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Cebu City, also known as the Queen Of The South, is one of the busiest and most vibrant cities in the Philippines. It is also the oldest city in the country and where Christianity was first practiced in the Philippines.
Many people pass through Cebu City to enjoy the nearby beaches and islands but don’t be in too much of a hurry because the city has a lot to offer for the curious traveler.
Cebu City is the capital city of Cebu province. It is within the Metro Cebu area, including the cities of Carcar, Danao, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Naga, and Talisay. The official language is Cebuano, but most people also speak English.
Most people living in Cebu City are Roman Catholic with a wide mix of other religions, including Protestant, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Inglesia ni Cristo, Jesus Miracle Crusade, Jehovah’s Witnesses, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Taoist, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
The guitar making industry is huge in Cebu and goes back many years. Handmade acoustic guitars, bandurrias (Filipino mandolins), banjos and ukuleles are made and exported domestically and internationally. Mangos are a famous export too, followed by furniture, dried raw seaweed, bananas, handicrafts and noodles.
You can still see significant sites from the city’s 16th-century Spanish colonial history among high-rises, houses and buildings. The most popular of these is the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Church, founded in 1565. It was the first church built in the Philippines and has been restored many times after being destroyed by earthquakes and fires. The church is beautiful, and one of the most important features is an image of Jesus as a baby, which dates back to Magellan’s time. On Friday and Sunday, you can see outdoor mass which goes all day long.
In a chapel next to the church, you can see Magellan’s Cross erected by Portuguese and Spanish explorers in 1521. This isn’t the original cross. That is hidden away after people were taking small pieces of it, believing it had healing powers.
Fort San Pedro was constructed by the Spanish, and the stone walls and canons are well-preserved. You can see Spanish documents, artifacts, artwork, and weapons and learn about the fort’s history from the 16th-century Spanish era onwards.
Tops Lookout is a stunning circular observation deck on Mount Busay with amazing views of the city. There are telescopes, so you can take a closer look at the scenic sights below.
The Temple of Leah was inspired by ancient Roman architecture. It was made as a gesture of love by Teodorico Soriano Adarna for his late wife, Leah. It is often called the Taj Mahal of Cebu (an emperor created the Indian landmark for his wife who died giving birth). A bronze statue of Leah and two massive lion statues are awe-inspiring features of the sight.
Wander down historical Colon Street in the downtown area where there’s lots of shopping and entertainment during the day and evening, including the night market. For more shopping, hit Ayala Center Cebu at the Cebu Business Park. Here you can find lots of local and international brands and bargains galore.
Escape the city with a visit to the Cebu Taoist Temple in Beverly Hills. This colorful temple welcomes visitors, and you are likely to be joined by locals, monks, school children and tourists there.
There are lots of tours if you would like to see the city with a guide. The Cebu sunset cruise includes a 2-hour trip with dinner and drinks and spectacular breezy views. If you want to use Cebu City as a base, there are many day trips worth seeing.
You will never go hungry in Cebu City and the local food is tasty and delicious. Mango pizza might seem strange, but don’t knock it until you try it. Roasted pork, BBQ dishes, rice wrapped in coconut leaves, beef soup and abodo, are just a few of the mouth-watering dishes you will be offered. Many dishes are heavy on meat but overall relatively healthy with lots of fresh vegetables, rice, and noodles. Many different countries influence food, and there is a wide array of tasty dishes to discover.
There’s plenty of street food vendors, shops and restaurants, cafes and bars any time you get the hunger pains. Here are some to note down.
AA BBQ serves up Phillipino, seafood and barbecue dishes and is always busy, a sure sign the food is excellent.
If you like sweet treats, try out Snowbowls Premier Snow Creamery. The whimsical decor and creative local desserts make it a unique and fun dining experience. It’s also a great way to beat the heat.
Isla Sugbu Seafood City is a modern and classy restaurant and a great place to try out a range of dishes. If you love fresh seafood, you will be in heaven.
We know you would never leave home without your camera, travel insurance, money and basic medical supplies. As well as those, make sure you pack the following much-have items for your trip to Cebu City in the Philippines.
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Stock up on your sunblock. You are off to the sunny Philippines with the first stop in Cebu City.
Pearson International Airport