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Cebu

Whether you’re in it for a beach trip, sightseeing, or a food crawl, Cebu will never disappoint.

Image: John Merin

While this Central Visayas province does have its signature mainstays—lechon, mangoes, and Insta-worthy beaches included—it still holds plenty of surprises up its sleeves.

We’ve rounded up a list of things to discover in Cebu City, Mactan, and the South of Cebu. Surely, the Queen City of the South will always have you coming back for more!


SEE

Magellan’s Cross

Instagram: @meramtoledo

A popular historical landmark, Magellan's Cross is an important symbol in Cebu. It was planted by Ferdinand Magellan on April 14, 1521 when he baptized the first Christian Filipinos. This included Rajah Humabon, Queen Juana, and about 400 followers. While you're there, don't forget to look up at the iconic ceiling murals that depict this historical event.

The cross is housed in a chapel next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. Made of tindalo wood, it encases the original cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan.


10,000 Roses Café

Instagram: @shih0107

What attracts people to this 2-story café are the expansive fields of 3-feet tall plastic white blooms that surround the entrance. This romantic photo spot is the country’s own version of South Korea’s LED Rose Garden at Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a famous setting in various K-dramas and Korean movies. Drop by at night when all the roses light up!

Entrance fee: P20/head

10,000 Roses Café
Day-as Barangay Road, Cordova, Cebu
Daily, 11AM – 12AM


The View from The Tops Lookout

Instagram: @__hjc_______

Where else can you find views of the sprawling city, crystal clear waters, lush green landscapes, and azure skies? 600m above Cebu City, this popular observation spot gives you the best of all worlds—the old, the new, the natural, and the manmade! Whether it’s a visit in the daytime to have the place to yourself, the late afternoon to catch the sunset, or the evening to see the city lights, The Tops is always a must-see. While you're there, choose from several casual dining and drinking spots to unwind.

Entrance fee: P100/head

Tops Lookout
Cebu Transcentral Highway, Cebu City


EAT

Rico’s Lechon

Instagram: @orbenbalino

You can’t say you’ve gone to the Lechon Capital of the Philippines without making a trip to savor this roasted pig goodness! The signature Spicy Lechon is Rico’s claim to fame made out of native, organic pigs seasoned with garlic, leeks, lemongrass, vinegar, and many other spices. Best eaten without sauce, the perfectly crunchy skin and soft, tasty meat live up to their slogan that it’s "da best gyud" (really the best)!

Mactan Promenade
Unit 3 and 4 Mactan Promenade, Airport Road
Ibo, Lapu-Lapu City
Daily, 10AM – 10PM


La Vie Parisienne

Instagram: @kanas_diary_life

Fancy fare with an even fancier ambiance at an affordable price—perhaps nothing can top that! Indulge in European classics like escargot, cheese platters, tartiflette, gnocchi, make-your-own pasta, and gelato, that are best paired with fine wines. Whether you dine in the romantically dim indoor dining area, the casually breezy al fresco setup, or the fairytale-like lit garden area, the restaurant promises you an enchanting mealtime with the ones you love.

La Vie Parisienne
371 Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City
Mondays to Saturdays, 6PM – 4AM
Sundays, 6PM – 12AM


Casa Verde

Instagram: @sjcf

This American-style local joint offers all sorts of Western specialties, but the must-order is their signature Brianʼs Ribs.

A generous portion of fall-off-the-bone tender rib meat and smothered in a rich, flavorful sauce you wish you’d thought of yourself. Well, that’s what their ribs are like. Balance your meal with a side of veggies and supersoft steamed rice.

Ramos Branch
69 Lim Tian Teng Street, (formerly V. Ranudo)
Ramos, Cebu City
Daily, 10AM - 10PM
(032) 253 6472

IT Park
The Walk, A104
Asiatown IT Park, Cebu City
Sunday - Thursday, 11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Friday - Saturday, 11:00 AM - 1:00 AM
(032) 412 3336

The Terraces
Stall 304, 3rd level, The Terraces
Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu City
Daily, 11:00 AM - 12:00 AM
(032) 233 8885


Tuslob Buwa Eatery

Literally translated as "dipping in froth", Tuslob Buwa is an exotic street food delicacy made out of minced pork liver, innards, and brain that's sautéed with onions, garlic, and other spices.

All you have to do? Dip pieces of puso (rice wrapped in weaved palm leaves) for a tasty finish. Most places only charge for the number of puso consumed. And since one order involves your very own pan, it's best enjoyed with company!

Tuslob Buwa Eatery
566 Dionisio Jakosalem St, Cebu City


Lantaw Floating Restaurant

Instagram: @__dony0

A Cebuano word translating to "look out", Lantaw is a floating restaurant overlooking the horizon of where the city meets the sky. This popular al-fresco dining joint is where you can enjoy local Cebu favorites such as fresh seafood and sinugba (roasts). If you’re lucky enough to get a table in the late afternoon, the sunset is such a beauty to watch!

Lantaw Floating Restaurant
Day-as, Cordova, Cebu
Daily, 11AM – 11PM


Barbecue

No trip to Cebu is ever complete without some street food barbecue—and we mean meat, Cebu chorizo, innards, and seafood! Attracting people from all walks of life, eateries like Larsian and Matias BBQ offer a glimpse of where the locals eat.

Think: going around a market-looking eatery for raw food on sticks, having them grilled at the center of all the stalls, eating them with puso (rice wrapped in coconut leaves), and dipping them in a combination of vinegar, soy sauce, calamansi, and crushed chilies. You can even eat with your hands! Mountain Dew is often the top drink choice for locals to pair with their barbecue favorites.

Larsian sa Fuente
Fuente Osmeña, Cebu City
Mondays to Saturdays, 2PM – 3AM
Sundays, 2PM – 12AM
(Note: Some stalls may be open as early as 10AM)

Don Mariano Cui Branch
Don Mariano Cui Street, Cebu City
Mondays to Saturdays, 2PM – 3AM
Sundays, 2PM – 12AM

Matias BBQ
A.S. Fortuna Street, Mandaue City
Daily, 11AM – 10PM


Abaca Baking Company

Instagram: @claralimtan

This all-day breakfast bakery and café is set to make mornings (or really, any time of the day) better. Let the warm and homey smell of bread welcome you as you enter, and allow its neutral-toned aesthetic with splashes of color relax you. While you might be tempted to sample everything on the menu, we suggest trying their ABC Skillet Breakfast or Croissant Sandwich. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we couldn’t agree more!

Crossroads
Crossroads, Banilad Road, Cebu City
Daily, 7AM – 10PM

Paseo Arcenas
Arcenas Estate R. Arcenas Street, Cebu City
Daily, 7AM - 10PM


Linear Coffee Roasters

Instagram: @linearcoffeeroasters

The third-wave coffee scene in Cebu is thriving. One name that's certainly making waves (and recently a SunStar's 2017 Best of Cebu awardee!): Linear Coffee Roasters. Known for using high-quality beans, this quaint coffee joint is a favorite hangout among the most discerning coffee lovers.

If you're not in a rush, sit down and have a quick chat with the baristas as you enjoy your order. Every sip of their aromatic beans will rouse your senses with a genuine experience of perfectly brewed coffee. Pair it with their cookies and cheesecake specialties for a sweet contrast.

Linear Coffee Roasters
8 C. Rosal St, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu
0917 633 0039
Daily, 7AM - 6PM


The Weekend

Instagram: @thehamburgero

Boasting a wide collection of craft beers, this drinking and dining spot is the first in the province to have a 16-tap draft system: it pours beers from 2 of Cebu’s craft breweries, Turning Wheels and Cebu Brewing Co.. With delicious food, top-notch beers, and a chill ambiance, it calls for even greater company! If you’re not a beer drinker, they have a select assortment of mezcal, whiskey, and gin too.

The Weekend
No. 8 G/F The Greenery, Pope John Paul II Avenue
Cebu City
Daily, 11AM – 11:30PM


Circa 1900

c/o Circa 1900

Circa 1900 was originally a cluster of ancestral residence that was restored recently into a dining, lifestyle, and leisure destination. It's also known for its rich history and culture of Cebu. Fun fact: Did you know that former President Manuel L. Quezon is just one of several dominant figures in Philippine history once visited the house?

c/o Circa 1900

Circa 1900's Casa Uno features international cuisine that pays homage to the Filipino culinary heritage with the use of local ingredients. Casa Dos includes a speak-easy style Cicada Tapas and Bar where casual comfort food, tapas, craft cocktails and other alcoholic drinks are served. The Noshery is where freshly baked bread, pastries, sweet confections, and even a gelato station can be found.

Circa 1900
Sanjercas Ville Ext Rd, Cebu City
Daily, 11AM - 11PM


DO

Explore Mactan's Surrounding Islands by Island Hopping

Image: John Merin

Cruise along Cebu’s cerulean waters as you explore what the various islands around Mactan have to offer. Cool off as you snorkel around Nalusuan Island’s floating restaurant and feast on a hard-earned lunch buffet of local Cebuano cuisine. Bask in Pandanon Island’s smooth sandbar and keep an eye out for pretty seashells along the seashore.

Marvel at underwater wonders as you snorkel through Gilutungan Island’s marine sanctuary—its deep blue waters are homes for colorful reefs and a wide variety of fish. Save yourself from all the transportation hassle, thanks to Cebu Tours’ pick-up and drop-off service!

Cebu Tours
Prices vary according to number of people
Inclusive of: pick-up and drop-off anywhere in Cebu City and Mactan, a boatman and guide, life vests and snorkel sets, lunch, marine sanctuary and island entrance fees, taxes and service charge
Optional add-on: P150/head for Pandanon Island Entrance Fee


Sky Experience Adventure

Instagram: @skyexperienceadventure

For thrill-seekers looking for a dose of adventure in the city, the aptly-named Sky Experience Adventure is perfect for you! Located on the deck of Crown Regency Hotel & Towers, visitors can get to choose from several adrenaline-pumping adventures.

The Edge Coaster is the world’s very first amusement ride that goes around the edge of the building while riders are locked onto a rail seat. Aside from a breathtaking view up-close, riders can pull a level that will tilt their seats up to 55 degrees and see the view below at 130+ meters!

The Skywalk Extreme will give you that natural high by walking around the edge of the building with an overhead safety harness at 126+ meters high above the street.

Zip across two buildings with the Tower Zipline! Did you know that it’s the first zip line in the world to use a fully automatic braking system, so riders can experience a smooth and controlled stop?

The Paramount Vertigo Wall is the world’s first climbing wall placed high atop a 40-story building. It’s designed to make you feel as if you were climbing on a mountain, with the breeze and the view of Cebu around you.

Climb the 30-foot Vertex pole, the highest structure of Sky Extreme and enjoy a 360-degree view of the city!

Entrance Fee: P200 (Student) and P250 (Adult)
Combo 1: P450 (Student) / P550 (Adult) (Entrance + 1 Activity)
Combo 2: P650 (Student) / P750 (Adult) (Entrance + 2 Activities)
Combo 3: P1000 (Entrance + 3 Activities)

Rates are subject to change without prior notice

Sky Experience Adventure
Tower1, Fuente Towers, Osmeña Boulevard, Cebu City


Party at Ibiza Beach Club

Photo courtesy of Mövenpick Resort & Spa Cebu

With the concept of Ibiza in mind, Manny O. and Spanish record and show producer, Francisco Beltran, created the concept of Ibiza Beach Club to amp up Cebu’s travel and tourism. Envisioned to be where great dining and entertainment can co-exist, this hip spot is known for its Balearic-inspired 15-course grill and live performances of Broadway, Pop, Retro, and Latin-themed dance numbers.

Ibiza Beach Club
Punta Engaño Road, Lapu-Lapu City
Mondays to Thursdays, 3PM – 12AM
Fridays to Sundays, 3PM – 2AM
Entrance Fee: P1000/head (consumable)


Go on The Chocolate Journey at Casa de Cacao

Instagram: @carriesim

Owned and run by Chocolate Queen Raquel Choa, Casa de Cacao is ready to give Willy Wonka a run for his money! A café, restaurant, and a museum of all things chocolate, this establishment lets you embark on the journey of how chocolate comes to be—from how it’s made from cacao beans up until the making of tablea truffles.

Sample their chocolate at the Tsokolate Bar and enjoy other drinks and cakes they have for sale. It’s interesting to note that their Argentinian chocolate cake was made for Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines! More than just a sight to behold, this chocolate museum gives you a taste of some of the finer things in life.

Casa de Cacao

3349 Topaz Street, Casals’ Village
Mabolo, Cebu City
Tours are done by appointment
For Inquiries and Reservations:
(0917) 628 7661


Canyoneer in Kawasan Falls

Instagram: @kawasancanyoneering

Nothing screams adventure quite like this one! Trek a rocky terrain, pass through creeks, and swim through streams as you make your way towards the falls. You’re surely in for an adrenaline rush as you jump off cliffs in Kawasan! Afraid of heights? Don’t worry, you can plunge straight into the water for a cool, refreshing swim and even board a bamboo raft for a hydro-massage care of the falls! If you can't seem to find a tour package to suit your style, check out Island Trek Tours' packages that you can have tailor-made just for you.

Island Trek Tours
National Road Cangcua-ay, Tan-awan Oslob
Prices vary according to number of people and customizable tour packages


HIDDEN GEMS

Sirao Flower Garden

Instagram: @mhadzvelasco

Frolic through colorful blooms and a wide variety of flowers in The Little Amsterdam of Cebu. Mainly decorated with red and yellow celosia flowers, the garden also boasts of sunflowers, dahlias, lilies, and petunias, to name a few.

Beautiful in all ways you can imagine, some the flowers are even arranged to spell out Sirao Flower Garden or used to decorate arches. There’s a lookout point you can climb up to see the city and the garden in its entirety, a little bridge that makes for cute photos, and even an area that’s said to be popular for proposals!

Sirao Flower Garden
Busay, Cebu City
Daily, 8AM – 5PM
Entrance Fee: P50/head


Temple of Leah

Instagram: @ayiesguerra

In 2012, Rico Adarna had this Roman-style temple made for his wife, Leah Villa Albino-Adarna. This European structure with a Taj Mahal-like story stands as a symbol of undying love.

Its splendid grandeur with intricate sculptures, opulent flooring, and high ceilings seemingly transport you to another world—if not another lifetime! Aside from the obvious photo spots, the temple also houses a museum, gallery, and library. All of which hold some of Leah’s favorite things. And yes, if it has crossed your mind, Rico and Leah are Ellen Adarna’s grandparents!

Temple of Leah
Cebu Transcentral Highway, Cebu City
Daily, 6AM – 11PM
Entrance Fee: P50/head


Cebu Taoist Temple

Instagram: @danberttums

Built in 1972, The Taoist Temple was built as a center of worship for Taoism, a religion based on Lao Tzu’s teachings. Numerous pagoda-style places of worship colored in red, yellow, and green and decorated with dragons are scattered throughout the area, providing pockets of peace and reflection for worshippers and non-worshippers alike. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness or experience a Taoist ritual where one can make 3 wishes and have them answered by Laozi. Did we mention the Great Wall-like entrance and exit?

Cebu Taoist Temple
Canyon Road, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Lahug
Daily, 9AM – 5PM


Tumalog Falls

Instagram: @jjkierans

To some, it resembles a collection of horseshoes, while to others might see a curtain of water… Whatever you seem to make of it, one thing’s for sure: this waterfall is indeed a sight to behold! A natural attraction in the Cebu’s southwestern part, it is known as a horsetail waterfall, meaning the water still remains in contact with the rock as it falls down.

With loud rushing waters, the cool draft it fills the air with, and the beautiful cascade of clean whiteness, Tumalog Falls makes you feel its magnificence even while you’re still quite far away—more so when you’re up close. Its unique grandeur will definitely up for the steep downward road you have to walk to witness this beauty!

Tumalog Falls
Cebu South Road, Oslob
Mondays to Fridays, Open 24 Hours
Saturdays to Sundays, 8AM – 5PM
Entrance Fee: P20/head


TIPS

  • Thanks to the country’s tropical weather, almost any time is a good time to anywhere, if we’re being honest. But perhaps the best time to go to Cebu would be in January. Apart from the sunny days and cool nights, the highly popular Sinulog Festival happens this time of the year. How’s that for a culture trip?

Instagram: @aldrinfloyd

  • We can’t stress enough how important it is to live like a local. Eat what they eat, drink what they drink, and do what they do. Only then can you truly say you’ve undergone the full Cebuano immersion!
  • Whatever the weather, sunscreen is a preventive measure for many skin woes. Whether the sun’s just peaking from the clouds or shining proudly and mightily, applying sunscreen will never be a bad thing!
  • Never underestimate the traffic. We’ve heard horror stories about Manila traffic, if not experienced them firsthand—Cebuanos would dare argue that their situation is practically one and the same. So when planning your itinerary, always consider the traveling time given the city's traffic.
  • Because of Cebu’s numerous islands, it would be best to do some research prior to visiting the Queen City of the South. The islands are spread throughout the province, so it won’t hurt to make sure that you’re staying in a place near the sights you want to see!


WHAT TO WEAR

The great thing about going to Cebu is not having to think much about what clothes to bring! Pretty much the same weather as Manila, Cebu is where anything goes, as long as you feel cool and comfortable! Of course, other non-Manila clothing will be required, should you choose to do certain activities like island hopping, trekking, and clubbing, among others. Just because casual and comfy is highly recommended, we won’t stop you from going all out on your #OOTDs, as Cebu has plenty of photo-worthy spots!


HOW TO GET THERE

AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines offer daily flights at various times to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. If you’re staying in the city area or are heading to the North, flying into Cebu won’t be a problem! However, if your trip is down South, you might want to consider flying to and from Dumaguete instead.


WHERE TO STAY

Cebu offers a wide range of accommodations that cater to budget-friendly and luxury travelers. If you’re looking for a 5-star stay in the city, then the TripAdvisor’s No. 1 stay in Cebu City Radisson Blu Cebu is yours. For a city stay with a quirky personality, The Henry Hotel Cebu is your answer.

Beach lovers might opt for staying in Mactan, and the area has great options as well! Check out the luxe and family-friendly Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan or the truly Filipino Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort. Looking for its counterpart in the South? Look no further with stays at Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort.

Another option in the South away from the crowds is the private and charming Les Maisons d’Itac.


Check out our exclusive partner resorts in Cebu for stays at their best and member-only rates!

For exclusive deals and stories about local travel, sign up for Deal Grocer!


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