Cebu is the largest of the Visayas Islands, with more than 2 million travellers a year discovering this exciting island. The island’s hub Cebu City is home to some of the best shopping, eating, and drinking in the country. History buffs will love it here too, as there are several reminders of the Spanish colonisation – including Fort San Pedro and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Church.
But it’s not just all about Cebu City. It’s a great base to explore the island and make sure to visit the white sand beaches and turquoise waters which are dotted around. As well as those, there are awesome dive sites where you can spot hammerhead, thresher, and whale sharks!
With everything that’s on offer in Cebu, it can be hard deciding what to do. That’s where we come in. Our team of expert travel writers have compiled a list of the best things to do in and around Cebu. Hopefully, it’ll help you put together your Cebu itinerary before you arrive, leaving you to just go with the flow and enjoy your vacation! Not only that, but we’ve picked out three of the best places to stay too.
So, let’s take a closer look at ten of the best things to do in Cebu!
Best Places to Stay in Cebu
Before we show you the best places to visit, you’ll need to know where to stay in Cebu. Here are three places that we’re sure you’ll love. We’ve picked three very different properties according to budget, personality, and travel style. So, let’s take a closer look!
Best Hostel in Cebu – Mad Monkey Cebu City
If you’re familiar with the name Mad Monkey, you’ll know they have some of the craziest hostels in South East Asia! And their property in Cebu is no different. This awesome Cebu party hostel has an infinity pool and sundeck for the day time, and a lively bar with DJs each night. Dance the night away, or have a game of pool/beer pong!View on HostelWorld
Best Budget Hotel in Cebu – Palazzo Pensionne
Okay, we know not everyone wants a crazy party hostel. But you can keep your costs low by checking out budget hotels in Cebu, like Palazzo Pensione. Rooms come with air-conditioning, a TV, and a telephone and you’ve got your very own bathroom. So, it’s great if you want privacy and comfort on a shoestring budget!View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Cebu – Montebello Villa Hotel
Travel costs in the Philippines are inexpensive, so if you’re willing to splash the cash you can get a top hotel in Cebu! The Montebello Villa Hotel has four stars, meaning you’ll be treated like a superstar! Enjoy one of two swimming pools, a gym, and breakfast included with some of the room rates. A real gem on the Cebu hotel scene!View on Booking.com
These are the BEST Places to Visit in Cebu!
#1 – Fort San Pedro
One of Cebu’s coolest historical sites
- A remnant of the Philippines’ Spanish colonial past
- Oldest and smallest fort in the Philippines
- Learn about the fortress’s history in the small museum
- Check out the peaceful walled garden
Why it’s awesome: A nod to the colonial past of the Philippines, Fort San Pedro dates back to 1565 and the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. He founded the oldest Spanish settlement in the country! The first incarnation of this fascinating fortress was built out of logs, but it became the current structure in the 18th century. It’s the oldest and smallest fortress in the Philippines! If you want to visit the fort, just head to Plaza Independencia. It has one side facing the square and the other two looking out to sea!
What to do there: Fort San Pedro is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Cebu, and it’s one of the best places on the island for history buffs. Inside, you’ll find a small museum which tells you all everything that’s happened with the fort since the Spanish colonisation. In that time, the fort has been an army garrison, a prison camp, and even the city zoo! You may not expect it, but it’s also a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Cebu City. The walled garden is extremely peaceful!
#2 – Moalboal
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Cebu
- See mighty schools of sardines
- Admire a whale shark from up close
- Some of the world’s cheapest scuba diving
- Lots of tour operators in Cebu City
Why it’s awesome: Around 90km from Cebu City, Moalboal is one of the highlights on the island. It’s a small town which is popular with travellers. As well as having some cool seaside bars and restaurants, there are some pristine white beaches here. However, what most people come for is the scuba diving. After all, Moalboal is one of the top diving destinations in the world! From here, you might even get up close and personal with the world’s largest fish – the gentle giant that is the whale shark. Of course, Moalboal isn’t the only awesome spot for diving near Cebu. Another of the best is Malapascua, which is off the north tip of Cebu island.
What to do there: When you travel to Moalboal, you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do. If you want to enjoy lying back on a white sand beach and topping up your tan, check out Basdaku Beach. There’s Panagsama too! The only problem is you might not have a lot of space to yourself. Fancy being a little more adventurous? As we said, this is one of the best places to dive in the world – and it’s cheap too! So, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t take advantage of that while you can! For a beach break, Moalboal is right up there with the best places in Cebu!
#3 – Colon Street
A great place in Cebu if you love to shop
- Lined with shops and places to eat
- Historical street in Downtown Cebu
- Chat to the vendors and taste some street food!
- Oldest and shortest national road in the Philippines
Why it’s awesome: Although it might seem a little run-down and unattractive at first, there’s more to Colon street than meets the eye. Scratch at that rough-looking exterior and you’ll see that there are lots of places to eat and drink at this historical street. Looking for places to eat in Cebu? Head to one of the local vendors for some delicious street food. It’s not just about food though, you can pick up some awesome souvenirs here too! If you love to shop, there are a couple more must-see destinations in Cebu. We recommend the SM Mall and the Ayala Centre Shopping Mall!
What to do there: Colon Street is one of the hotspots in Cebu City. It’s the shortest and oldest national road in the Philippines, so you won’t have to spend all day here to get a flavour for it. But we’d definitely recommend staying here for enough time to sample some of the local cuisine and maybe pick something up in the shops which sell everything from jewellery, to clothes, to backpacks! Although Colon Street is a Cebu must-do, we’d suggest coming here during the day as it can be a bit sketchy at night!
#4 – Tops Lookout
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Cebu
- Get a panoramic view of the Cebu City skyline
- Awesome observation deck
- Grab a well-earned beer at the bar
- Come up at night for a truly spectacular view
Why it’s awesome: Many people would call this the ‘top’ attraction in Cebu, and it’s hard to disagree! It’s not all about the destination when it comes to Tops Lookout, but the journey as well. If you choose to walk up here, you’ll see gorgeous greenery and waterways, as well as getting an awesome view of the city. The panoramic views you get from this observation deck are incredible, so make sure to take your camera up with you!
What to do there: You can make at least a half-day of adventure by visiting Tops Lookout. If you’re feeling really brave and adventurous, it’s a 2.5-hour hike from the city to the summit. If you want to do this, we’d suggest doing it in the morning or the evening though – as it can be particularly draining in the midday sun! When you get up to the observation deck, you’ve definitely earned a drink. So head to the bar and get your choice of cold drink (alcoholic or otherwise), sit back, and appreciate the view!
#5 – Sky Experience Adventure
Easily one of the most fun places to check out in Cebu
- Rooftop theme park!
- Ride a rollercoaster on the 38th floor
- Take one of the most extreme ziplines in Asia
- Probably the best attractions in Cebu for thrillseekers
Why it’s awesome: This awesome Cebu landmark should come with a warning. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone with a fear of heights! Well, some parts of it aren’t at least. Sky Experience Adventure is a theme park on the roof of one of the city’s skyscrapers. As well as more sedate options (if you can call them that) like the observation deck and mini-golf, you can indulge in climbing walls, ziplines, and the edge coaster – which will tip you to 55 degrees… if you’ve got the stomach for it!
What to do there: What to do at the Sky Experience Adventure depends completely on how brave you are. The Edge Coaster is the only rollercoaster of it’s kind in the walls, while the climbing wall will make you feel like you’re really on a mountain as you’re battered by the wind! If all of this sounds a little too scary, there’s a 6D Movie Theatre which the kids are sure to love, the sky lounge where you can just relax, or even the underwater minigolf experience!
#6 – Kawasan Falls
A very cool place in Cebu to go for a day
- Hike through the jungle to the waterfalls
- Go canyoning off the beaten track
- Around 3-4 hours from Cebu City
- Tours offered from several spots on the island
Why it’s awesome: If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Cebu City, then a day trip is a great way to do so. And one of the most popular is Kawasan Falls – a 3 – 4-hour journey. If you’re staying on another part of the island, such as Moalboal, it’s much closer. You might even recognise these beautiful falls from your favourite influencers, as they’re one of the most popular hotspots in Cebu on Instagram! The waterfalls are super-popular, so try and get here as soon as possible to really appreciate their beauty.
If you wanted to go a more off-the-beaten-path set of falls, then Dau Falls might be worth your while.
What to do there: If you arrive at Kawasan Falls early enough, you can swim in the cool crystal clear water. Later in the day, it gets extremely busy so although you can go in the water, you might find yourself dodging other tourists a lot of the time! There are paths around the waterfall, and a restaurant at the first (and most famous) They charge for you to sit down though, so only take a table if you’re going to actually eat something! More adventurous travellers can enjoy canyoning their way to the falls – an invigorating and exciting way to do it!
#7 – Mactan Island
Certainly one of the most exotic places to visit in Cebu
- Lots of diving and snorkelling off shore
- Some of the top beaches in Cebu
- Less crowded than Cebu
- Have a go at watersports!
Why it’s awesome: If you’re arriving into Cebu by plane, the airport is on Mactan Island. And if you’ve got the time, it pays to stop here before heading over to the ‘mainland’. On this pretty island, you’ll find lots of beaches that rival those on Cebu but without the crowds. Not only that, there are cheaper tours as there is less demand! We almost forgot to mention – snorkelling, scuba, and free-diving are second to none here too! But Mactan isn’t all about the beach – Have a walk through Lapu Lapu too for a city experience on a laidback scale!
What to do there: What to do on Mactan Island completely depends on your preferences. But since there are protected marine sanctuaries and coral reefs, we’d definitely push you in the direction of scuba diving and free diving (if you’re feeling brave enough). There are lots of diving schools on the island which can help you if you’re a beginner! If you’d prefer to get the adrenaline flowing above water, there are several water sports on offer such as banana boat rides, parasailing, and jet-skiing. After all the excitement, you’ll have to find a paradise beach to chill out. Shouldn’t be hard here!
Quick Note – Staying Safe in Cebu
You’ll be pleased to know that Cebu is safe for tourists in general. Crime against foreigners is very rare, and it’s often no more serious than petty crime – which can happen anywhere. Think pickpocketing, low-level scams etc. To protect yourself, exercise common sense where possible. Avoid poorly lit areas after dark and keep your valuables close at all time. In Cebu City, be cautious around Colon Street and the wharves after dark! On the whole, Cebu is safe to travel and many tourists don’t have any problems during their vacations.
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#8 – Cebu Heritage Monument
Possibly one of the most important places to visit in Cebu
- See the city of Cebu’s history in one monument
- Representation’s of the city’s most important religious artefacts
- Built of concrete, glass, and steel
- One of the most recognisable landmarks in Cebu
Why it’s awesome: Cebu is a city with lots of history. And while you may not have time to visit every historic site there is, you can roll it all into one with a visit to the Heritage Monument. This incredible collection of statues documents the past from the conversion to Catholicism in the 16th century, the revolution against Spanish rule, and the battle between Lapu Lapu and Magellan to name a few! It also has some of the city’s most important religious monuments carved into it!
What to do there: Cebu Heritage moment shows you how to see Cebu if you’re short on time. Instead of visiting the Basilica Santo Niño, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Magellan Cross, just look out for them in this stunning monument! You can also see the St. John the Baptist Church, which the monument stands on the original site of. You’ll find this cool Cebu attraction in Plaza Parian. Around here there are lots of restaurants where you can go for a bite to eat after!
#9 – Mountain View Nature Park
Awesome place to visit in Cebu with kids
- Water playground with slides for the kids
- Jungle gym surrounded by lush greenery
- Incredible views of the surrounding hills
- You can camp here!
Why it’s awesome: If you’re travelling with kids, you won’t find a better Cebu vacation idea than Mountain View Nature Park. Hidden away just a stone’s throw from Tops Lookout, there’s fun for all the family on offer. Whether you want to cool off in swimming pools, get climbing on the jungle gym, or take panoramic photos of Cebu from above, this is the place for you!
What to do there: Mountain View Adventure Park has all the features to make it a top day trip from Cebu. Like Tops Lookout, you can hike here, but it’s probably better to take a taxi or drive (if you have your own transport), so that everyone’s not too tired to make use of the pool and playgrounds. When it comes to eating, you’re spoiled for choice as there’s a cafe and a restaurant. You can even stay overnight either camping or in the hotel up there!
#10 – Basilica Del Santo Niño
One of the most important religious places to see in Cebu
- The oldest Catholic church in the Philippines
- Incredible example of Colonial architecture
- Many locals still worship here
- Check out the museum and library
Why it’s awesome: It may not be the biggest church in Cebu – that would be the Metropolitan Cathedral. However, the Basilica del Santo Niño is an important historical and religious site in Cebu. That’s because it’s the oldest Catholic church in the Philippines! It’s definitely worth visiting if you love architecture, and there are still regular mass services here for locals.
What to do there: Visiting the church is well worth putting on your Cebu itinerary. As well as visiting for mass and ceremonies, it’s worth it to see the church’s gorgeous interior. There are beautiful archways, stained-glass windows, and paintings which are guaranteed to make your jaw drop. While you’re there, take some time to stop and peruse the library and the museum too!
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Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Visit in Cebu
So, that concludes our list of the best things to do in Cebu. We hope you’ve found it helpful! Cebu is full of wonder, natural beauty, and the city is pretty exciting too. It’s a great place to get an introduction to life in the Philippines. And remember our list of places to stay in Cebu back at the top of the list – hopefully one of them will suit you!
Whether you want to get the adrenaline flowing at a rooftop theme park, get up close and personal with the world’s biggest fish, or simply just relax on a paradise beach, you certainly won’t be bored when you travel to Cebu!
Now that our expert travel writers have helped with your trip to Cebu, our work here is done. Before we go, we’d like to wish you a safe and fun trip to the Philippines. We hope you have a great time!
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