13 Best Things to Do in Cebu For First Time Visitor

Located at the center of Visayas region in the Philippines, Cebu – ‘the Queen City of the South’, is a popular tourist destination to local and international tourists alike. It is widely accessible to everyone and is a complete travel package on its own, with an efficient international airport and plenty of tourism infrastructures that make the place a good vacation spot. Because of its strategic location and the presence of businesses devoted to tourism development, there are plenty of things to do in Cebu, be it in the city proper or within its borders.

Read More: 10 Best Places to Visit in the Philippines

Cebu attractions are dominated by stunning natural locations and world-class tourist experiences found all around the island.

Life in Cebu is a contrasting mix of fast-paced and relaxed atmosphere. In the city, buildings, cars and people  populate the area, calling the metropolitan their home. One ride away from the busy Cebu city and you are transported to a completely different world of hushed resorts and green hills. The city is ever-expanding and always improving.

Mactan Island Cebu - things to do in cebu philippines

We hear of tourists falling in love with the place so much that they decide to stay and build lives in this piece of paradise. That surely gives them ample time to tick off all the things to do and places to visit in Cebu! Excited to see what’s in this side of the Philippines?

Here is a list of  the best things to do in Cebu you should not miss:

1. Do the sardine run in Moalboal

One of the most popular answers regarding what to do in Cebu is the sardine run in Moalboal. It is an activity both for competent divers and casual swimmers alike, so no need to worry about your level of floating skills. The sardine run is famous to tourists because – let’s be honest – how often do you see thousands upon thousands of fish swimming in one direction when you go snorkeling during your travels?

These schools of fish stay at Panagsama Beach area all year round, so this activity is practically a part of every Cebu itinerary no matter what month you visit. It greatly helped put Moalboal in its position as one of the Cebu tourist spots to visit.

The fish groups themselves to a school that measures from 2 up to 15 meters. You can opt to snorkel around the reefs and see this natural wonder from the top, or you can also choose to freedive and see how it feels being one with the sardines. There is even an option to scuba dive and go deep into the experience, providing you with an even wider angle of the sardines running – now counting to millions in your eyes.     

2. Go canyoneering in Alegria

We are telling you now: this is one of those Cebu activities that are not for the faint-hearted. When you look at a brochure that says Cebu Philippines and you see a photo of groups of tourists jumping on cliffs and forming beautiful group shot patterns on location, it is either in Badian or in Alegria.

This activity calls for you to throw yourself off jumping points and landing on waters that are meters away from where you started. The whole experience lasts for 3-4 hours, depending on your commitment to jump right away (or ask your companions to go ahead…) Canyoneering in Alegria is definitely a tiring one to partake, but the adrenaline rush and the feeling of accomplishment that comes after is unparalleled. 

3. Experience skydiving in Bantayan Island

One of the best Cebu attractions that should definitely in your books is skydiving in Bantayan Island.

What makes it one of the top things to do in Cebu? The heart-thumping experience and the best view of the province. Need we say more? You don’t have to know the ins and outs of skydiving in order to enjoy this activity. An expert will be with you as you tandem jump from the top of the plane to the Bantayan Cebu skyline that boasts of pristine shores and vast green landscape.

You can either choose to land at the airport or along the beach’s white sand. Looking for a chance to finally tick off skydiving to your bucket list? Do it in Cebu!

4. Go trekking in Osmena Peak

Sunrise or sunset, you cannot go wrong with your trek here at Osmena Peak. It’s an easy climb to the top; with only about 20-30 minutes hike and you are there, enjoying the majestic view of hill formations and clear skies. A local will serve as your guide to the top. It is essential because going down can be tricky, especially when it goes dark. One unique things under Cebu night activities to do is trekking to Osmena Peak with your friends, camping under the night sky and waiting for the sun to rise in the morning. 

5. Chase waterfalls all over Cebu

The most popular of all waterfalls in Cebu is the Kawasan Falls in Badian. It is often tandemed with Osmena peak when doing a Cebu itinerary. It is about 3 hours away from Cebu City, that is why it is wise to jampack your line of Cebu activities and Cebu attractions by location – just like in this case. 

Kawasan falls has three layers and two of those feature natural pools for bathing and relaxing. Tents and eating lounges are open for rent in the area. Food and other necessities are available in nearby shops. You can rent bamboo rafts that will take you near the waterfalls so that you can experience a water massage from the pressure of the falls. These areas tend to get crowded, especially in the afternoon, so we highly suggest you explore these areas rather passingly.

Read More: Top Attractions and Things to Do in El Nido Palawan (Philippines)

6. Eat lechon in Carcar and go to a pungko pungko in Cebu City

Filipinos love to eat! The coolest way to explore and understand the cuisine of any province of the Philippines especially in Cebu island is by going to these authentic spots that serve unapologetic mouthfuls of delicacies in their freshest state.

Lechon is one of specialties that are best served before your eyes. For the uninitiated, lechon is spanish for roasted suckling pig – which is basically it – but what sets Carcar Cebu’s lechon apart from the rest is its utilization of the pork drippings.

See, when they roast the pig, pork drippings come off as it gets cooked. They save these drippings by putting a container below and then using this as glaze for when you serve the lechon. To have a taste of this wonder, head to the Carcar public market and see a line of lechon choppers giving you free taste of crunchy roasted pork skin. As if the sight of glazed lechon isn’t enough to make you buy.

Writing about that just makes me want to teleport to that market… What’s even better: you can buy a kilo or two of lechon and eat them at the stores backside which offer hot steamed rice and soft drinks to go with your yummy find.

And then there’s the pungko pungko. What is it and why must it be part of your Cebu city tour? Pungko pungko is a store literally found on the roadside, with a container of all things fried and crispy. Pick your choice of viand and pair them with puso (a triangular rice wrapped in banana leaves) and squat on one of those low seats available for customers. Pungko means slouch in Cebuano – hence the name!

As you wander where to stroll in Cebu at night, these dependable corner stalls are just around the bend should you go hungry.

7. Dive with thresher sharks in Malapascua

There are not many diving sites that boast of having sightings (almost) daily. In Malapascua, thresher sharks are known to inhabit the place, creating a Cebu attraction that truly attracts many. Thresher sharks are mackerel or fox sharks that grow up to 6 meters. They are nocturnal, have small sharp teeth and humongous eyes too see in the dark. They frequent the Monad shoal near Malapascua because they are benefiting from a type of fish that lives there that cleans their bodies of dead skin and bacteria

Diving in Malapascua must be done before sunrise up to 9 in the morning. This activity is generally safe, as these sharks are not known to snack on humans (they eat squid and schooling fish.) Several regulations will be discussed onsite before you dive in order to protect Cebu’s beloved thresher sharks.   

8. Buy dried fish in Taboan Market

If you can get over the strong smell and the stinky aftermath, we recommend you to go buy dried fish in Taboan market.

Cebu shopping will not be complete without paying this market a visit. Popularly known for its big baskets of dried seafood, Taboan takes pride in the good quality of dried produce it sells. Be warned though – urban tale or not, people are actually talking about having to throw their clothes away after a visit to this place because the smell simply does not get off! Want to test this yourself? Make this a place to visit in Cebu.

9. Explore the Cebu Safari in Carmen

Imagine coexisting with wild animals in their living space… That’s exactly what Cebu Safari and Adventure Park offers differently from your usual zoo. It may feel scary at first, but once you get the hang of it you feel how tiny you are in this part of the world. Even though this is one of the relatively new Cebu tourist spots, the Cebu Safari is easily gaining a spot in the list of top things to do in Cebu. Here you’ll see giraffes, camels, tigers, crocodiles, exotic birds, deer, capybaras… I can go on and on but this space will not be enough to enumerate the long list of species found in the safari.

Included in the admission fee is an opportunity to watch the bird show inside and explore the well-maintained flower garden. A whole lot of activities and interesting spots within the adventure park are still in the works, and that makes us even more excited for what’s to come.

10. Go stand up paddling towards the sunset in Lapu Lapu

Explore the island uniquely and away from the crowd with stand up paddleboards as your vehicle to the hidden spots in Lapu lapu. Enjoy the Mactan sunset with you (and a couple of enthusiasts) amidst the sea, drifting in the waters and enjoying the beauty that is Cebu island.

11. Visit the Sumilon sandbar

The white sand separates the aqua blue waters in two, making a sweet spot for tourists to enjoy the ocean immersively. This is one of those Cebu activities that is best teamed with other nearby Cebu tourist spots because you will most likely spend just a short amount of time here because 1) it is what it is, and 2) many people are curious of  its beauty, so the place can get crowded. If you aim to see the butanding in Oslob (which I am honestly half-hearted to recommend,) you can add this in that Cebu itinerary.

12. Buy shoes in Carcar

Carcar is more than just lechon and pork skin cracklings! Your Cebu shopping trip must include buying durable shoes in Carcar. If you are staying long enough, they even do made-to-order shoes. They are not only affordable but are also long-lasting and stylish. Mine are now 6 years and counting!

Surely it will not be dubbed as the Shoe Capital of Cebu for nothing.

13. Be in awe of the flower gardens in Sirao

One of the most Instagrammable things to do in Cebu City is visiting both the Sirao flower garden and the pictorial garden and camping site. This tourist destination has garnered quite a number of visitors ever since it became a boom in social media, but with the positive effects come the negative, too. The site lost its splendor, until the management decided to tackle the problem headstrong.

Now, you shall see an even better flower garden that boasts of crafty picture spots and a wonderful array of  flowering plants. In no time, the Little Amsterdam of Cebu is back in full bloom.

More posts about Cebu

If you are looking for a travel story read more here: 8 Things I Miss From The Philippines (More Fun In The Philippines) and Unmissable Colourful and Famous Festivals in the Philippines

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Looking for more inspirations on other destinations, you can visit our WORLD DESTINATIONS page.

Like our list of Cebu activities?
Make it come alive, book that flight and just go!

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Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

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Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas and travel guides for travellers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

2 thoughts on “13 Best Things to Do in Cebu For First Time Visitor”

  1. Before, I always wonder why a lot of tourists are so excited to go to Cebu. Thank you for these things to do in Cebu. This will be my guide for my next trip.


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