get to your destination:
Buses in Cebu are only limited. There are only a few buses that travel in Metro Cebu. Most of the buses are in the 2 main terminals. These main terminals are the Cebu North Bus Terminal and the Cebu South Bus Terminal with the route going far north and south. Buses in the terminals are available almost every hour starting from 4 AM. You can check out the daily schedule of the North Bus Terminal and South Bus Terminal.
Jeepneys in Cebu are classified into different number and letter codes depicting their route. The codes will allow passengers to distinguish its route easily. Jeepneys in Cebu are also one of the well-organized in the entire Philippines due to its letter and number code assignment.
A small ship is also known in Cebu as fast craft. It can accommodate a large number of passengers going to and fro the surrounding islands of Cebu such as Bantayan Island, Malapascua Island, Sumilon Island, etc.
It is the most convenient mode of transportation in Cebu. You can check out companies that lend cars for a whole day for a certain fee. You’ll be able to get around the entire city of Cebu easily and more conveniently.
Since Cebu is a large province with a lot of must-see tourist spots, the top 5 tourist destinations in Cebu listed here would focus mainly on the places you can visit while in the City. Before fully exploring the entire Cebu area, checking out these 5 tourist spots in the city is recommended.
Not only would these places give you a clear understanding of the history and culture of Cebu, but would also give you a glimpse of why Cebu is a place worth visiting.
Every time you see a postcard with a Magellan’s Cross on it, the first thing that will pop into year head is Metro Cebu or the famous colon street one of the most popular Cebu tourist spots.
The Magellan’s Cross, A religious sites which is housed inside a dome, is the most popular tourist destination in the city as it depicts the history of Cebu as being one of the earliest civilizations converted into Catholic religion in the entire Philippines.
It is located in the heart of Cebu where it stands across the Cebu City Hall, the seat of power in the entire province of Cebu.
According to history, the Magellan’s Cross is the same cross that Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer, and conquistador, brought and ordered to be planted on the soil of Cebu to symbolize Christianity of the people.
The original cross is said to be placed inside the tindalo wood to prevent further deterioration as people are chipping it off because they believe shards of the cross have healing powers or can be used as lucky charms.
Legends say that the Magellan’s Cross before is not as big as it is today. Locals believed that the cross is growing in size. Some say the cross grows every time the people are doing good deeds and praying regularly.
Though the majority of the Cebuanos believe in the miraculous power of the cross, some contradict it saying that the cross planted there is not the same cross Magellan brought and planted before. They believed that after the death of Magellan, the original cross was destroyed, and the cross planted there today is just a replica of the original.
It was said that the priests who visited Cebu are the ones who replicate it to commemorate the original cross.
Whatever the legends say, the Magellan’s Cross still remains one of the iconic symbols and will forever remain the most popular tourist spot in Cebu. The best time to visit the Magellan’s Cross is any time of the year. Just be careful and wary of the maintenance time as it is usually close to the public.
If you wish to visit the Magellan’s Cross, you can simply ride a cab or any jeepney that has a route going to downtown Cebu. It is not hard to locate the cross as it is located near another popular tourist attractions in Cebu Philippines which is the Santo Niño church.
Whether you’re a Catholic or not, a believer or non-believer, you wouldn’t let the Basilica del Santo Niño de Cebu be not part of your list of city tours to visit in Cebu City. The Basilica del Santo Niño or also known as the Santo Niño Basilica is a minor basilica which is home to the miraculous image of Santo Niño or Child Jesus Christ.
It is also considered as the oldest Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines as it was founded by a priest named, Andres de Urdaneta in 1565, right after introducing Christianity in the country.
The basilica is referred to by Pope Paul VI as the symbol of Christianity in the Philippines as this was the very first church built in honor of the religion. The location of the church is also significant as it is the place where the image of the statue of Child Jesus Christ was found.
According to history, Ferdinand Magellan was the one who brought the image which he intended to give as gifts to the newly converted ruler of Cebu, Rajah Humabon and his wife on their christening.
Forty years later, a soldier found the same image enclosed in a wooden box and perfectly preserved. He gave it to Miguel Lopez de Legazpi who decided to temporarily keep and later on give it to a priest. Because of the miracles the iconic statue of the Child Jesus did while still in the care of the priest, they’ve decided to create a permanent home for it by building a church where it was found.
According to the locals, every time the feast of the Santo Niño draws near, or also known as the Sinulog Festival which is held every third Sunday of January, the statue of Santo Niño will disguise a young boy and roam around the city and help people in need.
The caretaker of the statue would swear that sometimes, they would notice that the feet of the statue are covered with mud. They will find it odd as the image is enclosed in a glass box.
But the most famous story is about a young woman who is selling fish for a living. She said that one day a young boy approached her and asked for a fish. She said that the boy doesn’t have money, so she just gave the fish to him for free. The next day, the statue of Santo Niño is seen inside his glass box holding the same fish the boy asked from the fish vendor.
These mysteries that surround the iconic image of the Child Jesus Christ are enough to draw tourists everywhere to the basilica to experience the holiness of the place and see for themselves if, in fact, the legends were true.
The most perfect time to visit the basilica is during the Sinulog Festival as a lot of participants, dressed in colorful costumes and dance to the beat of the Santo Niño song, from different parts of Cebu come to gather and perform in front of the church. If you want to check out the basilica of Santo Niño, you can grab a car or hail a taxi. You can also ride a jeepney as most jeepneys’ route involves downtown Cebu, where the basilica is located.
Another must-check destinations in cebu is the Taoist Temple which is located in the posh subdivision of Beverly Hills in Lahug, Cebu. It is situated at 300 meters above the sea level, so expect a grand view of the city of Cebu in the viewing deck. This tourist spot is recommended for people who like to experience the Taoism religion as the temple is home to various artifacts related to the religion.
An exciting trivia about the Taoist Temple is it was constructed by the Chinese community of Cebu(history of cebu) in 1972 to serve as a symbol of their religion and a place where they can invite people to spread the teachings of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Zi, where the religion was based from.
In the temple, you can experience activities and watch Chinese worshippers do a traditional way of praying which is interesting to see. You can even do the rituals yourself even if you’re a non-worshipper. Some activities derived from the religion that you can do are climbing 81 steps to get to the main dome at the topmost portion of the temple to pray by lighting a joss stick.
The Taoist Temple is also a place where you can make a wish and do a ritual to check if that wish will come true. All you need to do is walk inside the temple barefooted, wash your hands, and pray. While praying, you can insert your personal wish. After that, you will get 2 wooden blocks, and drop it. If both faces land up, then your wish will come true; if both faces are down, then it means no; and if the other is facing up while the other is down, it means unsure.
If you’re into fortune telling and palm reading, then the Taoist Temple is the best place to visit. Monks in the temple usually entertain you with some fortune reading, but they only do it every Wednesday and Sunday. Although the temple is open to the public with no entrance fee, proper decorum must be observed at all times. The temple is very strict, and they implement their rules with an iron fist. Since this is a temple, silence is expected from everyone to avoid disturbing people who are praying.
You must also check out for signs to check which parts of the temple are open to everyone and which parts are restricted, as ignoring these signs can get you in trouble Guards would give you a fitting scolding while the monks throw you embarrassing glances.
To get to the temple, you can ride a cab or a jeep going to Lahug. The best time to visit the temple is in the afternoon between 3–4 PM to avoid extreme heat from the sun. The temple is open between 9 AM and 5 PM every day, except for some temple occasions.
The Temple of Leah is the newest edifice that was able to make it to the list of the best tourist spots in Cebu. This Cebu City tourist spot is a living proof that a place need not be ancient-old to be worth a visit. The Temple of Leah was built in 2012 in honor of the wife of Teodorico Soriano Adarna, the owner of the temple who personally financed privately the whole construction. His late wife, Leah Villa Adarna died on 2010, and to commemorate her life, he built a large temple as a symbol of his undying love and devotion to his wife.
The Temple of Leah is being compared to the magnificent Taj Mahal of India, where the idea of the temple came from. The Taj Mahal was originally built by the emperor as a resting place for his favorite wife. When you get inside the temple, you will notice the grandiosity of the place. Everything is well-placed, and the interiors were copied from the architecture of the ancient Greece and Rome.
The designs of the temple, from the façade to the exteriors, are magnificent. The statues found inside are derived from the statue of David and other popular Greek busts and images such as the gigantic lions and the sphinx. The temple consists of 24 chambers which include a museum, a library, and an art gallery.
Since the temple is dedicated to the grand Adarna matriarch, all of her personal favorite things are displayed in all the chambers. But the most noticeable of all the statues is the 9-feet-tall bronze statue of the late Leah Adarna. It is placed in the center of the temple, adorned with angel paintings behind it. The statue is sitting on a bronze chair which makes it look like a queen reigning over.
The temple of Leah is located in Barangay Busay. If you want to get there, you can head to IT park in Lahug where shuttle services are available to and fro the temple. It can easily be accessed by cabs as well. The best time to go to the temple is between 4 PM and 6 PM to avoid the extreme heat of the sun in noon time and to see the sun set in the city of Cebu. It is open 24 hours every day, and the entrance fee is P50.
Mactan is a separate island of Cebu and very well-known for its numerous beaches and resorts. It is approximately 30-minute to 1-hour, depending on traffic, drive from the main city of Cebu. The island of Mactan is the place where Ferdinand Magellan first landed, and it was then ruled by Lapu-Lapu, who refused to bend his knee to the King of Spain. This didn’t stop Magellan to colonize the other part of Cebu, though.
It was also on this island where the epic battle between Datu Lapu-Lapu and Ferdinand Magellan took place where the latter lost and died. Mactan has a lot of popular beach resorts and tourist attractions to boast. Most of the first-class beach resorts and hotels are found in Mactan including the Shangri-La Hotel and the Plantation Bay Resort.
The beaches in Mactan are popular due to the diverse collection of corals that can be found on the beaches. Because of this, numerous activities are available such as scuba diving, island hopping(Best tourist attractions in cebu), and cultural activities. Aside from the different activities, Mactan Island also offers high-class tourism products such as the famous ukulele, a small guitar, and high-quality furniture. So if you want to experience the amazing beach resorts of Cebu and high-quality products that you can buy at such low prices, visiting the island of Mactan is highly recommended.
The best time to visit Mactan is during the summer between March and May when the beach is beautiful and the sky is clear. There are several ways to get to Mactan, but the most convenient is through a car or taxi.
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These cultural sites and heritage places are some of the things Cebuanos are truly proud of, patronized by local tourists and now by international visitors who wish to get to know Cebu deeper, through its past. Cebu has kept its culture and heritage all these years and it has successfully intertwined with modernity.
More than beautiful structures, it is here where Cebu’s heritage is eternally sealed. Thus, visiting various cultural attractions in a city so rich in history will always be a highlight, when in Cebu.
Are you looking for a hotel room in Cebu City?
With the various activities and breathtaking places to visit in Cebu, you cannot help but want to explore more of it. Get to know what other amazing things the province can offer. Although a day is not enough to explore the beauty of the whole Cebu tourist spots, your everyday travel in the province is really worth it. Experience the hospitability of the Cebuanos and the variety of food selections that you can choose. These pretty much can add up to your grand Cebu escapade.
So, if you’re looking for a different kind of an exciting adventure and travel, you might want to check out Cebu and have your questions answered as to why experiencing it is something really worth remembering.
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Are you looking for a hotel room in Cebu City?
Southpole Central Hotel
Junquera Street, Barangay Kamagayan
+63 0956 551 2322
29 Junquera St, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu
+63 0956 551 2322