Unless you’re a diehard traveler, you’ve probably never heard of Cebu. This island is located just off the Philippines and is an important economic center. And it also draws in around 2 million tourists a year, so there really is no excuse for not knowing about it! It’s densely populated and offers a vast range of activities from diving to amazing beaches and beautiful mountains and canyons that you can explore.
It also offers the oldest city and the first capital of the Philippines, so you can enjoy a little history while you’re there. Basically, if you’re looking for an exciting trip that leaves you with memories and images that none of your friends have, then this is the place to visit.
Cebu can be overwhelming, even before you get there. It’s busy and crowded and there isn’t a lot of information online about the best places to stay in Cebu, but don’t let that put you off going. With this Cebu neighborhood guide, you can find accommodation that’s close to the best things to see and do. And then you can make memories and have experiences that few destinations will be able to match.
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Cebu
- Where to stay in Cebu first time – Mactan Island
- Where to stay in Cebu on a budget – Malapascua
- Best neighborhood in Cebu for families – Cebu City
- Best area to stay in Cebu for nightlife – Mango Square
- The Coolest place to stay in Cebu – Moalboal
Where to Stay in Cebu
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Cebu.
Best Hostel in Cebu: Mad Monkey Hostel
This hostel in Cebu has everything. It offers an upbeat and friendly vibe very close to all the best tourist attractions in the city. There are dorm rooms and private rooms available to suit all types of travelers as well as personal lockers to ensure that all your belongings stay safe and sound while you’re having fun.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Cebu: Stay in the Heart of the City
This cozy apartment is located in one of Cebu’s best neighborhoods if you want to be close to everything. It’s close to local attractions, restaurants, and transport and offers a private entrance and enough space for up to 4 guests with a fully equipped bathroom and spacious living areas.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Cebu: Quest Hotel Cebu
This hotel in Cebu has a huge range of facilities, from a swimming pool to fitness center, free Wi-Fi and on site parking. The rooms have city views and include private bathrooms and there’s a restaurant in the hotel for those nights when you just don’t feel like going out again.View on Booking.com
Cebu Neighborhood Guide
When you’re looking for the best places in Cebu to stay, you might find yourself a little confused. Cebu is in the Central Visayas region, and is a long island surrounded by 167 additional, smaller islands. There are lots of great Cebu accommodation options on the main island. But if you’re looking for something a little quieter and more exclusive, then try booking your accommodation on one of the nearby islands instead.
The first area to consider for your trip is Mactan Island. This is an ideal spot when you’re deciding where to stay in Cebu for one night or for a longer stay because it offers the perfect mix of beach living with easy access to the crowded city.
The second area to think about is Malapascua, this quiet and laidback area is popular among backpackers for its cheap Cebu accommodation options and relaxing vibe.
And after that, you should think about Cebu City, particularly if you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for kids. This area gives you the best access to all the activities, islands, and boat trips you could ever want to entertain even the most restless traveler.
If you like to enjoy the nightlife when you travel, then you can’t go past Mango Square. It’s a crowded, busy place, but packed with nightlife options to suit any active traveler.
And the final area to consider is Moalboal, one of the coolest places to stay in Cebu for its relaxed, almost hippie vibe as well as the easy availability of accommodation, food, and activities at every price point.
Cebu’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
No matter what you want to do on your holiday, here are some of the coolest places to stay in Cebu.
#1 Mactan Island – Where to Stay in Cebu First Time
If you want the perfect beach experience, then you should stay on Mactan Island, the best choice when you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for your first time. Mactan island not only offers amazing white-sand beaches and water activities, it’s also connected to Cebu City. There are two bridges from the island into the city, so you can always duck in there for some shopping and nightlife before returning to your island oasis.
Mactan Island does get fairly crowded as it attracts tourists from all over the globe. But it’s worth braving the crowds. It offers amazing resorts, incredible diving, lots of cultural activities, and a unique island holiday feel that will have you coming back for more. It’s the best area in Cebu to stay in if you want to be close to everything this part of the world has to offer.
Things to See and Do in Mactan Island
– Wander the streets looking for street food stands and other places to eat.
– Take island tours to explore other areas like the Olango Group of Islands.
– Have a drink and take in the views from the Scape Skydeck.
– Go scuba diving off the island to take in the gorgeous array of marine life.
– Head out to explore the beautiful Nalusuan Island Marine Sanctuary.
– Enjoy the atmosphere and a great meal at the Lantaw Native Restaurant.
– Try some of the water sports like jet skiing, snorkeling, or parasailing.
– Make sure you see the Mango Square statue, a monument of a native hero who fought the Spanish in 1521.
– Explore the history of the area at the Magellan shrine.
Best Hostel in Mactan Island: Murals Mactan
If you want to kick back and relax, then this hostel is right for you. It’s located in the best neighborhood to stay in Cebu and offers clean, comfortable spaces close to shopping and attractions on Mactan. There’s a roof deck café bar and friendly staff who are happy to help you have the best time possible.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Mactan Island: Luxury 2 BR Condo
If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for families and want a little luxury, this is the best choice. This fully equipped condo offers beach access, a hot tub, 4 pools, and stunning sea views. It’s brand new, contains all the latest technology, and is big enough for up to 5 guests.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Mactan Island: Amaris Bed and Breakfast
This B&B is located in one of the best areas to stay in Cebu if you want to be in the middle of all the action. It offers 11 fully equipped rooms with fridges, cable TV, and showers and guests are treated to breakfast each morning. The B&B has a terrace where you can enjoy the outdoors and it’s within walking distance of local attractions and shops.View on Booking.com
#2 Malapascua – Where to Stay in Cebu on a Budget
If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu on a budget, then Malapascua is perfect. It’s a small island a little off the main tourist route, where mostly locals and backpackers spend their time. And because it’s so quiet and isolated, it offers amazingly beautiful and pristine white sand beaches as well as a relaxed environment that’s ideal if you want to relax and recharge.
But that doesn’t mean that you’ll get bored if you spend time in Malapascua. It offers some amazing activities from world-class diving to amazing hiking. And although the island benefits a lot from tourism, the locals also rely on fishing and farming, which means you’ll be treated to a really authentic vibe and some amazing, fresh food. Basically, this island is one of the best areas to stay in Cebu if you want a quieter beach experience with all that entails.
Things to See and Do in Malapascua
– Walk around the island, it will only take you around 3 hours!
– Relax on one of the white sand beaches like the popular Bounty Beach or the quieter Langob Beach.
– Go diving with manta rays and thresher sharks.
– Go hiking and exploring in the lush green center of the island.
– Do plenty of snorkeling to see the beautiful marine life.
– Find a local bar near the water and watch the sun go down, it’s magical!
– Take day trips to nearby islands like Kalanggaman Island.
Best Hostel in Malapascua: Neverland Malapascua
This hostel is located in one of the best areas to stay in Cebu. It’s a friendly hostel with a real family feel, including family pets and rescue kittens running around. The hostel is also close to the beach, as well as some hidden beaches on the island, and offers double or dorm rooms that would suit any traveler.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Malapascua: Hangout at Malapascua
Whether you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for one night or for a longer visit, this house is a dream. It’s in the center of the island and a few minutes walk from local beaches as well as shops and restaurants. The property is gated for perfect privacy and offers all the essentials you’ll need during your stay.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Malapascua: Thresher Cove Dive Resort
This recently refurbished hotel must be part of any good Cebu neighborhood guide. It offers a range of services from babysitting to airport transfers and dry cleaning. And it’s the perfect place to relax and take in all the natural beauty of the island too with a sun deck and in house restaurant, private beach, and an outdoor pool.View on Booking.com
#3 Cebu City – Best Neighborhood in Cebu for Families
If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for families, then Cebu City is probably your best choice. This is the largest and oldest city in the Philippines, and to be honest it isn’t that aesthetically appealing. Instead it’s busy and crowded and packed to the brim with things to do and see. That’s why it will appeal even to the smallest and youngest traveler. You’ll find lots of cultural attractions and a great dining scene in the city, so there literally is something for everyone.
Cebu City is also ideal when you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for nightlife. It’s packed with bars and restaurants and there’s an undeniably young and energetic vibe to the whole city. This city is becoming more and more prosperous as time goes on, which makes it feel ever safer and means that shopping is great if you don’t mind a bit of haggling in some cases!
Things to See and Do in Cebu City
– Learn about the city’s stories and history at the Cebu Heritage Monument.
– Check out the local markets and try the local food on Colon Street.
– Explore the ancient and often surprising Jesuit House.
– Take the kids to the Cebu Mall for ice skating, shopping, movies, an arcade, and a children’s playground.
– Experience the city’s religious history at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
– Keep the kids entertained at the Mountain View Nature Park.
– See the Basilica del Santo Nino, the oldest Catholic church in the Philippines.
– Try some extreme supports like the roller coaster at the Crown Regency Hotel.
– Enjoy 360 views of the city at the Tops Lookout.
Best Hostel in Cebu City: Ola! Hostel
If you’re looking for a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and comfort at a reasonable price, this hostel in Cebu might have what you’re looking for. There are private and dorm rooms available with comfortable, clean furnishings. There’s also a bar and restaurant on site by the swimming pool so you can socialize and have a swim at the same time!View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Cebu City: Private Room in Apartment
If you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu on a budget, this is a great choice. It’s close to local shops and to attractions like the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral as well as to lots of places where you can grab a cheap but delicious meal. There’s enough room for up to 6 guests and you get your own private bedroom and shared bathroom.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Cebu City: Red Planet Cebu
If you’re looking for comfort and convenience in the city, then this hotel in Cebu has everything. It’s close to local attractions as well as shopping and eating areas and offers clean, comfortable rooms with air conditioning and private bathrooms. There’s also a restaurant on site for an easy meal at the end of a long day.View on Booking.com
#4 Mango Square – Best Area to Stay in Cebu for Nightlife
If you want to have lively nights, then Mango Square is the best neighborhood to stay in Cebu. Located in Cebu City, this is a lively neighborhood that comes to brilliant life at night, and is filled with bars, pubs, and restaurants as well as a variety of other places that open after dark. It’s also central to everything in Cebu City, so you won’t miss out on the day activities either.
When you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for nightlife, this is the best choice. No matter what kind of nightlife option you’re looking for, you’ll find it in this neighborhood, from raucous dance clubs to quietly elegant bars where you can sip a drink in relative peace and quiet.
Things to See and Do in Mango Square
– Go dancing at clubs like J. AVE Superclub, Club Icon, or Club Hype.
– Try specialized brews at the Distillery.
– Grab a booth at one of the many local KTVs for karaoke.
– Order some Irish pub grub to soak up a pint at Marshall’s Irish Pub.
– Take in the best local and international music at OQtagon by J. AVE.
– Try the craft cocktails at Moral and Malice.
– Drink some top shelf wine and listen to jazz at Jazz ‘n Bluz.
Best Hostel in Mango Square: Cebu HQ Hostel
Located in the best neighborhood in Cebu to stay, this hostel is close to everything, from great shopping to the nightlife on in Mango Square. The inside is quirky and welcoming, with lots of shared spaces including a pool table and café. And the dorm rooms are clean and comfortable.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Mango Square: Hazel’s Place
This apartment is one of the best places in Cebu to stay if you want to be close to everything. It’s bright, light, brand new, and close to local shops and bars. It offers a fully equipped kitchen, enough space for 2 people, and a swimming pool and kids’ playground you can use on site.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Mango Square: St Mark Hotel Cebu City
Whether you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu with kids or with friends, this hotel is a great choice. The rooms come in a variety of sizes and are fully equipped with amenities like mini bars, seating areas, and fridges. And the hotel offers extras like valet parking and a coffee bar.View on Booking.com
#5 Moalboal – The Coolest Place to Stay in Cebu
Moalboal is the best area in Cebu to stay in if you want to be in a small, sleepy town that most tourists ignore. It’s on the South West side of Cebu Island and is a popular holiday destination for the locals. Moalboal is divided into two main areas, Panagsama and White Beach (Basdako), each of them with their own charms and attractions.
Panagsama is one of the best places to stay in Cebu because it’s filled with restaurants, bars, dive schools, and resorts. It’s a busier area where you’ll find lots to do as well as stunning beaches. And then you have White Beach, which has a reputation for seclusion and romance. It’s often thought of in connection with honeymoons, so keep that in mind before you stay there!
Things to See and Do in Moalboal
– Swim and relax at beaches like White Beach or Lambug Beach.
– Head to Pescador Island, which has staggeringly beautiful beaches and is one of the best diving spots in the region.
– Head over to Basdiot Panagsame for amazing diving and marine life.
– If you have a strong stomach, go cliff diving at Kawasan Waterfall.
– Go snorkeling off the beach to explore the island’s reef life.
– Head over to the Orchid Gallery for flowers and local wildlife.
– Try some local dishes at restaurants like Ven’z Kitchen, Lantaw Restaurant, or Tik N Turtles.
Best Hostel in Moalboal: Moalboal Backpacker Lodge
Located in one of Cebu’s best neighborhoods, this hostel offers clean, comfortable surroundings close to the beach. There are private and family rooms with balconies available as well as dorms and a great sun deck where you can enjoy the great outdoors.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Moalboal: Homestay California 2
This lovely apartment is located in the best neighborhood in Cebu to stay in if you want a relaxing time with lovely views. It’s a stunning beachfront property that’s perfect for a couple or small family and offers complete privacy and beautiful views from different rooms. There’s also a private kitchen and bathroom on site that you can use.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Moalboal: The Blue Orchid Resort
Whether you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for your first time or on a return trip, this hotel is a luxurious choice. It offers 4-star accommodations and a relaxing feel as well as extra amenities like babysitting services, and outdoor pool, and a diving center. The rooms are comfortable and offer all the necessary amenities.View on Booking.com
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Cebu
Whether you’re trying to decide where to stay in Cebu for your first time, or on a return trip, this exciting island offers a vast array of accommodation options to suit every budget. And that’s ideal, because Cebu’s charms shouldn’t be ignored or missed out on, even by the most money-poor traveler. So, the next time you’re looking for somewhere interesting and exotic to stay, head over to Cebu before the crowds get there.
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