Cebu Travel Guide and Itinerary

Fort San Pedro, Cebu

The Queen City of the South may be one of the most urbanized areas in the country, but it also offers travelers the chance to explore spectacular beaches and its rich history.

About Cebu City and Metro Cebu   

While Cebu lures tourists with the promise of the perfect beach getaway, at the center of it all is a booming metropolis complete with a highly developed urban landscape.  

At over 5,000km2, the Cebu island province in Central Visayas (Region VII) is where the past and the future merge. Its thriving tourism industry banks on the island’s majestic coves, beautiful beaches, friendly locals and rich history. But its eponymous capital city — known widely as the Queen City of the South — is a regional powerhouse that helps charge the national economy’s growth.  

Cebu” is often shorthand for the Metro Cebu area, which encompasses Cebu City and six surrounding cities (Carcar, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Naga and Talisay) and six municipalities (Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla and San Fernando). Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the country’s second-busiest airport and one of Cebu Pacific’s major hubs, is found in Lapu-Lapu City. 

Visitors head to thriving Cebu City for its vibrant nightlife, shopping malls and gastronomic spots pulsing with energy and activity. More laid-back vacationers, on the other hand, usually look to Mactan’s beaches and dive spots. Many tourists also include island-hopping in the Bohol Strait in their itinerary. 

 

Getting Around Cebu City and Mactan 

The newly upgraded Mactan–Cebu International Airport is located in Mactan Island’s Lapu-Lapu City, which is linked to Cebu City by two land bridges—a third is under construction, and is due to be completed in 2021. 

Expect a lot of congestion on Cebu’s busiest streets, particularly around downtown Cebu City. While there are plans to build a Bus Rapid Transit system, the easiest way to get around is to hail a taxi or hire a car through a ride-hailing service—just be prepared to sit in traffic for a while. 

  

Highlights for the Traveler 

The first (food) order of business for first-timers is to try out the Cebuanos’ famous lechon. Revered for its crispy skin and flavorful meat that comes in classic and spicy variants, lechon is sold in plenty of shops in Cebu — some places even pack it up for you to take on the plane.  

Cebu can also satisfy your craving for history. The island plays a big role in Philippine history, as the first resistance against foreign invaders happened on the shores of Mactan almost 500 years ago. Cebu also opened the door to Christianity, now tightly embraced by Filipinos, and is home to a number of attractions for Catholic pilgrims.  

It’s also home to some of the country’s oldest churches, dating back to the Spanish colonial period. The Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, for example, was established in the 1500s; its current stone structure was erected in the 1700s. Magellan’s Cross, planted by the Portuguese and Spaniards who landed in the Philippines, is housed in a small chapel located near the basilica, although a sign says that the real cross is encased within the one on display. 

Traveling in January? Make sure to plan for the city’s famed Sinulog Festival, celebrated on the third Sunday of the month. This is Cebu’s most popular and grandest festival, drawing Christian pilgrims from around the archipelago and showcasing street dances and colorful processions to honor the island’s sacred Santo Niño, or the child Jesus.  

  

Just Outside Cebu City 

The province’s prime attractions are its serene coasts, and land contoured by mountains. Its incredible biodiversity and lush forests likewise offer a spectacle, especially for travelers who want to take a nature trek. Rent a van or get on a bus to explore the areas outside the capital city. 

Traveling about 90km southwest from the city will take you to Moalboal, a backpackers’ haven that attracts divers and snorkelers with its world-renowned sardine run. About 121km south, the coastal town of Oslob is a hotspot for spotting whale sharks, known locally as butanding or tuki. After Oslob, tourists can also make a day of visiting the Sumilon sandbar or taking part in the many adventure activities around Kawasan Falls.  

And for an even more laid-back getaway, visitors can travel to Bantayan Island, about 150km north of Cebu City but still part of Cebu province, to find a charming fishing village. 

 


Recommendations to be updated.

Recommendations to be updated.

Recommendations to be updated.

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