Top Things To See and Do in Cebu, Philippines

Fort San Pedro, Cebu, Phillipines
Fort San Pedro, Cebu, Phillipines | Kit Dale / © Culture Trip
Photo of Ronica Valdeavilla
Writer11 June 2018

Apart from being home to the country’s oldest city and many popular historical landmarks, the island of Cebu continues to attract travellers for its stunning views, unique experiences both on land and at sea, and its native delicacies! Check out these top things to see and do in Cebu, Philippines.

Visit the Basilica Del Santo Niño

Basilica Del Santo Niño, Cebu, Philippines | Kit Dale / © Culture Trip

For every traveller who’s heading to the Queen City of the South, it’s definitely a must to visit the Basilica del Santo Niño and see the revered flemish statuette of the Child Jesus (Santo Niño) to say a prayer or two. The image of the Santo Niño has remarkable value, especially to Catholics, as it was a baptismal gift by Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan to Rajah Humabon and Queen Juana, who were the first locals to be baptised on the island. Most tourists would go beyond visiting the oldest church and prefer to celebrate with locals and experience the Sinulog Festival held on the third Sunday of every year.

See Magellan’s Cross

Magellan's Cross, Cebu, Philippines | Kit Dale / © Culture Trip

While Filipinos consider Ferdinand Magellan as a villain in Philippine history, the Magellan’s Cross is considered as one of the most important historical markers in Cebu City. The famous Magellan’s Cross was established upon Magellan’s order to mark his arrival on the island. This serves as a reminder on the birth of Christianity in the Philippines.

Go to Lapu-Lapu’s Shrine in Mactan

Lapu-Lapu Shrine in Cebu | © walterericsy / Shutterstock

Lapu-Lapu, known among locals as the first hero in the country, is the chieftain who’s said to have led the tribe in defeating Magellan and his troops. The chieftain strongly opposed Magellan and resisted the religion being introduced to them, which led to a battle between the two groups. Located in Mactan Shrine Park in Punta Engaño, Mactan Island of Cebu, the statue stands to honour Lapu-Lapu and remember how he defeated Magellan – the first successful resistance to Spanish colonisation.

See the Temple of Leah and the Taoist Temple

Taoist Temple | © Curioso / Shutterstock

If you’re into appreciating artistry and architecture, the Temple of Leah and Taoist Temple will leave you in awe. 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. His husband, Teodorico Soriano Adarna, put up this grand temple (reportedly worth 80 million Philippine pesos) as a symbol of his undying love to his late wife. Meanwhile, the Taoist Temple has also become another must-visit attraction in Cebu because of its peculiar structure and artistic appeal. Visiting both temples will give you a stunning view of the city from the top.

Head over to Simala Church

Simala Church | © Kris Cavada/Shutterstock

Also known as Cebu’s Castle Church, Simala has been attracting thousands of devotees from different places primarily for the miracles that happened within the area. Built by Marian Monks in 1998, it was formerly a small farm where the monks lived, built houses, and planted vegetables. But after an endemic hit the community, the monks prayed for an intercession through the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since then, devotees have continued to visit Simala to pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary and have recorded the stories about the miracles they witnessed in their lives – which were documented and stored in cabinets near the shrine’s exit. Apart from that, the Church has also become popular to tourists because of its castle-like structure that reminds one of picturesque architecture in Europe.

Go food tripping in Cebu

A serving of chopped parts of the delicacy lechon | © Crystal Eye Studio/Shutterstock

Apart from visiting top tourist attractions, they say that the best ways to immerse yourself in a new place are to talk to locals and taste their best dishes. Any first-time tourist should definitely try the hanging rice called Puso, which is steamed rice wrapped in banana leaves and is found in almost all food stalls in the city. Of course, the world-famous Cebu Lechon (roasted pig), dried mangoes, and dried fish called danggit are must-tries for anyone visiting Cebu!

Shop at SM Seaside City Cebu

View at SM Seaside City Cebu | © Z. Jacobs/Shutterstock

Shopping has become a favourite pastime among Filipino locals. Apart from the malls found within the country’s capital region, Cebu prides itself for having the third largest shopping mall in the Philippines – SM Seaside City Cebu. This 30-hectare property, which was opened to the public in November 2015, has a circular-shaped retail mall, a rooftop sky park, and a 21-metre by 21-metre centrepiece called the ‘Cube.’ And, with over 400 food and retail shops housing both local and global brands, it’s hard for visitors to resist shopping.

Catch the sunset at Tops Lookout

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

Can’t get enough of the overlooking and stunning views of the city from the Taoist Temple or the Temple of Leah? Head over to Tops Lookout and get a fantastic view of Cebu’s panoramic skyline. This relaxing spot is located 600 metres above Cebu City and is the perfect place for you to get one great view of prominent attractions and structures such as the Mactan Bridge and neighbouring islands. Best visited at sunset, the view from the peak is definitely worth the motorcycle ride to the top.

Check out the 10000 Roses Café & More

You might have heard of the popular café known as the 10000 Roses Café & More after it went viral on Facebook. This Korean café is home to 10,000 artificial LED-powered roses that definitely are gorgeous to look at during dusk until night. Located in Day-as, Cordova, Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu, travellers are heading over to see the field of roses, feel the romantic ambience, and take photos of the roses that dance with the sea breeze. Additionally, the café itself also has a viewing deck for guests to enjoy the view of the ‘planted’ roses and get an amazing view of the island and the sea.

Experience a thrilling sky adventure

Looking for a one-of-a-kind experience that’s worth remembering during your trip to Cebu? Check out the amusement complex of Crown Regency Hotel called Sky Experience Adventure where you can get a Skywalk experience and take a ride on their Edge Coaster. In about 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll experience walking around the glass floor panels and get a view of the city right beneath your feet. As for the hotel’s Edge Coaster (known as the world’s first ever type of ride), you get to navigate around the building at an angle you can control.

See the whale sharks of Oslob

Whale Sharks, Oslob, Philippines | Kit Dale / © Culture Trip

Get up close with the gentle giants known as whale sharks (locally called as ‘tuki’) in Oslob, Cebu. It has become part of a traveller’s bucket list to swim with the whale sharks despite controversies, with some believing there’s a negative impact on the animals. Make sure you arrive early in Oslob’s Barangay Tan-awan because whale-watching begins at 11 AM.