Hail to the Queen City: A guide to Cebu’s cultural and natural attractions
When it comes to ranking the best tourism spots in the country, there’s no doubt that Cebu is high up on the list. The island has something to offer for every type of traveler with its shopping districts, rich cuisine, and natural and manmade attractions.
Taking a quick summer escape to this hotspot is a must if you’re thinking of vacationing somewhere with a wealth of history, culture, and adventure.
Here’s a travel itinerary to see the best of Cebu.
Nature: Mountain View Nature Park, Terrazas De Flores Botanical Garden
Cebu is well-known locally and internationally for having one of the most beautiful indigenous floral, fauna, and bodies of water. Those who want to connect with nature should book a stop at the Mountain View Nature Park which features a panoramic view of the Queen City and its neighboring cities. The place is also home to some of the island's local animals like Toucans and monkeys.
If you want to appreciate flora more, you can also visit the Terrazas De Flores Botanical Garden, a sloping spot in the mountainside of Barangay Malubog which is home to rows and rows of colorful wildflowers.
Architecture: The Temple of Leah
Love ancient structures and architecture? The Temple of Leah can transport you to ancient Greece with its elegant pillars and romantic layout.
While the structure is not that old—it was built in 2012—this destination has turned into a must-visit hotspot for tourists thanks to its architecture. The story behind it is interesting, too, because it was built by Teodorico Soriano as a shrine that symbolizes his love for his wife of 53 years, Leah Villa Albino-Adarna.
History and culture: Yap Sandiego House
This historical house is the best place to visit if you want to have a glimpse of ancestral living in the city. Filled with old furniture, antiques, and other knick-knacks from the past, you can slip back in time by getting yourself lost in the well-curated collection of the Yap family who still maintains the home.
Built in the 17th century, the house is also home to contemporary art works and other collector pieces.
Food: Entoy’s Bakasihan
If you’ve watched Netflix’s Original Series Street Food Asia, then you’re probably familiar with Entoy’s Bakasihan, a humble food stop in the municipality of Cordova that represented the country’s food culture on the show.
The small eatery, which specializes in bakasi or baby eels, single-handedly placed Cordova on the radar of the best exotic foods in the city—and the world. Their food is so good that the government of Cebu even decided to make a new road just to make this eatery more accessible to everyone! While Mang Entoy, the original owner who also showed up on the Netflix feature, passed away in 2020, his family still continues his legacy by serving his well-loved recipes to everyone.
Shopping: The Carbon Market
Cebu is no stranger to world-class level shopping experiences, but if you really want to immerse yourself in the culture of the city, then you shouldn’t miss The Carbon Market, the oldest public market in Cebu.
The century-old local shopping hub, which is named after a nearby coal depo, is a melting pot of the city’s culture. It’s the perfect place to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, souvenirs, and other handicrafts that are local to the city. The street food here is so good, too! For a more touristy experience, you can try going around the market while riding a karitela—a local horse carriage.
Beach stay: Sumilon Island
Cebu has no shortage of amazing beaches. It is known all around the world for its crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand. If you want to experience the best the island has to offer in terms of beach life, make sure you dedicate a part of your itinerary to exploring Sumilon Island, a 24-hectare island that is known for its amazing waters and lush vegetation.
The place is also popular as a dive spot.
Adventure: Southern Cebu canyoneering
Do you want to chase an adrenaline rush during your vacation? Satiate your inner adventurer by going on canyoneering in Southern Cebu. Jump from waterfalls and brave the river rapids and canyons in this area’s collection of small bodies of water.
Cebu is definitely the place to be for the multi-faceted type of traveler. If you haven’t visited it yet, then this is your sign to add it to your after-pandemic bucket list!