Exploring the Queen City of the South: Famous Tourist Spots in Cebu
Welcome to the beautiful island of Cebu! Known for its stunning beaches, mouth-watering food, and rich culture, Cebu has become one of the top destinations in the Philippines. From historic landmarks to natural wonders, Cebu has something for everyone. No wonder people invest in the city by buying an affordable condo in Cebu or other properties, for that matter.
Discover the beauty of Cebu. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most famous tourist spots in Cebu that you simply can’t miss.
Popular tourist destinations in Cebu
1) Historical landmarks
Cebu has a rich history that dates back to the Spanish colonial era. One of the most iconic landmarks in Cebu is Magellan’s Cross, located in the heart of Cebu City. This cross was planted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 when he arrived in Cebu. The cross is housed in a small chapel, and locals believe it has miraculous powers.
Fort San Pedro
Another historical landmark you shouldn’t miss is Fort San Pedro. This fort was built by Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi in 1565. It served as a military defense structure against pirates and other invaders. Today, it has been restored and turned into a museum where you can learn more about Cebu’s history.
Casa Gorordo Museum
Casa Gorordo Museum is a house museum situated in the historic Parian area of Cebu. It was acquired in 1979, renovated, opened to the public in 1983, and designated as a National Historical Landmark in 1991. The museum offers visitors an immersive and interactive experience by incorporating digital technology. The museum’s architecture showcases Spanish, Chinese, and native influences. It has survived two revolutions and World War II while retaining its ‘balay nga tisa’ form. Casa Gorordo Museum offers guided tours, tailored museum-based activities, a shop, and a café. It is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI) owns and manages the museum and aims to “touch people, shaping the future” through it.
Temple of Leah
The Temple of Leah is a cultural and historical site in Cebu City. Teodorico Soriano Adarna built it as a tribute to his late wife, Leah Albino-Adarna. The temple has 24 chambers, including a library, art gallery, bar, and museum. The easiest way to get to the temple is by riding a jeepney with route codes 04D, 04I, or 04H from downtown Cebu City. The best time to visit is during Cebu’s dry season, from December to May. The entrance fee is minimal, with adults charged P100 and children/senior citizens charged P50. The temple is open from 7 AM to 6 PM daily, and visitors can hire a habal-habal for P150 from Lahug/JY Mall to reach the site.
If you’re interested in history, visit these landmarks and learn more about Cebu’s past.
2) Natural wonders
Cebu is not just about history and culture - it also boasts of some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the Philippines. One of these wonders is Kawasan Falls, located in Badian, about 3 hours away from Cebu City. The falls are known for their turquoise waters, perfect for swimming, and their surrounding lush greenery, which is a sight to behold. Osmeña Peak
Another natural wonder you should visit is Osmeña Peak, the highest peak in Cebu. It is located in the town of Dalaguete, about 2 hours away from Cebu City. The peak offers a panoramic view of the sea and the surrounding mountains, and it’s the perfect spot for hiking and camping.
Sirao Flower Garden
The Sirao Flower Garden in Cebu City is a popular tourist attraction famous for its well-kept floral arrangements. It is adjacent to another picturesque garden called the Sirao Pictorial Garden and Camping Site. The original garden gained popularity in 2015 but was later damaged due to human recklessness. However, it has been improved and now features more Instagrammable spots and an infinity pool. The entrance fee for the original garden is P50-P100 per head, while the PGCS charges P60 per head. Visitors can get there by motorbike, van, or their own vehicle, and the parking fee is P20. The garden is also known as a “Mini Amsterdam” due to the presence of various species of flowers, including the Celoria flower, which is edible.
Add these natural wonders to your itinerary if you’re a nature lover.
3) Beach destinations
Cebu is also known for its stunning beaches. Two of the most popular beach destinations are Mactan Island and Bantayan Island.
Mactan Island is just a few minutes away from Cebu City. It is home to some of the most luxurious resorts in Cebu. The island boasts white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and a variety of water activities such as snorkeling and diving.
On the other hand, Bantayan Island is located in the northern part of Cebu and is known for its laid-back vibe and pristine beaches. The island has a more rustic feel compared to Mactan Island, and it’s the perfect spot for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious beach vacation or a more laid-back getaway, these two islands have something for everyone.
4) Religious destinations
Basilica Minore del Santo Niño
The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebú, also known as the Santo Niño Basilica, is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the Philippines. It was founded in 1565 by Fray Andrés de Urdaneta and Fray Diego de Herrera in Cebu City. The church is alleged to be built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebú was found during the expedition of Miguel López de Legazpi. The building was completed in 1740 and designated by the Holy See as the “Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines.” The Basilica has undergone renovations and was given the title National Landmark and Basílica Minore by the Pope. It is under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Cebu and the Augustinian Province of Santo Niño de Cebu. It is open daily from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM. The church is a place for prayer and pilgrimage and receives a large number of visitors each year. It houses the image of the Sto. Niño, the city’s patron saint, represents Jesus as a black Holy Child. The church remains under the care of the Augustinian Friars. The church is accessible by Mybus and jeep with route codes 12I or 10M.
Cebu Taoist Temple
The Cebu Taoist Temple is a Taoist temple complex situated in Cebu City, built by the city’s Filipino-Chinese community in 1972. It serves as the center of worship for Taoism, a religion based on the teachings of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Zi. Visitors must climb the temple’s 81 steps, symbolizing the 81 chapters of Taoism scripture. The entrance to the temple is a replica of the Great Wall of China. The temple features a chapel, a library, a souvenir shop, and a wishing well, and its balconies offer an excellent view of downtown Cebu. Visitors can complete a ritual to pray to the gods and make a wish by dropping two wooden blocks inside the chapel. The temple is free to visit, and visitors can enjoy the seats, breeze, and shade it provides.
5) Modern hangouts
Ayala Center Cebu
Ayala Center Cebu, located in Cebu City, Philippines, is a shopping mall and lifestyle destination that offers unparalleled retail, dining, and entertainment options. Owned by Ayala Malls, it is the first Ayala mall located outside of Metro Manila and has 680 stores and services. The mall is known for its cleanliness, security, and wide range of shops and restaurants. It is easily accessible by public transportation and attracts an average of 85,000 people on a typical day, increasing to 135,000 on weekends.
Tips for traveling to Cebu
Pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, as Cebu can get hot and humid.
Respect the locals and their culture. Cebuanos are known for their hospitality, so be polite and courteous.
Be cautious when walking around the city, especially at night. Keep your belongings close to you and avoid dark and quiet areas.
When visiting temples and other religious sites, make sure to dress appropriately. Avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops.
Learn a few basic phrases in Cebuano, the local language. It’s always appreciated when tourists make an effort to speak the local language.
Getting around Cebu
Getting around Cebu is relatively easy, and several transportation options are available. The most popular mode of transportation is by taxi or Grab, which is similar to Uber.
Taxis are readily available in Cebu City; most use a meter system.
Another option is to rent a car or a motorcycle. This is ideal for those who want more flexibility in their itinerary and want to explore the outskirts of Cebu. However, driving in Cebu can be challenging, so practice caution and observe traffic rules.
For those who want to experience the local way of commuting, jeepneys and tricycles are available. Jeepneys are the most common mode of transportation in Cebu, and they have designated routes that cover most parts of the city.
Cebu is a beautiful island that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and nature. From historical landmarks to natural wonders, there’s something for everyone in Cebu. Add these famous tourist spots to your itinerary and try the local delicacies. With its warm and welcoming locals, Cebu is the perfect destination for your next vacation.