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.

This detailed travel guide will make it easy for you to plan a trip to Cebu. I’ve included trip highlights to get you started, where to stay, suggested itinerary, budget breakdown, top spots to visit, and a lot of extra travel tips that can save you money and maximize your time.

Get started

For a quick glimpse of what to see & do in Cebu, here are highlights of my trip. Scroll down to read a roundup of my top travel tips.

Want to see more? Follow trip updates on Facebook @detourista, Instagram @detouristaHQ and Pinterest.

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.

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/hostel early — Book online to enjoy instant confirmation and often cheaper rates. Reserve your stay as soon as you know you are going because prices rarely go down the closer you are to your trip. Rooms also tend to get fully booked sooner, especially during holiday and peak seasons.

Click below to compare prices & read reviews by other travelers.

Best value & promo ratesSecret dealsHotel package with airfareTop rated hotelsCheapest rooms/beds

Pre-book tours & attraction tickets — Check discounts on tours and attractions online as well. Book before your trip to save time & hassles of exchanging/bringing large amounts of cash.

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Top discounts booked by other travelers:

Cebu is easy to travel — 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.

Taste Cebu food — Don’t miss a taste of Cebu’s famous local Lechon, whole roasted pig as well as other delicous Cebuano-Filipino dishes.

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.

Explore beyond Cebu — One of the best things about Cebu is convenient access to other top destinations nearby including Bohol, Dumaguete/Apo Island, Siquijor & more.

Top Cebu travel blogs & guides

I’ll be posting more about Cebu when I have more time to write. In the meantime, you might want to check out these posts:

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.

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Cebu City hotels & hostels

Here’s a list of top rated places to stay in Cebu City. Click below to see rates, discounts & guest reviews. Scroll down to find accommodations at various destinations in Cebu Province.

1. Tropical Hostel – Cebu Center

Budget backpacker | Mabolo, Cebu City

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Booking.comTripAdvisor

2. Food District Hostel Cebu Central

Budget backpacker | Lahug, Cebu City

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3. Sampaguita Suites-Plaza Garcia

Budget | Downtown, Cebu City

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4. Pillows Hotel

Budget | Capitol Site, Cebu City

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5. Cebu R Hotel – Capitol

Budget | Capitol Site, Cebu City

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6. Red Planet Cebu

Budget | Near Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu City

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7. Harolds Hotel

Mid-range | Lahug, Cebu City

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8. Mandarin Plaza Hotel

Mid-range | Near Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu City

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9. Radisson Blu Cebu

Splurge |Near SM City Cebu, Cebu City

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10. The Henry Hotel Cebu

Splurge | Banilad, Cebu City

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Cebu Province accommodations

Mactan IslandBantayan IslandMalapascua IslandMoalboalOslob

Where to book

See more places to stay on these trusted booking sites. I use them frequently to grab rock bottom prices, often cheaper than walk-in rates. Click below to compare rates and book online.

AgodaBooking.comExpedia

Don’t forget to set the check-in/check-out dates to see current prices on your travel dates.

To view the best hotels/hostels, simply sort the results by guest ratings. Filter the results by “price per night” or “price range” to find rooms perfect for your budget. Carefully check the number of reviews, not only the review score.

To easily view the cheapest rooms, sort the results by price from lowest to highest. Again, be mindful of the review score and number of review to find the best options, as experienced by other travelers.

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 top spots to visit/things to do & extra travel tips. If you are interested to visit the province, I’ll be posting more itineraries for trips to South and North Cebu in later updates.

3 days Cebu itinerary

Day 1 — Cebu City tour

7:30 am — ETA Cebu-Mactan International Airport

8 am — Cebu Airport to Hotel transfer

8:30 am — Hotel check-in

9:00 am — Start Cebu Downtown tour

Fort San Pedro & Plaza Independencia

Magellan’s Cross

Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral

11 am — Crown Regency Observatory, Sky Walk, Edge Coaster, Tower Zip

12 nn — Lunch at Casa Verde / Zubuchon

2 pm — Taoist Temple

3 pm — Sirao Garden / Sirao Peak / Celosia Flower Farm

4 pm — Tops Skyline Garden

5 pm — Temple Of Leah

7 pm — Dinner at Larsian

Rest

Day 2 — Mactan Islands & Beaches

8 am — Hotel to Mactan transfer

9 am — Lapu-Lapu Monument & Magellan Shrine

10 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.

3 pm — Transport to Hilton Port or 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.

4 pm — Mactan to Santa Rosa Port, Olango Island ferry — Remember to ask the last trip back to Mactan.

Transport to Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Sunset at Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary observation deck

6 pm — Transport to Santa Rosa Port & Ferry to Mactan

Transport to SuTuKil

7 pm — Dinner at SuTuKil

Rest

Day 3

8 am — Continue Cebu downtown tour

Casa Gorordo

Yap-San Diego Ancestral House

Heritage Monument of Cebu

Museo Sugbo

10 am — Transport to Tabo-an Market

Tabo-an Market Pasalubong Shopping

Transport to hotel

Hotel check out

1 pm — Hotel to airport transfer

2 pm — ETA Cebu Airport

Rest

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.

Budget & expenses

To help you set a budget, here are expenses you can expect to spend during your trip. Review all discounts & online booking prices.

Expenses breakdown

TransportPricePrice per person. 4 people in group.
Cebu Airport to Hotel transfer — P250 one-way taxi fare x 2 (round trip). To Downtown Cebu City.PHP 500PHP 125
Cebu car charter — Rate per car per day. With driver. Up to 4 people.PHP 2,000PHP 500
Cebu City-Mactan shrine transfer — P300 one-way taxi fare  x 2 (round trip). From Downtown Cebu City.PHP 600PHP 150
Olango Island tricycle — PHP 120 one-way rate x 2 (round trip). Per tricycle.PHP 240PHP 60
Mactan-Olango ferry — PHP 15 one-way fare per person x 2 (round trip).PHP 30Same
ActivitiesPrice
Fort San Pedro — Entrance fee per person.PHP 50
Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral — Museum entrance fee per person. No admission fees if visiting the church only.PHP 50
Sirao Flower Farm — Entrance fee per person.PHP 30
Tops Skyline Garden — Entrance fee per person.PHP 100
Temple Of Leah entrance fee — Entrance fee per person.PHP 50
Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary — Entrance fee per person.PHP 30
Casa Gorordo — Entrance fee per person.PHP 50
Yap-San Diego Ancestral House — Entrance fee per person.PHP 50
Museo Sugbo — Entrance fee per person.PHP 30
AccommodationsPricePrice per person. 4 people in group.
Backpacker hostel — PHP 400 per bed per night x 2 nightsPHP 800
Budget hotel — PHP 1,600 per room per night x 2 nightsPHP 3,200PHP 800

Budget estimates

Your Cebu budget will largely depend on activities you plan on enjoying, how much you’re up for spending on accommodations & food. For your reference, the budget estimates below are for the itinerary posted above.

Cebu 3 days trip expenses for budget travelersPer person. 4 people in group
Transport — Airport transfers, car charter (day 1), Cebu-Mactan transfers (day 2), Olango Island transport. Excluding transport within Downtown Cebu City.PHP 850
Accommodations — 2 nights in budget hotel/hostel.PHP 800
Food — Sample budget only for the whole trip, for restaurants posted above.PHP 2,000
TotalPHP 3,650

As you can see, traveling to Cebu can be very affordable, especially if you are traveling in a group. The trip can cost even lower per person, the more people you share the costs with. And, if you spend less on food. There are lots of budget places to eat where one meal can cost as low as PHP 75 to 150.

If you are traveling solo on a tight budget, see the extra tips for local commute options & money-saving tips.

Including activities4 people in group
Entrance/admission fees — To 9 activities posted abovePHP 440
Crown Regency — Observatory + 1 Sky Experience Adventure RidePHP 550
Excluding Mactan beaches/island hoppingSee extra tips below for rates
TotalPHP 5,740

To know how much spending money you should bring on your own trip, simply make your own estimates using the prices posted on this page.

Sights & things to do

First time in Cebu? Here’s a list of what to do and top tourist spots/attractions to see.

1. Tour Downtown Cebu

Fort San Pedro in Cebu City, Philippines

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

Shangri-la Mactan Resort in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines

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

Osmeña Peak in Dalaguete, Cebu, Philippines

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

https://www.instagram.com/p/BMCvuGilf5p/?taken-by=detouristahq

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

https://www.instagram.com/p/BMym8deBoqQ/

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. Shop at modern malls & local markets

SM Seaside Cebu, at South Road Properties, in Cebu City, Philippines

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.

8. Beyond Cebu

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.

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.

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.

Travel tips before you go

How to get to Cebu?

Cebu-Mactan International Airport is the primary gateway to Cebu. Located 1 hour south of Manila, it serves direct domestic flights from nearly all major airports in the Philippines and international flights from many destinations in Southeast Asia and East Asia. Airlines include Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern Airlines, EVA Air, Korean Air, SilkAir, Tiger Air & more.

In addition, Cebu seaports also serve a wide ferry network to Manila and cities/islands in Visayas and Mindanao regions.

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:

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When are you going? See the cheapest flights that you can book right now. Enter your travel details and search.

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, how much does it costs?

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.

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Look out for discounts online

With the rising popularity of booking sites, there are a lot of accommodations & activities that can be booked cheaper online than paying walk-in rates.

Hotel/hostel discounts

Click below to see the best deals available today. Make sure to set your travel dates to see actual room prices & discounts.

AgodaBooking.comExpedia PH

Tours & attraction tickets

Click below to see all discounts posted on these top booking sites:

KlookExpedia PHKkday

Top Cebu discounts

Flights/airfare promo

Cebu promo

Don’t stop here

See more Philippine blog tips & travel guides:

Check out these pages for more inspiration on places to go in Asia:

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