Heading to Cebu anytime soon? Its friendly locals have A LOT to say about what you should do during your visit, so we took the liberty of asking them for some recommendations for you to experience the best of the best in the Queen City of the South and its surrounding areas. Here’s what they told us:
Take A Stroll Down Colon Street
Colon street is a beloved historical street in downtown Cebu City that was once the heart and soul of the bustling city center. Today, it still is very much lively like its storied past, as it’s lined by various businesses, offices, and entertainment hubs.
Pig Out On Lechon
A food trip is an absolute must when in Cebu, and it wouldn’t be complete without the quintessential Cebu Lechon. Devour this sinful and succulent dish that’s hailed by the late great chef and gourmand Anthony Bourdain as “The Best Pig Ever.” Ask any local and they’ll tell you that the best place to have your Cebu Lechon fix is at Rico’s Lechon, where you can also enjoy a spicy version of the prized specialty.
Cebu may be one big island province, but what makes so interesting is how it’s surrounded by numerous islands that are far smaller in size but nevertheless worth-exploring. If you have time to spare on your visit, squeeze in an island-hopping tour that will take you to little pockets of paradise you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world.
Join In The Fun During Sinulog Festival
This religious festival in honor of the Santo Niño doubles as an all-out street party enjoyed by the young and young at heart. The word “sinulog” is derived from the Cebuano term “sulog,” which describes the water current. This movement is depicted in the festival’s dances, characterized by forward and backward steps of those participating. Sinulog festival takes place on the third Sunday of January, but events related to the festival are held all month long.
Breathe A Prayer At Basílica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu
A popular pilgrimage site, the Basílica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu is a historic minor basilica, where you’ll find the original image of the Child Jesus that was gifted to Hara Humamay (Doña Juana) by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan after her baptism. She and her husband Rajah Humabon (Don Carlos) are the first locals to be baptized on the island, marking the early beginnings of Christianity in the Philippines. In 1965, Basílica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu was declared as “the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines” by Pope Paul VI on his visit to the area. This minor basilica also features a library, a museum, and a pilgrim center to accommodate the growing number of devotees each year.
Go On A Heritage Tour
Cebu is awash with sites that have been preserved and maintained through the years, as a reflection of the island’s history. When DIY-ing your heritage tour, don’t forget to stop by the famous Magellan’s Cross near the Basilica del Santo Niño. Widely recognized as one of Cebu’s most iconic markers, it was planted by Portuguese and Spanish explorers upon their arrival, as ordered by Magellan.
Frolic Under The Sun On Sumilon Island and Swim With The Whale Sharks
The unspoiled shores of Sumilon Island make for the perfect beach spot, where you can get a good dose of vitamin sea. It flaunts blinding white sand surrounded by clear and cool blue waters. If you’re in the mood for some adventure, hop on a boat to visit and swim with the friendly whale sharks.
Take In Magnificent Vistas Of Cebu From Tops Lookout
Locally known as “The Tops,” this lookout spot carved on a mountain peak will treat you to a breathtaking panoramic view of Cebu City. During the day, you’ll be able to see the lush mountains embracing the metropolis, and at night, the glow of the lights will leave you dazzled. Cap off your day with a mouthwatering feast of local flavors at The Tops, as you enjoy the fresh breeze and the vistas.
Be Awe-Struck By Simala Shrine
With its prominent steeples, cascading staircase, and other unique architectural features, this beguiling shrine on a hill in Sibonga resembles a castle at first glance. No wonder it’s fondly called the “Castle Church.” But beyond its fairytale-like appearance, Simala Shrine is actually believed to be a miraculous site that draws in people of all ages who wish to pray for various desperate cases.
Tickle your daredevil bone by trying river canyoneering in Badian. The highlight of this excursion is the Kawasan Falls, with mesmerizing turquoise blue waters that are enough to invite you in for a dip. But before you can reach it, you will have to walk, trek, climb, jump, and even swim! Sounds exciting? It is, for sure!