The City of Cebu is the center for commerce and trade in Visayas, Philippines. It is also considered as one of the most livable cities in the country. I personally love Cebu as a metropolis because it’s not as crowded and polluted as Metro Manila. The cost of living (meals, accommodation, etc.) in the city is also more affordable than in most urbanized cities in the Philippines. And in my personal experience, the Cebuano taxi drivers are generally more trustworthy than their Manila counterparts (of course there are also honest taxi drivers in Manila).
The province of Cebu is known for its beautiful islands, white sand beaches, luxury resorts, scuba dive sites, and historical spots. But before or after you head to the different tourist spots in the province, you’ll most likely stay in Cebu City. To make the most of your time in Cebu, check out the following places to visit and things to do in the Queen City of the South.
1. Fort San Pedro
Visit Fort San Pedro or Fuerza de San Pedro to have a glimpse of Cebu’s rich history. The work on the fort was first started on May 8, 1565 by Spanish and indigenous Cebuanos under the command of Miguel López de Legazpi. Fort San Pedro is located in Plaza Indepedencia in the pier area of Cebu City. With an entrance fee of only P30, you can already tour inside the fort and travel back in time to the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.
2. Basilica del Santo Niño
Just a quick walk from Fort San Pedro, you can already reach the Minor Basilica of the Holy Child, commonly known as Santo Niño Church. Considered as the oldest Roman Catholic church in the country, it was built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu was found in 1565 by Spanish explorers led by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. For Catholic devotees, the church is called the “Mother and Head of all Churches in the Philippines” by the Holy See.
The church was damaged during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Visayas on October 15, 2013. But it is now undergoing repair and renovation to preserve the structure of the church.
3. Magellan’s Cross
Located next to Sto. Niño Church, is the chapel where the Magellan’s Cross is housed. The Cross is a Christian cross planted by Portuguese and Spanish explorers led by Ferdinand Magellan upon arriving in Sugbu (the former name of Cebu) to celebrate the Roman Catholic baptism of Rajah Humabon, his wife Queen Juana, and some of their followers on April 21, 1521.
4. Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral
Still near Fort San Pedro and Sto. Niño Church is another Catholic church that you should not miss to visit while in Cebu City. The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, also called as The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus and St. Vitalis, is the ecclesiastical seat of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu. The cathedral was first constructed in 1689, completed in 1909, and rebuilt in 1950 after it was almost destroyed during World War 2.
5. The Heritage of Cebu Monument
A short walk from Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, you will find the prestigious Heritage of Cebu Monument. Located in the original Plaza Parain in Colon Street, Cebu City, the landmark is a tableau of monumental sculptures showcasing the most important events in the history of Cebu from the time of Rajah Humabon to the recent beatification of Cebuano martyr Pedro Calunsod. The monument is a work of national artist Edgardo Castrillo. It was started in July 1997 and inaugurated on December 8, 2000.
6. Colon Street
Dare to continue walking? From the Heritage of Cebu Monument, continue exploring the city and experience walking along Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines. It was named after Cristobal Colon, popularly known as Christopher Columbus. The street was developed during the Spanish Colonization under Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the Spanish navigator and governor who established the first settlement in the Philippines in 1565.
7. The Taoist Temple
From Colon Street or Cebu downtown you can ride a taxi to visit and behold the beauty of The Taoist Temple. Located in Beverly Hills Subdivision in Cebu City, the Taoist Temple is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city. It was built in 1972 by Cebu’s Chinese community, and is the center of worship for Taoism. The temple is open for worshippers and tourists. You have to take a lot of steps to reach the temple, hence, make sure you still have the energy to go on.
8. Cebu Provincial Capitol Building
If you’re in Cebu City, don’t miss paying a visit to Cebu Provincial Capitol Building. The Capitol building is one of the most beautifully built provincial capitol buildings in the Philippines. Hence, don’t miss to take a picture with it as your souvenir.
9. SM City Cebu
If you’re planning to stay longer in Cebu and if you love malling, you can spend some time to shop, dine and watch movies (experience IMAX) in SM City Cebu. It is the fourth largest shopping malls in the Philippines, next to SM Megamall, SM City North EDSA and SM Mall of Asia.
10. Ayala Center
Ayala Center is also a great place to shop and do your malling time in Cebu City. It is located in Cebu Business Park. This garden and park themed mall with the signature Ayala landscaping can be a perfect place for dining, beverage trip or just hanging out for a great Friday and weekend nights.
11. Cebu IT Park
Cebu IT Park is not only an Information Technology and Communication hub and a home to major global BPO companies but is also a major lifestyle and recreation destination in Cebu City. The park has a great selection of restaurants, cafes, bars, wellness centers and retail stores. Most employees who are in the BPO industry are working in the graveyard shift, thus, the place comes livelier during the night. So if you want to experience Cebu’s nightlife, don’t forget to include the park in your bucket list.
12. Mactan Shrine.
Mactan Shrine is not located within Cebu City but don’t miss the opportunity to visit the 20-meter tall monument of Rajah Lapu-Lapu, the first Filipino hero who was responsible for defeating the Spaniards and killing Spanish Conquistador Ferdinand Magellan during the battle of Mactan in April 27, 1521. Mactan Shrine is located in Punta Engano Section of Lapu Lapu City in Mactan Island.
Don’t forget to buy pasalubong
Cebu offers several delicacies for your pasalubong back home. You can visit any of the branches of Shamrock to buy Cebu’s top native delicacies, such as Otap, dried mangoes and Rosquillos. Cebu also takes pride as the home of the country’s best Lechon makers. Cebu’s Lechon, especially Lechon Belly (the Boneless Lechon) is also one of the specialties you shouldn’t miss to try during your visit in the city.
I have personally visited the sites above and actually took all those pictures. Except for the trip to Mactan Shrine which is outside the city, I’d been to all the places above in one day. I know that there are still many other beautiful tourist attractions and interesting sites to enjoy in Cebu City that I haven’t visited yet. I believe that the Queen City of the South truly deserves a lot of my comebacks. Thus, if you think I’ve missed some great spots in the city, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.