Cebu City is the oldest city founded in the Philippines, (seven years senior to Manila) and vestiges of Spanish colonial times still remain in its local language, food and culture. It began as a small fishing village in the central Visayan region, later becoming a bustling trading port by 1521 because of its strategic location in the heart of the Philippines. By 1898 the Spanish were pushed out by American intervention, prompting a revolution for the entire country, and in 1937 the city of Cebu was officially named.
Today, the city is booming and is fast becoming a major economic hub of the Philippines, next to Manila. Cebu thrives on it history as a focal point for the major tourism that comes through the city and its islands. The famous Sinulog festival happens every year to commemorate their devotion to the Santo Nino, and to showcase the rich cultural significance of their native dance of the same name. Historically, the native dance predated Magellan's colonization but would later be enveloped within the Christian conversion. Today, the annual Sinulog festival is one of the largest in the country, bringing in visitors from all over the country.
A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.
Visit Casa Gorordo Museum, which showcases household items dating back to the late 1800s. The San Diego Ancestral House in the oldest part of the city is a well-preserved home full of antiques and and traditional furniture.
Explore the islands and sandbars surrounding Mactan Island on a private outrigger fitted with beanbags, an iPod dock, WiFi and a cooler full of drinks. Cruise the calm seas around Cebu and snorkel or dive in one of two marine reserves. For lunch, dock at a stilted restaurant over the water and order seafood still swimming in the cages beneath the water.
Cebu is a fantastic foodie destination. It is best known for lechon, a succulent, spit-roasted pig stuffed with herbs and done to crispy perfection. Grilled seafood, roasted chicken and Spanish-influenced desserts are also quite popular.
Old City Tour
Head into the old part of the city for a guided cultural tour. Cebu City is the oldest city in the Philippines: its most significant landmark, the 16th century St. Niño Church, houses the cross that Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted on the shores of Cebu when he arrived in 1521. Nearby is Fort San Pedro, an old Spanish fort erected in 1565.
Shopping & Markets
Shopping malls abound in the city, but to get a sense of local color, head to the street markets of Colon, where dried fish, tropical fruit, locally made guitars and shell handicrafts are sold. For higher quality merchandise, shop at locally owned boutiques selling home goods and furniture made from local materials, as well as packaged delicacies.
Sunrise over the City
An hour before the sun sets, head to the mountains. Tops is a large stone terrace that is a 40-minute drive from the city center. At 2000 feet above sea level, it offers a breathtaking view of Cebu and the islands surrounding it. Alternatively, sunset is also spectacular here, but it tends to get crowded.
Explore in-depth information, experiences and highlights by navigating to specific regions using the links below on the right.
Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa is the finest luxury resort in Cebu. Located on a beautiful private beach and surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the resort has 537 rooms & suites, all equipped with the latest state-of-the-art facilities including internet & cable TV, as well as balconies with either sea or garden views. The resort is ideal for families, boasting an adventure Zone, an indoor playground, and E-Zone, a complete entertainment hub with arcades and two state-of-the-art karaoke rooms. The resort spa, Chi, is one of the finest in the Philippines. Sporting activities include tennis, golf, table tennis, snooker/billiards and sailing. The Shangri-La is 15 minutes away from Mactan International Airport.
Philippines Goes Well With
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
An Asia-focused magazine brought to you by Remote Lands - a platform for adventure, luxury, and authenticity from experts and explorers around the continent.
With new flights, classic resorts, waterfall adventures, natural wonders, and whale sharks, Cebu in the Philippines is a hard destination to beat.
What Others Say
Here is a small selection of the kind words our clients have said about us recently.
A couple from Florida - Aman Jet Expedition, Spring 2016
As the trip progressed strangers became friends. Particularly special was the effortlessness: perfect logistics, never having to worry about anything, and, of course, the charming and thoughtful way you organised everything.