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Your guide to Cebu City
All About Cebu City
The oldest and second-largest city in the Philippines, Cebu City has stunning natural beauty, historic buildings, and rich cultural and culinary scenes. Surrounded by mountains — from Sirao Peak in the north to Mount Naupa in the south — and lapped by the waters of the Cebu Strait, the city is also an easy jumping-off point for snorkeling off Mactan Island, hiking to Kawa Falls, canyoneering, or visiting the famous Chocolate Hills — 1,260 conical grass-topped hills.
In the city, you’ll find piles of carabao mangoes at the bustling Carbon Market, which is the oldest and largest farmers market in town. Some of the country's biggest shopping malls are located here, doubling as entertainment centers where you can grab dinner at a cutting-edge restaurant or dig into a homely bowl of tinola. Cebu City also has a thriving microbrewery scene, and the nightlife here draws revelers from across the archipelago.
There are a number of historical structures to explore, including the ruins of Fort San Pedro, which dates back to the 18th century, and the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño — the first church built in the Philippines. The Casa Gorordo Museum, housed in a former home built in the 19th century, showcases period furniture, costumes, artwork, and household items. For a different perspective on the city, visit Top’s Lookout, a circular viewpoint perched high above the sprawling metropolis.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Cebu City?
Cebu City has warm temperatures throughout the year and, like many other places in Southeast Asia, the most extensive weather change is between the rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season usually lasts from June until October and can range from nonstop rain day after day or a short, heavy rainfall that is over in 30 minutes. Although this can make it difficult to plan specific activities, it is still a nice time to visit as you may be able to get some good options on condos or apartments for rent in Cebu. The dry season offers some of the best weather, making visiting the city’s main sights relatively easy.
There are also many religious festivals in Cebu City. The biggest one is the Sinulog Festival, held every third Sunday of January,which takes over the city to celebrate its acceptance of Catholicism with a nine-day program of jewel-toned costumes and street festivities culminating in a parade accompanied by blasting trumpets and pounding drums.
What are the top things to do in Cebu City?
Basílica del Santo Niño
Established in 1565, the Basilica del Santo Niño was the first church in the Philippines. Inside, you will find a famous statue of Santo Niño that dates back to the time of Magellan. It is said to be miraculous, and every Friday and Sunday, the church and surrounding area are full of religious pilgrims hoping to see Santo Niño.
The Cebuano people are the country’s second-largest ethnolinguistic group, and music is an integral part of Cebuano culture. You’ll find guitar shops all over Cebu City and on Mactan Island, where you can see the instruments being made by hand. You might even catch a band performing a traditional Cebuano harana (love song) while playing guitar at one of the bars along Ouano Avenue.
A short hop across the bay, Nalusuan Island boasts such clear water that you can watch schools of fish swirl around in the waves before your boat even docks. Snorkelers, divers and underwater photographers flock here to admire table coral, angelfish, and bluespotted ribbontail rays. After a day on or under the water, you can refuel with fresh mangoes and crab plucked straight from the ocean.