Hotels in Cebu City (Visayas, Philippines)
Hotels in Cebu City
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To paradise through crowded Cebu City
Rapidly growing Cebu City is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines due to its beaches, extensive shopping and unique historical attractions. The city also offers convenience in travel connections as it is home to the busiest sea port in the country as well as a large airport.
The ‘Queen City of the South’ acts as a gateway to the wonders of Cebu island, which features many smaller fishing towns and isolated hotels ideal for the most relaxing of holidays.
Historical Cebu City
Though Cebu City is on the coast and is home to some surprisingly spectacular beaches close by the pulsing city of just over 900.000, there are other points of interest worth spending at least a day chasing. Numerous shrines and landmarks can be found throughout the sprawling city, starting with Basilica Minore del Santo Nino then on to other religious sites such as the Taoist Temple, and historical points of interest like the Yap Sandiego Ancestral House.
Not far from the Basilica are a few interesting blocks, where a collection of important monuments to Cebu City can be found. Magellan’s Cross and Fort San Pedro in Plaza Independence are within only some minutes’ walk of each other, and each has an interesting story to go with it.
Magellan’s Cross was set in place on orders from the famed Portuguese explorer himself upon arrival in the Philippines in the middle of the 16th century, while Fort San Pedro was built by the Spanish and acted as their headquarters during settlement. It dates to the early 1700s.
Tops Lookout is the best place in the city to take in the view, with the entire metropolis laid out beneath your feet stretching toward the strait and adjacent island Mactan, upon which the airport and numerous hotels are located.
Jump in a jeepney
After the must-see attractions in the pier area are done, jump in a jeepney – colourful public transportation vehicles that run 24 hours, seven days a week – and head north. A few blocks from the Basilica is the magnificent Cebu Heritage Monument, which exquisitely details the island and city’s past from the Spanish through to American colonial period.
Travelling through Cebu City by jeepney is the most affordable and convenient once you crack the system, but buses also run and taxis can be organised through your hotel.
Cebuano and getting around
There are over one hundred dialects spoken in the Philippines, though Filipino and English are listed as the nation’s official languages. In Cebu City, the official language is Cebuano but most residents of the island can communicate in basic English.
Cebu City is growing rapidly and features many signs of a developing metropolis as we know it and includes shopping malls, 24-hour convenience stores and all-too-familiar fast-food chains.
Arriving in Cebu City you may be struck with the thought that such a busy city is not usually associated with peaceful, white sand beaches – and you would be half right. Cebu City indeed boasts several beaches, with some that remain tranquil and barely touched while others are serviced with showers and the availability of food.
The best beaches lie further afield from the city however, enabling visitors to Cebu City to either beach hop and stay at various hotels around the islands or make a day or three of tripping to nearby coves. Beaches within easy reach of Cebu City include Bantayan Island, Mactan Island, offering the beaches and diving closest to city, Malapascua Island, Moalboal and the Camotes Islands.
If simply visiting the beach is too tame, you can try snorkelling, scuba diving and even swimming with whale sharks, as well as one of the many other water sports available around the island.
Other sites of interest outside Cebu City include Osmena Peak, the highest peak on the island with a series of popular hiking trails, and Kawasan Falls.
Celebrations in Cebu City
The biggest and most popular festival held in Cebu City is the Sinulog-Santo Niño Festival, which takes place annually on the third Sunday in January and features a colourful parade. At the end of the year Christmas is celebrated with lanterns and festive songs as part of Paskuhan, while Kadaugan sa Mactan – translated to ‘Victory in Mactan’ – is a one-day event honouring the historic victory against Ferdinand Magellan’s troops, held on April 27.
The Chinese Moon Festival and Dinagat Festival are also worth planning your itinerary around. Dragon dances, parades and fireworks take centre stage at the Chinese Moon Festival in early October, while the Dinagat Festival sees a dance competition inspired by a mixture of fishing and street dancing.