Time spent admiring the natural and manmade wonders on the island is time well spent. From the original mark of Christianity in the Philippines – Magellan’s Cross, to the cascading waterfalls and prolific plant and wildlife, it offers both educational and eye-wateringly beautiful sights. Take a walk around the colonial and religious architecture to invoke a sweet sense of nostalgia for times gone by. For something more strenuous embark on a trek to the magical Kasavan falls, a definite highlight of any visit to Cebu.
Casa Gorordo Museum
Built in the mid 19th century, this building seeks to illustrate the elegant lifestyle of over 100 years ago. One of Cebu's best-kept secrets, the unique architectural and design features include an upper-storey living quarters made from Philippine hardwood, held together by wooden pegs, as opposed to nails. The lower part of the house has walls built out of Mactan coral, keeping the area nice and cool. The property also practices elements of feng shui and features antiques and furniture.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 17:00.
- Location: Along Lopez Jaena Street
- How to get there: Take a taxi or jeepney to downtown Cebu. It is in a quiet residential area.
Fort San Pedro
Built in 1565, this military defense structure was the brainchild of the conqueror of the Philippines, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The smallest and oldest tri-bastion fort in the country; over the years it has served as an army barracks, a Filipino rebel stronghold, a prison and city zoo.
It is now a peaceful, crumbling ruin that offers visitors a respite from the chaos of downtown Cebu, especially at sunset. A beautiful structure, with walled gardens, it is triangular, with two sides facing the sea.
- Opening Hours: 07:00-22:00
- Location: South Osmena Boulevard.
- How to get there: The easiest way to get there is by taxi or jeepney. All drivers are familiar with this site.
Upon entering this small cave, visitors are required to cover their heads with Our Lady of Guadalupe's blue veil to reap any healing powers the cave is believed to have. In order to get into the cave you will have join a line, as the narrowness of the cave precludes mass entry. Most people visit this holy site for its healing properties, the water dripping from above is claimed to cure ailments.
- Location: Langub, Kalunasan, Guadalupe, Cebu City.
- How to get there: Take a jeepney to Langub
Jumalon Butterfly Sanctuary
This is not just a butterfly sanctuary but an art gallery and museum as well. Built in 1974 by Cebuna lepidopterist, Julian Jumalon, the garden contains 100 butterfly food plant species, around which flutter 50 magnificent types of butterfly.
Guests receive both a tour and lecture on the various stages of the butterflies' life cycle. The Sanctuary also houses a collection of artworks made from butterfly wings. We advise a morning visit and if possible between June and February – breeding season.
- Opening Hours: 09:00-17:00
- Location: Macopa Street, Basak, Pardo Cebu City
- How to get there: Take a jeepney from N. Bacalso
These three beautiful waterfalls are near Badian, south of Cebu. When you arrive at Badian, a 15-30 minute walk along and narrow and rocky path will bring you to this stunning destination. Before reaching the falls you will cross three small bridges. Once there you can swim, dive or simply float on by under the waterfalls for the most natural sort of massage. The falls are surrounded by strangely shaped rocks and tropical vegetation that really set the paradisiacal scene here. The best bit about it is definitely the cool, deep and unbelievably fresh water, simply perfect.
- Location: Badian
- How to get there: Get a taxi to Badian Town – south Cebu, and then take the short trek to the falls.
Located just a few kilometres off Cebu, the exotic wonders of Mactan are accessed by crossing the Manduae-Mactan Bridge. With its pristine beaches and azure waters laden with marine life, it is considered to be the diving hub of the south. It is not only the natural beauty that draws visitors but the historical context of the island is also culturally significant.
This was the island were the Filipino natives first fought against the European invasion and where explorer Ferdinand Magellan met his death at the hands of Lapu-Lapu. For all you aspiring Bob Dylans the island is also home to several noted guitar, mandolin and ukulele factories. Read more about Mactan Island...
Another of the Philippines' revered Catholic attractions; Magellan’s Cross was erected by the Spanish and Portuguese, in 1521.
It is situated across the way from Cebu City Hall and is considered to be the most important religious relic after the Santa Nino. Essentially, the Cross of Magellan symbolizes the beginning of Christianity in the Philippines.
- Location: Magellan Street, across from Cebu City Hall
Santo Nino Basilica
One of the oldest church in the Philippines that houses the oldest relic, Santo Nino – a carving of a young Jesus depicted as a black child, dating back to Magellan’s time (16th century). It was founded by an Augustine priest (hence its former name, San Augustine Church) Andres de Urdaneta, in 1569. Having burnt down three times it was rebuilt in its current form in 1737.
Inside the church is a small museum chartering Christianity in Cebu. Inside, the ceiling murals are pretty impressive. The church, in the heart of Cebu City, was purposely built on the spot where the Santo Nino was discovered. It has been built in a baroque and Neo-classical style. English-language masses are held from 17:30 – 20:00 every day except Sunday.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 21:00
- Location: Osmena Boulevard
- Remarks: Take a jeepney to Osmena Boulevard; drivers will be familiar with the site.
The Chinese make up 15% of Cebu's population and are responsible for the Taoist temple situated in the affluent area of Beverly Hills. Followers of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tze, come here to worship and are something of a minority in this predominantly Christian country.
On Wednesdays and Sundays, Taoist devotees climb the 99 steps of the temple to light joss sticks then have their fortunes read by the monks. Built in 1972, the temple is 300 metres above sea level and topped with a pagoda style roof, something of a novelty in this city.
- Opening Hours: 09:00-17:00
- Location: Beverly Hills
- How to get there: Get a jeepney or private car to take you to Sudlon. From there, you have the choice to walk for about 15 minutes or ride a habal-habal, a motorcycle that can carry up to six passengers.