Explore Cebu and its many tourist attractions from islands and beaches, diving spots, historical landmarks, to local delicacies. Here are some essential travel tips to take note of if you're traveling to Cebu.
When it comes to tourist spots in the Philippines, nothing is as diverse as Cebu, the Queen City of the South, and the oldest city in the country. Outside of Luzon, it's one of the highly urbanized cities in the country next to the capital Manila.
It's also where Mactan-Cebu International Airport is located, making it accessible not just to domestic travelers but to foreignerers as well.
The name Cebu refers both to the island province and to Cebu City. While most cultural and historic attractions are found in the capital, the best-known tourist spots in Cebu can be found all over the island.
Cebu also nestles spectacular marine life perfect for diving. Divers travel to Cebu diving hotspots like Malapascua to swim with thresher sharks. Thresher sharks can be seen regularly around the waters of Malapascua Island. In the waters of Moalboal, you will be able to swim with millions of sardines forming bait balls underwater.
There are also several waterfalls in Cebu, the most popular one being Kawasan Falls in Badian. The refreshing turquoise waters of many of Cebu's waterfalls are great places to take a dip during a hot day. They are also excellent avenues for the increasingly popular Kawasan canyoneering.
Cebu's delicious cuisine is also one of the best when it comes to food in the Philippines. Respected food writer Anthony Bourdain once raved about the famed Cebu's Lechon baboy (roasted pig).
There are plenty of things to do and places to visit in Cebu, making it a must-add in any Philippine itinerary. To help you plan your trip, read this guide on what you need to know about traveling in and around this island province.
Cebu City at night
If you’re planning to go to Cebu to do water activities, the best time to go would be from January to April. The weather during these months is ideal because there are fewer chances of rain and it’s not too humid as well.
Another good time to go to Cebu is during its Sinulog Festival held every third Sunday of January. Also called the Santo Nino Festival, it's one of the most popular festivals in the country and attracts up to 2 million visitors every year.
If you don't like crowds or you want to score cheap deals, then visit Cebu is from July to October. These months are considered the low season. It is when prices are most economical, and there are fewer travelers checking out Cebu's top attractions.
The remaining months of the year generally have better weather, but you'd find yourself amid crowds. The holidays are crowded, too, especially during Holy Week.
These months are the ideal time to visit Cebu for warm-weather activities such as swimming, diving, canyoneering, and sightseeing. With less rainfall, you can enjoy the outdoor activities and water adventures fully.
A lot of important events happen during this time, such as Christmas or holidays, the Sinulog Festival, and the Holy Week. However traffic in the cities will be busier than usual, and there will be a crowd at every Cebu tourist spot.
Cebu Province celebrates extravagant festivals, and the Sinulog Festival is the biggest of them all. You can witness the colorful Sinulog Festival on the third Sunday of January. It is to celebrate and honor the patron saint of Cebu, Santo Niño.
This festival was first celebrated in the 1980s. This annual parade is one of the most popular festivals in the country, with locals and international travelers attending street parties that happen before and after the celebration. A lot of local celebrities also go to Cebu to join the annual festivities.
Before heading to Cebu, make sure to check weather updates to avoid any problems during your trip. Learning about the climate and weather of your destination is the best way to prevent canceled plans due to inclement weather conditions.
Take note that the hot season in Cebu lasts for 2 months. It starts from April to June, with an average daily high temperature above 32°C. On the other hand, the cool season lasts for 2-3 months. It starts from December to February, with an average daily high temperature below 30°C.
Over the year, the temperature in Cebu typically varies from 24°C to 32°C, but it rarely goes below 23°C or above 34°C. Here’s a summary of the average temperature in Cebu.
Source: Weather Spark
The ideal time to visit Cebu City for hot-weather activities would be from early January to mid-April. These months are perfect because they are not too hot, and at the same time, they receive less rainfall than the other months. Here’s a summary of the average monthly rainfall in Cebu:
Source: Weather Spark
During the summer season, it's best to wear light, breathable clothes as the weather can get hot and humid. If you’re coming to Cebu from June to November, bring an umbrella or jacket since these months are the rainy season.
If you're joining the celebration of the Sinulog Festival in January, you must wear comfortable clothes as there will be big crowds in the streets. Make sure to bring a compact bag as well during this time. There are a lot of custom-made Sinulog shirts too, walk around the various establishments and take your pick.
Photo by Mactan-Cebu International Airport
There are various ways to go to Cebu, depending on where you’re coming from. If you’re coming from anywhere in the Philippines, you have the option to travel by air or sea. As for international travelers, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport services various international flights. Make sure to fix your itinerary first before you book your flights.
Traveling by air is the most convenient and hassle-free way to reach Cebu. Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the gateway to Cebu. It is where you will be arriving; it is just an hour or so from Cebu City.
Here are your travel options, depending on where you're coming from. Take note that it's essential to book beforehand as flights might be limited depending on where you're coming from.
From Luzon and Mindanao
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is connected to 27 domestic destinations. Wherever you are in the Philippines, you won’t have trouble flying to Mactan. There are flights to the island from major cities in Luzon and Mindanao.
Major jump-offs include; Clark International Airport in Angeles City, Davao International Airport in Davao City, and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.
There are a lot of affordable flights from Manila to Cebu. You can take any local carrier like Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, or Air Asia. You can also go to Mactan from smaller airports like Kalibo, Iloilo, or Puerto Princesa.
From International Destinations
Photo by Philippine Airlines
The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is now connected to 21 international destinations. So, if you’re coming from the North and Southeast Asia (Ex. Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong), you’ll have no problem finding direct flights to Cebu.
You can also take Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Cathay Pacific, Asiana, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Eva Air, China Southern, Asiana, and Silk Air as these have direct flights to Cebu.
There are also long-haul flights to and from Los Angeles and Dubai. Other major jump-offs include; Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Dubai International Airport in the UAE, Incheon International Airport in Seoul, Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, Narita International Airport in Japan, Changi Airport in Singapore, and Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan.
From the airport, you can hop on a taxicab or hire a Cebu car rental going to your accommodations
You can also go to Cebu by ferry or fast craft, although it’s generally not advisable unless you have a lot of time. Cebu has a bustling port complex, and so you can travel to Cebu on fast crafts or ferries from Manila and other local destinations.
You will need to learn how to get around the cities and towns to get to Cebu’s tourist attractions. Strap on because Cebu has a variety of transportation options.
The primary mode of transport is the jeepney, which has specific routes that can take you around the city. Jeepneys, multicabs, buses, and tricycles serve as the general transport between towns.
Taxicabs can also be hired to take you to other parts of Cebu. Alternatively, you can rent a car for maximum comfort and convenience. You can also hire Cebu car rentals and motorcycle apps.
Take note that the public transports in Cebu have limitations. For instance, jeepneys can only travel within and across cities like Cebu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, and even Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island. But jeepneys typically cannot bring you out of town. Remember, Cebu Province is expansive.
You will need to ride a bus to go from the cities to the municipalities or rural areas of Cebu Province. On the other hand, tricycles are not allowed on the main thoroughfares.
If you're traveling to the northern towns of Cebu, head to the Cebu North Bus Terminal (in Subangdaku, Mandaue City). The North Bus is where you can find buses to go to places like Hagnaya, Kawit, and Bogo. Mini-buses also take off from here to places like Catmon, Carmen, and Danao.
The Cebu South Bus Terminal (in Sambag, Cebu City), on the other hand, leads you to Santander and Oslob, and minibusses also take off here for Argao, Moalboal, and Carcar.
Jeepneys and Multicabs
Jeepneys or jeeps are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines along major highways. They ply specific routes that can take you around the city.
Originally made from U.S. military jeeps left over from World War II, jeepneys have become an iconic symbol of Philippine culture and art. Riding these open-aired vehicles in congested streets offers an interesting experience for first-time visitors.
Multicabs, on the other hand, are small light trucks that serve the same purpose as jeeps. In fact, they are used interchangeably in Cebu. Like jeepneys, multicabs have fixed routes and can be found throughout the Philippines.
Motorized tricycles, or simply tricycles, are the Philippine version of the auto-rickshaw. They are also comparable to Thailand’s tuk-tuk. Tricycles ply the barangay roads throughout the Cebu Province; they go where the jeepneys can’t. Tricycles can’t pass by major roads, but you can hail one anywhere as long as you’re not on the highway.
Taxi or Car Booking App
Typically, commuting in Cebu entails at least one jeepney ride and one tricycle ride. If you can’t stand going through multiple transfers, then you can opt to take a taxi or book with the Grab app. Both options are popular modes of transportation in Cebu, so you shouldn’t find any trouble getting one.
While Grab is usually more expensive than riding jeepneys or buses, these can ensure you can get around safely and in comfort. You don’t have to do multiple transfers, which is convenient for travelers coming from and going to the airport.
Motorcycle Booking App
If you are traveling solo, you can use the app the motorcycle hailing app, Angkas. You can hire a “rider” to pick you up and take you to your desired location. Angkas is similar to Grab Motorbike in other countries like Vietnam.
It is an excellent option if you're up for a more adventurous mode of transportation. Angkas is also ideal if you are in a hurry since motorcycles can navigate through heavy traffic easily. Additionally, this costs relatively less than a taxi or car booking app.
Private Car or Van
If you’re traveling from the city to the rural towns, you might need to get on a bus, ride a jeepney afterward, and possibly hop on a tricycle.
Multiple transfers are unavoidable if you’re traveling to the further towns of the province via public transportation. If this isn’t comfortable for you, renting a car or van is your best option.
You can hire a private car or van with a driver for your trip to either the northern or southern towns of Cebu.
It's more convenient, especially when you're traveling with a group. There are also car rentals in Cebu that allow you to drive the vehicle yourself.
If you're still on the fence on which hotels in Cebu to book, then read on. There are several types of accommodations available in the cities and even in rural towns. Cebu Province is a popular destination, as such budget hotels in Cebu are easy to find. Likewise, there is no shortage of mid-range and luxury lodging accommodations.
Whatever type of traveler you are, you will find the right hotel in Cebu where you can unwind and relax. Here are the common types of accommodations in Cebu.
Types of Accommodations
Where you'll stay in Mactan depends on your preference, the number of people staying, and your budget. Here are some of the types of accommodation in Mactan.
Island and Beach Resorts
Cebu Province is blessed with many beautiful beaches that are frequented by both local and foreign travelers. Which is why it comes as no surprise that the beaches in Cebu are often flanked by beach resorts that range from budget to luxury.
Cebu beach resorts boast stellar service and top-notch facilities. Some even have spa facilities, as well as restaurants. While some provide basic amenities, you can still expect cozy and comfortable lodging. Such as an airconditioned room but with access to the beachfront. It solely depends on your preference.
Whether you're in Cebu for business or pleasure, there are a lot of hotels where you can stay that offers complete amenities. You have to find the right location that fits your itinerary.
If you're looking for Cebu hotels near the airport, then look no further than the hotels in Mactan. If you want to be closer to the center of the province, there are several Cebu hotels near Ayala Mall, which is a famous shopping center.
Hostels and Budget Lodgings
If you're a solo traveler or a backpacker on a budget, then staying in a hostel or a budget hotel in Cebu is your best bet. Staying in a dorm-type room or a budget hotel room with basic amenities is excellent because you can allocate more of your budget on exploring your destination.
Just make sure the place is near the attractions on your itinerary to avoid overspending on transportation.
If you're going to be in Cebu for a longer period, or if you are traveling with a big group, consider renting a private house instead. This is more advantageous for large groups who want to save money but don't want to sacrifice essential amenities such as kitchen and laundry. Some even offer indoor pools and gardens.
Make sure to check the neighborhood of the vacation house first before you rent it as it might be far from the various spots you plan on visiting.
Neighborhoods and Areas
It is a common misconception that Cebu refers just to the city. But as mentioned before, Cebu is also one big island province.
Metro Cebu is made up of major cities like Cebu City, Mandaue City, Carcar City, Naga City, Lapu-Lapu City, and Talisay City. Metro Cebu also consists of municipalities like Compostela, Minglanilla, Liloan, Consolacion, and San Fernando.
More than that, Cebu Province has more towns that are not part of Metro Cebu but are booming attractions. This section will run you through the Cebu towns and cities that are hotspots.
Cebu City is a bustling metropolis. It boasts several malls like SM Seaside City, which is the third-largest shopping mall in the country. Other malls include SM Cebu, Ayala Center Cebu, and Robinsons Galleria.
There are also business, leisure, and lifestyle hubs like Cebu IT Park. Cebu IT Park in Lahug s a local favorite for its wide array of well-loved restaurants, cafes, and bars. There are also several hotels near IT Park as well.
Another Cebu City hotspot is General Maxilom Avene, popularly known as Mango Avenue. The length of this major thoroughfare is lined with bars and restaurants that cater to both locals and foreigners.
There are several hotels nearby. Ayala Mall and the famous House of Lechon and Larsian Barbecue are also just a stone’s throw away from Mango Avenue.
More notably, Mango Avenue is right beside Fuente Osmeña Circle. Fuente Osmeña Circle is said to be the epicenter of the whole Cebu Province. If you are planning to explore Cebu City, what better place to stay than at the center.
Additionally, Mango Avenue is an excellent jump-off point if you’re visiting historical sites such as the Fort Santiago, Casa Gorordo, and Magellan’s Cross.
Mactan is separated from mainland Cebu by the Mactan Channel and connected to the mainland by the Marcelo Fernan Bridge and the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge. Lapu-Lapu City and the Municipality of Cordova occupy Mactan island.
Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan is dubbed as the “Historic Resort City.” And as the name implies, the city got the title for its rich historical background and its impressive array of beach resorts. Lapu-Lapu’s shores are lined with world-class hotels and resorts.
Mactan Island is also home to top diving sites, beautiful islets, and marine sanctuaries. You can go island-hopping or go diving and snorkeling in the vibrant waters of Mactan.
Additionally, Mactan offers unique dining experiences like the Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant and Entoy's Bakasihan. Aside from the water activities and culinary treats, other Mactan attractions include the Alegre Guitar Factory and the Mactan Shrine.
If you want a hotel near the airport, and above mentioned the Mactan activities are ones you’re looking forward to the most, then booking a hotel in Mactan.
Malapascua is an island in the northern tip of Cebu, Philippines. Malapascua Island is so popular among locals and international travelers as an excellent diving spot. The island is famous for being the only place in the whole world where you can dive with thresher sharks daily.
Apart from its breathtaking underwater scenery, the beachfront is Malapascua’s other best feature. Beaches in Malapascua are beautiful and less commercialized.
Bounty Beach is the best beachfront in Malapascua Island. It has the longest stretch of the white sand beach on the island, and it also flaunts the best ocean views. Bounty Beach is lined by hotels, dive centers, and restaurants. There are other beaches in other parts of the island; however, most Malapascua accommodations are centralized in Bounty Beach. So this is where you’ll want to book your room.
Take note, though, that Malapascua is a small island. So any place you'll choose to book your accommodations on the island, you will still be walking distance to the beach.
The town of Moalboal in the south-western tip of Cebu is world-famous for its breathtaking sardine run. Picture yourself swimming amidst millions of sardines in crystal clear waters. Many travelers who have witnessed this underwater marvel have described it as a breathtaking and surreal experience.
You can witness the sardine run just a few meters off the shore of Pescador Island. What makes this even more impressive is that you can witness sardine run all year round.
If the sound of an underwater adventure like this gets your heart racing, then perhaps you should book a room in Moalboal. But before you look for accommodations, here are two areas you'll want to consider.
Moalboal is mainly divided into two areas, namely Panagsama Beach and White Beach. Panagsama is where you can witness the sardine run and go turtle watching. As such, you will find more places to stay, dine, and dive in Panagsama. On the other hand, White Beach boasts a modest stretch of white sand beach with azure waters. There are resorts and lodges here, but they may be more expensive as they are not too many in the area.
Oslob is a small coastal town in the southern tip of Cebu mainland. It has recently become a buzzing destination because of whale shark tours.
The whale sharks are not the only cool attractions they have. You can find the idyllic Sumilon Sandbar and the majestic Tumalog Waterfalls here. Oslob also boasts coral reefs, secret caves, and even heritage sites and Spanish ruins.
Oslob may be small, but thanks to the rising influx of travelers, there are many options for hotels, hostels, and even guesthouses to choose from.
Dalaguete is a first-class municipality in the south-eastern tip of Cebu. The agricultural town is known as the “Vegetable Basket of Cebu” because of the high-quality crops it supplies to the whole province.
Mantalongon Dalagauete is also dubbed as the “Little Baguio and Summer Capital of Cebu” due to its cool climate. Many local travelers from the lowland cities come to the scenic mountain ranges of this town to escape the summer heat.
Dalaguete is home to the highest mountain in Cebu, Osmeña Peak. Rising 1,013 meters above sea level, Osmeña Peak is one of several spire-like formations that comprise the Mantalongon Mountain Range.
The picturesque trail to the peak is an easy leisurely hike that takes about 30 minutes to an hour. The breathtaking jagged skylike, the panoramic view of Cebu’s southeast coastline, and a glimpse of Negros and Bohol in the distance make the long trek to the top worth it.
Aside from the picturesque Osmeña Peak, you can also find a beautiful beach and a cold spring in Dalaguete. Locals frequent the Dalaguete Beach Park for its stretch of pristine white sand beach and crystal clear waters.
The calm azure waters of the Obong Cold Spring are loved by weary travelers and anyone who wants a quick respite from the heat. If you're planning to go on a road trip to the southern towns of Cebu, Dalaguete is an excellent place to book your accommodations.
Hotels in Cebu range from luxury, mid-range, and budget-friendly. Regardless if you’re there for either work or vacation, you’re sure to accommodations that fit your style and budget. Here are some budget, mid-range, and luxury resorts and hotels you can stay in the different parts of Cebu:
You can find a handful of budget hotels all over Cebu. You can find a wide selection ranging from offer dorm-type rooms to private rooms with basic amenities that won't burn a hole through your wallet.
When deciding on which budget accommodation, assess if it is located near the top attractions on your Cebu itinerary to avoid overspending on transportation.
Red Doorz Cebu Century Plaza (Cebu City)
This Red Doorz is a chain of budget hotels in Cebu. Red Doorz Cebu Century Plaza in uptown Cebu is strategically located near Mango Avenue.
It is surrounded by shopping malls, museums, restaurants, and cafes. Red Doorz offers air-conditioned rooms with basic amenities including, wi-fi, toiletries, mineral water, and a 24-hour front desk.
Malapascua Budget Inn (Malapascua Island)
Photo by Malapascua Budget Inn
You can choose from dorm-type and single or family room accommodations. The rooms are simple, but they have to air-condition. The bathrooms also come with hot and cold showers.
There are a lounge and a bar where guests can chill out with fellow travelers. It's a great place to stay if you want to immerse yourself in the backpacking culture.
Moalboal Backpackers Lodge (Moalboal)
Moalboal Backpackers Lodge is a no-frill hostel strategically located in Panagsama Beach. It is a colorful, low-rise building that is a minute on foot from the beach. Moalboal Backpackers Lodge is regarded as the first hostel in Moalboal.
They offer beds in dormitory fan rooms, and they also have private rooms. They also have hammocks, and Wi-Fi is free in the entire area.
Amit Hostel (Oslob)
Amit Hostel is budget-friendly lodging at the beachfront of Oslob. They offer air-conditioned rooms with amazing ocean views and free Wi-Fi.
Best of all, you don't have to fall in line to go to use the toilet. Amit Hostel provides each room with a private bathroom. The hostel has a shared kitchen where you can cook your meals.
Mactan Backpackers Inn (Lapu-Lapu City)
If you're a solo backpacker, chances are you want to stay at an inn that accommodates the type of traveler you are — fun, vibrant, and on a budget. This backpackers' inn serves that purpose.
Mactan Backpakers Inn has a bar, a shared lounged, and free wi-fi. It's a great place to meet fellow travelers! One of the best things about this budget hotel is that it's near the city center.
If you're instead not splurging for high-end amenities, but you still want a comfortable hotel to stay in, the mid-range accommodations in Cebu have you covered. You can find several accommodations that offer excellent service and facilities without burning a hole through your wallet. Check out these top-rated mid-range hotels in Cebu.
Bayfront Hotel (Cebu City)
Photo by Bayfront Hotel
Bayfront Hotel is a 3-star business hotel that is a mere 15-minute walk from SM City Cebu. This hotel offers rooms overlooking city views, with complimentary wi-fi access, flat-screen TV, a minibar, and many more. Aside from its fitness center, they also have their buffet restaurant serving local and international cuisine.
Goldberry Suites & Hotel Mactan (Lapu-Lapu City)
One of the top-rated business boutique hotels in Mactan, this hotel offers air-conditioned rooms equipped with cable TV, wi-fi, private bathrooms, and many more. They also offer spa packages at their spa station, a gastronomic food experience at their restaurant, a gift shop, and conference rooms for booking.
Dakong Bato Beach and Leisure Resort (Dalaguete)
One of the beach resorts in Dalaguete that offers top-tier amenities, this resort offers air-conditioned rooms with complete facilities such as a private bathroom, TV, wi-fi, and many more.
They have their basketball court, outdoor pool, restaurant, bar and lounge, and business center. One can also try an array of recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, and spelunking for their unique cave adventure.
BlueWater Resort/ Malapascua Beach Resort (Malapascua Island)
BlueWater Resort falls under the mid-range accommodations. This hotel offers air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and shower to solo travelers and big groups. They also have their own outdoor pool dive bar, an al-fresco restaurant, and conference rooms for business travelers.
Gingging Hotel & Resort (Oslob)
Considered as one of Oslob's hidden gems, this beach resort has air-conditioned rooms overlooking the sea, creating that relaxing vibe.
All of the rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, wi-fi, en-suite bathrooms, a seating area, and many more. They also have an outdoor swimming pool, a terrace, and a bar.
Cebu Province is home to several 4-star and 5-star beach resorts and hotels that offer world-class facilities and services. If you like to travel in style and you have the resources to book premium accommodations, Cebu won’t disappoint. Experience the lap of luxury at these top-rated Cebu resorts and hotels.
Best Western Plus Lex (Cebu City)
Best Western Lex is nestled in the heart of uptown Cebu. This upscale hotel provides air-conditioned rooms with various amenities, such as free wi-fi, flat-screen TV, mini bar, and many more. The hotel also has its fitness center and an infinity pool on its roof deck.
Ocean Vida Beach Resort (Malapascua Island)
This luxury beach resort is located on Malapascua's Bounty Beach and is considered as one of the most popular accommodations in the area for its sea-view rooms and garden-view rooms.
All of the rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, mini-bar, hot and cold shower in its en-suite bathrooms, its balcony, and many more. They also have their restaurant, a bar, and their dive center.
Kasai Village Dive Resort (Moalboal)
One of the best dive resorts in Moalboal, this luxury hotel is perfect for those wanting to get the full diving experience while still having a relaxing time.
Their air-conditioned rooms offering ocean views are well-equipped with mini bar, refrigerator, en-suite bathrooms, and many more. Aside from an outdoor pool, they also have a dive center that has facilities you can only experience at a first-class diving resort.
Eden Resort (Oslob)
One of the most well-known high-end beach resorts in Oslob. This resort offers air-conditioned rooms with a flat-screen TV, balcony, in-room safe, and other luxurious amenities such as an en-suite bathroom, refrigerator, and mini-bar.
Aside from their restaurant and outdoor infinity pool, cars and motorbikes are available for guests who want to explore the area. They also have their private beach area where one can enjoy various recreational water activities.
Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort & Spa (Lapu-Lapu City)
Photo by Shangri-la's Mactan Resort and Spa
Just a 15-minute drive from Mactan-Cebu International Airport, this luxurious hotel resort offers high-class amenities. Their spacious air-conditioned rooms have their mini-bar, a flat-screen TV, en-suite bathrooms, wi-fi, and many more.
They also have their private balconies that offer panoramic sea views and garden views. Aside from their luxurious restaurants, bars, and lounges, the resort houses one of the largest spas in Asia, CHI. One can also enjoy their gym and tennis courts, exclusive for guests.
Cebu's international airport is on Mactan Island, around an hour from the city. You can stay in Mactan to explore the nearby islands and marine sanctuaries. The Olango Group of Islands, which includes trips to Nalusuan Island and Hilutungan Island, are some of the places you can visit when you explore Mactan's protected marine sanctuaries.
You can also choose to stay in hotels in Cebu City, where you can easily access the other attractions and destinations in the province. The city has several attractions that show the rich history not only of the province but of the Philippines as well. Here are some attractions you can check out:
It is the Philippines' oldest triangular bastion fort. It was built by the Spanish in the 1700s to drive off Muslim raiders. Around the same time, the Basilica del Santo Niño was also built, making it the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. It stands where an icon of the Santo Niño de Cebu was found during the Spanish era.
Just a few minutes from the church stands Magellan’s Cross. The large wooden cross was built after Ferdinand Magellan set foot in Cebu in the 1500s. It is housed in an octagonal pavilion in front of Cebu City Hall.
The original cross was regarded as a miraculous relic. However, natives chipped pieces away as souvenirs. Now the replica is encased to protect it.
Nearby Magellan's Cross is the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House, a two-story residence built in the 1700s from coral stones and molave. Inside this ancestral house are artifacts and well-preserved antique furniture crafted by Cebu's artisans.
These Cebu travel spots are located close together in and around Plaza Independencia. So it’s easy to do a walking tour from one attraction to the next in a matter of one to two hours. Alternatively, you can also book a day tour of Cebu's historical sites to appreciate the city's heritage fully.
If you love diving, snorkeling, or beach bumming, head to North Cebu. It is known for some of the best islands in the region and rich marine life. These are some of the best things you can do there:
North Cebu is most notable for thresher sharks in Malapascua, a small island off the coast of Daanbantayan, which is well known for its plethora of world-class dive spots.
Malapascua's waters are teeming with vibrant coral walls and large sea vertebrates. While thresher sharks can be seen in other parts of the world, it is only in Malapascua, where they can be seen regularly by divers.
If you’re not too keen on diving, the white sand beaches of Malapascua are also worth visiting on their own. They have been compared favorably to the beaches in Boracay.
There’s also the Guimbitayan lighthouse, which you can hike for a panoramic view of the entire island.
Bantayan Island is best known for its excellent beaches and laid-back atmosphere. It has several heritage sites as well, including the Parish Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Abello Theater that was built just after World War II.
There is a beautiful white sand beach in Bantayan, along with a mangrove garden and a botanical garden. For something off the beaten path, you can check out the Casa de Antiguedades, a private house that is open to the public. It showcases a wide array of curiosities and antiques that the owner has collected over the years.
Camotes Island in northern Cebu offers a range of outdoor activities for thrill-seekers; one of the most popular ones is spelunking. The Holy Crystal Cave is unique in that its chambers are naturally shaped downwards.
Visitors can access the chambers through a small entrance above ground, then descend eight levels down. You can also find well-preserved stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave.
Another unique feature of Camotes is Lake Danao, whose shape forms the number eight. At 700 hectares, the lake is the biggest in the Visayas region, and as such, offers plenty of space for kayaking. Locally known as the Lover’s Lake, this is located in Pacijan Island, which is one of the islets in the well-known Camotes Islands group.
South Cebu is known for its marine life and heritage spots. It is in this area where you can find the famed Oslob whale shark, the sardine run, and the adrenaline-pumping canyoneering trip to Kawasan Falls. These are some of the things you shouldn't miss in South Cebu:
Located in the town of Sibonga around 2.5 hours from Cebu City, this one-of-a-kind shrine is one of the most visited churches in the region and is a staple in a Cebu pilgrimage tour. Known as the Safe Sanctuary of Mother Mary, the Simala Shrine has beautiful structures and spacious gardens.
It also houses several religious things inside and outside the church for devotees, including a massive statue of the Virgin Mary that is said to be miraculous. To avoid the crowd, go there from Monday to Thursday. Make sure to bring food and water, as well as sun protection (e.g., hats, umbrella).
Just around 2-3 hours south of Cebu City, Moalboal is a favorite destination of water lovers, specifically scuba and free divers. While a lot of travelers go to Oslob and Kawasan Falls on a day trip, it's still highly recommended to spend a night or two in Moalboal.
This small coastal town is best known for its sardine run, wherein millions of sardines form bait balls. What makes this spectacle magical is that the sardines don’t leave the shallows of Panagsama Beach.
You can experience them year-round, even with just a pair of swimming goggles. A lot of sea turtles can also be seen in the area.
You can go island-hopping to Pescador Island; you can also dive and snorkel. It's only a few minutes by boat from Panagsama Beach, and you can find a reef populated with jacks, sponges, lionfish, and more around the island.
There are many waterfalls in Cebu. The most famous one is the Kawasan Falls of Badian. Kawasan Falls is a three-tiered cascade that features distinctly turquoise water. There are two ways to explore the falls.
One is by canyoneering for three to six hours from Alegria to Badian. This exciting tour requires visitors to navigate the towering gorges and stalactite boulders, and swim through the river canyons and falls of Alegria and Badian.
Canyoneering in Cebu is an exhilarating water activity where you can slide, rappel and even leap off 30-foot high cliffs and into the blue waters of the waterfalls.
For those who want to take the easier route, you can go directly to the main entrance to the falls in Badian. Then walk for a kilometer and a half to the first tier where the basin and several cottages are located. Most visitors prefer to terminate their visit here, although you can opt to walk further uphill to reach the second and third tiers of the falls.
For a better and safer experience, book a Kawasan Falls and canyoneering tour. They will provide you with all you need, from the gear to the transportation and guide.
At 1,013 meters above sea level, Osmeña Peak is Cebu’s highest. It is one of several spire-like formations comprising the Mantalongon Mountain Range in Dalaguete — perhaps the easiest, too.
A day hike to Osmeña Peak will treat you to an amazing jagged skyline view, a refreshing sight of the shore, and even the far-off islands of Negros and Bohol.
The summit is a 20 to 30-minute leisurely walk from the jump-off point, mostly on flat terrain. En route, you will pass by local farms and livestock grazing on them.
The craggy rock formations at the summit afford one a stunning view of South Cebu and distant Negros Oriental. It can be windy at the peak, so take care not to lose your footing.
One of the most exciting things to do in Cebu is to have a gastronomic food experience. It is after all home to the famous Cebu lechon (roasted pig), one of the most iconic dishes in Filipino cuisine. Here are some of the best authentic dishes you shouldn't miss during your stay in Cebu:
Photo by Agi Recio
SuTuKil is a quintessential dining experience in the whole province of Cebu. The name SuTuKil is a combination of 3 Bisaya words, Sugba (Grill) + Tuwa(broth) +Kilaw (taw, similar to ceviche).
You can pick what seafood you want and have it grilled, cooked with broth, or prepared like ceviche. You can also choose from a variety of fresh seafood; from a wide selection of fish, shellfish, crabs, lobsters, and even seaweed. Eat these with their local pusô, (a local term for "heart") — rice wrapped in heart-shaped coconut fronds.
A visit to Cebu won't be complete without trying out its trademark meat: lechon. The dish is perfected by slow-roasting a pig with herbs and spices for hours to create crackling skin and tender meat. Cebu's version is so savory that you don't need any sauce to pair it with. It's best eaten with pusô.
Recommended Best Restaurants
There are a lot of restaurants in Cebu that serve authentic Visayan cuisine. What sets these food establishments apart from the others is how popular it is with the locals. Take note of these restaurants and food in Cebu; you might want to include them in your itinerary.
While you’re in Cebu, you have to taste the province’s best culinary treat, Lechon! Lechon is the ultimate pork dish in the Philippines; it is a charcoal-roasted pig with the most delicious crispy skin and juiciest meat flavored with a combination of local spices. Anyone who’s tasted it salivate just at the thought of Cebu’s best.
Rico's Lechon Cebu serves the best Lechon baboy. They use native organic pigs, stuffed them with lemongrass, tomato, vinegar, and a mixture of local herbs and spices.
One of the well-known traditional dining concepts in Cebu is "Suzuki," a combination of 3 Visayan words, sugba (grill), tuwa (broth), and kilaw (raw seafood).
In this gastronomic adventure, one gets to choose any seafood and have it either grilled, cooked with broth, or have the raw seafood cured in vinegar or other citrus juices. Have your authentic Suzuki experience at, Manna Sutukil Food House.
Manna Sutukil is situated near Mactan Shrine. It is a two-floor establishment that does not only serve fresh seafood but also offers a scenic view of the shrine. After touring the Mactan Shrine, head on over to Manna Sutukil for a delightful seafood meal!
Saltwater eels, more known as “bakasi” in Cebu, is bountiful in Cordova waters. Its popularity as a local street food was recognized in Netflix’s “Street Food” series, specifically in its Cebu episode. You can try this dish at Entoy’s Bakasihan in Cordova, Cebu.
Entoy's eatery is not a fancy establishment. It is a humble shack in a small coastal barangay in Cordova. Aside from hearty servings of Linarang Bakasi ( Eel sauteed in soy sauce, black beans, and tamarind), you get to enjoy an immersive ocean view ambiance.
Photo by Gem Muzones
Considered as one of the unique street foods in Cebu, the main ingredient in tuslob buwa (which means "dip into bubbles") is pig's brain. The process of eating this is you'll dip the "puso" or wrap the rice in the thick soup made of broth, lard, pork brains, and liver. This combination is cheap and can be found in food stalls in Cebu.
Larsian, a market-style dining strip similar to a "dampa," is located at Fuente Osmena, Cebu. There are numerous stalls available that offer a variety of ready-to-grill food, such as squid, chicken, and pork BBQ. You can either use a spoon and fork or eat with your bare hands.
Cebu-style bulalo, also known as "pochero," is very popular for locals and foreigners alike because of the way it has been prepared. You can either have it in soup-based or sizzling. Two of the well-known pochero restaurants you can visit are Kusina Uno and Abuhan's Pochero.
Siomai sa Tisa
Siomai, or steamed Chinese pork dumplings, is very popular in Cebu. There's a stall called "Siomai sa Tisa," located at Tisa, Labangon, Cebu City, that has become popular due to its distinct flavor and affordable price. It's usually topped with garlic sauce and served on a plate wrapped in plastic.
For a hassle-free and convenient trip to Cebu, it's essential to read up on useful tips. These will come in handy if it's your first time in Cebu.
The whole province of Cebu accepts payments in Philippine Peso (PHP). There are ATMs and Money changers in the central district of major cities like Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, and Mandaue City.
However, ATMs and money changers become scarcer as you go north and south to the rural municipalities. To be safe, withdraw more than enough cash, and have your money changed to Philippine Peso before you leave Cebu City.
ATMs are available in most establishments, such as malls and convenience stores. However, not all establishments may accept credit card payments.
If you're in Cebu, and you want to address a local, expect an answer in either Cebuano, Tagalog, or English. Most locals understand English well, so don't be afraid to ask questions or directions. Say hi/hello first when approaching them to establish a friendly tone.
With all the activities and attractions you can explore in Cebu, we suggest a 6-Day trip. Six days should cover most of the major attractions. Here's a sample itinerary to guide you in planning yours.
06:00 AM - ETA at Mactan International Airport
06:30 AM - Early check-in at your hotel, eat breakfast
08:00 PM - Do a Mactan island-hopping tour
12:00 NN - Lunch during the tour
01:00 PM - Head back to your hotel room to freshen up
03:00 PM - Go sightseeing in Mactan
07:00 PM - Dinner
07:00 AM - Breakfast
08:00 AM - Departure from Mactan to Camotes Island
10:00 AM - Arrival at Camotes Island. Settle in at the resort
11:00 AM - Chill at the resort or go swimming in Santiago Beach
12:00 NN - Lunch
01:00 PM - Go Spelunking at Holy Crystal Cave
03:00 PM - Go Cliff-diving at Buho Rock
05:00 PM - Head back to the resort. Chill or swim in Santiago Beach
06:00 PM - Dinner
07:00 AM - Breakfast
08:00 AM - Go kayaking and sightseeing in Lake Danao
10:00 AM - Back to resort to pack, chill, or buy souvenirs
12:00 NN - Lunch
04:00 PM - Get on fast craft back to Mactan
06:00 PM - Arrival at Mactan. Head to the hotel in Cebu City.
08:00 PM - Arrival at Cebu hotel. Dinner at Larsian
08:00 AM - Breakfast
09:00 AM - Go on a sightseeing tour of Cebu City
12:00 NN - Lunch
05:00 PM - Head back to the hotel
08:00 PM - Have dinner at Rico’s Lechon
05:00 AM - Breakfast
06:00 AM - Start of Moalboal sardine run with canyoneering and Kawasan Falls tour
12:00 NN - Lunch
07:00 PM - Back at hotel in Cebu
08:00 PM - Dinner
08:00 AM - Breakfast
09:00 AM - Start pilgrimage tour in Cebu City
12:00 NN - Lunch
05:00 PM - Late check-out at hotel
6:00 PM - Dinner
09:00 PM - Departure
So many possibilities are in store for you when you visit the province of Cebu. Nature, beach, and adventure lovers are sure to fall in love with Cebu and its many destinations and attractions.
We highly recommend exploring other destinations in Cebu aside from the city area. Visit the North and South areas of Cebu to find out for yourself why travelers keep coming back and rave about this province.
If you’re heading to Cebu soon, check out Cebu tours and activities that you can add to your itinerary.