The fastest and most convenient way to get to Cebu City, also known as the “Queen City of the South” is to travel by plane. There are plenty of daily flights from Metro Manila as well as from other key areas in the country to the city. There are also flights from other countries to Cebu City such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. All air passengers will land at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, which is approximately 15 kilometers away from Cebu City.
Traveling by sea to Cebu City is also another option especially for those who have the luxury of time. A ferry ride from Manila to the city is about 23 hours. 2GO Travel and Philippine Span Asia are some of the companies that offer trips between both cities.
How to Get Around
Once you have arrived in Cebu, you’ll have numerous options to get around the city. To get to your hotel from the airport or the seaport, for example, taking the taxi is recommended. The flag down rate is PHP 30.00. Every succeeding 500 meters or 90-second waiting time is charged PHP 3.50.
The iconic public jeepney is also another option and very affordable as well. The base fare for a 4-kilometer jeep ride is PHP 6.50. The jeeps usually ply specific routes which are written on the signboards on their windshields. If you’re not sure if you are on the right jeep, you can always ask the driver for clarifications and suggestions.
Meanwhile, buses are usually found at the South Bus Station, the North Bus Station, or the Citilink Station. You can take these buses to go to the different cities and towns of the province of Cebu.
What to See
Cebu City, just like Manila, is a highly urbanized city that serves as the capital of the province of Cebu. It is a city whose rich history has been well-preserved in its many museums and historic landmarks, some of which were established as early as the 16th century.
Basilica Minore del Santo Niño is the focal point of any excursion to Cebu City. Considered as the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, the basilica was established in 1565 and has weathered both natural and man-made calamities throughout the years. The basilica is home to the image of the Santo Niño de Cebu, which is the oldest religious image in the country. It was given by Ferdinand Magellan himself in 1521 to Lady Humamay, the chief consort of Rajah Humabon of Cebu.
Right across the basilica is the Magellan’s Cross, another notable attraction in the city. A stone rotunda houses the ancient wooden cross which is encased in another wooden cross to protect it damage (it was said that some people would chip away parts of it for a souvenir). It was planted by Magellan when he arrived on the island in 1521. The ceiling of the shrine also features a painting that depicts this historic event.
But for the lowdown on the city’s history and the whole province of Cebu, a visit to Museo Sugbo comes highly recommended. What was once a provincial jail is now home to important historical pieces and artworks from the Spanish and the American colonial periods—all of which offer a glimpse of the Cebuano life back in the day.
Fort San Pedro is Cebu City’s version of Manila’s Intramuros. This triangular fort, however, is smaller compared to its Manila counterpart. Fort San Pedro was built by the Spanish military as a defense structure to guard the land against Muslim raiders. Now, it serves as a walled garden and a scenic place to relax away from the noise and haste of the city.
The Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral is another historic church located in Cebu City, near Fort San Pedro. It is also the seat of the Archdiocese of Cebu. Just a couple of steps away from the cathedral is the Heritage of Cebu Monument, a tableau made by national artist Edgardo Castrillo that depicts important and historic events in the city.
If you want to catch a great view of the entire city, a visit to Tops Lookout, which stands 600 meters above Cebu, is highly recommended. Schedule your visit around sunset when the entire Cebu skyline is interspersed with hues of red and blue and with the twinkling of the city lights from the distance.
The Taoist Temple in Cebu is also another notable attraction located in the highlands of the city. This colorful attraction serves as the center of Taoism in the city. Just like any other place of worship, make sure to observe proper attire and decorum during your visit.
The Cebu Provincial Capitol Building is the seat of government of Cebu. But beyond the authority that lies within its walls, the capitol is also notable for its impressive neoclassic, art deco architecture.
But for those looking for thrilling adventures right in the heart of the city, visit the Sky Experience Adventure in Tower 1, Crown Regency Hotel and Towers. It offers heart-stopping attractions for those who would like to conquer their fear of heights like the Edge Coaster, Sky Walk Extreme, Sky Lift, Tower Zip, and the Cliff Hanger.
Events and Festivals
Every January, the population of Cebu City becomes two times bigger as people all over the Philippines flock to the city to experience the annual Sinulog Festival. The feast is held in honor of the Santo Niño de Cebu with colorful decorations, riveting street performances, all-day partying, and a grand procession on the third Sunday of January.
Where to Shop
For those who want to go on a shopping spree, Cebu City also has quite a number of shopping malls available. Ayala Center Cebu is located in the Cebu Business Park and is the first Ayala Mall located outside of Metro Manila. Opened in 1994, Ayala Center Cebu is home to about 700 shops and restaurants where you can enjoy some of the best shopping and dining options that the city has to offer.
Known as the third biggest shopping mall in the Philippines and the 10th largest in the world is the SM Seaside City Cebu. This sprawling shopping center is home to about 500 restaurants and stores.
Where to Eat
A trip to Cebu City is never complete without getting a taste of its culinary offerings. For foodies, the Lahug district is a must-visit. Lahug is home to the Cebu IT Park, where restaurants and bars are dime a dozen. If you are up for delectable French dishes, La Maison Rose serves some exquisite creations of their chefs, while for light fares paired with good wine, La Vie Parisienne next door is also a place worth visiting. Meanwhile, the famous Casa Verde is ideal for those who want to enjoy some classic American food. Make sure to try their best sellers: Brian’s Ribs and their version of the classic surf & turf.
When you ask the locals for suggestions on where to eat in Cebu City, Larsian in Fuente Osmeña will most likely be their top recommendation. The place is ideal for barbecue lovers as the place is teeming with food stalls that sell grilled pork, chicken, and seafood. In addition, you can also pair your selection of grilled entrees with “puso” which is rice wrapped and boiled in woven coconut leaves.
Sutukil is a popular Cebuano fare that you shouldn’t miss. Sutukil is from the Visayan words sugba, which means to grill; tuwa, which means to stew; and kilaw, which means raw seafood. If you would like to try these different dishes, then head over to STK ta Bay! Sa Paolito’s Seafood House located along A. Climaco Street, just a couple of steps away from the Cebu Provincial Capitol.
And when in Cebu City, do as the Cebuanos do and feast on the succulent Cebu lechon, which has earned quite a following, including international TV personality and food critic Anthony Bourdain. Zubuchon, CnT Lechon, and Rico’s Lechon are some of the good spots where you can enjoy this savory and tasty Filipino favorite.
Bars and Clubs
Partygoers, on the other hand, will surely find that Cebu’s nightlife won’t disappoint either. Try going to Outpost in Lahug and enjoy live music from local performers. Tonyo’s Bar & Restaurant is also another place in Lahug where you can enjoy drinks and some amazing grub. The Distillery in Cuenco Avenue is recommended for those who prefer a fine selection of drinks like imported beers and single malts.
Meanwhile, those who prefer the coziness of a coffee shop can troop to Cebu City’s various artsy and homey establishments that serve good cups of coffee. Aside from the usual Starbucks and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, third wave coffee is also taking Cebu by storm. Yolk Coffee and Breakfast and Degree 9 are some of the recommended places for the coffeeholic.
Fare: PHP 2,000.00 to PHP 11,500.00
Airfare can go for as low as PHP 2,000.00 to as much as PHP 11,500.00 for a roundtrip journey to Cebu. Try to book for flights when there are available promos for better deals.
On the other hand, when traveling by sea, ticket prices can go for as low as PHP 200.00 to as much as PHP 1,000.00, depending on your point of origin. When going around the city, the flag down rate for taxi is PHP 30.00, while the base fare for jeep is PHP 6.50.
Food: PHP 100.00 to PHP 1,200.00
Cebu has a lot of food and dining options to offer its guests so regardless of budget, you will most certainly find a restaurant that is right for you. On average, allotting PHP 100.00 to PHP 300.00 per meal would be more than enough. If you want to go all out on fine dining, expect to pay around PHP 800.00 to PHP 1,200.00 per dish in luxurious restaurants.
Shopping: PHP 50.00 to PHP 500.00
Key chains and ref magnets go for as low as PHP 50.00 per piece. Shirts can go for as much as PHP 450.00, depending on design and quality.
Accommodations: PHP 800.00 to PHP 20,000.00
Basic rooms in the city go for as low as PHP 800.00 a night. If you want to enjoy full amenities and services during your stay, you can try hotel rooms which range from PHP 2,000.00 to PHP 3,000.00 per night. Luxurious suites in the upscale establishments can go for as much as PHP 20,000.00 per stay.
Activities: PHP 10.00 to PHP 750.00
Some museums collect a minimal PHP 10.00 entrance fee, while others charge PHP 75.00. Two rides at the Sky Experience Adventure cost PHP 750.00. Of course, a visit to the churches, historic landmarks, and parks are free of charge.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
When dining at restaurants, expect to pay a service charge, which already included in your final bill, so tipping is no longer necessary. But if you would like to leave a tip anyway, PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 should be okay.