Where to Go for Holy Week in the Philippines: Visita Iglesia Churches, Pilgrimage Sites, Beaches & Mountains

Where to Go for Holy Week in the Philippines: Visita Iglesia Churches, Pilgrimage Sites, Beaches & Mountains

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Paoay Cathedral in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Christ the Savior statue at Hundred Islands Pangasinan, Cambugahay Falls in Siquijor,  White Beach in BoracayHoly Week in the Philippines is one of the longest holidays in the country every year. As a predominantly Catholic country, around 80% of the Philippine population subscribes to the Roman Catholic faith. With at least four days off, usually in March or April, most locals take time off from work and school during this long weekend in the Philippines to go to some of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines for a much-needed Holy Week vacation.

Several places in the Philippines are known for their Holy Week activities, including Visita Iglesia (the Catholic practice of visiting at least seven churches during Maundy Thursday and Good Friday on Holy Week) and pilgrimage tours to some of the best churches in the Philippines. International travelers who may or may not be Catholic can include these in their Philippine itinerary during the Holy Week to experience the unique culture of the country.  

If you’re not up for local traditions during the Holy Week, you can instead escape to some of the top destinations in the Philippines to unwind, relax, and avoid the crowds. 

If you’re looking for the best place to spend Holy Week in the Philippines, check out our list of the highly recommended Holy Week destinations:

Best Holy Week Destinations in Luzon

Those living in the capital region and nearby provinces have plenty of options when it comes to road trip destinations near Manila. Whether they want to immerse themselves in traditional Holy Week activities or visit beaches and mountains, there’s the perfect Holy Week destination for them in Luzon.


Marinduque's Moriones FestivalIf you want to attend a Philippine festival during the Holy Week, Marinduque’s Moriones Festival should be on your list. The week-long celebration centers on the story of Longinus, a Roman soldier who proclaims his faith in Jesus. Locals dress up as Roman soldiers using the festival’s iconic wooden Moriones Mask. The festival culminates in the reenactment of Longinus’ capture and beheading.

For this reason, Marinduque is called the Lenten Capital of the Philippines. Apart from participating in the Moriones Festival, visitors can also check out Marinduque tourist spots, including Maniwaya Island, Poctoy White Beach, Boac Cathedral, and Bagumbungan Cave.


Holy Rosary Parish Church in PampangaPampanga is famous for its real-life crucifixion that penitents undergo on Good Friday. Known locally as “mandarame,” these people would carry heavy wooden crosses along the streets to a hill where they are nailed to a wooden cross using long sterilized steel nails to reenact Jesus’ crucifixion. 

Other mandarames, instead of being nailed to the cross, opt to walk barefoot and half-naked along the streets while continuously whipping themselves with bamboo sticks attached to a rope.

Those who aren’t abstaining from meat during their Holy Week visit should also try the many local delicacies of what is known as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. Sisig, Murcon, Buro, and Tibuk-Tibuk are just some dishes you should try in restaurants in Pampanga. You can also visit several Pampanga tourist spots, including Mount Arayat and Miyamit Falls.


Aerial of Christ the Savior Statue in PangasinanPangasinan is a known pilgrimage destination since it’s home to many churches, with many people flocking from all over the country to practice Visita Iglesia during Holy Week. The most popular church is the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Manaoag. 

Many believe the church to be miraculous, making it one of the most visited churches in the whole country. Other churches you can add to your Pangasinan Visita Iglesia itinerary include St. John the Evangelist Cathedral and Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church.

While here, visitors can also explore some of the top Pangasinan tourist spots, including the Hundred Islands National Park, Patar Beach, and the Enchanted Cave. 


Paoay ChurchAn Ilocos Norte and Sur itinerary for Holy Week usually includes going on a Visita Iglesia to churches, including Saint William’s Cathedral in Laoag (famous for its sinking bell tower), the Parish Church of Saint Andrew in Bacarra (reconstructed after being destroyed by an earthquake), and the Saint Augustine Church in Paoay (one of the four Baroque churches that are collectively considered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Philippines).

You can make the most of your trip by visiting other Ilocos tourist spots like the Bangui Windmills, the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, the Paoay Sand Dunes, and Calle Crisologo in Vigan. While you’re already in the historic city, you should also try the local food at the best Vigan restaurants.


Mt. Samat, BataanBataan Day is held every year on April 9, which is also celebrated by the rest of the Philippines as Araw ng Kagitingan or the Day of Valor. When Bataan Day falls on a Holy Week, visitors can go on a religious and historical pilgrimage. 

One of the Bataan tourist spots you can visit on Holy Week is Mount Samat. Here, you will find the Shrine of Valor, a memorial cross that honors the heroism of Filipino and American soldiers during World War II. The shrine is also the endpoint of the Mount Samat pilgrimage walk, which starts at the foot of the mountain.


Kamay ni Hesus, QuezonPhoto by Kamay Ni Hesus

Holy Week is the perfect time to visit one of the top Quezon province tourist spots, Kamay ni Hesus Shrine. Located in Lucban, at the base of Mount Banahaw, the shrine is a popular pilgrimage site that sees as many as three million devotees every Holy Week.

Devotees usually climb the 300-step Stairway to Heaven, which ends at the base of the famous 50-foot statue of Jesus Christ. From here, you can also see beautiful views of the municipality of Lucban.

You can also visit other sites like Cagbalete Island, Jomalig Island, and Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort, which is one of the top resorts in Quezon province.


Barasoain Church, BulacanSome of the top tourist spots in Bulacan are beautiful churches, making it a good place to practice Visita Iglesia. You can’t miss the historic Barasoain Church, which is also known as the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish. The first Philippine Congress in 1898 and the inauguration of the First Philippine Republic in 1899 were held here.

Another historic church in Bulacan is the Malolos cathedral, which used to house the presidential palace of Emilio Aguinaldo. Devotees will also appreciate the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in San Jose del Monte, which was built as a tribute to the Rosary Basilica in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in France. 


If you want to reconnect with nature during Holy Week, try hiking in the Philippines, specifically in the province of Rizal. Among the top Rizal tourist spots are beginner-friendly hiking spots, like the Masungi Georeserve, Mount Sipit Ulang, Mount Nagpatong, Mount Kulis, and Mount Daraitan.

Should you wish to extend your visit to beyond just mountains, you can also visit Antipolo Cathedral, Tinipak River, and Pinto Art Museum, one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Antipolo. On your way there, you can also stop by restaurants and cafés in Antipolo that feature spectacular overlooking views.


Mahatao Hill, BatanesUnlike some of the other top tourist attractions in Luzon, the only way for tourists to get to Batanes is by flight. While it’s not one of the more affordable destinations, the smallest and northernmost Philippine province is always worth visiting, especially for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

It boasts many natural wonders, including Morong Beach, the Vayang Rolling Hills, Valugan Boulder Beach, and Mount Iraya. Other must-visit Batanes tourist spots include the iconic Basco Lighthouse, the romantic Mount Carmel Chapel, the renowned House of Dakay, and the unique Honesty Coffee Shop.


Hiking in SagadaAnother destination worth the long trip is Sagada, located in Mountain Province in the Cordillera Administrative Region. Its peaceful and laid-back atmosphere has attracted many travelers who want to go on a soul-searching trip. 

iAmong the many Sagada tourist spots you can visit are the Sugong Hanging Coffins. The suspending of coffins on the side of a cliff is an ancient tradition that some locals still practice. They believe that this will bring the soul of the deceased closer to heaven.

Sagada also boasts one of the most breathtaking sea-of-clouds views in the Philippines. Head to the top of Mount Kiltepan before sunrise so you can catch this stunning phenomenon that will make you feel like you’re in heaven.


El Nido, PalawanIf you want to spend the Holy Week exploring one province, Palawan is a great option as it is home to several tourist destinations like El Nido, Coron, Puerto Princesa, and San Vicente. Travelers won’t run out of Palawan tourist spots to add to their itinerary. Those seeking an adventure can try diving in Coron or exploring the Puerto Princesa Underground River

You can also have a chill and relaxing trip by booking a stay at one of the resorts in El Nido and going on island-hopping tours to sites like Big Lagoon and Helicopter Island. Those who just want to lounge on a beach should stay at San Vicente, home to Long Beach, one of the best beaches in Palawan and the longest white-sand beach in the Philippines.

Best Holy Week Destinations in Visayas

The Visayas region is home to many natural wonders like beaches, islands, caves, rivers, and waterfalls, and travelers have plenty of options when it comes to what to do during Holy Week. Of course, there are also man-made tourist spots in the Visayas, including Visita Iglesia churches and pilgrimage sites.


Simala Shrine in CebuThose planning a family retreat during the Holy Week should consider Cebu. The province is one of the top family destinations in the Philippines, thanks to its varied Cebu tourist spots, delicious Cebuano cuisine, and accessibility via the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Visitors can also easily get around by booking Cebu car rentals.

A must-visit religious site here is the Simala Church (also called the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist), a castle-like shrine many believe to be miraculous. Devotees may also check out the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño.

After visiting churches, travelers can relax and unwind at the beaches of Cebu or explore the many Cebu diving spots


Garin FarmPhoto by GarinFarm Pilgrimage Resort

One of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the Philippines can be found in Iloilo. Garin Farm in San Joaquin is where devotees can find Pilgrimage Hill, which features a 480-step staircase that passes by biblical scenes and ends in a tall cross and a depiction of heaven that it’s been dubbed by tourists as Heaven on Earth. You can visit several churches to complete your Visita Iglesia, including Molo Church, Jaro Cathedral, and Miagao Church.

Consider going on Islas de Gigantes tours so you can explore one of the most popular Iloilo tourist spots. This natural wonder features not only stunning islands and beaches but also caves, lagoons, rock formations, a historic lighthouse, and cheap but fresh seafood.


Santo Niño de Anda Parish Church, BoholBohol is home to one of the most iconic tourist attractions of the Philippines, the Chocolate Hills. These cone-shaped hills resembling giant Hershey’s Kisses during the summer are the highlight of most Bohol countryside tours, which include stops at other Bohol tourist spots like the Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River, and the Bilar Man-Made Forest. 

If you’re looking for a more spiritual experience, you can also practice Visita Iglesia in Bohol. There are dozens of churches on the island, and you won’t have trouble finding seven to complete your Visita Iglesia. Must-visit ones are Loay Church, Albuquerque Church, and  Baclayon Church, a declared National Cultural Treasure and National Historical Landmark.


National Park Island waterfall, SiquijorTravelers looking for a unique Holy Week experience should visit Siquijor. Holy Week coincides with the island province’s Folk Healing Festival. While the province has a reputation for being a hotspot for witchcraft and black magic, the festival aims to dispel this image, instead presenting its locals as mananambals or healers. 

The festival usually takes place at the highest point of Siquijor, Mount Bandilaan, where the mananambals concoct potions using herbs. These are only made once a year, during the festival.

During your stay, you may also visit tourist attractions, including the majestic Cambugahay Falls, the mystical centuries-old balete tree, and beautiful Paliton Beach.


White Beach, BoracayRegardless of the time of the year, Boracay will always remain one of the most recommended places to visit in the Philippines. Holy Week always falls on the dry season, making it one of the best times to visit the island. Its most famous attraction is White Beach, also considered one of the best beaches in the Philippines

Here travelers can catch gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, try water activities like parasailing, paraw sailing, and banana boat riding, and enjoy the Boracay nightlife.

Of course, there are other Boracay tourist spots apart from White Beach. You can visit other beaches, including Puka Beach, Bulabog Beach, and Diniwid Beach, or book Boracay island-hopping tours that will take you to Crocodile Island, Magic Island, and Crystal Cove.

Best Holy Week Destinations in Mindanao

Mindanao may not be as frequented as Luzon and Visayas, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have an abundance of Mindanao tourist spots that travelers can explore. Here you can try surfing, whitewater rafting, and hiking, but those who want a laid-back vacation can just chill at the beaches and islands.

Misamis Oriental

Divine Mercy Shrine, Misamis OrientalMisamis Oriental is located in Northern Mindanao, and one of its most famous religious sites is the jaw-dropping Statue of the Divine Mercy in El Salvador. The 50-foot statue of Jesus Christ stands atop a hill, making it even look bigger than it actually is. Devotees can get close to Jesus’ heart, as there are stairs leading to the statue’s chest.

Around 20 kilometers from El Salvador is Cagayan De Oro, which is known as the whitewater rafting capital of the Philippines. If you’ve always wanted to try whitewater rafting, the Cagayan de Oro River is one of the best places to do it, as it has 59 rapids, ensuring a memorable ride. Other Cagayan de Oro tourist spots you should include in your itinerary are Catanico Falls and Kweba de Oro.


Fort Pilar, ZamboangaZamboanga has become a popular island and beach destination, as it is home to Once Islas, eleven uninhabited islands where visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, and hiking. You’ll also find the Pink Beach of Sta. Cruz Island in Zamboanga. As its name suggests, the beach has pinkish sand, which gets its distinct color from pulverized red organ-pipe coral mixing with the sand.

Those looking to pray and learn about Zamboanga’s past will appreciate Fort Pilar Shrine. Originally a Spanish-era garrison, it is now an open-air park and shrine. The property also has a museum with exhibits that detail the history of Zamboanga. 


Mt. Apo, DavaoThose who want to commune with nature during their Holy Week vacation will love Davao. It is home to islands, nature parks, and even the tallest mountain in the Philippines, Mount Apo. The mountain is also one of the highest in Southeast Asia, so hiking and reaching the summit is definitely an achievement. 

If hiking is not for you, you can enjoy other Davao tourist spots like Samal Island, Eden Nature Park, Crocodile Park, and the Philippine Eagle Center. There are tours that include these attractions in their itinerary, but those who want to visit them at their own pace can rent a car in Davao.


Siargao is the surfing capital of the Philippines, and what has catapulted the island to fame is Cloud 9, a surfing spot in the municipality of General Luna. The waves here have attracted surfers worldwide as they can provide a unique challenge to advanced surfers.

But those who aren’t into surfing can still enjoy the island, as there are many Siargao tourist spots all types of travelers can enjoy. Those who want to enjoy the islands and beaches can visit Naked Island, Daku Island, and Guyam Island via Siargao island-hopping tours, while those who want to take stunning photos can drop by Palm Tree Road and Maasin River.

Plan your Holy Week getaway in the Philippines!

Simala ShrineWhether you want a peaceful retreat or an adventure-filled time, you’ll find the perfect Holy Week destination in the Philippines. With most of the destinations listed here, you can actually experience both if you want.

Make your trip hassle-free by booking Philippine travel packages with a reputable online travel agency.

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