CEBU CITY: Revealing Paradise in the Queen City of the South

Home » Visayas » Explore » CEBU CITY: Revealing Paradise in the Queen City of the South

Cebu City, Cebu

The Philippines’ most populous island is Cebu in the Central Visayas. Cebu City, the nation’s thriving port metropolis, is home to historical attractions, including the Basilica Minore del Santo Nio and Fort San Pedro, which date back to the city’s Spanish colonial era in the 16th century. The town may be seen from Tops, an observation deck atop Mt. Busay.


As a province in the Philippines, Cebu includes the island with the same name and several other nearby islands. The term “SEBU,” meaning “animal fat,” is where the name came from. After the Spanish colonists arrived, manufacturing replaced fishing as the town’s main industry.

Cebu City has everything a tourist might want in a tropical island getaway: perfect weather, beautiful beaches, and five-star hotels with all the amenities of contemporary life. The province of Cebu on the island of the Philippines is famous for producing some of the best mangoes in the world. For the same purpose of spreading Christianity to the Philippines on behalf of the Spanish crown, Portuguese adventurer Ferdinand Magellan set sail from here in 1521.

Cebu City Island Map

Many artifacts from the island’s history were left behind by the Spanish colonists. Historic sites in the Philippines include Fort San Pedro, the oldest motte and bailey in the Americas, the Magellan’s Cross in downtown Cebu (a Christian cross planted by the Portuguese and Spanish explorers as ordered by Ferdinand Magellan upon his arrival in Cebu in April 1521), and the Lapu-Lapu Shrine, a 20-meter statue in Mactan erected in honor of Datu Lapu-Lapu, a native leader who instituted the death of Magellan.

Great Cebu Fort San Pedro
Great Cebu Fort San Pedro
Popular Cebu Colon Street
Popular Cebu Colon Street
Magellan's Cross
Magellan’s Cross

Cebu’s industrialization increased over time. Cebu’s reputation as a forward-thinking metropolis rests on the success of its major businesses, the development of cutting-edge technologies, and the ingenuity of its residents. Many small and large corporations call Cebu home now, with the latter helping to propel the island



The altar at Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu
Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu

The Basilica Minore del Santo Nio de Ceb (Minor Basilica of the Holy Child of Cebu) was founded in 1565 by Fray Andrés de Urdaneta and Fray Diego de Herrera, O.S.A. The country’s oldest Roman Catholic church was built on the spot where Miguel López de Legazpi’s expedition found the Santo Niño de Cebu.

Ferdinand Magellan gave Rajah Humabon’s main consort the Infant Jesus figurine at their christening on April 14, 1521. Forty years after Legazpi burnt, soldier Juan de Camuz recovered it in its wooden casket. The “symbol of the genesis and progress of Christianity in the Philippines” was elevated to basilica rank by Pope Paul VI in 1965.


A Date with Dragons at Cebu Taoist Temple
A Date with Dragons at Cebu Taoist Temple

The intricate dragon statues and ornate architecture of the Cebu Taoist Temple draw many visitors. In 1972, Cebu’s Chinese community built this hilltop temple. Three twisting paths lead to the 110-meter-tall, multi-tiered, multi-colored temple.


The Tops Lookout © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey
The Tops Lookout © Courtesy of Kelly Iverson/Mad Monkey

Among the locals, Tops Lookout is a well-kept secret. The Tops Lookout, or simply “Tops,” is the best vantage point in the area. At sunrise and sunset, the views from Tops, a modernist fortress-style viewing deck, are nothing short of breathtaking. The views of Mandaue, Cebu City, Mactan Island, and the Bohol coast are stunning.


Magellan's Cross
Magellan’s Cross

After Portuguese and Spanish explorers arrived in March 1521, Ferdinand Magellan ordered a Christian cross on Cebu. Magellan’s Cross is this cross (Spanish: Cruz de Magallanes). A small chapel on Magallanes Street near Cebu City’s downtown houses a cross venerated by locals and tourists.

The chapel’s original cross is tingalo wood and wood-framed, according to historian Geo Zayas, whose name appears on a plaque below it. In the mistaken notion that the cross holds supernatural powers, some have chipped away pieces of the cross as souvenirs. After Magellan’s death, the Spaniards planted a copy of the cross, which burned or disappeared.

Located near the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Church
Located near the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Church

In exchange for your money, the merchant will light a candle and pray.

Whether or not you want to view the Magellan’s Cross, conserving it for future generations is crucial.

Entrance fee: None

TIP: You can travel to Iloilo via bantayan for around 590 pesos via ferry (big ship). The ferry leaves around 6 pm and you get there the next morning around 7 am.

Where do you recommend going if you’re visiting Cebu City? Leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Or, if you decide to check out Palawan, our small family operation organizes private custom boat tours through the Palawan area, voted the best island in the world, with its 52 pristine white sand beaches and some of the clearest waters in the world

Palawan Boat Tours - Cebu - Things You Need to Know

Experience the thrill of island hopping in the Philippines.

Home » Visayas » Explore » CEBU CITY: Revealing Paradise in the Queen City of the South
Lou PrataliLou Pratali
11:04 25 Jul 23
This is a must to do!!Super ultimate tour is the best with Kayangan and barracuda lake, twin lagoons (my favorite), coral garden (blue fabulous coral) were the best. It’s really worth it to pay for private tour (3500 to 4000 PHP). You will also have to pay for entrance fees (150 to 200PHP by location) and eventually shopping at the market - must do (count 300 for 2 for fish, pork, fruits and vegetables, water).
16:11 07 Feb 23
I was looking for a personalized excursion to the beautiful Gulf of Bacuit.Seeing the comments, I contacted Mel.Very responsive, very efficient and perfect organization.The flight attendants were very friendly and very helpful.And I'm not even talking about the meal on board...a marvel.In all fairness, this excursion will remain an excellent memory and I cannot recommend Mel and his team highly enough.A big thank-you.
Alyse TarbottonAlyse Tarbotton
23:48 30 Aug 22
This tour went well above all our expectations! I couldn't recommend this enough! The boat crew, captain and tour guide were nothing but amazing, everyone was so kind, helpful and friendly. The crew knew the best spots to visit that weren't overcrowded with tourists, 3 times we were lucky enough to have whole islands to ourselves! It was my partner's birthday while away and everything went above and beyond, bonfire, cake, birthday card, singing and celebrating with us.If you love camping this is definitely a tout you should do, it has been the highlight of our trip!!
Danish KayaniDanish Kayani
10:24 31 Oct 19
Coron is the best place i have ever seen.. picturesque. Beautiful. Peaceful
We booked a 4 days/3 nights private boat trip from Coron to Sibaltan. The organization went very well from the beginning, the owner answered to all my questions, and we were able to choose which islands to visit and where to sleep. The first night we slept in a bungalow in Banana Island, the second we camped in Araw beach and the last we slept in a seafront bungalow builded on a tree in Pical on Iloc Island.The islands in that area are the most beautiful islands I have ever seen, with clear water, lots of coral reef and fishes to see, white sand and almost deserted. The crew was very friendly and polite and they organize every single meal and for camping they give you a tent which was just perfect! This was our highlight in our 2 weeks in the Philippines and I wish I had booked a longer trip. A private trip gives you the freedom to decide where and when to go.

We are a family operation managing private custom boat tours in the beautiful Palawan area, and are happy to help travelers with their plans through the country, having traveled a lot of it ourselves and planning to visit it all.

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