Cebu, in the Philippines, is blessed with beautiful beaches, cool waterfalls, scenic hikes, & some history. With the island being a hilly one, there are several places that treat you to great views of the settlements, the coast, & the greenery of the island. The whole list of things to do in Cebu is a long one. Here is shortened list comprising the top ten things to do in Cebu and includes a bit of everything: waterfalls, temples, gardens, hikes & some historical sites!
1. Go canyoneering at the Kawasan waterfall complex
Of the many waterfalls on the island of Cebu, Kawasan is probably the most popular one. Situated in Badian, this attraction is a 3 hour drive from Cebu City. Tourists to the island flock here to see the main waterfall and the turquoise pool at the bottom of it.
This is the largest fall in the area. If you’re feeling more adventurous and would like to see more falls you can walk up the canyon and see two other falls, each a few minutes higher than the previous one.
Along the way, you’ll see places where you can cliff jump, water slide, & swim, too! Make sure you get yourself a guide if you’re going all the way up. And if you’re going later in the day, you might also want to carry flashlights for the way back down.
2. Hike to Dao Waterfalls
If you’re not satisfied with just one waterfall and have time for another, another one of things to do in Cebu is visiting Dao Waterfalls, further south of Kawasan Falls. The hike to the waterfall and the waterfall itself will be things to remember!
To get to Dao Falls, you hike a bit and then wade through the bluish-green water almost up to the fall. As you get closer to the fall, the water gets rough so you’ll have to get on the trail beside the water. And once you’re at the foot of the fall, you can make a jump into the water and enjoy a swim there.
3. Ascend the Osmena Peak
Yet another place you might want to hike at while you’re in Cebu is Osmena Peak. It’s a half hour walk up to the summit of Mantalungon Mountain Range.
The hike to Cebu’s highest point rewards you with views of the smaller craggy hills that make up the range. From this peak that stands at over 1000 meters above sea level you’ll also see farms, the town of Alegria, parts of the coast, & some of the islands in the distance. It’s also a great place to be when the sun rises.
4. Check out the views from Tops Lookout
Also known for its views is this lookout a few minutes away from Cebu City. Tops Lookout often simply known as Tops is situated on Mt. Busay and promises you bird’s eye views of Cebu City & Mactan Island, making it a great thing to do in Cebu. If you visit in the latter half of the day, you can spend some time on the circular concrete viewing deck and enjoy some snacks while you wait for the sun to set, and then you could also see the city lit up before you leave the lookout. Tops Lookout is also a good place to see the sun rise.
5. Enjoy the colors of Terrazas de Flores Botanical Garden
Terrazas de Flores Botanical Gardens is a terraced garden in Cebu City. This botanical garden showcases over 100 native plants most to them, flowering ones.
What makes it a special thing to do in Cebu is not just the color but also how the flowers are grown on the rice terraces built on the Barangay Malubog hillside. With most of them labeled, it’s also a great place to learn about plants that thrive in this part of the Philippines. The Botanical Garden is also a place where you can relax with some food & coffee available in the cafe. There are some cabanas you can rent, too.
6. See how Instagrammable Little Amsterdam is up close
If you like flowers or you are an instagrammer, you’ll want to add Sirao Flower Garden to your Cebu itinerary. This garden is also called the Mini Amsterdam of Cebu.
This garden is family-run like the Terrazas de Flores and has a large variety of flowers grown and shown at the flower farm here. This mini Amsterdam has what they call a pictorial garden which has become popular with photographers and instagrammers. As you walk into the garden you’ll find that the structures here make fun props for your social media pictures. A windmill, a pool, a floral heart, & seats facing the green hillsides are just some of the props you’ll spot here. And the views from here will also make lovely captures!
7. Visit the Taoist Temple
As for the architecture of Cebu, one building not to be missed is the Taoist Temple. Built by Cebu’s Chinese community, the Taoist Temple in Beverly Hills is a specimen of Chinese architecture & a really cool thing to do in Cebu. It’s a multi-story structure with the kind of roof you’d see on pagodas, figures of dragons, and even an outer wall that reminds one of the Great Wall.
The Taoist Temple of Cebu is open to all — worshippers & non-worshippers alike — who would like to offer prayers or see the temple. However, photography & videography are not allowed indoors.
The Taoist Temple of Cebu also offers views of Cebu town and the island of Mactan & Bohol.
8. Walkthrough the Temple of Leah
Another building that has lately become popular with tourists is The Temple of Leah. This one is constructed in the Roman style of architecture and is nicknamed the Taj Mahal of Cebu because it was built by businessman Teodorico Soriano Adarna as an expression of his love for his wife, Leah Villa Albino-Adarna.
Go here & you’ll see some statues, antiques, and other possessions from her personal collection. Built on a hillside, this palatial structure also offers panoramic views.
9. Learn about Cebu’s past
Visit Basilica Del Santo Niño, Lapu-Lapu’s Shrine in Mactan, and the fort near Cebu City’s pier to understand the story of the island. Learning the history is a wonderful thing to do in Cebu. Basílica Menor del Santo Niño de Cebú, a church dedicated to child Jesus, is also a symbol of the Spanish settlement & arrival of Christianity in Cebu. It’s the oldest Catholic Church too. Visitors can see its grand interiors & frescoes. And if you’re visiting in the third week of the year, you’ll get to attend the festival of Sinulog.
Also near the basilica is the Magellan’s Cross, the crucifix that the explorer ordered to be put up in Cebu in 1521. The cross is in a chapel just outside the basilica.
Lapu-Lapu Monument on Mactan Island talks of a local hero who opposed and fought the Spanish explorers.
Another still-standing structure that talks of the Spanish occupation of Cebu is Fort San Pedro. This was built later in 1565 to protect the area from raiders. In it is a museum, if you’d like to visit.
10. Enjoy Cebu’s Coasts
When in Cebu, there’s no ignoring the fact that Cebu is a long island between the Sulu & South Philippine Seas and has straits separating it from the neighboring islands. This gives the island a large number of beaches and beach-related activities that locals & visitors can engage in.
Visitors to Cebu can enjoy soft white sands of the narrow beaches of Cebu, its surrounding islands, and a couple of sand bars in the area. The presence of numerous islands near here gives tourists an opportunity to get out onto the clear green waters and explore them. And then there’s the swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling that Cebu offers to the long list of things to do in Cebu.