Note: As a precautionary measure in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to check with the authorities the updated travel requirements and possible restrictions that might affect your travel plan. Contact Cebu Tourism Office at [email protected] or at (032) 888 2328 to know the latest update.
Remember to always follow the health and safety protocols imposed from your travel origin to your destination. I wish you a safe trip ahead!
Summary: This blog shares the top 30 tourist spots in Cebu, divided into 4 locations according to tourism zones: Cebu City, North Cebu, South Cebu and Mactan Island. Each top attraction is detailed with operating hours, entrance fee, location and information on how to get there. Further, the blog is intended for DIY budget travelers either solo or traveling in group.
Cebu is easily a bestseller in the menu of top travel destinations in the Philippines. It’s a whole serving of lean, raw meat of nature-based attractions cured with rich-tasting history and breaded with bright, lively culture that leaves all of its visitors satisfyingly full.
Its attractions are cut into well-distributed chunks; may it be at the south, north, Cebu city on its center or even at its neighboring islands, Cebu can serve the best tourism offering for you.
Scroll down and relish some of Cebu’s top tourist spots and things-to-do which are a beautiful mix of nature-based and man-made attractions.
(Click the link for a full Cebu Budget Travel Guide or check out my vlog which shares a DIY heritage walk tour at downtown Cebu.)
CEBU CITY TOP TOURIST SPOTS
Here are the top picks in Cebu city that you can cover for a day tour or with an itinerary for 2 to 3 days.
The cross was planted by the explorers in 1521 as ordered by Ferdinand Magellan to mark the start of Christianity in the Philippines. To preserve its form, the cross is encased in a bigger wooden cross and housed in an octagonal kiosk which has a ceiling decorated with murals that depict Cebu’s conversion to Christianity.
Basilica del Santo Niño
The Basilica was founded in 1565 which keeps the oldest image of Sto. Niño (the child Jesus Christ) that was presented by Ferdinand Magellan to Queen Juana, the chief consort of Rajah Humabon, during her christening on April 14, 1521. Over the years, the image has acquired an increasing number of devotees. To accommodate them, a pilgrim center was built in the same compound. The devotion to the child Jesus is mostly celebrated during the Sinulog festival, every 3rd Sunday of January.
Fort San Pedro
The oldest and smallest triangular fort in the Philippines is an 18th-century structure which served as an army garrison to repel aggressors during the Spanish regime. In the later years, through the advent of colonization, the fort was turned into a barracks (during American reign), a school, a hospital, a prison (during Japanese reign), and a zoo before it became a historical park as it is seen today. Notable items inside the fort include paintings, real cannons, old photographs, and the triangular roof deck.
Heritage of Cebu Monument
The monument is a tableau of cement, iron and steel which portrays the major events of Cebu’s history. It was completed in year 2000 by Edgardo Castillo after 3 years of construction. The monument stands at the heart of Old Parian district which was believed to be the place of wealthy Filipino businessmen and Chinese merchants in early years.
The temple which towers for about 300 meters above sea level was built in 1972 by a Chinese community and has been open to worshipers and non-worshipers alike. The entrance to the temple displays a representation of the Great Wall of China while the exit slopes down to an 84-step staircase (so better prepare those legs!). Few of the notable things in the temple are a chapel, a library, a souvenir shop and a wishing well. It also has a balcony which offers a scenic view of the city’s downtown area.
Temple of Leah
Built in honor of a man’s undying love to his late wife, Temple of Leah – which is still undergoing construction – has drawn thousands of visitors due to its renaissance-inspired temple with 24 chambers, museum, gallery and library that keep all of Leah’s favorite collections. If the ongoing construction is not a bothersome, check out the place preferably during late afternoon or sunset. For more information visit their site at templeofleah.com.
Sirao Flower Farms
There are two flower farms in Sirao which are situated next to each other. The original and is dubbed as “Little Amsterdam” is the second farm. Sirao flower farms have gained prominence for growing Celosia flowers which come in yellow, orange and fuchsia colors. The place is best visited in the morning to avoid the crowd. (Drawback: Although there are flowers all-year round, it can become scarce after harvest. Better plan your trip in October where all areas are covered with flowers.)
SOUTH CEBU TOP TOURIST SPOTS
Here are the best places in South Cebu that you can cover for an itinerary of 1 or 2 days.
Osmeña peak is considerably the highest point of Cebu with an elevation of 1013 meters above sea level (MASL). The ascent to its summit is approximately 1.3 kilometers and would take for about 20 minutes in a continuous pace. The trail is a bit rocky but well-defined which makes trekking relatively easy that even a beginner would not necessarily have a guide. The peak which has a capacity of 30-40 visitors at a time offers a view of a fascinating vista composed of Badian Island, the Tañon strait, and farther, the province of Negros Oriental.
Casino Lugsangan Peak
Casino peak (or now officially Lugsangan peak) is a distinct monolith among an expanse of jagged hills at the highlands of Dalaguete, Cebu elevating for about 1003 meters above sea level. The peak is easily identifiable because of its fang-looking shape. The hike en route to its top which stretches for about a kilometer is walkable but more rocky and steep compared to that of Osmeña peak. It will take for about 20 minutes to reach the summit in a non-stop pace. Once at the top, the peak overlooks a visual treat of dotted moss-green hills reminiscent of Bohol. Casino can only cater 20-25 visitors at a time and walking through its peak requires extra caution because of its narrow form.
Candongao peak is another rock landform that has become popular among hikers and campers. It neighbors Osmeña and Casino peak for about 30-minute motorcycle ride. Getting to its pinnacle starts with a 195 drawn out, concrete stairs which makes hike moderately easy half way. From there, the trail becomes rocky, and steep – even more difficult than that of the other two peaks. It will take for about an hour to reach the top where you would be met with a 360-degree view of the nearest islands of Cebu, namely Bohol and Negros. The peak provides access to another two less popular peaks: the lover’s and sunset peak where camping is allowed.
Kawasan falls easily comes top of my list for best waterfalls in Cebu. It’s mainstream, crowded but never overrated. The most famous among all waterfalls in Cebu that has continuously drawn flocks of visitors for a decade and counting for its clean, long water stream, a great work of rock formation and some canyoneering properties which make experience fun and memorable.
Aguinid falls is challenging but never intimidating – that’s how it packages itself to the adventurous spirits who are willing to undergo their first mini-canyoneering experience. The waterfall is multi-tiered, each layer giving enough dose of fun, thrill and excitement. It prides of beautifully refreshing cascades of water, a shallow pool between its layers and non-slippery formation of limestone which can make trekking easy, safe and bearable.
Tumalog is a huge waterfall that can’t be contained by a single shot from a non-wide angle camera. This immensity is well put to use as it waves at visitors even at a hundred meters away from its jump-off point. The falls cascade strongly in a horsetail that never miss to contact with the wall while descending to the ground. Its spray when catches by a light creates a well-defined rainbow ornamenting an already breathtaking waterfall. The catch basin is shallow and wide which can accommodate a multitude of visitors.
White (Basdaku) beach
White (Basdaku) beach of Moalboal prides of its long stretch of fine, white sand suitable for beach bumming. At sundown, the beach also offers a perfect spot for sunset viewing.
Sardine Fish of Moalboal
Panagsama beach of Moalboal is where all water adventures happen. Its shore is filled with diving centers which offer scuba and free diving courses both for beginners and advanced divers; and an island hopping experience to Pescador and its neighboring islands. Common sights under its water are slow-swimming turtles, some dolphins, a tornado of tiny flickering sardine fish, and unadulterated coral reef which make Moalboal one of the best diving sites and marine sanctuaries in the Philippines
Whale Sharks of Oslob
There are three (3) guided whale shark watching centers in the Philippines. One is at Donsol in southern Luzon, the first of the three; second is at Southern Leyte; and the third which is also the most popular is at Oslob, Cebu.
Some parts of Sumlon are private and are owned by Bluewater Resort. The island is notable for its sandbar which changes location every season. There are sights of small sharks around the island as it has been a protected marine sanctuary.
Here are small sharks at the shallows of Sumilon island. The shark is one of the reasons why people visit the island for a snorkeling experience.
Cuartel of Oslob
The Cuartel Ruins of Oslob, Cebu – take a side trip to this heritage site after a whale watching adventure.
NORTH CEBU TOP TOURIST SPOTS
Here are the top spots that you can find in North Cebu, suitable for an itinerary for 2 to 3 days.
Danasan Eco Adventure Park of Danao
Head out to the great outdoor and go rappelling, trekking, waterfall exploration, high cable traverse, zipline, wakeboarding, or ATV ride at Danasan Eco Adventure Park. Contact them at +63 917 301 3171, +63 922 865 5779.
Cebu Safari and Adventure Park of Carmen
Get giddy at the biggest zoo in the Philippines. Visit is pre-arranged and is good for a full day activity for P800 (with lunch). Contact them at +63 995 835 3460.
Paradise Beach of Bantayan island
The quiet, clean and secluded Paradise beach (or now known as Sandira beach) is a long strip of white, mostly powdery sand with a shallow, azure waters. Entrance fee is P50 for adults and P25 for kids. The private beach operates from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and does not offer cottages and food or drinks to keep it from becoming too commercial and touristy.
Kota beach of Bantayan island
The white, coraline sand of Kota beach at Santa Fe, Bantayan island is a perfect spot for sunrise viewing.
Carnaza island has become the hottest summer go-to destination in Cebu last 2018. It characterizes a powdery, white sand that can rival the best beaches of Bantayan and Malapascua. The island offers a glamping experience where guests can sleep in glamorous tents as seen in the photo.
La Manok Island
A secluded and less visited piece of tropical paradise at the northernmost tip of Cebu, La Manok island is yet another white sandbar. It is close to Carnaza which makes for a good mix of island hopping experience if you plan to see both.
The best that Malapascua island can offer – it is a long slice of white sand devoted to entertain tourists for its natural beauty.
A public beach with a blanket of powdery, white sand – the beach faces east and is a perfect location to wait for the sun as it rises in the morning.
MACTAN ISLAND TOP TOURIST SPOTS
Here are the best attractions in Mactan island that can be covered for a layover itinerary.
A picturesque scene of roses amassed outside a café – 10, 000 roses which has become a staple attraction in Mactan draws thousands of visitors for its luminescent, LED-powered glow of light. Visitors flock to the place from late afternoon to sundown to witness a fine view of the sunset, and later on, the bright glow of the place. Note: Food in the café is a bit pricey. You may opt to eat at Lantaw restaurant located few steps outside the café for a more price-is-right, Filipino food experience. Operating hours is daily from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Entrance fee is P20.
The shrine is dedicated to honor the Battle of Mactan where Lapu-Lapu, the first Filipino hero, defeated and presumably killed the Spanish invader Ferdinand Magellan in April 27, 1521. The very place is where the battle happened. At the shrine, a statue of Lapu-Lapu is installed to celebrate his bravery and honor; on the opposite side is an octagonal-based obelisk dedicated to Ferdinand Magellan.
Alegre Guitar Factory
Locally, Cebu is known for handmade guitars and topping the list of famous guitar makers is Alegre Guitar Factory. Owned and operated by a professional musician, the guitars at the factory come in different sizes, colors and types to meet the varying tastes of its buying enthusiasts. Visitors are welcomed to observe the production process in an open space outside their showroom where a few of their employees make guitars from scratch to finish. The factory is located in Abuno which has a neighborhood of guitar factories. As Alegre sells the finest guitars, it is considerably the most expensive compared to the rest. Feel free to visit other factories like Susing if you wish to buy cheaper ones. Operating Hours: Everyday, 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Olango Bird Sanctuary
Olango is a nearby island from Mactan. Its wildlife sanctuary makes for a refuge of the largest concentration of migratory birds found so far in the Philippines. There are 97 species of birds in the island, 48 are migratory species, while the rest are resident birds. Birds are present all-year round, but the highest concentration is during the months of October, November, January and early February. The best time to visit is during high tide going to low tide as birds tend to gather around near the viewing deck. The sanctuary also has an immense seagrass bed which supports life for marine creatures and naturally grown mangroves. Photography enthusiasts may have to prepare a telephoto camera to fully capture the birds at a distance. For sunset seekers, the sanctuary offers a perfect view of the sun as it settles down. Note: The Olango wildlife sanctuary tour will take half day including going to the island and back to Mactan. Operating Hours: Everyday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Entrance Fee: P20 for adults, P10 for children, P100 for foreigners
While this article is best suited for DIY budget travelers, we also share the same sentiments with those who love to go on a tour package. KLOOK offers the most affordable and hassle-free tour services for Cebu.
Here are some of its tour packages. Click each link for more details.
- 3 Day Cebu Highlights Tour for P5,130
- Cebu Rediscovery Tour for P1,300
- Sirao Flower Farm and Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary Half Day Tour for P1,800
- Moalboal and Pescador Island Snorkeling Day Tour for P1,850
- Oslob Whale Shark Snorkeling and Badian Canyoneering Adventure for P2,850
- Badian Canyoneering Adventure and Kawasan Waterfalls Private Tour for P2,250
- Moalboal Island Hopping and Canyoneering Experience for P2,400
Click each link below for the travel guide with sample itinerary and budget of each Cebu top attraction:
- Bantayan Island Travel Guide (with budget and itinerary)
- Top Attractions in South Cebu – with Travel Guide and 1-day sample Itinerary
- A Mountain Peak Trilogy – Osmeña, Casino and Candongao peak of Dalaguete, Cebu
- DIY Mountain Tour in Cebu City
- Top 7 Waterfalls in South Cebu
- Layover Travel Guide for Mactan, Cebu
- Cebu City Walk Tour – A DIY Guide
Like in any parts of the Philippines, the locals in Cebu can speak and understand English. However, here are some good phrases that might prove useful when you find yourself endearing with them.
English to Cebuano (the most prevalent language among the locals in Cebu)
Thank you – Salamat
Good morning – Maayong buntag
Good afternoon – Maayong hapon
Good evening – Maayong gabii
How much is… – Pila ang…
Where is… – Asa ang…
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