Cebu City Tour within 24 Hours

cebu city

Your Filipino elementary school self will thank you. Because touring Cebu City will bring your history books back to life.

The history nut in jumped in sleepy joy to have finally set foot on Cebu, the port capital that is the Queen City of the South. Our arrival at its throne was a quiet celebration. We came off our 2-hour ferry ride all from Tubigon Port in Bohol.

Strolling the grounds at 2AM, Cebu City glowed in lampshade yellows and rustled with the cold morning air.  We were sleepless.

When Elementary School Books Came to Life

Doing a Cebu City tour is mostly easy. Spare for confusing multicab destinations, navigating is manageable in half a day. We ventured to explore beauty of the city before sunrise, starting off at Plaza Independencia, where Sunday health buffs are beginning to do their morning stretches and jogs. Statues and monuments blended in with the tree-lined park, but the Fort San Pedro attraction does not open until 8AM.

With the city slowly waking up by 6 in the morning, we made our way to the destination of my dreams — the Magellan’s Cross. I remember only seeing it my grade school history books. Now it’s right in front of me, greeting me good morning.

Cebu City’s Affinity for the Sto. Nino

Walking up the busy streets to Basilica del Santo Nino, which is under construction due to damages from the 2013 earthquake, we found images of the child Jesus in all shapes and sizes. Plain to see what this figure means to the Cebuano culture. Just imagine the colorful street party that is Sinulog Festival happening every January of the year. I wish I could experience that!

Vendors of fresh flowers surround the church perimeters, as well as graveyards of maroon, melted candles lighted by the devout. At waking distance from the Basilico, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral stood prominently in spotless white, this one seemingly unscathed.

A long walk from that churches is the Cebu Heritage Monument. An epitome of Cebuano pride, the sculpture of various media depicts, in 360 degree “rotonda” fashion, their oldest churches, significant events in its 16th century Spanish colonial past and notable Cebu-born personalities.

Got a weekend in Cebu? Check out 7 ways to spend it here!


Capturing the Cebu City Urban Life

Commuting via multicab is tricky in Cebu City. We got lost frequently that we abandoned plans of visiting the Cebu Taoist Temple. Asking directions from locals is not much help, as most suggested we take a cab and didn’t know what to recommend. Even the barkers.

Somehow, we found our way to Cebu Provincial Capitol Building, where flags and coat of arms of every province in Cebu are raised. Gearing up for APEC 2015 happening on November, banners of “Welcome Delegates!” peppered the notable landmarks.

To get a taste of the local malling scene, we also included the Ayala Center Cebu on our IT. Needless to say, it could rival QC’S Trinoma. In front of the mall is the terminal to  Mactan-Cebu International Airport — our route home after our trip.

ayala center cebu

Learning of the City’s Past

Because the afternoon was sweltering hot, we spent the remaining daylight hours geeking out at Museo Sugbo. Since Museo de Casa Gorordo was closed then. Missing from most listicles of “things to do in Cebu”, Museo Sugbo a wonderfully curated museum, containing the famous Manunggul Jar. Once a provincial jail, exploring it felt like sauntering within Intramuros.

Trying Out Cebu City’s Famous Lechon

Finally, it is impossible that we leave Cebu City without devouring their famous lechon. Crispy roasted pig skin and its juicy meat from CNT Lechon filled our stomachs just before we left for the early morning bus for Oslob. The servings, in particular, did not disappoint.

Typically, I don’t enjoy city tours because it’s mostly a tokensitic “post card experience” where you take pictures of this and move on to the next. I like experiences.

Cebu has a lot to offer, and I’d say a day for the city is enough — Southern Cebu is another story.





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  • Reply
    September 24, 2015 at 7:32 AM

    Cebu is one of my favorite cities to visit because it is very rich in history!

  • Reply
    September 23, 2015 at 6:46 AM

    wow. that almost close. I hope you can also visit some new places in Cebu like Temple of Leah in Busay. It’s creating a buzz and I must say it’s something new in the Queen city of the South. 😉

    cheers from:

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      September 24, 2015 at 1:26 PM

      Have’t heard about that! All I read about was the Taoist Temple. Lemme look it up 🙂

  • Reply
    September 19, 2015 at 11:04 PM

    I`ve never been to Cebu but it`s one of the place I would like to visit. The historical places in your photos remind me of Intramuros.

  • Reply
    September 17, 2015 at 9:53 PM

    I have gone to Cebu several times for a conference, seminar, and even a spiritual task or assignment to fulfill as a part of my Church commitment. The only place, historical I visited when I was in Cebu was the Magellan’s cross and a big, ancient Church just across of the said historical marker in Sugbu. – Gil Camporazo

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      September 24, 2015 at 1:28 PM

      Because I usually don’t like city tours, I’d recommend you head down South next time you visit, if you get the time.

  • Reply
    September 17, 2015 at 9:04 PM

    A 24 hour and this happened? Wow! I could tour Cebu’s majestic spots pala in a day! Need to book soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    September 16, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    Wow! I haven’t been to Cebu and I thank you for posting this! I feel like I somehow had a tour in the city!

  • Reply
    September 14, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    been to cebu quite a lot already. 🙂 i was so happy when I finally saw Magellan’s cross after just reading about it in history books before. my favorite attraction so far would be the taoist temple since I felt like I was already at another place in another country!

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      September 24, 2015 at 1:30 PM

      Exactly how I felt when I saw Magellan’s Cross 🙂 Yeah, a bit sad that we missed the temple. Will come back next year and make sure to see that 🙂

  • Reply
    Jojo Vito
    September 14, 2015 at 7:40 PM

    oh you seemed to have covered many places in your 24hr stint in Cebu

  • Reply
    Franc Ramon
    September 14, 2015 at 4:30 PM

    You’ve been all over Cebu in just 24 hours. They really have a lot of historical and religious attractions. Of course, having their lechon is also a must.

  • Reply
    Louise ღ (@louisechelle)
    September 14, 2015 at 10:51 AM

    I haven’t been to Cebu because when we were on the process of booking, the earthquake before happened so we had to postponed the trip. Everyone got busy so we missed going there. Hopefully early next year, I can finally experience Cebu. I would also want to have a DIY trip than go for tour packages. It’s alway nicer to interact, get lost and find the places on your own.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      September 24, 2015 at 1:31 PM

      True! It’s manageable with enough prior research 🙂

  • Reply
    September 13, 2015 at 10:14 PM

    p.s. i know of a place that serves lechon even better than cnt. i find cnt’s lechon too salty, to be honest. let me know if you find yourself in cebu on a sunday morning and wanting lechon so bad. hehe.

    • Reply
      Samantha C.
      September 14, 2015 at 10:14 AM

      Please let me know! I know also that CNT was not the best that Cebu can offer, but it was the easiest to find. I’ll be back next year and next time I’ll try your reco 🙂

      • Reply
        September 15, 2015 at 2:47 PM

        sure thing. =) but it’s nothing fancy, though, i have to warn you. i like to think of it as a local’s secret. char. lol. but yeah, hit me up the next time you’re in cebu.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2015 at 10:12 PM

    omg, your post is making me miss cebu terribly! looking at that photo of the ship at the pier brings back a lot of memories. i swear, i even know what the place smells and sounds and feels like! all those sensory cues have been tattooed on my every cell. crazy! haha.

    but thank you for sharing your photos, though. i hope you had a wonderful time. =)

  • Reply
    Patty | MrsC
    September 13, 2015 at 9:40 PM

    I’ve been to Cebu several times but it’s always been for work. I’ve yet to see the tourist spots around the city! Will be going there next year with the family, though, so your post is super helpful!

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