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

How To Spend 48 Hours in Cebu, Philippines

Picture of Ronica Valdeavilla
Updated: 22 April 2018
Cebu, the Queen City of the South, is famously known for being a top tourist attraction in the Philippines. This highly urbanized area in Central Visayas is best known for historical landmarks, the Sinulog Festival, and of course, their white-sand beaches. Here’s a quick guide if you only have 48 hours to visit Cebu in the Philippines.

Day One

Morning – See the historical landmarks of Cebu City

Facade of Magellan’s Cross
Facade of Magellan’s Cross | © walterericsy / Shutterstock

Jump start your first day in Cebu by taking a tour of the city’s historical sites and landmarks. Visit the Basilica del Santo Niño and see the revered flemish statuette of the Child Jesus (Santo Niño) — which was a baptismal gift by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon and Queen Juana. Walking distance from the colonial church, you’ll find the famous Magellan’s Cross, which marks Magellan’s arrival in the country and symbolizes the birth of Christianity in the Philippines. Within the area, you can take a five-minute walk toward Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral Museum and another 10-minute walk to Fort San Pedro — a military defense structure during the Spanish colonial period. By early lunch time, you can grab a quick inexpensive meal at La Fortuna.

Afternoon – Be fascinated by temples and flower gardens

Taoist Temple
Taoist Temple | © Curioso / Shutterstock

After lunch, hail a cab and ask the driver to take you to Cebu’s Taoist Temple. Built in 1972 originally, not for tourism purposes, it caught the attention of travelers because of its peculiar and artistic appeal. Later, head over to the Temple of Leah — dubbed as Cebu’s version of the Taj Mahal. This Greek-inspired architectural shrine is home to treasures and memories of the late Leah Albino-Adarna whose husband reportedly spent 80 million Philippine pesos to put up this temple. By late afternoon, it would be the perfect time to explore Sirao Flower Farm. This so-called ‘Mini-Amsterdam’ lures in tourists for its variety of flowers like hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips.

Pro tip: Take a habal-habal (motorcycle for hire) to avoid traffic and save money on transportation.

Evening – Catch a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline

Night view from Tops Lookout
Night view from Tops Lookout | © shankar s./Flickr

Before you head back to Cebu’s busy main streets, ask your driver to drop you off at Tops Lookout. Can’t get enough of the overlooking and stunning views of the city from the Taoist Temple or the Temple of Leah? Tops Lookout has a fantastic view of Cebu’s panoramic skyline because it’s located 600 metres above the city. Best visited before sunset or at dusk, the view from the peak is definitely worth the motorcycle ride to the top. On your way back, have a stop over at La Vie Parisienne that would remind you of a restaurant somewhere in downtown Paris. You’ll definitely enjoy their freshly baked pastries and romantic setting at night.

Pro tip: Bring a jacket because temperature gets cooler starting late afternoon.

Night — Discover Cebu’s barbecue alley

Hanging rice called ‘puso’ and barbecue