Tourist Spots and Things To Do While In Cebu
Cebu, also known as the Queen City of the South, truly is a tourists’ haven – and is considered as one of the most precious gems in the whole Philippine archipelago. From historical landmarks, delicious food, rich culture, language and traditions, fantastic sceneries and natural wonders, beautiful people, accessibility, and just the right amount of industrialization – Cebu has it all!
Cebuanos take pride in their home province as it is jam-packed with so many unique tourist destinations. Each municipality boasts its own special attraction for Filipino and Foreign Tourists alike. These make Cebu a great place to explore, to relax, and to have fun! Philippines Guide listed below some of the famous tourist spots and activities you must visit and try while in Cebu.
Explore Oslob, Cebu
Whale Shark / Butanding Watching
Probably the activity that is gaining most tourism attention in Cebu today is the viewing of the whale sharks or butanding. Oslob gained instantaneous popularity world-wide because of this unique tourist attraction.
Whale sharks, unlike other species of sharks, are passive, slow-moving, filter-feeding, the largest known species of fish and are abundant in tropical seas, more specifically in the Philippines. As mentioned, whale sharks are filter-feeders, which means they feed almost exclusively on plankton and small fishes, hence, they are completely harmless to humans.
Whale shark watching in Oslob started 2011. And lately, tourists not only come to Oslob to watch the whale sharks but also to feed, snorkel, and dive with them. Although it is legal to swim with these gentle giants, Philippine law states that it is prohibited to have any contact that is closer than four feet with these friendly creatures, to minimize (if not totally prevent) any harm to these animals.
Swimming with the whale sharks is a one of a kind adventure as you will surely be at awe with majestic encounter with them.
The touristic features of Oslob do not end with the whale shark watching. One of the natural wonders of Oslob is the Tumalog Falls. Lately, it is a favorite side trip to tourists who wish to see the whale sharks. It is also a good alternative (to butanding watching) for those who are environmentally-conscious travellers but still want to explore Oslob.
Tumalog Falls is a horsetail-shaped waterfalls which can be reached after a 20-minute habal-habal ride and a trek on a steep mountain. Although it may require you more physical effort to reach it, the destination is definitely worth it. The falls is so huge that it curtains a whole cliff and it can be seen even from a very far viewpoint. The basin of Tumalog Falls is not too deep; so visitors could take a dip in its cool and fresh water.
With just a 15-minute boat ride from Barangay Tan-awan, frolic around the beach in Sumilon Island. There is a private resort and a public beach area as well. The fun does not stop with swimming in the island, as the resort offer fun-filled island activities such as kayaking, island trekking, and fishing.
Visit Heritage Sites
Even before the arrival of the Spaniards in the Philippines, Cebu already has a rich culture and heritage being a native kingdom of an early Filipino civilization. But upon the arrival of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 and the Spanish exploration and colonization, Cebu played a huge part in the history of the Philippines.
Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro (Fuerte de San Pedro) is located in Plaza Independencia near the pier of Cebu City. It was built by the Spanish under the command of the first Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi as the center of the first Spanish settlement in the country.
The museum inside the fort is where some of the well preserved artifacts from the Spanish legacy in the country can be found. These include Spanish paintings, documents, sculptures, and other remnants of the occupation.
This is where Datu Lapu-Lapu, a native Filipino leader defeated Ferdinand Magellan in the historic “Battle of Mactan” for the liberation of Philippines from Spanish occupation.
Malacañang of Cebu
Also known as Malacañang sa Sugbo and Malacañang of the South is the official residence of the President of the Republic of the Philippines in the whole Visayas region. It is located near Fort San Pedro, Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, and the City Hall.
Malacañang of Cebu was badly affected by the strong earthquake that hit Visayas two years ago. So in response to the damage, the City Mayor of Cebu is aiming to make Malacañang sa Sugbo a fully recognized vital historical site and tourist attraction through tedious restoration and renovation which is expected to be completed by mid-October this year.
“The Heritage of Cebu” and Colon Street
The Heritage of Cebu Monument is a compilation of sculptures made from different types of medium (steel, bronze, concrete, and brass). It represents scenes from the historical events and personalities: when the Catholicism in the Philippines started; on the baptism of Rajah Humabon and Hara Amihan, statue of Pedro Calungsod (the 2nd Filipino Catholic saint), the battle between Lapu-Lapu and Magellan in Mactan, and the late President Sergio Osmena Sr. The monument was made by Eduardo Castillo and is located in Colon Street.
Colon Street which was named after Cristobal Colon, also known as, Christopher Columbus and was developed by Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, is known to be the oldest street in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the historical value of the place is no longer evident in its structure as redevelopment and modernization already impacted it. However, it is still frequently visited by tourist for its convenient location and accessibility to nearby tourist spots.
Magellan’s Cross and Basilica del Santo Niño (Church of the Holy Child)
Just in front of the city center of Cebu City is where Magellan’s Cross is planted in a chapel next to Basilica del Santo Niño, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the country. The cross was named after Ferdinand Magellan who ordered to put it up upon arriving in the Philippines. Magellan’s Cross is considered an important historical artifact and a symbol of the introduction of the western civilization and Christianity in the Philippines.
Basilica del Santo Niño is also the home of the oldest Christian image in the Philippines, the image of Santo Niño de Cebú (Holy Child of Cebu). The image is the one being celebrated during Sinulog Festival.
The biggest and grandest festival in Cebu and in the whole Philippines – You can find more information in our article about the Sinulog Festival
Cebu Taoist Temple
Situated about 300 meters above sea level is the Cebu Taoist Temple which towers over downtown of Cebu. The temple is a go to place for believers and non-believers alike. It is a quiet refuge for those who would just like to relax. At the entrance, a miniature replica of the Great Wall of China can be seen. Inside there is a chapel, a library, and a wishing well.
Visitors can also take part in the daily ritual of wish granting. During this activity, the visitors have to wash their hands before entering the temple and toss two blocks of wood on the ground. There are two potential interpretations of the ritual depending on how the blocks of wood are positioned (after being tossed); the visitor’s wish will be granted by the divine or the visitor will have to make another visit to the temple for another chance.
This is a good (not to mention very cheap!) touristy thing to do while in Cebu. Have a nice panorama of Cebu City, the Camotes Sea, and islands nearby whether during the day or night time. Most people recommend visiting the place at night to see the city lights and the stars above that add a romantic vibe to the experience. Restaurants and food stalls are also available around the area where you can have a meal or snack while you are at Tops Lookout.
Trek to Osmeña Peak and Mantalungon Range
Another tourist attraction gaining popularity for Cebu travelers is Osmeña Peak which is approximately 1650 meters above sea level and located in Dalaguete, Cebu. It is a good 85 kilometers away from Cebu City’s center.
Reaching the peak is relatively easy as it will only take an average of 2 hrs to see the marvelous picturesque mountain range of Mantalungon. Visually, the mountain range is similar to Chocolate Hills of Bohol. However, the peaks here are pointier, thinner and rockier. In addition, they are clustered nearer to each other.
Hikers and mountaineers are free to have access to Osmeña Peak and Mantalungon Range all year round. Aside from the view, travelers have the option to camp out or pitch a tent if they want to spend the night. The recommended period to visit is during the first half of the year as the trail can be wet and slippery on the second half which is basically the rainy season.
Sky Experience Adventure
If you are an adrenaline junkie who wants to experience a thrilling activity just within the city, then head to Crown Regency Hotel and Towers. On the 38th (top) floor of the hotel you can find Sky Experience Adventure. It offers heart-pounding activities that would surely make your Cebu visit more unforgettable. Give Edge Coaster, Sky Walk Extreme, Tower Zip, Sky Lift, and Vertical Climb a try while overlooking the beautiful city of Cebu below and the seas beyond.
- Edge Coaster – The very first and the only amusement ride of its kind. Have a 10 – minute heart-pumping ride around the edge of the building. The rider has the option to adjust the angle of the coaster via a button; this will give you a great view of the city in different angles.
- Tower Zip – This exciting twist of zip lining in an urban area is a one of a kind in the world. Tower Zip is a 77-meter long zipline from the 2nd floor of Crown Regency to another building. It boasts to have the first fully automatic braking system that lets the rider to have more control.
- Sky Walk Extreme – Walk around the clear glass platform at the edge of the 37th floor of the building which is roughly 126 meters above the ground.
Those who are less adventurous, worry not as you can avail other kinds of entertainment like Backlight mini-golf, 6D movies, Vertigo Wall, Cliff Hanger, Vertex, and Vivo Playroom.
Eat the World Famous Cebu Lechon
Anthony Bourdain did not call Lechon (Filipino roasted pig) “best pig, ever” on one episode of his famous Travel and Living Asia TV show No Reservations for no reason. Head to Carcar, Cebu to have a taste of the world famous Cebu Lechon. Worry not if you have a jam-packed schedule and cannot go over to Carcar. Lechon is available in many restaurants in Cebu, plus there are stand alone lechon restaurants and take away stalls that dot the city.
JVR Island in the Sky resort
If while in Cebu you would like to be closer to nature but wants to have a break from water activities, then JVR Island in the Sky is a great option for you. Be mesmerized by the luscious green mountain range and the relaxing natural landscape of Barangay Gaas in Balamban. The resort is basically situated at the top of the mountainous area of Balamban so the temperature is quite lower than the average temperature in the lowland areas. With its natural topography, the place is often compared with Baguio City.
For a very low fee you can enjoy exploring the place via a cable car, a multicolored hanging bridge and a zip line. There are also cottages available for day tour and overnight stay.
Have a Taste of Cebu Night Life
Complete your trip to Cebu by dropping by to top reviewed bars and restaurants in the city. Enjoy inventive dishes from beautiful and scenic restaurants such as Blu Bar & Grill located at Marco Polo Hotel which was included in the Asia’s best bars list by Travel + Leisure Asia.
Canyoneering is an extreme water sport that involves not only swimming but also hiking, climbing, rappelling, and of course jumping off cliffs! Most of the time, tourists need professional guides to canyoneer. Good thing there are professional guides and tours you can avail for a safe and hassle free canyoneering experience. Most guides also provide safety equipments and accessories (e.g.helmet, life jacket, aqua shoes) that are included in the tour/activity packages.
Some of the most famous canyoneering spots in Cebu are located in Moalboal, Badian and Alegria.
Beach, Waterfalls, and Island Hopping
Kawasan Falls is probably the most famous waterfalls in Cebu not only for swimming but also for canyoneering. It is a favorite place for family and friends to go for a freshwater adventure. Kawasan Falls has 3 levels. The first level is where most people stay, swim and eat. At second level you can find two restaurants and fewer tourists, although you have to go on a little further to reach it and have to pay Php 300 to sit at the cottages. Lastly, on the third level is where you can find the origin of the water that flows to the second and first level. It will take you another couple of minutes to reach it but the view is definitely worth it.
In this article you can find more information about Kawasan Falls
Located at the northernmost part of Cebu, you can reach Bantayan Island after about two to three hours travel time from Cebu City proper. Bantayan Island is known for having the highly acclaimed Sugar Beach. Tourists fall in love with the picturesque view of white sand and crystal clear blue-green water. A perfect view to take photos especially during sunset! Some water activities are gaining popularity in the area such as island hopping, diving, and reef viewing while riding a boat. There is also a small lagoon located inside a small cave in Ogtong Cave Resort which you can check out.
Another great location found in the northernmost part of Cebu is Malapascua. It is best known for its diving spots and it also boasts unspoiled white sand beaches. Explore Gato Island and go deep into Gonad and Kemod Shoals where the most vibrant marine life and vast collection of corals of Malapascua can be found.
Here you can find more information about Malapascua Island
If you are looking for another beach and diving spot in Cebu, you can visit Camotes Island, just about 60 kilometers away from Cebu City. Camotes has three main islands: Pacijan, Ponson, and Poro. Plus an islet called Tulang Island.
You will not get bored with the place as it offers several touristic spots that you can check out. Go cliff diving in Buho Rock, swim along the shoreline of Santiago Bay, and visit other touristic places – like Timabu Caves, Bukilat, Busay Waterfalls, Lake Danao, and Guadalupe.
Other water destinations:
- Guadalupe Mabugnao Mainit Hot Spring National Park
- Panndanon Island
- Esoy Hot Springs
- Nalasuan Island
Other things to do and other places to visit:
- Yap-San Diego Ancestral House
- Museo Sugbo
- Casa Gorordo
- Cathedral Museum of Cebu
- Adventure Café, Balamban, Cebu
- Celosia Flower Farm
- Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary
- Plaza Independecia