Cebu is easily one of my favorite travel destinations in the Philippines. This island is home to an amazing variety of travel-worthy places to see & experience. I always find good reasons to go and come back, especially because of Cebu’s wide flight/ferry network.

Cebu has it all! Gorgeous beaches, island hopping, modern city sights, big festivals, majestic waterfalls, hiking spots, heritage sites, delicious local cuisine and more.

If you have the chance to fly in/out/around the country via Cebu. Go for it! Make sure to spend a couple of days on exploring the city and different places around the island.

Traveling to Cebu for the first time? This detailed travel guide will make it easy for you to plan a trip, save money, and maximize your time.

Scroll down to read must-know travel tips before you go, followed by a sample itinerary + budget breakdown, recommended hotels/places to stay, things to do/places to visit and lots of extra travel tips.

Cebu Travel Guide Blog Contents

Get Started

Cebu Itinerary

Cebu Budget

Where to Stay in Cebu

Cebu Travel Tips Before You Go

Things To Do in Cebu + Places to Visit

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How to Go — Cebu Airport is 1 hour south of Manila by plane. Arriving in the Philippines? Fly directly to Cebu from Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul-Incheon, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Nagoya, Taipei or Los Angeles. Cebu also serves direct flights to major cities in the country including Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Clark, Puerto Princesa, Boracay-Caticlan, Kalibo, Iloilo & more.

See cheap flightsManila to Cebu

Spend 3 days or more — While it’s possible to explore the highlights of the city in a day, consider planning at least 3 days to tour the city and a bit of the province. Go for 5 days for a more relaxed trip. Travel longer if you want to explore nearby islands/province or islands of North Cebu.

Book your hotel early — Grab rock-bottom rates and avoid fully-booked rooms by booking online as soon as you know you’re going. Click below to compare discounts and read reviews by other travelers.

Cheapest ratesBest hotel reviews

Check prices online and pre-book discounts — Save money by checking discounts on tours & airport/city transfers. Booking before you leave also saves you time by avoiding the hassles of bringing large amounts of cash during your actual trip.

See tours & discounts

Discover Cebu Province — See beautiful nature spots and heritage churches outside the city. There are a lot of beaches, islands, churches, waterfalls and other attractions in North and South Cebu Province.

Getting around Cebu — There are a lot of transport and tour options available whether you want to go with a private tour or a do-it-yourself trip. You can even go full local and try the jeepney/bus commute to get around. Or, stick with packaged tours that can offer a hassle-free experience. Grab and Uber ride sharing apps are also popular in Cebu.

Top travel blogs + guide to Cebu & beyond

Cebu Itinerary

Here’s a suggested itinerary that you can follow on your travel to Metro Cebu (Cebu City & Mactan). Scroll down for the budget and list of expenses. Followed by extra travel tips & top spots to visit/things to do in Cebu. If you are interested to visit the province, I’ll be posting more itineraries for trips to South and North Cebu in later updates.

Day 1: Cebu City tour

Flight to Cebu

0730 am: ETA Cebu-Mactan International Airport

0800 am: Cebu Airport to Hotel transfer

0830 am: Hotel check-in

0900 am: Start Cebu Downtown tour …Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, Basilica de Santo Niño, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral & more.

1100 am: Crown Regency Observatory, Sky Walk, Edge Coaster, Tower Zip

1200 nn: Lunch at Casa Verde, Zubuchon

0200 pm: Taoist Temple

0300 pm: Sirao Garden / Sirao Peak / Celosia Flower Farm

0400 pm: Tops Skyline Garden

0500 pm: Temple Of Leah

0700 pm: Dinner at Larsian

Day 2: Mactan tour

Start Mactan day trip

0800 am: Hotel to Mactan transfer

0900 am: Lapu-Lapu Monument & Magellan Shrine

1000 am: Mactan beaches / island hopping …Pick a resort that offers day tour packages if you are not booking a room in a beachfront resort on the island. I’ve posted some options on the extra tips below. You can also book an island hopping tour in case you want to see more beaches & do some  snorkeling nearby.

0300 pm: Transport to Hilton Port/Angasil Port …Go by taxi or “Punta Engaño” jeep. Hilton Port is located beside Movenpick Resort, formerly Hilton Hotel. Meanwhile, Angasil Port is located near Mactan Newtown.

0400 pm: Mactan to Santa Rosa Port, Olango Island ferry …Remember to ask the schedule of the last trip back to Mactan.

Transport to Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Sunset at Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary observation deck

0600 pm: Transport to Santa Rosa Port & Ferry to Mactan

Transport to SuTuKil & dinner

Day 3: Continue Cebu city tour

For trips outside of Cebu City & Mactan, simply modify the itinerary above to suit your schedule. For example, if you want to go to Bohol or do the Kawasan Falls Canyoneering / Osmeña Peak trek / Oslob whale watching, you can extend more days to your trip or move the Cebu City and/or Mactan tour on your last day.

Cebu Budget

Your travel expenses in Cebu will largely depend on your traveling style and how much you plan to spend on activities, accommodations & food. To help you set your own budget, here are budget estimates if you follow the 3 days and 2 nights (3D2N) itinerary posted above. Make sure to review all discounts & online booking prices.

Prices below are ‘per person’, calculated based on a group of 4 people sharing the travel expenses.

Transport expenses breakdown
PHP 125Cebu Airport to Hotel transfer — To Downtown Cebu City. P250 one-way taxi fare x 2 (round trip) = PHP 500 / 4 pax.
PHP 500Cebu car charter — Per day rate of car charter (up to 4 people) = PHP 2,000 / 4 pax.
PHP 150Cebu City-Mactan shrine transfer — P300 one-way taxi fare  x 2 (round trip) = PHP 600 / 4 pax.
PHP 60Olango Island tricycle — PHP 120 one-way rate per tricycle x 2 (round trip) = PHP 240 / 4 pax.
PHP 30Mactan-Olango ferry — PHP 15 one-way fare per person + return trip.
Activities/attraction costs breakdown
PHP 50Fort San Pedro — Entrance fee per person.
PHP 550Crown Regency — Admission to Observatory + 1 Sky Experience Adventure Ride
PHP 50Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral — Museum entrance fee per person. No admission fees if visiting the church only.
PHP 30Sirao Flower Farm — Entrance fee per person.
PHP 100Tops Skyline Garden — Entrance fee per person.
PHP 50Temple Of Leah entrance fee — Entrance fee per person.
PHP 30Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary — Entrance fee per person.
PHP 50Casa Gorordo — Entrance fee per person.
PHP 50Yap-San Diego Ancestral House — Entrance fee per person.
PHP 30Museo Sugbo — Entrance fee per person.
Budget Trip – Backpacker Expenses
PHP 865Transport — Shared expenses per group of 4. Airport transfers, car charter (day 1), Cebu-Mactan transfers (day 2), Olango Island transport. Excluding transport within Downtown Cebu City.
PHP 800Accommodations — 2 nights in budget hotel/hostel.
PHP 2,000Food — Full meals x 3 days
PHP 4,655Total — Including all expenses above for 3 days in Cebu. Excluding flights.

I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can travel in Cebu. If you have money to splurge on hotels, food, and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted to calculate your own budget.

Where to Stay in Cebu

Many of the top tourist attractions in Cebu City are located within the Downtown district. Stay here along with the areas near Fuente Osmeña Circle, Capitol Site, and Sergio Osmeña Boulevard if you want a convenient base to explore the city. These places are also close to ferry terminals and South Bus Terminal, perfect for Bohol or South Cebu-bound travelers. In case you want to explore more of the newer districts of Cebu, stay at Lahug, Archbishop Reyes Avenue or Banilad.

Want a room near the beach? You can find a lot of top-class resorts and hotels in Mactan Island. Travel time to Downtown, Cebu City only takes 30 minutes to over 1 hour depending on the traffic flow.

Compare all rates & reviews

Cebu hotels & hostels

Here’s a list of recommended hotels, hostels & places to stay in Cebu. Click below to check prices, discounts & guest reviews.

1. Tropical Hostel

Budget backpacker / Mabolo, Cebu City

2. Food District Hostel

Budget backpacker / Lahug, Cebu City

3. Sampaguita Suites

Budget / Downtown Cebu

4. Pillows Hotel

Budget / Capitol Site

5. Harolds Hotel

Mid-range / Lahug

6. Mandarin Plaza Hotel

Mid-range / Near Ayala Center Cebu

7. Radisson Blu Cebu

Splurge / Near SM City Cebu

8. The Henry Hotel Cebu

Splurge / Banilad

Where to book

Book your stay online through these trusted booking sites. I use them frequently to grab rock-bottom prices & enjoy convenient bookings.

Click below to see more places to stay and compare rates/discounts:

AgodaBooking.com

Here are some of the top reasons why I prefer to book online & why you should too:

Wide selection of Cebu hotels/hostels for all budgets.

Often cheaper prices than walk-in rates. Earn rewards points for every booking. The more you book, the more you earn!

Trusted by millions of travelers. Read reviews from actual staying guests.

Instant confirmation & free cancellation on most properties.

Pay in your home currency. Worry less about bringing cash/exchanging currencies. Convenient & secure payment by credit card or Paypal.

Fast customer support.

How to find affordable yet decent hotels perfect for your budget

Step 1 — Go to Agoda.com.

Step 2 — Show the best locations only by filtering results by neighborhood.

Step 3 — View all properties within your price range by tapping on the “Filter” button. Then, scroll down to “Price per night” and select your price range. Tap on “Filter” to see the results. For desktop users, you can find the filters on the left side of the page.

Step 4 — See properties with the highest guest reviews by using the “Guest Rating” filter. Select “9+ Exceptional”. In case there are few results displayed select “8+ Excellent”.

To check the cheapest rooms/beds, simply sort the results by price from lowest to highest.

To check the best places to stay, sort the results by guest ratings. Tap the “Sort” button. Then, choose “Guest ratings” > “All guests” or any of the choices you like. For desktop users, the sort button is located on top of the results.

Carefully check the number of reviews, not only the review score. A higher number of reviews mean a more reliable review score.

Pro tip — Go to Booking.com to check more properties, reviews and rates. Use the “Location Score” filter to narrow down to hostels/hotels with the best location. Select “Superb location: 9+.”

Cebu Province accommodations

Mactan IslandBantayan IslandMalapascua IslandMoalboalOslob

Cebu Travel Tips Before You Go

How to find cheap flights to Cebu?

The easy way is to search on airfare comparison sites that can show you the lowest fares on many airlines in one go.

Click below to start searching:

MomondoWegoTripAdvisorSkyscanner

Check Cebu promo tickets several weeks or months ahead of your trip if you are planning your trip early. The cheapest promos are sold up to a year in advance of the travel/flight departure date & are often only available if you book directly with the airline.

To learn more, visit the guide on how to book cheap flights.

How to get around Cebu?

Cebu-Mactan International Airport, located on Mactan Island, is connected to mainland Cebu and Cebu City by bridges. Travel time to the Downtown Cebu takes around 30 minutes or over 1 hour depending on the traffic flow. Taxi fare is usually PHP 200 to PHP 250 per way.

The best way to maximize your trip is to charter a car/taxi for your sightseeing tour of Cebu City. Typical rates for a car w/ driver, for up to 4 people should be around PHP 2,000 to 5,000 per car per day. Van/shuttles that can seat up to 10 or more people cost from PHP 3,000 per shuttle per day.

For short rides with Metro Cebu or to/from the airport, Grab and Uber ride-sharing apps are popular & convenient.

Scroll down for do-it-yourself (DIY) commuting tips if you are traveling solo & on a tight budget. Remember, taking the jeepney takes a lot more time, only go if you are not in a hurry. Also, Google Maps will be a huge help to navigate around on your own. Make sure to have mobile internet ready.

Cebu Airport to Cebu City by multicab/jeepney

From the arrivals area, walk up to the entrance of the departure building. Then, walk to the airport multicab loading/unloading station found at the far end of the building. Just ask the guards where to find it. Ride the yellow MI-05a multicab and drop off at M.L. Quezon National Highway near Marina Mall. The fare is PHP 8. Travel time should take less than 10 minutes.

Best to tell the driver to drop you off where you can ride a jeep to SM City Cebu. Keep a lookout for signboards with “SM” on it. The fare is PHP 14. Travel time is 20 minutes or more depending on traffic. To get to Colon from the jeepney terminal in SM, ride a jeepney with “Labangon” on the signboard.

If you are headed to the airport, you can find the yellow airport multicabs near the Island Souvenir shop at Marina Mall.

Cebu Airport to Cebu City by ferry

This is the most scenic route to Mactan. It’s one of the cheap thrills in Cebu that I always look forward to enjoying when I’m not in a hurry.

From Cebu Airport, ride the yellow airport multicab all the way to Opon Public Market. Tell the driver that you’re headed to Muelle Osmeña wharf so he can drop you off nearby and give you some directions. The fare is P10. Travel time is around 15 minutes. From Opon Public Market, walk towards the Virgen dela Regla National Shrine (church). You can find Muelle Osmeña wharf just behind the church.

Ride the Cebu-Mactan ferry, which arrives at Pier 3, Cebu City. The fare is P14. The crossing takes around 15 minutes. From Pier 3, you can easily find jeepneys to Colon area or hail a taxi to your hotel.

Downtown Cebu to Sirao / Busay

Headed to the Sirao flower garden, Temple of Leah, TOPS and Taoist Temple? A cheap option to get there is to ride a habal-habal or motorcycle taxi from JY Mall. One-way fare from JY Square Mall to Temple of Leah should cost PHP 50 to PHP 75. Charter rate for all 4 sites should cost PHP 1,000 including waiting time.

Take note that way up is quite steep and the habal-habal might not be the safest way to go. I highly recommend the taxi or car charter instead, especially if you are traveling in a group.

JY Square Mall is located at Salinas Drive, Cebu City. To get there by jeepney, you can ride the “04L” route from University of San Carlos main campus along Panthaleon del Rosario Street (near Elizabeth Mall or E-Mall / Osmeña Street).

South Cebu

Head to the South Bus Terminal for buses to Southern Cebu Province and Dumaguete. Including Oslob, Dalaguete (Osmeña Peak), Moalboal & Badian (Kawasan Falls). The South Bus Terminal is located along Natalio B. Bacalso Avenue, beside Elizabeth Mall or E-Mall.

North Cebu

Buses to Northern Cebu Province depart from the North Bus Terminal. Transit here if you are headed to Bantayan, Malapascua, Toledo or Bacolod.

Cebu to Bohol

Most ferries to Bohol depart from Pier 1 in Cebu City. Travel time by fastcraft (fast ferry) to Tagbilaran pier is 2 hours. You can also ride the 1 hour and 30 minutes fastcraft ferry to Tubigon pier and travel to Chocolate Hills, Tagbilaran or Panglao by land.

Mactan beach resort day packages

Many beachfront resorts in Mactan Island offer day tour packages for travelers who want to enjoy the beach or pool but are not staying as a guest overnight.

Here’s a list of popular Mactan beach resort and their day use rates. Contact the resort directly to confirm current rates.

Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu

From PHP 2,000 per adult. Inclusive of:

Free use of the swimming pool, beach, game room and gym.

Rates for weekday (PHP2,000 nett) and weekend (PHP2,500 nett) include lunch buffet at The Sails, and premium rate (PHP2,800 nett) include 15-course Balearic dinner at Ibiza Beach Club.

One (1) scoop of Mövenpick ice cream at the Lobby lounge.

A 15% discount at Spa del Mar and on all water sports activities
Guests who wish to extend their stay can also enjoy a 50% discount on themed dinner buffet at The Sails restaurant (valid on the same date of stay) and a special rate of PHP 1,500 nett per person for Deluxe Twin Room from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm (subject to availability)

See room rate discounts

Plantation Bay Resort & Spa

From PHP 2,000 per adult. Inclusive of:

Lunch and choice of drink

Lagoons and swimming pools

Wall climbing at selected hours

30-minute use of bicycles

15-minute use of non-motorized aqua sports facilities (nips floater or kayak)

Foosball, air hockey, and table tennis

Shower and changing facilities

See room rate discounts

Solea Mactan Cebu Resort

From PHP 1,800 per adult. Inclusive of:

Lunch buffet on weekends. P500 worth of consumable food on weekdays.

Entrance fee

Use of the pool facilities with complimentary use of sunbeds

Free use of public shower room

See room rate discounts

Cebu White Sands Resort and Spa

From PHP 900 per adult. P500 worth of consumable food on weekdays. PHP 1,200.00 on weekends with lunch buffet.

See room rate discounts

Maribago Blue Water Beach Resort

From PHP 2,000 per person on weekdays or PHP 2,500 on weekends. Inclusive of lunch buffet & 1 drink.

See room rate discounts

Jpark Island Resort and Waterpark

From PHP 2,500 per person inclusive of lunch buffet. Formerly Imperial Palace Resort and Water Park.

See room rate discounts

Crimson Resort and Spa

From PHP 2,000 per person. Inclusive of lunch buffet.

See room rate discounts

Be Resort Mactan

From PHP 999 per person. Inclusive of set lunch.

See room rate discounts

Things To Do in Cebu + Places to Visit

Check out these top tourist spots, best places to visit & things to do in Cebu.

1. Tour Downtown Cebu

Cebu is the first Spanish settlement, oldest city, and the first capital of the Philippines. Visit surviving Spanish-colonial heritage sites, most of which can be found within the downtown area and can be easily explored on foot. Don’t miss the triangular Fort San Pedro, Basilica Minore del Santo Niño church, Magellan’s Cross, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral and old houses that have been turned into museums.

2. Enjoy Mactan’s beaches & islands

Mactan’s beaches are one the best things about Cebu. It’s a mere bridge crossing away from the city or a 15-minute drive from the airport! Mactan Island is lined with many white sand beaches and luxury resorts worth the splurge. From here, you can go island hopping to more beaches, islands and snorkeling spots nearby.

3. Adventure in South Cebu

There is no shortage of destinations to go outside the capital city. Cebu’s southern towns are famous for its adventure-filled spots & scenic beaches. Go canyoneering at Kawasan Falls, hike to Osmeña Peak, see the whale sharks in Oslob, experience the sardine run & beaches in Moalboal. Almost every town is also home to well-preserved Spanish-colonial churches and heritage sites.

4. Visit North Cebu islands & beaches

North Cebu is home to many of the province’s most beautiful islands, beaches, and diving spots. Don’t miss Bantayan Island, Malapascua Island and Camotes Islands.

5. See Metro Cebu

Take a short drive from the center to the highlands of Metro Cebu. Here, you can enjoy sweeping overlooking views and cool spots to visit including the Tops Skyline Garden, Temple Of Leah, Taoist Temple & flower farms/gardens in Sirao. There are also many restaurants, cafes and hotels with a view in this area.

6. Shopping in Cebu

Some of the Philippines’ and Asia’s biggest shopping malls can be found in Cebu including SM Seaside City Cebu, Ayala Center Cebu, Robinsons Galleria Cebu and SM City Cebu. For a more local feed, shop at Taboan Public Market for pasalubong/souvenirs.

7. Taste Cebu food

Don’t leave without trying food in Cebu. The most popular dish for tourists is Lechon (roasted suckling pig). You can taste the best at CnT Lechon, Zubuchon, Alejo’s and Carcar Public Market. Aside from lechon, bring home dried mangoes, otap, danggit (dried fish) & other Cebu delicacies as pasalubong.

Beyond Cebu

8. Bohol

Ferry crossing to Bohol only takes 2 hours from the heart of Cebu City. Here, you can find the famous Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers & White Sand Beaches of Panglao Island.

9. Negros & Siquijor

Venture to Dumaguete, which is less than an hour away by ferry from Santander, the southernmost town of Cebu Province. From here, you can jump-off to the mystical island of Siquijor, swim with sea turtles in Apo Island and explore the natural spots of Negros Island.

10. Central and South Philippines

Cebu offers direct ferry and flight links to other major destinations in the Philippines. Including, Palawan, Boracay, Davao, Surigao/Siargao, Iloilo, Bacolod, Leyte, Samar, Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin & Zamboanga.

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