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A Visitor’s Guide to Cebu City

February 17th, 2010 by

Nestled in the heart of the Philippines is the stunning Cebu City. Cebu City serves as the capital of Cebu and is considered the oldest city in the Philippines.

Sinulog in Mambaling, Cebu City 2009 (January 25, 2009)

Cebu City is a unique destination, sitting at the center of what is called Metro Cebu – a culmination of several distinct cities, including Talisay, Mandaue, and Lapu-Lapu. In a city that more than 2 million people call home, you’ll have no trouble finding something to see or do.

When to Visit Cebu City

Megellan's Cross kiosk, Cebu City, Philippines

The weather in Cebu City doesn’t vary greatly throughout the year. It’s not the warmest place on earth, nor is it the coldest. The average temperature ranges between 22 degrees Celsius (or 75 Fahrenheit) and 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit). Cebu does have a very wet climate and there is no time of year that is not rainy. Even during the driest month of the year, in April, you’ll see more than 10 inches of rain. Humidity levels are also high, averaging 90 percent throughout the year.

Boat in harbor, Cebu City, Philippines

So while there isn’t one special time of year to visit Cebu City, it may not be the place you want to visit if you aren’t a fan of wet weather and humid temperatures.

Transportation throughout Cebu City

DSC06454 Taoist Temple at Cebu City

It is usually very easy to walk from your Cebu hotel to most of the local attractions. Many visitors do, however, find that renting a car is the most economical and safe way to get around. Taxi cabs are also readily available, and are safe, but can be difficult to hail if you don’t make arrangements in advance.

Health and Safety in Cebu

DSC06475 Taoist Temple at Cebu City

As far as destinations in the Philippines are concerned, Cebu is considered one of the safest. The problem is that the entire country has a reputation for being slightly dangerous and travelers have been targeted in the past. This shouldn’t necessarily deter you from visiting Cebu City but should prompt you to take precautions while traveling.

Pasil, Cebu City, Philippines, 1985

As usual, you should never travel throughout the Philippines alone. Keep your personal objects, including electronics, jewelry, and electronics, in sight. Don’t carry more cash than you think you’ll need any given day.

Cebu City

It’s also important to speak to your doctor before traveling to the Philippines. Make sure you are up to date on all important immunizations and always drink bottled water instead of fresh.

Tipping Etiquette in Cebu City


In Cebu City, as well as throughout the Philippines, you’ll find that tipping isn’t mandatory. Check all bills carefully to see if a service charge, indicated by “SC,” has been added. If not, any amount you choose to tip is generally acceptable. The standard tip usually ranges between $1 and $4 USD.

Learning Tagalog

Cebu City - Memorial historico da cidade

You may find it helpful to learn a few Tagalog phrases before embarking on your trip to Cebu City. You will find, however, that the general public is not as friendly towards tourists making a mockery of their language – so learn it or don’t. You’ll embarrass yourself, and your host, if you frequently mispronounce common phrases. While we recommend you find a good audio program for learning the language, here are a few phrases to get you started:

  • Magandang umaga (Good morning)
  • Kamusta? (How are you?)
  • Salamat (Thank you)
  • Paalam (Goodbye)
  • Tara na (Let’s go / let’s leave)
  • Ewan ko (I don’t know)
  • Paumanhin (Sorry)

Things to See in Cebu City

cebu, philippines

There are dozens of incredible attractions. Start with a visit to the Casa Gorodo Museum. The museum is perfect for those who love both architecture and history. Built during the 19th century, the museum sits in what was once the home of the prominent Gorodo family. The gardens, artifacts, furnishings, and antiques scattered throughout and around this house are worth seeing!

University Theater and the Carillon Tower, University of the Philippines

The Rizaliana Museum is yet another incredible museum in the heart of Cebu City. The museum is owned by the University of Southern Philippines and displays not only a stunning collection of artwork but artifacts and personal belongings honoring the life and work of Dr. Jose Rizal.

Fort San Pedro, Cebu (9)

Fort San Pedro is a favorite site amongst history buffs. The fort was built in the early 1700’s in order to protect the city against Muslim raids. The fort is startling small compared to many others, and was transformed from its original wood structure to stone throughout history. Even still, the fort served an incredibly important purpose and the views from around the fort are worth the trip.

Cebu City is riddled with history, culture, and even a bit of mystery. Take your time exploring and you’re bound to find it as charming as those who call it home.

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