20 things to do in Cebu City and surroundings
Cebu island is one of the most visited islands of the Philippines and I was wondering why, as many people said they did not like it. So I spent 2 days over there and visited as many things as possible to give you some ideas.
20 things to do in Cebu City and surroundings:
1. shopping mall SM Cebu – the second biggest shopping mall in the Philippines after the Mall of Asia in Manila. You have to eat in the food court here. It is the experience by itself. You can get fresh buko juice (the way to call coconut juice in the Philippines) in a bottle here, cut fruits and fresh bread.
*Disclaimer: I am not into shopping at all but all my Filipino friends recommended me to visit the shopping mall to see what locals do there. I put it on the first place on this list as to me it’s the least important thing to do in Cebu.
2. Chinese cemetery Queen City Gardens – situated on the road going to SM.
3. graffiti wall around Queen City – check out some very nice graffiti out there.
4. Minglanilla public market – a couple of kilometres from Cebu City, it is a traditional local market where all goods are being sold, from fresh seafood, fish, to meat, vegetables and fruit. The locals buy their food as it is much cheaper than department stores or shopping malls. I bet you will be the only white person over there. But everyone will smile at you, say hi and be extremely nice to you. That’s how the Filipinos are to foreigners.
5. Fort San Pedro – its construction began on 8th May 1565. First made of wood, then of stone. Was built to defend the locals against the Spanish expedition who wanted to colonize the area. 11 days after the fort began to be built, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived here and founded the first Spanish settlement in Cebu. The fort is triangular in shape so consists of three bastions – La Concepcion, San Ignacio de Loyola and San Miguel.
The fort used to be the place of military garrison Warwick Barracks, then a park, Cebu Garden Club, Cebu Zoo, government offices and now it has been converted to a National shrine. There is a little shrine to pray and a well Pozo de la Virgen.
6. Plaza Independencia – a square next to the Fort San Pedro. It is a famous dating site, couples and lovers meet up there usually. It is actually one of the most historically significant places in Cebu. In the center of the plaza there is the obelisk dedicated to Legazpi, the first Spanish Governor – General of the Philipines.
The square was renamed a couple of times, from military Plaza de Armas, to Plaza Mayor, Plaza Maria Cristina during the Spanish reign, then Plaza Libertad during the American colonization and finally Plaza Independencia. It was in 2006 when the SRP tunnel was constructed here and prehispanic human bones were found in here .
7. Malacañang of the South – the white big building. Built due to the request of the ex-president Gloria Arroyo. One of the reasons why in Cebu is because she won the landslide vote in Cebu, so she wanted to thank the Cebu people somehow. But there is supposed to be just one of these buildings in the capital Manila – the main office of the president.
8. Magellan’s cross – a shrine at the place where Ferdinand Magellan put the cross and brought the Christianity to Cebu.
9. Santo Niño church – supposed to be the oldest church in the Philippines. People lit the candles there and say the prayers.
10. Cathedral and its museum with religious artifacts – one of the oldest churches in Cebu and obviously one of the most important ones, too. Big events and wedding of politicians and businessmen and just wealthy people take place there. It is a place for the rich, while the Santo Niño church is for the masses, the poorer ones and is overcrowded.
11. Heritage of Cebu – locally called Parian.
12. University of San Carlos and its museum – entrance fee 30 Php, old the collections of the University, e.g. artificial teeth mutilation, preserved animals, religious artifacts, etc.
13. Colon street – the oldest and the shortest street in the Philippines named after Christopher Columbus. There have been a lot of changes at Colon street throughout its history.
14. Lapulapu shrine – this was the place where Lapulapu killed Magellan during the battle between the Spaniards and Muslims. The statue of Lapulapu commemorates the battle in here. He was the chief of his tribe and Magellan was the Captain of the first Spanish expedition to reach the Philippines in 1521. There are plenty of souvenir shops next to the shrine where you can get for example guitars. Cebuanos (Cebu people) are famous guitar makers.
15. Mactan bridge – the Lapulapu city and Mandaue city are connected by it
16. IT park – place with a lot of call centers and restaurants. E.g. Mexican restaurant Moon cafe, then Casa Verde or cafe East west for famous Mango crepe. To get great ice cream, head off to La Marea and ask for ”brownie a la mode”.
17. Larsian BBQ station food – a popular place for bloggers to hang out, together with the locals.
18. Kawasan waterfalls – the famous waterfalls in Cebu, for family and friends outings, they hang out there. It is a famous tourist spot, too. And actually we did meet some tourists there. Oh, yeah. Kawasan falls have three levels – three different waterfalls.
The first one of them is where the most of the people stay, swim and eat. If you feel like going further, you can walk a bit up to the second level of the waterfalls where you will find less tourists and two restaurants.
You actually have to pay to sit in one of the cottages there, it is 300 Php. Even if you want to order some food, you still have to pay which I did not find very pleasant and fair. Pay just to sit somewhere? Not nice! But being travel bloggers and wanting to promote this place, we did not have to pay as we had our lunch in there.
The third level is where the water comes from and distributes to the second and first level. It is another couple of minutes trekking up along the river. The water is bubbling here so let’s have a bubble bath here 🙂 They sell buko juice (young coconut juice) in here to enjoy the place better.
19. Badian beach at the bus stop for the waterfalls. It is not one of the nicest beaches ever, but you will be there alone for sure. So relax and enjoy your own company!
20. Moalboal town where you take a tricycle to the beach Basdaku White beach (in Cebuano – bas means sand, daku means big)
If you are visiting the Philippines, also check out 25 top things to do there. Don’t forget to visit Bohol and plan for your trip reading 11 things to do in Bohol. And if you are into paradise beaches, Boracay is touristy but still stunning! It’s not that budget friendly but you would definitely enjoy Boracay by all means.
PS: After Mexico and Costa Rica, Philippines became my 3rd favorite country in the world which says it all, right? 😉