Bucket List: Tourist Spots and Best Activities to do in Iloilo Province, Philippines
I can’t recall how many times I’ve been to Iloilo, but this city keeps enticing me to come back. Thanks to its endless no-frills adventure and inspiring natural beauty, Iloilo is now one of the favorite destinations in the Philippines. I also love how the genuine and soft-spoken Ilonggos assure that all their tourists are safe and that they feel at home.
You’ve probably read dozens of articles on what to see and exciting activities to try in the city of love, but let me share with you my most recommended things to do in Iloilo that you should add to your travel itinerary. Read along!
Visit Jaro Cathedral
No Iloilo trip is ever complete without dropping by the famous Jaro Cathedral. Hailed as Iloilo’s oldest church, Jaro Cathedral’s architecture is very distinct, where the bell tower is located across Jaro Plaza.
It is one of the must-visit places in the city if you’re into architecture and history. As a matter of fact, religious devotees around the Philippines flock here to visit the miraculous 400-year-old image of Mother and Child. But not just that, it is also called the ‘Male Church’ of the Iloilo because male saints stand on the two rows of pillars inside the church.
Jog at Iloilo River Esplanade
If you want to take downtime to unwind or witness the Iloilo sunset, you should visit the Iloilo River Esplanade. It’s a multi-functional place that serves as an eco-park, fitness, and recreational venue perfect for locals and newcomers in the city. The city has put a major effort into rehabilitating the Iloilo River and promoting active lifestyles amongst its locals.
Visit Molo Church
The Molo Church, or Saint Anne’s Parish, is one of Iloilo’s most visited and photographed landmarks. It is also dubbed as the feminist church because the all-women ensemble of saints are represented in 16 statues perched on the pillars. It is said that the church was built in 1831 using white coral rocks and egg whites. Interesting!
Whenever I see batchoy stalls in Manila, it only brings back my fondest memories of Iloilo, which is why the first thing I do every time I visit the city is head over to Ted’s Batchoy, which is just located near the airport. What makes this a standout is that the soup is usually mixed with round noodles, liver, kidneys and heart, chicken stock, beef loin, and shrimp, and garnished with chicharon and toasted garlic for a savory aroma.
Of course, I also visit my ultimate favorite Batchoy place in La Paz Market – Netongs Original La Paz Batchoy.
Visit Camina Balay nga Bato
Suppose you want to immerse and enter the beautiful houses built under Spanish colonial influence. In that case, the Camina Balay nga Bato at Osmeña Street in Villa de Arevalo Iloilo City is the place to be.
Here in this house, you’ll see relics, antique furniture, old photographs, and religious altars. To add more excitement, this ancestral house offers its guests hot chocolate and pancit molo. As a matter of fact, you can also buy some tablea and local artisanal products on the house’s lower floor. If you’re planning to visit this place, you can ride a jeepney and tell them to drop you at Panaderia de Iloilo.
Visit the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA)
With the recently opened Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA), tourists now have more reasons to travel to the city of love. ILOMOCA, housed inside the three stories of the Casa Emperador Building, is the first art institution in the region that exhibits the works of Filipino and foreign modern and contemporary artists. Other than artworks, there is also an exhibit for personal collections, a theater, and an events facility with state-of-the-art audio technology.
Admission at ILOMOCA is Php 100 for regular visitors, Php 80 for senior citizens, and Php 50 for students.
Visit the Museum of Philippine Economic History
Located along Ortiz Street in Iloilo City, the Museum of Philippine Economic History showcases important artifacts, images, documents, and other items that depict the rich economic history of Iloilo and the rest of the Philippines.
Aside from the famous Iloilo batchoy, you also can’t miss their Biscocho! It’s a crunchy bread coated with butter and sugar or garlic. As a Filipino who loves coffee, Biscocho is best eaten with coffee, especially during breakfast or just as a snack for any time of the day.
Besides most bought items like keychains or shirts, Biscocho tops the most popular pasalubong in Iloilo. For more pasalubong options, you may visit the Original Biscocho Haus.
Address: Don Aguedo Del Rosario Bdlg., Lopez Jaena St., Jaro, Iloilo City
Operating hours: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Contact numbers: (033)329-0862 / (033)329-0864
Facebook page: https://facebook.com/OriginalBiscochoHaus/
Visit Garin Farm
Who would have thought that heaven is found in Iloilo? If you traverse the southernmost town of the Province of Iloilo, you’ll visit Garin Farm, where the famous pilgrimage site in San Joaquin is located. The site features a holy installation of huge sculptures, saints, and nothing but white elements to portray the heaven-like feel of the place. One must enter the dark tunnel to reach the all-white end to get to the top. Ensure you bring your cap and sunglasses to protect you from the heat, especially at noon.
PS. More than just a pilgrimage site, this farm is also one of the most Instagrammable places to visit in Iloilo Province, so better include this in your itinerary.
Experience Dinagyang Festival
Celebrate and be in one with the free-spirited Ilonggos when you participate in the world-class Dinagyang Festival, held every fourth Sunday of January. Some of the highlights of this festival include a street dance competition, a cultural competition, and a firework display to cap off the event.
Explore Calle Real
Delve into the historic area of Iloilo and visit JM Basa Street, popularly known as Calle Real. Here you’ll see old buildings that survived World War II, some of which are turned into shopping centers and residences. Don’t forget to bring your cameras as some of the areas here are picture-perfect!
Try Robertos Siopao
Iloilo is not only known for its Biscocho, pansit Molo, and batchoy but is also popular with its Siopao! Try visiting Roberto’s at JM Basa St. Their siopao varieties range from regular, jumbo, king, and queen. Go try the chunky and sweet pork adobo siopao.
Discover the beauty of Gigantes Islands, Carles, Iloilo
I wouldn’t be surprised if you included Gigantes Islands in your itinerary. It’s a paradise like no other, and one should really visit to know why it’s a popular destination in Iloilo. Situated in the northernmost part of Iloilo province, Islas de Gigantes is a must-visit paradise if you love the beach and picturesque view. To get here, you may get a ride via Carles and Estancia.
Visit Miagao Church
Dubbed as an architectural wonder, Miagao Church is also included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It will take about a 30-40-minute drive from the city center if you want to visit here. It’s a beautiful church with ornament carvings and two huge watchtower belfries on each side.
Side trip to Guimaras
If you’re feeling spontaneous, why not take a side trip to Guimaras? All it takes is a 15-minute ferry ride from the city port, and you’re in for an exciting adventure. You can snorkel at Ave Maria Islet, take a photo shoot at Guisi beach and Tatlong Pulo Beach, visit the Baras Cave, or stroll at Alubihod Beach.
Did you know that the sweetest mango in the world can be found in Guimaras? You visit the Guimaras Mango Farm and pick some mangoes for pasalubong, depending on the season. Whether it’s Mango season or not, don’t forget to try Mango Pizza. It may sound weird, but your taste buds will surely crave more.
Exciting adventures await you in Guimaras!
Iloilo Nightlife at Smallville Complex
No Iloilo trip is complete without having to experience its vibrant nightlife. In fact, the city is brimming with bars, coffee shops, restaurants (Ilonggo, Seafood, Filipino, and Western-themed ones), and KTV bars most locals and newcomers drop by to have fun and spend the rest of the evening. It’s a popular entertainment and lifestyle hub you shouldn’t miss!
Bucari Pine Forest and Campsite
Traveling from Jari to Leon should be included in your itinerary if you want to be closer to nature and seek adventure away from the city. The Bucari Pine Forest and Campsite is a perfect venue for guests who want to commune with nature any time of the day. Guests can pitch their tent, bike their way to the campsite, and climb atop to see the breathtaking panoramic view of the Alimodian and Leon mountain ranges.
Shop at the Festive Walk Mall
Before you leave the city, another option would be dropping by at the Festive Walk Mall and shopping ’til you drop! This is a perfect meeting place if your squad wants to go on separate ways and meet afterward. It is also located between Richmonde Hotel Iloilo and McDonald’s IBP.
Visit the Molo Mansion
One of the famous landmarks in Iloilo is the Molo Mansion which is now a popular place for pasalubong. The Kultura stall and souvenir shop are on the ground floor, and a painting exhibition is on the second floor. This glorious mansion is indeed Instagram-worthy! It’s also facing the Molo District Plaza, making it accessible to all tourists.
Iloilo Travel and Tour Packages