There are air services to Cebu from Manila (an hour flight) and all the larger towns in the archipelago (Davao, Zamboanga, Iloilo, Bacalod, Legazpi, etc.), and boat services from Manila (24 hours) and the other islands.
On the coast, looking on to the strait which separates Cebu from the island of Mactan, is Fort San Pedro, built by Legazpi as a base for dealing with Muslim raids or attacks by the natives. It housed the Department of Tourism and Philippine Tourism Authority from 1978-1993. At present, it is under the care and administration of the National Museum.
The fort is the smallest, oldest tri-bastion fort in the country. It has a triangular in plan, with three bastions (La Concepcion, San Ignacio de Loyola and San Miguel) defended by bronze cannon. The sentry walk is a now favourite resort of young lovers. The building as we see it today dates from 1735-1738. In the past it was used as a prison. In one of the rooms is a small historical museum. The interior of the fort is attractively laid out with lawns and flower-beds.
To the West is the Plaza Independencia (formerly Plaza Libertad), with an obelisk commemorating Legazpi and a monument erected by Japan in 1977 to mark the post-war reconciliation between the Filipinos and the Japanese.
Farther West still is the old town. In the middle of the street is a small octagonal building with a tiled roof which contains Magellan’s Cross, erected by the great navigator in April 1521. This marks the spot where the fist Christian Filipinos were baptized; on the ceiling are paintings depicting episodes in his voyage. To the South are the public park and the City Hall.
On the North is the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño formerly known as Basilica of San Agustin, the oldest religious building in the Philippines built to house the much venerated image of the Infant Jesus, the Santo Niño. The first church on the site, a wooden structure erected by Legazpi in 1565, was burned down in 1568, and a second church, in stone, was also destroyed in 1628. The present building dates from the 17th and 18th century, and in 1965 the Pope granted it the status of a minor basilica during the Fourth Centennial celebration of the Christianization of Cebu.
Beautiful facade with Baroque features. Interior: painted ceiling, carved woodwork (choir screen), statues, beautiful retablo on high altar. The adjoining convent, an Augustinian house, has rich archives.
In a small chapel entered from the side of the church is the wonder-working image of the Santo Niño, a statuette 30 cm high, richly clad and wearing a golden crown, which is the object of great veneration by the people of Cebu, who come to kiss the image and offer up their prayers. They come in large numbers on Fridays, and on the third Sunday in January there is a great fiesta during which the sinulog is danced a very ancient dance accompanied by hymns and incantations Pit Señor (Holy Infant Lord). The Santo Niño has a large wardrobe of rich garments and a collection of jewellery, some of which dates from the 16th century.
Colon Street also known as Parian District was laid out in 1565, and claimed to be the oldest street in the Philippines. It is considered to be the heart of downtown Cebu, lined with shops, cinemas, restaurants, etc., it is bustling with activity all day long. To the southwest is the Carbon Market, famous for its big and colourful market, crammed with stalls of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and handicrafts while in the North is the Lopez Jaena Street,here can find a well preserved 19th century Spanish house.
The San Carlos University, formerly called Colegio de San Idelfonso was founded in 1595 by the Jesuits. It is the oldest school in the Philippines. It has an interesting museum: archaeology, religious art, Asian ceramics, botany, zoology (lepidoptera), etc.
The Avenue of Flags leads to the Fuenta Osmeña a lovely circular park with beautiful fountain, named after the late President Osmeña, a native of Cebu. Beyond this is Osmeña Boulevard, which ends at the Capitol Building (erected 1938, restored after the war); this majestic and imposing building is a replica of the United States’ White House. It houses the provincial government offices.
Beyond the modern and brilliantly white Iglesia ni Kristo the road runs up to Beverly Hills, with the luxurious mansions of Chinese businessmen and a Taoist temple (built 1972) at the top of a flight of 99 steps a striking structure with its vivid red and green colouring, its pagoda roof, its dragons and lions. Other Chinese temples have been built in recent years, including the Temple of Charity for Catholics, dedicated to St. Rose, it is built on top of a sacred hill. This temple is located in Peace Valley in the district of Lahug. The highest point is Victoria Peak, named after the hill of the same name in Hong Kong, from which there are wide views of bustling harbour and the city’s skyscrapers. There are also panoramic view of Cebu and neighboring islands from the monumental Cebu Plaza Hotel.
To the North of Cebu City, near the Montebello Villa Hotel, the only garden hotel at the heart of the oldest city in the Philippines. There are the vineyards and winery of St. Mary (free tasting: the wines have a well marked character, sometimes reminiscent of Greek wines).
Visitors who have sufficient time may likely to visit one or two cultural attractions. Arrangements can be made through the Tourism Office.
The following are the cultural attractions:
a. Jumalon Museum, located at Basak district. This private museum showcases unusual collection of mosaics, built up from butterflies’ wings.
b. Binamira collection, Gorordo Avenue showcases Spanish furniture, statuettes, religious pictures, prehistoric material, and coins.
c. Arcenas collection, in the Banawa district displays collections of Spanish colonial art, ceramics, furniture, and santoses, etc.
d. Aznar-Alfonso collection is owned by Dr. Lydia Aznar-Alfonso. Here can find pieces of lovely period furniture, wide collection of old jewellery, various archaeological diggings, etc.
e. Sala Piano Museum located at Lahug district. It showcases a unique collection of hundreds of pianos of varying size and shapes. It also serves as a venue to classical concerts and houses a music foundation.
f. Pres. Sergio Osmeña Memorabilia and Cap Art Gallery, located at Osmeña Boulevard. It contains an estimated 500 personal belongings and documents worthy of remembrance of the Grand Old Man of Cebu.
g. Rose Ong Orchid Collection is the biggest orchid collection in the province.