How To Spend 24 Hours in Cebu, Philippines

Cebu City
Cebu City | © P199 / Wikimedia Commons
Cebu, the Queen City of the South, can accommodate all types of travelers – the beach bum, foodie, history lover, or adventure junkie. Being the oldest city in the Philippines, it’s also beaming with historic, religious, and cultural sites. With only 24 hours to spend in Cebu, here’s how you can see it.


Visit the Basilica del Santo Niño and Magellan’s Cross

First on the itinerary is to visit the Basilica del Santo Niño which is home to the revered flemish statuette of the Child Jesus (Santo Niño). Every third Sunday of January, millions of devotees and revelers head to Cebu to experience the grand celebration in honor of the Child Jesus – the Sinulog. Right across it is a museum which houses various antique objects and century-old furniture. Meanwhile, within walking distance, you’ll find Magellan’s Cross which holds a very significant part in Cebu’s history. Planted by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, it marked the arrival of Christianity in the country.

Facade of Magellan's Cross © walterericsy / Shutterstock

Wander around Fort San Pedro

Continue learning more about Cebu’s rich history as you head over to Fort San Pedro, which is only a few blocks away from Magellan’s Cross. Similar to Manila’s Fort Santiago, Fort San Pedro is a triangular-shaped bastion fort which is a military defense structure built by the Spaniards during the 17th century. Here, you can go for a stroll while discovering the legacies of the Spanish government and well-preserved Spanish artifacts. About 14 cannons can still be found there today.

Fort San Pedro © shankar s. / Flickr

See Casa Gorordo Museum and Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House

Before taking your lunch, hop onto a taxi to see Casa Gordo and the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House. Only 10 minutes away from your previous destination, Casa Gorordo Museum is a former private home owned by one of Cebu’s leading families – the Gorordos. Within the museum, you’ll find Mactan coral stone, antique furniture, and pure Philippine hardwood. Next to it is the Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House, which is one of the oldest houses in the country, built in the 16th century. It’s also said to be the oldest Chinese home outside of China.

Casa Gorordo © Jill Silva / Flickr


Visit the Temple of Leah and the Taoist Temple

After a late lunch, take time to travel and be fascinated by two famous temples in Cebu – the Temple of Leah and the Taoist Temple. If you’re into appreciating artistry and architecture, these two temples will leave you in awe because they give visitors a fascinating view of the city from the top. Dubbed Cebu’s version of the Taj Mahal, the Temple of Leah is a Greek-inspired architectural shrine dedicated by Teodorico Soriano Adarna to his late wife as a symbol of his undying love. Meanwhile, the Taoist Temple has been luring tourists because of its peculiar structure and artistic appeal.

Taoist Temple © Curioso / Shutterstock

Explore Sirao flower farm

Continue your journey by asking your cab driver to take you to Sirao flower farm. By late afternoon, it would be the perfect time to explore this so-called ‘Mini-Amsterdam’ as it attracts tourists for its colorful flowers in the spacious field. You’ll find a variety of flowers such as the sunflower, chrysanthemum, daisy, and aster but you’ll be curious about the celosias – the main flower grown in Sirao farm. These flowers form a scenic background that’s definitely worth posting on your Instagram profiles!

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Evening and night

Catch a breathtaking view of Cebu’s skyline at Tops Lookout

Before heading back to the city, ask your driver to drop you off at Tops Lookout and take a motorcycle if you can handle a thrilling ride to the top. It’s surely worth the ride though, as you’ll get a good, full view of Cebu’s panoramic skyline. This relaxing spot is located 600 meters above Cebu City and is the perfect place for you to get a great view of prominent attractions and structures such as the Mactan Bridge and neighbouring islands. At night it gets quite chilly at the stone-walled park at the top so make sure to bring a jacket with you. Night photographers are in for a treat as they capture the city lights from this must-see destination!

Bird's eye view of Cebu City from the Tops Lookout © Jixin YU / Shutterstock

Experience nightlife like the locals

Start by discovering the Cebuanos’ famous barbecue alley called Larsian. Here you’ll find a long strip of barbecue stands and lots of people gathering to satisfy their cravings for grilled food – barbeque, grilled fish, squid, and more. You’ll also have the chance to taste their famous puso which is steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves. After your barbecue food trip, find yourself in one of the karaoke bars and clubs within the city. Chill out to some really good music or try singing at the top of your lungs at Mango Avenue.

Native lechon manok and puso © George Parrilla / Flickr


Join guided tours

For convenience and easier ways to reach more destinations, join guided tours organized by local travel agencies and guides. You’ll also be able to get first-hand stories and tips from Cebu’s locals by joining such tours. Plus, you’ll also save time and reduce expenses – no need to hop from one cab to another.

Take a habal-habal ride

To get a pulse-accelerating yet unique experience, try the habal-habal (motorcycle) ride because it’s the cheapest and quickest means to get to your destination. Just make sure to talk to your driver if you don’t want them to go too fast.