Top 16 Attractions You should include in your Travel Bucket List
With a rich history spanning almost 470 years, Cebu City shines in almost all aspects – culture, economy, tourism, etc. Known as the Queen City of the South, the city’s hustle and bustle continue 24/7. Its prime location which is in the heart of the archipelago made the city ‘the melting pot’ of the Philippines.
Cebu is the center of trade, commerce, and tourism in the Philippines. Here, you can only imagine that there is a lot to be seen and done in Cebu. From historic sites where Spanish settlers first landed, to the incredible underwater marine parks teeming with tropical sea life, you won’t be able to get enough of this southeast Asian hub.
Despite being hit hardly by coronavirus pandemic, Cebu is now kick-starting all its tourism operations. Tourism in Cebu City has been the bread and butter of most Cebuano’s. For decades, tourism in the city has been thriving thanks to the century-old structures and Spanish remnants that bedazzled tourists globally.
Interestingly, it would not be named Asia’s Best Island of 2020 by Condé Nast Traveler if the city itself is not worth the visit. Cebu is where you can experience energy, people, architecture, and food even in just one visit! If Cebu isn’t on your travel bucket list yet, then you might want to make some adjustments.
Want to go with me on a virtual adventure? Ready yourself and let’s explore the Top 16 Cebu Attractions You should include in your travel bucket list in 2020.
Top 16 Attractions in Cebu City
1. Colon Street
A trip to Cebu isn’t complete without a walk down Colon Street. While at a glance, this crumbling stretch of the sidewalk may look dull but come a little closer and you’ll discover that there is much to see, do, and taste.
Lined with markets selling colorful backpacks, jewelry, clothing, and shoes, this street makes for a great place to buy your souvenirs. Don’t be afraid to engage in some friendly haggling with smiley vendors. You can try yummy street food, mingle with the locals, and take some exceptional photos on Colon Street.
2. Cebu Heritage Monument
With centuries full of invasions, battles, and revolutions, Cebu is a city with stories to tell. Visit Cebu Heritage Monument for a synopsis.
Built with dark stone and bricks, the structure is a tangled sculpture of ships, churches, crosses, and key historical figures that are as mysterious as they are thought-provoking. With centuries of history and tales, consider hiring a guide before you go or taking one’s offer when you arrive. You’ll enjoy the local interaction, be able to ask burning questions and get some background information you would have otherwise missed out on.
This is a great way to start your vacation in Cebu in that it will give you insightful context to apply for the rest of your visit.
3. 1730 Jesuit House
It may be just a hardware store, but trust me, a memorable experience could begin here! Taking a glimpse inside the 1730 Jesuit House feels like stepping 100 years back through history. This aesthetically pleasing 1730 Jesuit House is a local project that aims to preserve one of Cebu’s historic sites. This ancient house has survived typhoons, earthquakes, and foreign invasions, yet still stands to tell the tale.
Your hour-long excursion inside will surely fill your mind with astonishment and wonder. This house-turned-museum is the perfect place to see artifacts and antiques including cameras, carvings, furniture, and even a 100-year-old cedar chest that still gives off a beautiful aroma.
4. Yap San Diego Ancestral House
Built-in 1675, Yap San Diego Ancestral House is one of the oldest and best-preserved houses in all of Cebu.
Despite the perils of nature, it is an ancient structure that has maintained its original integrity. This house tells every tourist three things – fascination, awesomeness, and magnificence. You’ll see that the lower part of the house is built out of coral stones- this includes the walls, stairs, ceilings, and floors. The roof is made with Chinese bricks, also called ‘terracotta’ tiles.
Interestingly, this ancestral home houses a marvel of treasures. All around the house you will find old paintings and furniture, which are centuries old. Moreover, you can also find antiques acquired by merchants from the 16th through the 19th century, making this house a museum of sorts.
There will be an English-speaking tour guide to lead you through the house. During the tour, you will surely enjoy it as he will throw down interesting stories and facts to go with every room.
5. Mountain View Nature Park
The Mountain View Nature Park is also among the Top 16 Cebu attractions you should never miss. This is another great place to come with your family as Mountain View Nature Park has something for everyone. For the kids, there is a water playground! Let the kids run wild in the shallow pool with slides and stairs. There is also a play place on land that really puts the ‘jungle’ in the jungle gym as it is surrounded by lush greenery.
For the parents, you’ll be awestruck by the tropical views of rolling hills covered with undisturbed jungle life. You can see for miles and miles from the viewpoints all around the park.
There is a restaurant, café, public washrooms, and even hotel rooms. This wonderful place offers everyone a slice of nature on the outskirts of the city.
6. Basilica del Santo Niño
Basilica del Santo Niño will never be out on the list of our Top 16 Cebu Attractions! Why? Because it is the oldest Catholic Church in the Philippines and it’s right here in Cebu!
“Mercy and Passion” are the tenets of Basilica del Santo Nino. Founded in 1565, the church still brings many locals here to worship daily. This Catholic Church holds a regular mass where families and children come to show their faith.
The church halls offer unique sights to see from ancient paintings, gorgeous archways, and stained glass windows. Besides these religious treasures, this church is a grand piece of architecture that is awe-inspiring. It also houses some 17th-century relics in the museum and a books-filled library covering modern subjects of all kinds.
7. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
While other cathedrals in Cebu give tourists a window into Filipino culture, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral has its own unique focus. This old cathedral talks more about the history of religion in the city.
Specifically, this cathedral stands as a history lesson of how Christianity came to plant such deep roots in a country. With the fusion of cultures, Christianity has had deeper ties with Hinduism and Buddhism in the past.
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is a delightful change of pace from other tourist attractions. Unlike the Basilica del Santo Niño, few tourists know about this site. You can leisurely stroll through the cathedral, taking in the impressive architecture. You may even join in on Sunday mass where you will be greeted with smiles from Filipino locals.
8. Crown Regency Sky Experience
Among the Top 16 Cebu Attractions, you should also not miss is the Crown Regency Sky experience. In the very heart of the city, this skyscraper was once the tallest hotel tower in the Philippines. The Crown Regency is a thrill seeker’s paradise with extreme sports that defy gravity and conquer fears.
Ride the Edge Coaster, which circles the perimeter of the 38th floor. Strap yourself up and walk along the translucent glass floor of the building, which is 126.55 meters high. If you want more, go take an extreme zip line 473 feet in the air. There are even more death-defying activities if you dare.
9. Tops Lookout
If you want an aerial view of the entire Cebu, this is the place to be! There is a good reason the Tops Lookout has remained such a popular tourist destination in Cebu. That’s because you will get the most spectacular 360-degree view from here and only here.
Tops Lookout represents what makes the Philippines so special – lush greenery, intricate city, and winding waterways all in one visit.
The view at night is spellbinding as you can see the veins of the city sparkling against the darkness.
Try to come in the morning or at night so you can avoid the heat. Take a selfie stick so you can have the best selfie and memorabilia of the Tops Lookout, the most visited amongst our list of Top 16 Cebu Attractions.
Source: Sugbo.ph | Tops Photo Credit: Cường Lê
10. Taoist Temple
The intricately and beautifully designed Taoist Temple sits on top of Cebu’s Beverly Hills subdivision. Located 300 meters above sea level, expect lots of steep steps and winding paths as you make your way to the top. It may be a heart-pumping journey, but trust me, it’s worth the trail. Once you reach the temple, you’ll be in awe of the beautiful views of the island.
If you want your visit to be extraordinary, join in on a Taoist ritual. Take two blocks of wood into the temple and drop them on the floor in front of the shrine. If both blocks fall face up, then the gods are permitting you to make a wish. However, if not, then the gods don’t believe it’s time for your wish to come true. Before you enter the temple, however, be sure to wash your hands and take off your shoes.
11. Fort San Pedro
After being discovered by the Spanish people on April 7, 1521, the Philippines became a Spanish colony. Now, when you travel to the Philippines, you’ll notice a curious Spanish influence in the country.
All these influences are recognizable in currency, food, architecture, and even their language. And when you visit the Fort of San Pedro, the remnants and the mysterious Spanish element will become much more clear. In addition, what makes this place worthy of a spot in the Top 16 Cebu attractions is that it plays a crucial part in Cebu’s history.
Interestingly, Fort San Pedro was not built to mitigate the conflicts between native Filipinos and the Conquistadors. However, it was built in 1738 under the command of Miguel López de Legazpi to protect against Muslim raiders.
However, during the Philippine Revolution, it was eventually overtaken by Filipino revolutionaries.
When you visit this crumbling fortress, you’ll be thinking, “Oh, if only walls could talk.”
12. Cebu Westown Lagoon
If you want to bask under the tropical sun, Cebu Westown Lagoon is a treat Cebu has for you. You can get a day pass to Cebu Westown Lagoon, which offers everything a holidaymaker needs to kick back and enjoy some rays.
This man-made lagoon features refreshing pools of water, gazebos, water fountains, Jacuzzis, and giant pool slides to help you develop a fantastic tan.
When the sun goes down, make your way to the MO2 Bar where you can enjoy some live music from local bands that really know how to rock. This bar also features KTV so you can get your karaoke on.
13. The Sirao Flower Gardens
The flower paradise of Amsterdam is no doubt the most breath-taking flower garden in the world. With its fascinating rows of various colorful flowers, tourists are in a trance and are spellbound by its beauty. The stunning flowers give everyone an astonishing picture that is very attractive especially to nature lovers.
If you plan for an excursion in Cebu, a so-called “Mini Amsterdam” is not to be missed. The Flower Garden in Sirao also rounded in the list of our Top 16 Cebu attractions.
Sirao Garden, though, is best known for its celosias, which look like bright flames, usually in red and yellow. Its name in Greek actually means “burning.” Long before other flower gardens opened and touted celosias as attractions, Sirao Garden already had these fiery blooms and became famous for them.
14. The Temple of Leah
Temple of Leah, dubbed as “Cebu’s Taj Mahal,” is a grand gesture of love from a husband to his late wife. But unlike the Taj Mahal, which is a mausoleum, the Temple of Leah is a shrine holding the memory and treasures of Leah Albino-Adarna, the late wife of Teodorico Soriano Adarna.
We can see the magnificence of Temple Leah on the hilltop of the luscious forest of Barangay Busay in Cebu City. This Roman architecture-inspired temple is complete with Doric granite columns has a land area of 5,000 square meters. The gate opens to a driveway that leads to the main courtyard, with granite floors and a marble fountain at the center.
Various Grecian statues adorn the corners and different parts of the building. Guarding the temple are two golden lions on both sides of the main stairs that lead to the portico that then leads to the shrine which features a nine-foot bronze statue of Leah.
15. SM and Ayala Malls
Going to the shopping centers in the Philippines is a cultural experience in itself, starting with the food.
Every great shopping mall around these islands has a food court you must try. From classic Filipino dishes to their ever-popular fast-food chains, every bite will be better than the next.
When you a certified shopaholic, maybe SM Malls and Ayala Malls can become your go-to place. These malls offer all shoppers the best shopping experience of a lifetime.
SM Mall is a great place to take your kids to get out of the heat for a couple of hours with lots of activities. There is an ice-skating rink, children’s playground, and arcade where you can rack up tickets to win all sorts of prizes. And if you’re lucky, there will be a live band playing somewhere within the vicinity.
Ayala Malls also offers an array of world-class restaurants and boutiques located just in the City’s heart. When you go shopping, don’t be in such a rush to get out of there just yet! Ayala Center Shopping Mall is surrounded by beautiful green landscapes that make for a nice place to relax. Bring a drink from the food court and just people watch for a while. You’d be surprised what you can learn about a country by just sitting still.
16. Cebu City I.T. Park
If you want to experience everything during your Cebu City trip, Cebu City I.T. Park should be your ultimate destination. This is a 27-hectare business park in Cebu City, the Philippines offers the grandest and easy access to almost everything. If you want to do shopping and food tasting, the newly opened Ayala Central Bloc will sure provide you with everything.
Cebu City I.T. Park is not just the city’s BPO capital, but also the place where you can enjoy dining and drinking. Here, you can find a series of restaurants, pubs, clubs, tea houses, and the very popular Sugbu Mercado night market.
The place also hosts a series of towering condominiums, hotels, top ESL schools in the country, and fitness centers. Just 100 meters away from IT Park lies the world-renowned Waterfront Hotel & Casino Cebu City, a 4-star hotel.
Cebu City: Traveler's choice
The City has a lot more to offer but our Top 16 Cebu attractions have become a traveler’s choice for decades. Regardless of how long or short, your stay is, one thing will remain certain for sure. And that is, you’ll never get bored when you are in Cebu City.
What you have above are just places, but there’s more in Cebu than meets the eye. The food, the people, the festivities, and the celebrations paint more colors to Cebu. And that you should be looking forward to your future visit.
Cebu has its own unique charm that enchants people all over the world. For several decades, millions of tourists visit Cebu, and even if they’ve been here already, they still keep coming back. Cebu is not just a city of beauty, and bounty for Cebu is a city of life. A city where the East meets the West.