7 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Cebu City

Jul 22, 2021

Cebu is the second largest city in the Philippines and the capital of the Cebu province. It is well known for being the central point for ferry services to and from Bohol, Leyte, and beyond. The city is also home to several famous churches, museums, historical and cultural attractions. Cebu is also known for its delicious cuisine, nightlife, bars, and nightclubs. It's a great city for tourists, especially since most of the attractions can be reached within a short walk. For a perfect day out, head to the Mactan Island and spend a day in the rich cultural and historical city of Cebu. To learn about the best places to visit, read our list of the top attractions in Cebu City, Philippines.

Magellan's Cross

Photo of Magellan's Cross Pavilion
Magellan's Cross Pavilion: en.wikipedia.org

Magellan's Cross (Gumagat ng Lipunan) is a modern statue in honor of Ferdinand Magellan, who founded Cebu on July 24, 1565. Magellan also became the first European to reach the Philippines. Magellan died of a fever on one of his return trips to Spain in 1521 and he died at Cebu after sailing the Philippines and circumnavigating the globe. The statue stands next to the Cebu Hotel.

Cebu Provincial Capitol

Photo of Cebu City
Cebu City: en.wikipedia.org

The first Cebu Provincial Capitol building, or Puerta dela Torre, is a historic structure located on Cebu City's west side. It was finished in 1845 and is the tallest building in the country. Designed by Mexican architect Don Diego López de Arana, the building has one of the most beautiful set of richly carved interior columns in the country. Another attraction is the Calatrava Church located nearby. Also within a half mile radius are several more remarkable buildings, including the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and the Casa Vallejo de Araneta. Both have various small museums housed in their courtyards.

Mactan Island

Photo of Mactan
Mactan: en.wikipedia.org

Mactan, or Romblon, is the largest of the Mactan Islands. It's actually a collection of eight islands, most of which are densely covered with trees, in the south of the Cebu Archipelago and is where the Zamboanga Strait meets the Pacific Ocean. Mactan was once a stronghold for Muslims but is now a popular vacation spot. Mactan is an island paradise; what makes it unique are its pristine beaches and its pristine trees, right on the edge of Mactan Bay. There is a lot to do here including snorkeling at Pangalangan Reef, or at the free, volunteer-run Island Adventures, or scuba diving at the Dream Aquatics Dive Center.

Fort San Pedro

Photo of Fort San Pedro
Fort San Pedro: en.wikipedia.org

The layout of Cebu City shows its Spanish roots, with a grid pattern and large boulevards running between town center buildings. It's a compact city that takes no time to get around. At the heart of the city is Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, which is the main place of worship for the city's huge Chinese population. There are plenty of places to eat and drink in the vicinity of the basilica, as well as what's said to be the city's largest supermarket.

San Pedro Cathedral

Photo of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu: en.wikipedia.org

The San Pedro Cathedral is one of the most important religious centers in the archipelago and one of the most revered Catholic shrines in the Philippines. The building dates back to 1740 and is the centerpiece of the famous Spanish Colonial and Modernista architecture of the city. Highlights of a visit include the imposing main structure and its dramatic interiors; the twelve crypt chapels; the richly ornamented ceiling inside the main structure; and the engravings by Francisco de Arrós y Argote depicting the history of the island on the marble frieze on the north facade.

Pilar

Photo of Pilar, Cebu
Pilar, Cebu: en.wikipedia.org

At over 4,000 meters above sea level, the town of Pilar on the Philippines' central island of Cebu has gorgeous mountain views and the awesome Kopremansvuorlan ice cave. On the slopes above Pilar, an ice cave forms by the freezing of a natural water gap in the mountain, forming a glacial lake whose ice is formed as it descends into the valley. Pilar has numerous nearby waterfalls, including the 100-meter-high Kuya Falls. Popular activities in and around Pilar include rafting and kayaking on the Ayala River, climbing and hiking in nearby Mount Banahaw and Mount Pico de Loro. Cebu is the Philippines' second-largest city and is a popular destination for domestic and international tourists.

Mandaue City

Photo of Mandaue
Mandaue: en.wikipedia.org

Situated in the central Philippines, Cebu City is the capital of Cebu province, a fast-growing island metropolis, the gateway to Cebu and home to about 4.2 million people. The island of Mandaue, 17 kilometers south of Cebu City, has a population of 2.5 million people. Cebu is a fabulous island, a place of great natural beauty and an unending treasure of historical monuments, landscapes, and festivals. The legacy of this fascinating island is everywhere in the form of old Spanish and religious shrines, grand churches and colonial buildings.