The Philippines’ Queen City of the South has plenty to offer to tourists. Beautiful beaches, iconic landmarks, delicious food, and a whole lot more. It’s wonderful if you have the luxury of time to experience all of them, but what if you only have one day to explore? It could be that you’re on a quick business trip, or maybe Cebu is just a pit stop before a bigger tour somewhere else in the country. Whatever the case, it’s very much possible to enjoy the splendor of the city in just a few hours. Here are a few destinations that you ought to visit in Cebu if you only have limited time.
If you’re staying near or in hotels in Lahug, Cebu City, you’ve probably heard about Beverly Hills Subdivision. It’s a tourist destination in and of itself because of the picturesque houses, but also located inside the subdivision is the Taoist Temple. There are three winding paths that you can take to access the temple, whose main entrance is fashioned like the Great Wall of China. The multi-tiered structure itself, the gardens, and design accents like the statues all make for perfect photo ops. You can also take a picture of downtown Cebu from one of the balconies. There’s no entrance fee at the Taoist Temple, but remember to be respectful of the rules. For example, there’s no photography allowed in the prayer room, and those who are wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts may not enter.
Magellan’s Cross + Basilica Minore de Sto. Niño
You’ve probably seen the Basilica Minore de Sto. Niño (or simply Sto. Niño Basilica) in pictures or videos related to the world-famous Sinulog Festival. The stone-and-brick church was built in 1565 and is the oldest Catholic church in the country. Just nearby is Magellan’s Cross, which is housed in a chapel of its own. This means you can visit it and take photos even if there’s a mass going on in the basilica. The cross was planted on the site in 1521 by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his Spanish crew. Note that the cross you will see is not the original but a wooden case. This is because in the past, some tourists began chipping away at the original Magellan’s cross in the belief that it possesses miraculous powers. However, there are also those who believe that the cross in the chapel is only a replica because the original was destroyed when Ferdinand Magellan died.
Fort San Pedro
This is another remnant of the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. Like Intramuros in Manila, Fort San Pedro is a military defense structure designed to protect the area inside it from invaders. In Fort San Pedro’s case, it was built to defend against Muslim raiders. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, the first governor general of the Philippines, ordered the construction of the fort. Apart from the structure itself, you can also check out a museum that features paintings, sculptures, and statues, among others.
If you love museums, want to know more about Cebu as a province, or both, then a trip to Museo Sugbo is a must. It’s just four blocks away from Plaza Independencia (which is near Fort San Pedro), so you won’t have any trouble getting around. The museum used to be the Carcel de Cebu, or the provincial jail, for about 135 years. Then, when the jail was transferred to another location in the 1980s, it was converted into a museum. Now Cebu’s provincial museum with more than 10 galleries to date, Museo Sugbo opened its doors in 2009. A trip to this museum usually ends at the Well of Wisdom, Love and Good Fortune, which is believed to have been the main water source for the prison.
Tops Lookout and Top of Cebu
If you’re looking for Instagram-worthy shots, visit Tops Lookout. It has an interesting circular stone and concrete architecture, but what’s even more beautiful is the view. The panoramic vista of Cebu City, Mandaue, Mactan Island, and even the coast of Bohol is truly breathtaking. Locals recommend visiting at sunset or at night for an even more majestic sight. There are bars where you can order beers and snacks, but it’s also allowed to bring your own food for a picnic. For a sit-down meal, visit Top of Cebu. It’s located right across Tops and serves a variety of Filipino, French, and American dishes. Whether you’re visiting one or both, make sure to bring a sweater or jacket since it can get a bit chilly, especially during the evenings.
Once you’re done sightseeing, go back to the Basilica and visit La Fortuna Bakery. You can have a quick meal here and, of course, buy some Cebuano delicacies for pasalubong or personal munching. Hopefully, you’ll have more time to explore the Queen City of the South on your next visit.