Things to do in cebu

Things to do in cebu


Cebu, often referred to as the “Queen City of the South,” is a province in the Philippines that offers an enticing blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. As one of the most significant and popular destinations in the Philippines, Cebu boasts a rich historical heritage, breathtaking natural landscapes, and a vibrant city life. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the top tourist spots, activities, and practical tips for making the most of your visit to Cebu.

Top Tourist Spots in Cebu

Cebu City Tourist Spots

Iconic Magellan's Cross with a cross on top of a painted dome. things to do in cebu
Magellan’s Cross

Magellan’s Cross

Magellan’s Cross is one of Cebu’s most iconic landmarks. Planted by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan upon his arrival in Cebu in 1521, the cross symbolizes the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines. Housed in a small chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, the cross is a vital piece of Philippine history. Visitors can admire the historical significance and the beautiful paintings on the chapel’s ceiling, which depict the arrival of Magellan and the conversion of the locals.

Aerial view of Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in the city. things to do in cebu

Basilica Minore del Santo Niño

Adjacent to Magellan’s Cross, the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is a must-visit for anyone interested in Cebu’s religious history. This basilica is home to the oldest religious relic in the Philippines, the Santo Niño de Cebu, a statue of the Holy Child Jesus. The basilica, with its grand architecture and historical significance, attracts both pilgrims and tourists. The annual Sinulog Festival, held every January, celebrates the Santo Niño and is one of the largest and most vibrant festivals in the Philippines.

things to do in cebu Fort San Pedro, a renowned tourist spot in Cebu City, Philippines.

Fort San Pedro

Fort San Pedro is the oldest and smallest fort in the Philippines, built by the Spanish under the command of Miguel López de Legazpi. Located in Plaza Independencia, this triangular fort served as a military defense structure. Today, it houses a museum showcasing artifacts from the Spanish colonial period, including old photographs, documents, and paintings. The fort’s well-preserved structure and lush gardens provide a serene environment for visitors to explore Cebu’s colonial past.

Cebu Taoist Temple

Nestled in the hills of Beverly Hills Subdivision, the Cebu Taoist Temple is a place of worship for Cebu’s Chinese community. The temple, open to worshipers and non-worshipers alike, offers a peaceful retreat with panoramic views of Cebu City. The intricate architecture, dragon statues, and beautifully maintained gardens make it a unique attraction. Visitors can climb the 81 steps representing the 81 chapters of Taoism scriptures and enjoy the serene atmosphere.

Temple of Leah

The Temple of Leah, often referred to as the “Taj Mahal of Cebu,” is a grandiose Roman-style temple built as a symbol of a husband’s love for his late wife. The temple, constructed by Teodorico Adarna in honor of his wife Leah Villa Albino-Adarna, features grand columns, statues, and intricate interiors. Visitors can explore the lavishly decorated temple, admire the stunning views of the city, and learn about the love story behind its construction.

Sirao Flower Garden

Known as Cebu’s “Little Amsterdam,” the Sirao Flower Garden is a vibrant floral paradise located in the highlands of Busay. The garden is famous for its celosia flowers, which create a sea of bright colors. It’s a perfect spot for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts looking for picturesque scenery. The garden also features various installations and spots designed for photo opportunities, making it a popular destination for tourists seeking a unique experience.

Cebu Heritage Monument

The Cebu Heritage Monument, located in the Parian district, is a tableau of sculptures depicting significant events in Cebu’s history. Created by local artist Eduardo Castrillo, the monument includes scenes such as the arrival of Magellan, the baptism of Rajah Humabon, and the Battle of Mactan. This artistic representation provides a visual narrative of Cebu’s rich cultural heritage and is an excellent starting point for understanding the island’s historical journey.

Other Notable Tourist Spots in Cebu

Kawasan Falls

Kawasan Falls, located in the town of Badian, is one of Cebu’s most stunning natural attractions. This multi-tiered waterfall is famous for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and lush surroundings. Visitors can swim in the natural pools, take a bamboo raft ride under the falls, or embark on a canyoneering adventure. The trek to the falls is relatively easy and offers a refreshing escape into nature.

Osmeña Peak

Osmeña Peak, the highest point in Cebu, offers breathtaking views of jagged hills and the coastline. Named after the prominent Osmeña family, this peak is part of the Mantalongon Range in Dalaguete. The hike to the summit is relatively easy and suitable for beginners. Once at the top, hikers are rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.


Moalboal is a small town on Cebu’s western coast known for its exceptional diving spots and vibrant marine life. The town’s most famous attraction is the sardine run, where millions of sardines form massive bait balls just off the shore. Divers and snorkelers can experience this natural phenomenon year-round. Moalboal also offers beautiful beaches, such as White Beach, and numerous dive shops catering to both beginners and experienced divers.

Oslob Whale Shark Watching

Oslob has gained international fame for its whale shark watching activities. Visitors can swim and snorkel with the gentle giants in a controlled environment. This unique experience allows tourists to get up close with the world’s largest fish. It’s essential to follow guidelines and respect the marine life to ensure the sustainability of this attraction. Aside from whale shark watching, Oslob also offers other natural attractions like Tumalog Falls.

Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island, located off the northern coast of Cebu, is a paradise for divers. The island is renowned for its thresher shark sightings, which are rare in other parts of the world. Diving enthusiasts flock to Malapascua to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. The island also offers beautiful beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and a laid-back atmosphere, making it a perfect destination for relaxation and underwater adventures.

Bantayan Island

Bantayan Island, located in the Visayan Sea, is known for its pristine white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. The island offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Popular activities on Bantayan Island include beachcombing, snorkeling, and cycling around the island. The town of Santa Fe is the main tourist hub, offering accommodations, restaurants, and a lively beach scene.

Sumilon Island

Sumilon Island is famous for its shifting sandbar, which changes shape depending on the tide. This private island, managed by Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, offers a serene escape with activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and trekking. The island’s marine sanctuary is home to diverse marine life, making it an excellent spot for underwater exploration. Visitors can also relax on the island’s pristine beaches and enjoy the stunning views.

Best Things to Do in Cebu

Adventure and Outdoor Activities

Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls

For thrill-seekers, canyoneering at Kawasan Falls is a must-do activity. The adventure involves trekking through the jungle, jumping off cliffs, swimming through natural pools, and navigating through gorges. This adrenaline-pumping activity is guided by experienced professionals who ensure safety while providing an unforgettable experience. The journey culminates at the majestic Kawasan Falls, where adventurers can cool off in the refreshing waters.

Diving in Malapascua and Moalboal

Cebu is a diver’s paradise, with Malapascua and Moalboal being two of the top diving destinations. In Malapascua, divers can encounter thresher sharks, manta rays, and vibrant coral gardens. Moalboal offers the incredible sardine run, as well as diverse dive sites teeming with marine life. Both destinations cater to divers of all levels, with numerous dive shops offering courses and guided dives.

Whale Shark Watching in Oslob

Swimming with whale sharks in Oslob is a unique and awe-inspiring experience. These gentle giants can grow up to 40 feet in length, and encountering them in their natural habitat is a rare opportunity. Visitors are briefed on safety and environmental guidelines before entering the water. It’s essential to maintain a respectful distance and avoid touching the whale sharks to ensure their protection.

Hiking Osmeña Peak

Hiking to Osmeña Peak is a rewarding experience for nature enthusiasts. The trail is relatively short and can be completed in about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on fitness levels. The peak offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and the distant coastline. Hikers can enjoy the cool mountain air and take in the breathtaking scenery, making it a perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Island Hopping Tours

Cebu’s surrounding islands offer countless opportunities for island hopping. Popular tours include trips to Nalusuan Island, Hilutungan Island, and Pandanon Island. These tours typically involve snorkeling, swimming, and exploring pristine beaches. Island hopping tours are an excellent way to experience the natural beauty of Cebu’s coastline and its diverse marine life.

Cultural and Historical Experiences

Visit Magellan’s Cross

A visit to Magellan’s Cross is a journey back in time to the beginnings of Christianity in the Philippines. The cross, housed in a small chapel, is surrounded by beautiful paintings that depict the arrival of Magellan and the conversion of Rajah Humabon and his followers. It’s a significant historical site that provides insight into the early days of Philippine history.

Explore the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño

The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is a place of worship and a historical landmark. Visitors can explore the basilica, attend mass, and visit the museum that houses religious artifacts and relics. The basilica’s courtyard is a peaceful place to reflect and admire the architectural beauty of this centuries-old church.

Discover Fort San Pedro

Fort San Pedro offers a glimpse into Cebu’s colonial history. Visitors can walk through the fort’s well-preserved structure, explore the museum, and enjoy the lush gardens. The fort’s strategic location offers scenic views of the harbor, making it a picturesque spot for history enthusiasts and photographers.

Tour the Cebu Taoist Temple

The Cebu Taoist Temple is a serene retreat that offers a cultural experience for visitors. The temple’s architecture is a blend of Chinese and Filipino influences, with dragon statues, ornate pagodas, and beautifully landscaped gardens. Visitors can participate in the traditional Taoist practice of drawing lots and seeking guidance from the temple monks.

Experience the Heritage of Cebu Monument

The Cebu Heritage Monument is a visual representation of the city’s rich history. The intricate sculptures depict key events and figures, offering a comprehensive overview of Cebu’s cultural heritage. The monument is an excellent starting point for exploring the Parian district, where visitors can further delve into Cebu’s historical sites.

Relaxation and Leisure

Beach Day at Bantayan Island

Bantayan Island is the perfect destination for a relaxing beach day. The island’s white sandy beaches and clear waters provide a tranquil setting for sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing. Visitors can rent bicycles to explore the island, enjoy fresh seafood at local restaurants, and experience the laid-back island vibe.

Relax at Sumilon Island Sandbar

The shifting sandbar at Sumilon Island is a unique natural wonder. Visitors can relax on the pristine sandbar, swim in the crystal-clear waters, and enjoy the island’s serene atmosphere. The island’s Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort offers various activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, and trekking, ensuring a memorable and relaxing experience.

Visit the Sirao Flower Garden

The Sirao Flower Garden, also known as “Little Amsterdam,” is a vibrant destination for nature lovers. The garden is home to a variety of flowers, with celosia being the most prominent. Visitors can take leisurely strolls through the garden, capture stunning photos, and enjoy the fresh mountain air. The garden also features various installations and viewpoints, making it a popular spot for tourists.

Chill at Temple of Leah

The Temple of Leah is not only a historical monument but also a place for relaxation. Visitors can explore the temple’s grand architecture, admire the statues and artworks, and take in the panoramic views of Cebu City. The temple’s serene environment makes it a perfect spot for unwinding and reflecting on the love story behind its creation.

Unique and Fun Things to Do in Cebu

Try the Lechon (Roasted Pig)

Cebu is famous for its lechon, often considered the best in the Philippines. This roasted pig dish is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, offering a delicious culinary experience. Visitors can try lechon at various local eateries and restaurants, with some of the most popular spots being Rico’s Lechon, CNT Lechon, and Zubuchon.

Explore the Night Markets

Cebu’s night markets offer a vibrant and bustling atmosphere where visitors can sample local delicacies, shop for souvenirs, and experience the local culture. The Carbon Night Market and the Sugbo Mercado are popular destinations for foodies and shoppers alike. These markets provide a diverse array of street food, fresh produce, and handmade crafts, making them a must-visit for anyone exploring Cebu.

Visit the Cebu Ocean Park

Cebu Ocean Park is the largest oceanarium in the Philippines, offering an immersive marine life experience. The park features various exhibits, including a jellyfish room, an underwater tunnel, and interactive displays. Visitors can learn about marine conservation, enjoy live animal shows, and even participate in feeding sessions. The park is an excellent destination for families and marine enthusiasts.

Experience the Cebu Safari and Adventure Park

Located in the town of Carmen, the Cebu Safari and Adventure Park is a sprawling wildlife sanctuary home to various animals from around the world. The park offers safari tours, animal encounters, and adventure activities such as zip-lining and ATV rides. It’s a great place for families and adventure seekers to explore and learn about wildlife conservation.

Take a Sky Walk at Crown Regency Hotel

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, the Sky Walk at Crown Regency Hotel offers an exhilarating experience. Participants walk around the edge of the hotel’s 37th floor, secured by harnesses, while enjoying panoramic views of Cebu City. The hotel also offers other thrill-seeking activities, such as the Edge Coaster and the Tower Zip, making it a popular destination for adventure enthusiasts.

Best Places to Visit in Cebu

Natural Attractions

Tumalog Falls

Tumalog Falls, located in Oslob, is a stunning curtain-like waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. The falls are easily accessible and offer a refreshing swimming spot. The mist created by the cascading water and the natural beauty of the surroundings make Tumalog Falls a serene and picturesque destination.

Aguinid Falls

Aguinid Falls, located in Samboan, is a series of multi-tiered waterfalls that provide an adventurous experience. Visitors can climb the falls, swim in the natural pools, and enjoy the tropical scenery. The falls are guided by local experts who ensure safety while navigating the different levels, making it a fun and thrilling activity.

Badian Caves

The Badian Caves offer a unique spelunking experience for adventure enthusiasts. Located near Kawasan Falls, these caves feature impressive rock formations and underground rivers. Exploring the caves requires physical endurance and a sense of adventure, making it a perfect activity for those looking to delve into Cebu’s natural wonders.

Osmeña Peak

Osmeña Peak remains a favorite for hikers and nature lovers. The trek to the peak is relatively short but offers rewarding views of Cebu’s rugged landscape. The cool mountain air, the scenic vistas, and the chance to see the sunrise or sunset from the peak make it a memorable experience.

Cultural and Historical Sites

Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is one of the oldest residential houses in the Philippines, dating back to the late 17th century. This well-preserved house showcases Spanish-era architecture and provides a glimpse into the lifestyle of Cebu’s affluent families during the colonial period. Visitors can explore the antique furniture, religious artifacts, and artworks that adorn the house.

Casa Gorordo Museum

Casa Gorordo Museum, located in the Parian district, is another well-preserved Spanish-era house that has been converted into a museum. The museum offers a comprehensive look at Cebu’s colonial history, featuring exhibits on traditional Filipino lifestyle, religious practices, and the evolution of Cebuano culture. The museum’s courtyard and gardens provide a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city.

Colon Street

Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines, is a bustling hub of activity. Named after Christopher Columbus, the street is lined with historical buildings, shops, and eateries. Walking along Colon Street offers a glimpse into Cebu’s vibrant past and present. Visitors can explore local markets, enjoy street food, and experience the lively atmosphere.

Museo Sugbo

Museo Sugbo, housed in a former Spanish-era jail, is Cebu’s provincial museum. The museum features various galleries that showcase Cebu’s history, from pre-colonial times to the modern era. Exhibits include archaeological finds, historical documents, and artifacts from different periods of Cebu’s history. The museum provides a comprehensive understanding of the region’s cultural and historical evolution.

Cebu Activities and Tours

Island Hopping Tours

Cebu’s island hopping tours are a fantastic way to explore the region’s beautiful islands and marine life. Popular destinations include Nalusuan Island, Hilutungan Island, and Pandanon Island. These tours typically include snorkeling, swimming, and beach activities. Visitors can enjoy the clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life while hopping from one island to another.

Historical Walking Tours

Historical walking tours offer an in-depth exploration of Cebu City’s rich heritage. These tours often include visits to Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Fort San Pedro, and other significant sites. Knowledgeable guides provide historical context and interesting anecdotes, making the tours educational and engaging.

Cultural Immersion Experiences

Cultural immersion experiences allow visitors to engage with Cebuano traditions and lifestyle. Activities may include traditional cooking classes, weaving workshops, and participation in local festivals. These experiences provide a deeper understanding of Cebu’s cultural heritage and offer opportunities to interact with local communities.

Adventure Tours (Canyoneering, Diving)

Adventure tours in Cebu cater to thrill-seekers looking for exciting activities. Canyoneering tours at Kawasan Falls, diving trips to Malapascua and Moalboal, and hiking expeditions to Osmeña Peak are just a few examples. These tours are guided by professionals who ensure safety and provide an exhilarating experience.

Food Tours

Food tours in Cebu are a culinary delight, offering visitors a chance to taste the region’s best dishes. Tours typically include stops at local markets, street food stalls, and renowned restaurants. Visitors can sample delicacies like lechon, puso (hanging rice), and various seafood dishes. These tours provide a delicious insight into Cebu’s rich culinary heritage.

Cebu Vacation Planning

Best Time to Visit Cebu

The best time to visit Cebu is during the dry season, from November to May, when the weather is ideal for outdoor activities. The months of January to April are particularly popular due to the pleasant climate and the occurrence of major festivals like Sinulog.

Weather Considerations

Cebu has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 32°C (77°F to 90°F) year-round. The wet season, from June to October, brings occasional rain showers and typhoons. Visitors should check the weather forecast and plan accordingly, especially if they intend to engage in outdoor activities.

Festivals and Events

Cebu is known for its vibrant festivals and events. The Sinulog Festival, held every January, is the most famous, celebrating the Santo Niño with street parades, music, and dance. Other notable events include the Kadaugan sa Mactan, commemorating the Battle of Mactan, and the Pasko sa Sugbo, a Christmas festival featuring various activities and performances.

Where to Stay in Cebu

Cebu offers a wide range of accommodations to suit all budgets and preferences.

Luxury Hotels

  • Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa: A luxurious beachfront resort offering world-class amenities and services.
  • Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan: A high-end resort with private villas, infinity pools, and top-notch dining options.
  • Radisson Blu Cebu: A five-star hotel located in the heart of Cebu City, known for its exceptional service and facilities.

Budget Accommodations

  • Sugbutel Family Hotel: A budget-friendly hotel offering comfortable rooms and basic amenities.
  • Cebu Guesthouse: A popular choice for backpackers and budget travelers, providing affordable dormitory and private rooms.
  • Tropical Hostel Cebu: A budget hostel with a friendly atmosphere, ideal for solo travelers and backpackers.

Beach Resorts

  • Bantayan Island Nature Park & Resort: A tranquil resort on Bantayan Island offering beach access and various recreational activities.
  • Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort: A private island resort known for its stunning sandbar and marine sanctuary.
  • Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort: A beachfront resort in Mactan offering a range of water sports and leisure activities.

Travel Tips

Getting Around Cebu

Cebu has various transportation options, including taxis, jeepneys, buses, and tricycles. For convenience, taxis and ride-hailing services like Grab are widely available in Cebu City. For a more local experience, jeepneys and buses are affordable options. Renting a motorbike or car is also possible for those who prefer independent travel.

Safety Tips

  • Stay vigilant and keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded areas.
  • Avoid displaying valuable items openly to prevent attracting attention.
  • Use reputable transportation services and avoid unregistered vehicles.
  • Follow local guidelines and respect cultural norms.

Local Etiquette

  • Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites.
  • Greet locals with a smile and show respect in your interactions.
  • Learn a few basic phrases in Cebuano or Filipino to connect better with locals.
  • Always ask for permission before taking photos of people or their property.


Cebu is a diverse and captivating destination that offers something for every traveler. From its rich historical landmarks and vibrant cultural experiences to its stunning natural attractions and adventurous activities, Cebu promises an unforgettable journey. Whether you’re exploring the bustling streets of Cebu City, diving into the crystal-clear waters of Malapascua, or relaxing on the pristine beaches of Bantayan Island, Cebu is a must-visit destination that will leave you with cherished memories. So pack your bags, plan your trip, and get ready to explore the wonders of Cebu.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I spend 3 days in Cebu?

Spending three days in Cebu allows you to experience a taste of its rich culture, history, and natural beauty. Here’s a suggested itinerary:
Day 1: Cebu City Tour
Visit Magellan’s Cross and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño to learn about Cebu’s religious heritage.
Explore Fort San Pedro for a glimpse into the city’s colonial past.
Discover the Taoist Temple and the Temple of Leah for a cultural experience.
End the day with a relaxing stroll at the Sirao Flower Garden.
Day 2: Adventure and Nature
Embark on a canyoneering adventure at Kawasan Falls for an adrenaline rush.
Dive or snorkel in Moalboal to witness the sardine run and vibrant marine life.
Visit Oslob for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of swimming with whale sharks.
Conclude the day with a hike to Osmeña Peak for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Day 3: Island Hopping
Take an island hopping tour to Bantayan Island, known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Explore Sumilon Island and relax on its shifting sandbar.
Indulge in local cuisine and seafood delicacies at beachfront restaurants.
Return to Cebu City in the evening to catch your flight or continue your journey.

Is there anything to do in Cebu City?

Cebu City offers a plethora of activities and attractions to explore. Some highlights include:
Visiting historical landmarks such as Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.
Exploring cultural sites like the Cebu Taoist Temple, Temple of Leah, and the Cebu Heritage Monument.
Enjoying leisurely walks along Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines, and browsing through local markets and shops.
Sampling Cebu’s culinary delights, including the famous lechon (roasted pig) and fresh seafood dishes.
Experiencing the vibrant nightlife with lively bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.

What is Cebu famous for?

Cebu is famous for its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural attractions. Some of the things that Cebu is renowned for include:
Being the birthplace of Christianity in the Philippines, with historical landmarks like Magellan’s Cross and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño.
Its delicious cuisine, particularly the succulent and flavorful lechon (roasted pig).
Its breathtaking natural wonders, including pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and majestic waterfalls like Kawasan Falls.
Its vibrant festivals and events, such as the Sinulog Festival, which celebrates the Santo Niño with colorful street parades and cultural performances.

What is the number one tourist spot in Cebu?

While opinions may vary, one of the most iconic and popular tourist spots in Cebu is Magellan’s Cross. This historical landmark symbolizes the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines and holds significant cultural and religious importance. Located in Cebu City, near the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Magellan’s Cross is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Cebu’s rich heritage.

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