• Bantayan Island Cebu

Cebu Holidays

Found in the heart of the Philippine archipelago, Cebu holidays offer it all. From a rich history, beautiful beaches, incredible diving and exciting cities, the island is guaranteed to keep you entertained. 

For a taste of Filipino city life, explore the large and busy Cebu City, which resembles a mini Manila. Here you’ll find plenty of large malls for shopping, including items from all the big brands. You’ll also discover the distinct warmth and hospitality of the Cebuano people who are known for their friendliness and deep love of their country and culture.

Cebu is home to Mactan–Cebu International Airport, the Philippines’ only other main international airport outside of Manila. This means the island offers easy connections to the rest of the Philippines’ tropical islands, making it ideal for an island-hopping holiday. 

Island-hopping during your Cebu holidays

Away from the city, there are plenty of dazzling islands to explore on your Cebu holidays. The most well-known is Mactan Island. The island is connected to Cebu City by road bridges, making travel easy and convenient. Mactan island is known for its luxury hotels, stunning sandy beaches and impressive dive sites. It’s the perfect place to while away the days relaxing on the beach. 

For quieter islands that are perfect for snorkelling and diving, consider embarking on an island-hopping cruise from Cebu that stops off at several islands throughout the day. If you’re lucky, you may spot wild dolphins dancing and performing across the waters too. 

Popular offshore islands to discover include Gilutungan Island, Caohagan Island and Olango Island. These islands all surround Mactan Island and are easy to access by boat. Each island is home to underwater marine sanctuaries where you can explore and observe colourful corals and hundreds of glittering tropical fish species.

 

Destination Highlights
  • Admire the 66 foot Lapu Lapu Shrine, a bronze statue erected in honour of the native leader Lapu Lapu
  • Discover the sparkling-blue waters, sandy beaches and sublime snorkelling opportunities of nearby Mactan Island
  • Observe the historic Magellan’s Cross, established by Portuguese and Spanish explorers in 1521
  • Explore the offshore islands of Cebu on an island-hopping boat tour, and discover abundant corals and dreamy beaches

Our favourite hotels

Our favourite places to stay are below. We know everyone is different, so if you can’t see something you like, we'd be more than happy to help.

Aerial Shot

Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa

Cebu

H&J Rating

Guide Price

 £1,489  pp

Shangri-La's Mactan Resort & Spa
a group of lawn chairs sitting on top of a body of water

Crimson Resort & Spa

Cebu

H&J Rating
Average: 4.5 (1 vote)

Guide Price

 £1,189  pp

Crimson Resort & Spa

Flight Time

Indirect flights are available from UK airports via Manila, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Let’s talk about Cebu, an idyllic island that’s going to wow you with its palm-fringed beaches, Spanish colonial settlements and glorious island-hopping opportunities. In its capital of Cebu City, nicknamed the ‘Queen City of the South’, you’ll discover Fort San Pedro, the oldest fort in The Philippines, commissioned by Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi. Beyond its intriguing history, you’ll find a wonderful annual Sinulog festival and experience a genuine warmth from the Cebuanos people.

  • Diving

    If you’re serious about diving, you’ll want to take a diving trip to Malapascua. This island off the northern coast of Cebu is famed for being one of the only habitats of the elusive thresher shark. You’ll know when you’ve seen it – it has a mysterious, scythe-like tail.

  • Colon Street

    In Cebu city, you’ll want to experience Colon Street, named after the explorer Christopher Columbus. Although it’s a modern-day thoroughfare today, it’s the first and oldest street in the Philippines so look for the plaques detailing its layered colonial history.

  • a woman wearing glasses and smiling at the camera

    Steph

    Destination Specialist

    “You have to try the fresh mango here. Although mango is delicious across the Philippines, Cebu is home to the best, sweetest mango.”

     

  • Caroline, Destination Executive

    Caroline

    Destination Executive

    “Step aboard a motorised outrigger for an island-hopping adventure. You can snorkel off the coast of Cebu to see the spectacular underwater attractions and then enjoy lunch on one of the nearby islands.”

     

Events & Festivals

Festivals and events are wonderful to include during your Cebu holiday, offering a glimpse into the country’s authentic culture and traditions.

 

  • Sinulog Festival

    Held annually on the third Sunday of January in the centre of Cebu City, Sinulog Festival is a traditional celebration that tells the story of the Filipino culture’s pagan past and their acceptance of Christianity, all of which is performed through dance rituals. Each year millions flock to admire the dazzling vibrant colours and flamboyant routines.

     

  • Kadaugan sa Mactan

    Kadaugan sa Mactan takes place in April and is a celebratory re-enactment of the victory of the Mactan people during the Battle of Mactan, which took place during the 16th century. Drawing locals and visitors alike, the re-enactment often features famous Filipino actors or other well-known personalities, making it a big deal among locals. 

     

  • Tartanilla Festival

    Taking place in Cebu City on 12th June each year, Tartanilla Festival pays homage to the horse-drawn carriage mode of transport called calesa. This was historically used for travelling around Cebu City’s streets. Coinciding with the country’s Independence Day, highlights of the parade include a horse-racing competition and a shopping bazaar and flea market.

     

  • Semana Santa sa Bantayan

    On 29th June every year, the Semana Santa sa Bantayan celebration is held on Cebu’s island of Bantayan. Otherwise known as Holy Week, the religious commemoration involves a procession on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Huge, life-size images attached to floats portray different tableaus of the Passion of Christ. The event welcomes plenty of visitors and locals, so expect it to be busy.

     

Local Cuisine

Get a flavour of the local culture through your palate during your Cebu holiday. Here are a few of our favourite dishes.

 

  • Mango

    While fresh mango is delicious all over the country, it’s in Cebu that you can expect to sample some of the best mango you’ve ever tasted. Whether you prefer your mango raw and juicy straight from the fruit, or dried as a snack, be sure to pick some local mango up and enjoy the sweet and sour taste of this zesty fruit. 

     

  • Torta

    Torta is another delicious dish commonly served in Cebu, and it’s a local’s favourite as it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cooked with affordable and easy-to-find ingredients, a torta is a circular omelette made of ground pork, onions and potatoes. It’s perfect as a main meal, or as an on-the-go snack. 

     

  • Lechon

    Throughout the Philippines, lechon is a popular dish and Cebu comes as no exception. It's often served at festivals, events, parties and special occasions. Lechon is a whole-cooked pig that provides tasty, flavoursome meat, and crispy cooked skin. Often the insides are removed and are packed full of fragrant spices and vegetables, such as lemongrass, onions, leeks, garlic and salt.

     

Types of Cebu holidays

a man riding a horse drawn carriage on a street

Cebu Multi Centre Holidays

Multi Centre Holidays

Frequently Asked Questions

Cebu has some of the best diving in the Philippines, playing home to steep coral walls, angelfish, lionfish, manta rays and sometimes, whale sharks. Mactan Island and Cebu City are easily accessible diving spots while Pescador Island, off the west coast, is another favourite. The best time to dive in Cebu is November to May.

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