Best Things to Do and See in Metro Cebu
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(Cebu City, Philippines) – Metro Cebu is the second most visited metropolis in the Philippines and before you head to the various beach and adventure spots in Cebu, make sure to explore the equally interesting tourist attractions within the Metro.
The island of Mactan can be found just a few kilometers from the island of Cebu in the Philippines. It is connected to Cebu by two bridges the Marcelo Fernan Bridge and the Mactan Bridge. Mactan is also home to Mactan-Cebu International airport as well as the only aquarium attraction in the Visayas, the Mactan Island Aquarium.
There are many things to do on Mactan Island, Lapu Lapu City, and Cebu City. Here I will give you a small selection of the more popular tourist attractions in this bustling metropolis.
Visit Centuries-old churches
Your visit in Metro Cebu will never be complete without visiting its historic churches. Built in 1565, the Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño is one of the oldest Catholic Church in the Philippines. When Pope Paul VI made the church a basilica in 1965, he declared it to be “the symbol of the birth and growth of Christianity in the Philippines.
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, with the original and complete title of the Metropolitan Cathedral and Parish of Saint Vitalis and of the Guardian Angels, is the ecclesiastical seat of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cebu.
Located in Colon, the Philippines oldest and shortest national road. This obelisk was built in memory of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the first Spanish governor-general of the Philippines. The historic marker is planted in the middle of an intersection near Parian district.
Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House
A well maintained Museum located in Parian District just a few steps north of the Cebu Heritage monument. Built in the 1600’s by Chinese merchants, it is recognized as the oldest existing residential structures in the Philippines and one of the oldest Chinese house outside China. Read: Yap-Sandiego Ancestral house in Cebu City
This house was built in the 19th century by Alejandro Reynes Y Rosales and was bought by Juan Isidro de Gorordo in 1863. The house has been restored and turned into a Museum. The house showcases the elegant lifestyle at the turn of the century.
Experience Sinulog Festival
Every third Sunday of January, Visit Cebu and experience Sinulog Festival. This festival is characterized by a very long parade showcasing street dance in colorful costumes.
Fort San Pedro
Fuerte de San Pedro is a former Spanish military defense structure in Cebu, built by the Spanish government under the command of Miguel López de Legazpi, first governor of the Captaincy General of the Philippines.
If you are looking to take a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Cebu City, check out the Taoist Temple. Here you will find 81 steps representing the 81 chapters of the Taoism scriptures. Take your time up the steps; it can be quite strenuous especially when it’s humid.
Try out Cebu Delicacies
After visiting the Magellan’s Cross and the Basílica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu, you can also shop around the vicinity for “pasalubong”. You can also find local street foods, fresh fruits and Cebu Delicacies in the area.
Mactan Guitar Factories
The majority of guitar manufacturers in Cebu are located in Lapu Lapu City. Visiting any one of these, you will be able to see how guitars are actually made as well as purchase directly from the factory. Read: Alegre Guitars: Makers of Cebu’s World-Class Guitars
Lapu Lapu Monument in Mactan
The Lapu-Lapu shrine is a 20 metres (66 ft) bronze statue in Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines, erected in honor of Lapu-Lapu, a native leader who defeated Spanish soldiers led by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the 1521 Battle of Mactan.
Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod
Located at the SM Seaside Complex in Cebu, San Pedro Calungsod chapel was built in memory of the great Roman Catholic Filipino saint – Pedro Calungsod. Read: San Pedro Calungsod Chapel
The Cross has been preserved in an outer layer of tinado wood and mounted on a concrete pedestal that is housed in a tile-roofed hut. This is the very cross that Magellan had when he traveled from Spain to the Philippines in 1521. The cross can be viewed in Sugbu, now Cebu and symbolizes the colonization of the Philippines on behalf of King Philip II of Spain.
Cebu Provincial Capitol
The Cebu Provincial Capitol is the seat of the provincial government of Cebu. Juan M. Arellano, an architect, designed the popular local office. Arellano was also the architect behind popular works like the Legislative Building (now known as the National Museum) and the Manila Metropolitan Theater.
Museo de Parian – Jesuit House of 1730
Museo de Parian also known as Jesuit House Museum is one of the oldest houses in the Philippines. The fact that the Jesuit house was transformed several times over many centuries was evident after discovering a coin buried in the house, which was supposedly used during the age of the Ming dynasty. Read more: Museo de Parian – Jesuit House of 1730 in Cebu
Taboan Public Market
Taboan is a public market in Cebu where you can buy affordable dried mangoes, fresh fruits, Chorizo de Cebu, Otap and dried seafood like dried squid and danggit. This is a perfect one-stop-shop for pasalubong. Make this place as last stop of your tour unless you want to roam around the city with strong dried fish smell.
Tops Lookout in Busay
Located about 2,000 feet about sea level you will find Tops. This is a popular sightseeing spot and offers stunning views of Cebu, the islands of Mactan as well as Bohol and Olango. There are picnic areas available here for daytime picnics or evening parties. Make sure your vehicle is in good order though as the climb up here can be very steep.
Temple of Leah
Built in 2012, this elaborate Roman-style temple is dedicated to Leah Villa Albino-Adarna by his loving husband. Other than taking photos for your Instagram feed, there’s nothing much to do in this place since the museum is still closed as of this writing. Read: Temple of Leah in Cebu
Located in Busay, it’s a huge garden with a lot of flowering plants. A highly instagrammable spot but its quite far from the city. It’s also near Temple of Leah and the Tops Lookout.
Eat Lechon Cebu
The Lechon, or roasted suckling pig, can also be found in other parts of the country but many people would definitely agree that Cebu has one the most delicious version of this delicacy. You can try Lechon at CNT Lechon, Zubuchon, Ayers and Rico’s Lechon. There are shops inside the airport where you can buy frozen Lechon too if you want to bring home some. Read: 6 Best Places to Eat Lechon de Cebu
Eat at Larsian
After touring around the city, make sure to visit Larsian for an evening food trip. Located near Fuente Osmena, The place is probably one of the oldest food courts in Cebu. In this place, you can find a wide variety of grilled food options.
These are just a few of the many recreational and cultural activities to be enjoyed on Mactan Island. We will update this post each time we discover an interesting spot to visit in Metro Cebu.
Travel and Tour Packages
Cebu and Mactan Island Whole Day Private Guided Tour – (Book Online) – An 8-hour tour of Cebu City and Lapu-Lapu City’s historical and cultural landmarks.
Cebu Half-Day Private Tour: Magellan’s Cross & Fort San Pedro – (Book Online) – Journey back to Spanish colonial times as you tour Cebu’s top attractions on this guided private tour.
Mactan Island Half-Day Private Tour and Guitar Factory – (Book Online) – Upon arriving in Cebu, you can book your Mactan half-day tour and explore Magellan’s landing history. The tour also includes a visit to Mactan guitar factory.
Do you have other Activities in Metro Cebu that you want to include on the list? Please feel free to suggest by posting a comment below.
Published on: Sep 12, 2010
Updated August 1, 2018