Top 10 Things to Do in and Around Cebu, Philippines

(Last Updated On: August 30, 2018)

Cebu City, the second largest city in the Philippines, is rated one of the top tourist destinations in the Philippines. The blissful land is full of touristic attractions and adventurous thrills. There are an endless array of pleasant and unique things to do in Cebu. Whether you are a foodie or a fitness junkie, there is something special that awaits you in Cebu. The grand architecture, the delicious food and amazing historical sites, Cebu can keep you engrossed for days. The commerce hub and trade center of the Philippines is one of the most visited islands of the country. The verdant landscape of the city is full of an abundance of outdoor activities.

Get ready to enjoy the immaculately clean beaches of Cebu, which is one of the most attractive localities in the Philippines. There is plenty to do and see here. All you need to do is to explore the wealth of opportunities here such as having sunset dinners, diving, swimming, snorkeling, fish feeding, dolphin watching and more. One can relax for hours on the powder-like white sands and gaze at the crystal clear ocean waters.

A Guest Post by Ruben Arribas of Gamin Traveler

How to Get to Cebu City from Airport?

Cebu-Mactan International Airport is located on Mactan Island. You can hire a cab or an Uber or GrabTaxi from the airport to the city center. Another option to get to the Cebu City from the airport is ferry ride. From Cebu Airport take a cab to Opon Public Market (market in Lapu City). From Opon Public Market walk to the Muelle Osmeña wharf which is located behind the Virgen dela Regla National Shrine (church). The ferry arrives at Pier 3 in the Cebu City.

Things to do in Cebu

Go for City Tour of Cebu

Cebu boasts of a rich historical past. You can drive through the country’s oldest Colon Street and past the century-old churches. There are plenty of historic monuments and sights in the city which will help you understand the full saga of Cebu’s history and get to know its past. The must-visit are the iconic Magellan Cross, scenic Taoist Temple and Fort San Pedro and Cebu Heritage Monument.

Magellan Cross

Magellan’s Cross is a historical landmark located in the Cebu city center. It is a Christian cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan upon arriving in Cebu. This cross is housed in a chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino. The ceiling of the chapel is painted with a scene depicting the landing of Magellan in Cebu and the planting of the original cross on the shore.

Taoist Temple

Cebu Taoist Temple is a Taoist temple located in Beverly Hills of Cebu City. The temple was built in 1972 by the Chinese community of Cebu City. The temple architecture features multi-tiered towers painted in vibrant colors. The temple premises has a library, a chapel, shop and a wishing well. You can enjoy wonderful views of the city of Cebu from the temple.

Fort San Pedro

Fort San Pedro is a military defense structure, a stone fort dating from early 18th-century. It is the oldest triangular bastion fort in the Philippines with its two sides facing the sea.

Things to do in Cebu - Fort San Pedro on Cebu City Tour

The fort houses a museum where you can learn about the history of the city of Cebu and the Spanish rule in the Philippines.

Cebu Heritage Monument

Cebu Heritage Monument is a tableau of sculptures, historical figures, and events made of bronze, brass, and steel. The monument was completed in 2000 and depicts the scenes from the history of Cebu. If you look closely you will be able to spot Basilica del Santo Nino, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the Saint John the Baptist Church and the Magellan’s Cross.

Sirao Flower Farm

Sirao Flower Farm is the famous flower place that is immensely popular with the tourists. Sirao Flower Farm is located in a mountain barangay and is famous for the colorful array of flowers, in fact, the farm is dubbed as the Mini-Little Amsterdam of Cebu. While Celosia is the main flower found in Sirao Flower Farm, you can also find chrysanthemum, sunflowers, and daisy.

Temple of Leah

Temple of Leah is another recommended stop and it very famous building. Temple of Leah is about 20 minutes drive from the Sirao Flower Farm. The temple is a symbol of the undying love of Teodorico Soriano Adarna for his wife, Leah Villa Albino-Adarna. There is a bronze statue of Leah Albino-Adarna in the temple. The temple features Roman and Greek architectural elements with huge sculptures and columns. The temple houses a library, a museum and an art gallery displaying personal belongings of Leah. The terrace of the temple offers great views of the downtown Cebu.

World Class Diving in Malapascua

Malapascua Island is located on the north coast of Cebu. It was home to the Spaniards, who arrived here in the 16th century. “Mala Pascua” means the “bad Easter” and was so because the Spaniards were unable to reach their homes in time for Easter. So, they celebrated their Easter holidays here in Malapascua. Malapascua Island is a perfect location for diving, and it is a must to come here if you are interested in looking at Thresher sharks.

Things to do in Cebu - World Class Diving in Malapascua

Explore Malapascua on a kayak, or you can paddle around. Enjoy world-class diving and swim with the thresher sharks. If looking for a calm and relaxed holiday, this is the right spot. The beautiful beach destination is a very popular escape for travelers and locals.

To reach Malapascua island take a taxi from the Cebu city to the North Bus Terminal in Cebu, take a bus to Maya port. From Maya Port ride a public boat to Malapascua island.

The Pearl of the Philippines -Kawasan Falls

One of the most popular waterfalls in the Philippines the Kawasan Falls with the breathtaking natural backdrop delights its visitors. About 130 km away from the Cebu city, it is a must to visit the three-layered waterfall system, top Cebu attraction. Those dashing ice-cool waters of this spectacular waterfall indeed make for a refreshing swim. Well famous as the pearl of the Philippines, it is a favorite weekend getaway for the city dwellers.

Things to do in Cebu - The Pearl of the Philippines -Kawasan Falls

There is freshness everywhere, whether it is the lush tropical greenery surrounding the waterfalls or the aquamarine waters. For the one more adventurous, you can take a bamboo raft right under the falls and experience the might of the gushing falls. The outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy canyoneering, trekking, rock climbing and waterfall jumping.

Another short hike for about 10 minutes will get you to the second waterfalls and yet another steep walk uphill for about 15 minutes to the third waterfalls. The second and the third waterfalls are quieter compared to the first one.

To reach Kawasan Falls you have to take the bus from the Cebu South Bus Terminal going to Bato via Barili. The journey will take you about 3 hours. From the point the bus drops you, you will need to walk for about 10 minutes to get to the falls.

An Enjoyable Hike Experience on Osmena Peak

Osmena Peak is one of the highest points in the island of Cebu. The cluster of jagged green hills is located along the shorelines of Badian. It is one of the most recommended mountains for camping. Climbing Osmena Peak is relatively easy and is perfect for beginners.

Things to do in Cebu - An Enjoyable Hike Experience on Osmena Peak

It will take only about half an hour to reach the summit. As it is usually foggy in the morning, the best time to climb is during the afternoon. Moreover, you can enjoy gazing at the glorious sunset. Enjoy a dramatic view of jagged cliffs and the sea in the distance. The hills set amidst the limestone cliffs look like a field of gigantic green and make for an enjoyable hike.

The Delicious Street Food

Cebu is also famous for its affordable street food that is fresh and simply delicious. At every corner, you are sure to come across culinary delights that are just hard to resist. Try the native Cebuano dishes or the Chinese. You will remain spoilt for choices with the eclectic collection of street vendors. You can pick from spicy, sweet or exotic, whatever you fancy on the streets of Cebu. A must try is Humba, sweet pork served with rice or the Kwek Kwek, deep-fried, boiled egg. Other favorite street foods are Tuslob Buwa, Bekasi, Ngohiong and Steamed rice.

Swimming with the Whalesharks in Oslob

Get a surreal and memorable experience in Oslob, Cebu, where you can swim with the whale sharks, also known as Butandings. There is 99% certainty that you will get the opportunity to see the mighty Whale Shark or swim alongside. The Whale sharks can be spotted seen in a small barangay Tan-awan, and the activity is popular all over the world.

Things to do in Cebu - Swimming with the Whalesharks in Oslob

A large number of tourists arrive in Oslob to see the whale sharks being fed or dive with them. It is a breathtaking experience for most travelers who are sure to cherish the moments for years to come.

To reach Oslob you can ride a direct bus from the Cebu South Bus Terminal.

The Idyllic Tropical Paradise – Bantayan Island

Bantayan Island is made of three municipalities of the province of Cebu – Bantayan, Madridejos and Santa Fe. Although there are no chic shopping centers or flashy restaurants here,  Bantayan Island still continues to lure countless foreigners every year. It is because of those highly acclaimed white sand beaches and the warm hospitality of the locals. One can bask in the sun or feel the sand to enjoy the charm of this tropical island.

Things to do in Cebu - The Idyllic Tropical Paradise - Bantayan Island

It is indeed an unforgettable experience filled with genuine excitement as you take in the views of the surrounding islands. Visit St. Peter and Paul Church to appreciate the colonial style architecture or make a trip to the Omagieca Mangrove Garden and enjoy the mangroves.

To reach Santa Fe take a direct bus from Cebu North Bus Terminal. Or the pricey option is to hire a taxi or an Uber, get down at the Hagnaya Port and then take a ferry to Santa Fe.

Beautiful Sunsets in Mactan

Mactan City is well known for its pristine white beaches and glorious sunsets Mactan will definitely not disappoint those who are always fascinated with nature and sunsets. Each sunset and its experience are indeed different. Enjoy other water activities on the island such as diving and snorkeling.

Things to do in Cebu - The Idyllic Tropical Paradise - Bantayan Island

Mactan marine life is teeming with rich biodiversity. There are awesome beaches to relax at and amazing marine sanctuaries and many unknown gems to explore in Island. Taste some of the best seafood here along with your favorite drink and watch the sun go down. You can take a tricycle and bike or walk to explore the residential neighborhoods.

Take a Bohol Day Tour

Discover the charm of Bohol, which is just 2-hour ferry ride from Cebu. Enjoy learning about its history and get to know the culture. Make a trip to the enchanting Chocolate Hills and visit the historical Baclayon Church.

Things to do in Cebu - The Idyllic Tropical Paradise - Bantayan Island

Enjoy lunch as you cruise on a floating restaurant at Loboc River. Drive through the Bilar Man-made Mahogany Forest and stop at the Butterfly Garde. Other well-known spots are Heritage Churches and Blood Compact Marker. You will enjoy the scenic journey around the island as you cross the UNESCO World Heritage sites and go through the mahogany forests and visit the ancient churches.

Snorkeling at Moalboal

Moalboal, a 3-hour bus ride from the main city of Cebu is a small village with beautiful beaches and coastline. The beaches here are popular for snorkeling where you can explore the coral reef and the rich marine life. The Panagsama beach is lined with restaurants, souvenir shops who sell island hopping/tours in Moalboal. Panagsama beach is a haven for snorkeling and diving as you will find beautiful coral reef just 20 m off the shore and you can even swim with the turtles.

Things to do in Cebu - The Idyllic Tropical Paradise - Bantayan Island

You can go island hopping where you will get to explore Pescador island, spot Turtles, and Sardines. Or just go snorkeling at the Pescador Island and explore the amazing marine life from corals, fishes to sardines and Squids. Rent a tricycle to go from Panagsama beach to White Beach, a gorgeous stretch of white sands along the crystal-clear blue waters. You can even go snorkeling here if you feel like, but make sure not to miss the spectacular sunset.

To reach MoalBoal take direct buses from the South Bus Terminal of the Cebu City.

Best Places to Stay in Cebu

Cebu Parklane International

Out of the many accommodation options on the island, one place we chose to stay in is Cebu Parklane International. It is a beautiful hotel with many amenities for guests to enjoy. Cebu Parklane International houses an elegant pool and a modern Aquamarine Fitness Gym which immediately became our favorite spots in the entire place. Though the building is located in Cebu City’s industrial area, the hotel was undisturbed and quiet.

The room we got was spacious and was a great place to relax in after a day of visiting Cebu’s attractions, many of which can be found minutes away from the hotel. There are 240 other rooms that are sure to be relaxing and peaceful as well. The food in Manuel’s restaurant is amazing! The meals are filling enough to start the day’s adventures while it is also the ideal place to eat dinner and talk about all the wonderful sites we have explored.

Check Availability and Rates for Cebu Parklane International

Crown Regency Hotel and Towers

We also had the incredible fortune to stay in the country’s tallest hotel building, the majestic Crown Regency Hotel, and Towers. The 4-star property has 389 beautiful rooms along with amenities that are both unique and very enjoyable. Here, you can find the Sky Experience Adventure where you can take a ride at the Edge Coaster to bask in the view of the city while your heart races with excitement. Another one-of-a-kind, thrilling experience you can try is the Sky Walk Extreme. Crown Regency in Cebu is also home to the first urban zip line in the Philippines.

The hotel also has two full-sized pools and a kiddie pool for families to enjoy. Dining and other entertainment options also abound at the Crown Regency Hotel and Towers. With its spacious rooms, accommodating staff, and perfect location, staying in this hotel is definitely a treat!

Check Availability and Rates for Crown Regency Hotel and Towers

For recommended places to Stay in Malapascua check Slam’s Garden Resort, the resort is located less than a km from the Bounty Beach. The non-smoking rooms come with a private terrace and free wifi. The nearest island attraction is Lighthouse which is about 2.6 km from the resort. Thresher Cove Resort is a dive resort and is located on the shores of the island. The resort features an outdoor pool and a private beach. The resort offers a wide range of rooms from dorms to luxury rooms and villas to suit every kind of travelers. The resort can arrange for activities like snorkeling, fishing, and canoeing

Movenpick beach resort is one of the popular Cebu beach resorts located on the Mactan Island near the Mactan Cebu airport. The resort offers private access to one of the best beaches in Cebu. Most of the rooms come with the unparalleled views of the Mactan Island beaches.

If you are looking for hotels/resorts in Moalboal there are plenty of options around the Panagsama beach which is great for snorkeling and a starting point for taking tours to the Pescador Island and the white beach. Parrot Resort is located about 5 minutes walk from the beach. The rooms are spacious and come with a private veranda with a table and chairs. One of the interesting features of the resort is you can find a lot of colorful parrots here owned by the resort owner. The resort also helps arrange for various activities like canyoning, river rafting and visits to Kawasan Waterfalls. If you are looking for a quieter stay on the white beach then Dolphin House Resort is a great choice. The resort located a few steps off the shores of the white beach features an outdoor swimming pool. The resort also arranges diving and snorkeling activities.

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12 thoughts on “Top 10 Things to Do in and Around Cebu, Philippines

  • July 21, 2018 at 8:35 am
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    I cannot get over that water Rashmi. Whenever I see a Cebu post it just floors me. Fab post here!

    I still cannot figure out why I haven’t made it to the Philippines yet. Last country in SE Asia I have yet to visit, as I have spent time in virtually all other nations, save Brunei.

    Ryan

    Reply
  • July 21, 2018 at 3:07 pm
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    What a comprehensive guide to Cebu. I am Filipino but I have only been to the city. It is such a great idea to go to Cebu and go on a day trip to Bohol!

    Reply
  • July 22, 2018 at 3:40 am
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    Cebu looks like an amazing destination to visit. It looks like it’s a bit off the beaten track but will soon be discovered. The waterfalls look so inviting and I do love the food in the Philippines.

    Reply
  • July 22, 2018 at 10:41 am
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    I visited The Philippines earlier this year however I only had enough time to cover Palawan and I regretted that I couldn’t make it to Cebu. But I was sure that it was unfair and impossible to do both Palawan and Cebu in a span of 10 days. So I decided I will return to the country next year and cover only Cebu next time. Kawasan Falls as well as Malapascua are two places that are already bookmarked for the visit, as are Bohol’s chocolate hills. I can see from your post that there is so much more to do, I’m going to have a lot to see and experience on my 10 days trip. I love Fort San Pedro, so unique and lovely architecture!

    Reply
  • July 22, 2018 at 3:06 pm
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    What truly amazing colours in the water and sunset pictures. I’d love to dive but I suspect the idea of a thresher shark is one that was actually put me off (a lot!!!) rather than encourage me to have go! Snorkling at Moalboal is probably my limit.

    I really want to visit Cebu and the Philippenes – looks quite amazing

    Reply
  • July 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm
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    Cebu is so gorgeous! Would love to swim with whale sharks and see the Chocolate Hills. Kawasan Falls looks amazing and I can’t imagine the power of that water, I’m surprised that raft doesn’t break

    Reply
  • July 23, 2018 at 8:41 am
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    What an amazing photo of the whale below the boat! Stunning!

    Posts about the Philippines have been popping out in my feed lately. Maybe, it’s time to pack my bags and head to the Philippines!

    Reply
  • July 23, 2018 at 6:10 pm
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    Everything about Cebu looks appealing. The water is absolutely pristine — and your photos are gorgeous. But of all of the things you listed to do, it would be swimming with the whale sharks for me — this is a big bucketlist item, something I’ve always wanted to do. And with all of the other things Cebu has to offer, I would love to explore this destination.

    Reply
  • July 24, 2018 at 4:31 am
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    Cebu is high in my list to visit. The scenes around there are gorgeous. The waterfalls and temples will be the ones I will head to first.

    Reply
  • July 24, 2018 at 10:04 pm
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    Would you say that the Philippines has a heavy meat diet? I love trying street food since it’s usually affordable and always tasty but since I’m a pescatarian sometimes my options are limited. Would love to visit Cebu one day and hike to the highest point at Osmena Peak.

    Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 12:27 am
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    This is a very informative and comprehensive guide for Cebu and I so agree for all of these such a beauty. I have been to these places except temple of Leah. One of my best spot is Moalboal maybe because I so love freediving and ski diving that is why. Bantayan is second to it as it’s such a chill island. Kudos for this post it’s making me wanna go back to Cebu again

    Reply
  • July 27, 2018 at 7:00 am
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    Cebu is gorgeous, isn’t it? I’d definitely hit all the spots you wrote about above but stretch it over a month – each place needs a few days to fully enjoy the beauty of this island.

    Reply

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