If you are planning a long vacation to the Philippines, do not forget to add to your list, the most recommended tourist destination – Cebu city. With almost 168 islands and islets, the province of Cebu is more than a popular beach destination. Technically the “Philippines’ Second City”, Cebu city is the main shipping port and the hotspot of trade and education in the Central Visayas Region. Titled as the “Queen City of the South”, it has the rare achievement of being the country’s oldest city and a thriving metropolis. From history buffs to shopaholics, adventurers to peace-seekers, every traveller finds quite a number of destinations in the fast-evolving Cebu city. Consider the below rundown of things to do in Cebu city on your trip here.
- A walk through the oldest Colon Street:
The best way to begin the exploration of this city is by visiting the historical Colon Street, the oldest street in the country. Termed as Cristobal Colon in honor of the actual name of Christopher Columbus, it is the most crowded business center, the ultimate stop for souvenir shopping. As a prime spot of early commerce, the first establishments of Cebu can be found in this street. The Night Market held four times in a year (January, June, August / September and December) transforms the street all-glittery with multiple stalls, movie theatres and restaurants in a carnival-like atmosphere.
- Visit the legendary Magellan’s Cross:
Do you know that the Cebu city is the ‘Center of Christianity in the far East?’ One of the essential things to do in Cebu City is to have a look at the Magellan’s Cross in front of the Cebu City Hall. Believed to be mounted by Ferdinand Magellan (Portuguese explorer) when he first arrived in Cebu in the 16th century, ‘Magellan’s Cross’ marks the beginning of Christianity in the Philippines and is a highly revered Catholic attraction. The actual cross is encased in a larger wooden cross and is protected in a Spanish-style octagonal building.
- Worship at Basilica del Santo Niño (Santo Niño Basilica):
Whether theist or atheist, when a traveller is in the heart of Cebu city, it is almost sure that they worship the image of Santo Niño (Child Jesus) enshrined at ‘Basilica del Santo Niño’, the oldest Catholic Church in the Philippines! The impressive architecture of the church built in neo-classical style has stained-glass windows, ancient paintings adorning church halls, a small museum shielding antiques of 17th century and a library. A holy visit to ‘Santo Niño Basilica’ is a must-thing to do in Cebu City during Sinology Festival, celebrated on the third Sunday of January. The procession of Santo Niño is organized and participants deck in colorful attire, masks and hats.
- A look at historical landmarks – Cebu Heritage Monument and Fort San Pedro:
As a land of first Spanish settlement, Cebu city has a deep history of invasions and revolutions. A stone, bronze, brass, steel and concrete construction, an intricate mix-up of sculptures of ships, churches, crosses, historical figures, ‘Cebu Heritage Monument’ in Parian District hints at the age-old events in the history of Cebu. Hence, visiting this monument is one of those important things to do in Cebu to learn about its past.
Another historical landmark is Fort San Pedro, a defense fortification built in Spanish reign. It is now a museum exhibiting the artifacts, documents, sculptures of the Spanish and a good picnic spot with walkways on the three bastions. Watch the stunning views from the fort that faces Plaza Independencia on one side and the sea on the other side!
- Shop at the grand malls of Cebu city:
Who doesn’t love to shop in a new place? Malls in Cebu are spectacular venues of exceptional shopping, dining, recreation, entertainment – equipped to appease your hunger of all types. So, the un-miss-able thing to do in Cebu City is definitely the shopping experience in the malls of Cebu. ‘Ayala Center Shopping Mall’ is a multi-level mall set in a mini-park, where you can shop for any item and dine at on-site multiple restaurants. There are also movie theatres and manicured parks to entertain your kids!
The third-largest shopping mall in the Philippines, ‘SM Seaside City Cebu’, is also located in Cebu. You’ll be bowled over by the sight of the mall with a unique circular shape and its centerpiece called, “The Cube”. Needless to say, it is a huge shopping mall with four quadrants, dining areas, convention center and a large cinema screen. Happy shopping!
- Pastime at Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary:
Love butterflies and their fluttering? Then, the first thing to do in Cebu city for you is to reach Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary. The sanctuary nestled in tropical gardens of Julian Jumalon’s residence safeguards 55 species of butterflies. Yes, that’s true! Don’t get lost by just watching the butteries flying around in the garden. Gear up to catch the agile moment of their colorful flutter in the lens of your camera! June to February, the breeding months for butterflies, is the best time to be here.
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- Whale-watching and a dive with Whale Sharks in Oslob:
The much-awaited thing to do in Cebu for all the aquatic enthusiasts is to swim with giant creatures called whale sharks. In the small town of Oslob about 3 hours from the city, Oslob Whale Sharks Tour Company provides you this exciting experience throughout the year. Whales are fed and tamed, due to which they do not migrate. You can reach in the early hours to make sure that you do not miss whale watching and swimming alongside one. Despite controversial uproar regarding humans meddling with the natural food-hunting and growth patterns of these creatures, this continues to be a favorite activity for tourists!
- Go to Kawasan waterfalls:
Badian, a small municipality in the south of Cebu is home to several astonishing waterfalls. The best and most popular of them is Kawasan, a three-tiered waterfall from the mountain springs in thick forest. It is ideal for those who seek adventure as well as those who prefer a calm and relaxing getaway. Hence, it is the most crowded tourist attraction, yet a visit here is one of the top things to do when you are in Cebu city. You can swim in the clear turquoise water or unwind on a bamboo raft right under the cascade. Or trek to the top of the three waterfalls and jump down into the pool. Exciting, isn’t it? All the adventurous hearts can join the breathtaking canyoneering package through the canyons, which consists of cliff jumping, hiking, climbing and much more!
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